Thursday, December 25, 2008

john mayer likes MY cake

Squeeeeeee!

I have to say, the John Mayer "Tree-o" is a much better idea, and I'm jealous that I didn't think of it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The LavenderLily Christmas Spectacular!

With music by the Pacific Fleet Rock Band.

Hey, guess what? I'm married to the guitar player! Aren't you jealous?


They rocked so hard, they blew out the power!
(This was the second take of this song - the first time, the power was out for the whole thing. It was really a shame, because it was the best solo I've ever heard Brian play, ever. This one is pretty kickass, though, too!)

Sticker art by Brandon:



(I love how the angel is the only one who's actually on the ground, but my favorite is the sideways sheep.)

And for dessert: kabocha pie! (For the record, it tastes very similar to pumpkin, but has the texture of sweet potato.)


Don't forget the Christmas cookies:


(Yay for food-coloring magic markers!)

And of course, the Christmas Palm Tree, and flip-flop stockings:


(I bought the stockings and wrote the Hawaiian spellings of our names on them. Palaina=Brian, Keli=Kerry, Palanakonu=Brandon, Kaakakona=Jackson)

Merry Christmas, everybody!!

I bet it doesn't smell any different than any of the other three Fender Strats in my house.

Me: "I just don't see how someone could get knocked up and not take it as a wake-up call that they should change the way they live their life."
Brian: "You did it. Twice."
Me: "I was MARRIED. It's not getting 'knocked up' if you do it on purpose."
Brian: "So they ARE mine? Wow! Jack, I'm your real father!"
Me: "Haha. Who else would it be? I never have any kind of social interaction with...well, anyone."
Brian: "I don't know, you just baked a cake for John Mayer."
Me: "Oh, when have I ever met John Mayer?"
Brian: "Twice, apparently."

Ba-dum ching.

Me: "For the record, you know, I didn't bake a cake for John Mayer. I baked a cake to enter a contest that John Mayer is running, to try to win a guitar for you."
Brian: "Well, yeah. 'Cause, see, I would actually play it, not just sniff it."
Me: "I never said I would sniff it, I said I would sleep with it under my pillow."
Brian: "Liar! You never sleep."

He's right. I would totally sniff it.

hi, I'm Kerry, and I piss off my neighbors. it's what I do.

I was unloading groceries from the car to the garage today, and the dog that lives two doors down started barking at me. I rolled my eyes a little bit, but whatever. It's a dog, dogs bark at people. That's fine.

The dog's owner was also taking bags out of her car, and she yelled at the dog. He kept on barking, and I heard something that sounded like a slap. Did she just hit that dog? I thought. Nah. The dog barked at me again, so I looked up, and I saw her put the dog down on the ground, hold it down, and hit it. When he got up, he barked at me again, and she picked the dog up by the collar, lifted it up in the air, and carried it inside the house. I head some muffled screaming.

So I called the Humane Society.

Maybe it was an isolated incident, I don't know, but, um, WTF????? How am I supposed to ignore that?

So now I have a neighbor who obviously has anger management issues, and a violent temperament, mad at me. I don't care, I know I did the right thing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

john mayer likes cake

I found out yesterday that John Mayer is having a holiday cake contest on his blog. The winner gets an autographed signature series Stratocaster. The deadline is tomorrow, so I got right on it. If I'd had more time, I would have done more - for example, I really wanted to make footlights out of gumdrops - but seeing as how I've already been grocery shopping three times in the past week, I figured I'd just go for it with what I had around the house.

And so, I present to you: the Gingerbread Mayer Trio. Ta-dahhhhhhh!



Brandon decorated the "audience" around the sides of the cake. It might be hard to see it, but the audience members are all holding orange or yellow sprinkles, which are meant to be lighters. The instruments are all solid chocolate, decorated with royal icing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

well of course, why else would he need a flashlight?

Brian: "What do you think Santa is going to bring for you?"
Brandon: "Toys."
Brian: "What kind of toys?"
Brandon: "A flashlight."
Brian: "What do you need a flashlight for?"
Brandon: "To see the boogies."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

candies!



I finished my Christmas Chocolates. The ones I'm giving as gifts, anyway. I'm still going to make some more for us, but I had to have the gifts finished and sent out by the Post Office deadline (to get packages from HI to the mainland by Christmas) today. And I'm happy to say that I got them done, wrapped and in the mail on time. The milk chocolate ones were rushed and kind of sloppy (Kerry Vincent would be appalled), and I got chocolate all over the counters, the stove, the outside of the microwave, my clothes (even though I was wearing an apron), my arms, my face, and the floor (which would probably explain how I got it between my toes) - but I got them all done.





I am pretty intense when it comes to making candy.

When I was a little kid, my mom's friend taught us how to mold chocolates. She used to make "gingerbread" houses out of chocolate. We never got that intense, but we did make lollipops for just about every holiday you can imagine. Christmas, obviously. Easter, for sure. Valentine's Day, naturally. St. Patrick's Day? Independence Day? Arbor Day? Yeah, probably. Birthday party, Halloween party, Graduation party, Girl Scout meeting... yes, yes, yes and yes. Any excuse to go to the chocolate store and buy a couple of bags of Mercken's. We'd get a couple of pounds of light, a couple of pounds of dark, and it would hang (in the shopping bag we brought it home in) from the back of one of the kitchen chairs across from the stove. Naturally, the bags would somehow end up open, and nibbling would ensue until the candies were made.

And the molds...oh, the molds! That was my favorite part about going to the chocolate store...looking at all of the molds. An entire store full of them! Flowers and bunnies and crosses and hearts and flags and cars and stars and Christmas trees and Santas and presents and snowmen and...well, you get the idea.

When I lived in New Orleans, I had a friend (who turned out to be a complete psycho, but that's beside the point) who decorated cakes. I mentioned to her one day that I used to make chocolates when I was a kid and that I was thinking about starting up again, and she told me about Szabo's, the party store over by the Westbank Expressway, that had all kinds of cake stuff and candymaking supplies. I wasn't into cakes as of yet, but it was beyond awesome to have a chocolate store to go to again. They didn't have as many molds as the store I grew up with in New York, but they had enough.

Now that I live in Hawaii, I haven't been able to find a candymaking supply store. Oh, they have the requisite Wilton stuff at Ben Franklin and WalMart and even a small sampling at the Exchanges, but I can't find a store that has the good stuff - the Nestle and and the Merckens and, oh my God, the molds. Although I probably have all of the molds I need (for now), so I just buy my chocolate on the internet.

Even though I have molds in the shape of flowers, hearts, Easter eggs, bunnies and even shamrocks, I only actually make chocolates at Christmastime. I just don't have that kind of time anymore! So as a rule, my chocolates are more about taste than looks - they are far from professional quality. I don't have the skills and I don't have the time to practice them. I am slowly getting better, though. Very, very slowly.

When I started back up with molding chocolates, I started simple - just solid candies. Then I started using the Wilton candy fillings that came in tubes (which seem to have been discontinued). And then, for some reason, one year I decided to make my own fillings from scratch. And I keep on coming up with more and more ideas, and now it's to the point where it's kind of like my Thanksgiving menu - absolutely ridiculous, but I can't bear to cut anything out. And every year I add more. (Although now that I think about it, I didn't make any with nuts this year, so I guess I did cut some out!)

The fillings that I made this year are:
  • semisweet ganache (aka chocolate truffle)
  • caramel
  • maple creme
  • raspberry creme
  • mint creme (aka peppermint patty)
  • coconut
  • dark chocolate nougat
  • peanut butter
I tempered my chocolate this year, and holy cow, what a pain in the @$$. I think I'll be going back to Mercken's coco melts from now on. (Assuming I can get them in Japan...I know I'll be able to get the Wilton stuff at the Exchange, but to be honest, I don't really like it. It's Mercken's or nothing when it comes to "confectionery coating".) Anyway, it's just easier to melt in the microwave and be done with it. A LOT easier.



Here are the recipes for the fillings:

Chocolate Ganache
I use a recipe I got out of Bon Appetit magazine. It calls for 9oz of bittersweet chocolate, but I found that when I used bittersweet chocolate, it was just too, well, bitter for me! So I used a 4oz bar of semisweet, a 4oz bar of dark (both Nestle Chocolatier) and a 1 oz square of Baker's semisweet (because I had some handy). I don't roll my truffles, I use a mold and fill them the same way I do the rest of the fillings - with a pastry bag.

Caramel
Caramelize 1 cup sugar, add 3/4 cup cream and 1 tsp vanilla. Easy-peasy!

Mint/Raspberry/Maple/Etc Creme
Creme fillings are basically a buttercream with half the butter/shortening, or twice the sugar (depending on how you look at it.) I used palm oil for the sake of longevity, but you could use butter (if the candies are going to be eaten quickly or kept in the fridge) or even - *shudder* - Crisco.
  • 1/2 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp (approx) water
Cream the butter/shortening and water with an electric mixer (I use my stand mixer with the whip attachment). Add sugar, one cup at a time. Add additional water, if necessary.

At this point, I split the - um, dough? - into three containers to make three different flavors. I don't measure the flavorings, I just add them little by little until it tastes right. The ones I used this year were peppermint oil, artificial raspberry flavoring and all-natural maple flavoring. Both the raspberry and the maple add color as well as flavor, and both are DELICIOUS.

Coconut
This one is also loosely based on a buttercream recipe. I used 2 tbsp of coconut oil, 2 tbsp of palm oil (shortening) and 1 cup of powdered sugar; then I added sweetened shredded coconut. Et voila!

Dark Chocolate Nougat
I started with this recipe, but had to do quite a lot of calculating, seeing as how I had neither a 12-oz bag of chocolate chips, nor a 7-ounce jar of marshmallow creme. (I had a 4-oz bar of Nestle Chocolatier dark chocolate and a 13-ounce jar of marshmallow creme.) What I came up with was this:
  • 4 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp marshmallow creme
Melt the chocolate and mix in the marshmallow creme. That's it!!

Peanut Butter
Peanut Butter Cup Recipe




The official method for making filled candies is to fill the mold halfway, then use a brush to paint the chocolate up the sides. I've also seen it recommended to fill the mold all the way, let the chocolate start to set and then pour the excess chocolate out. I found it much easier and neater to just dip the paintbrush into my bowl of chocolate and paint it straight into the molds (without pouring any chocolate into the mold first).

As for making the bottoms of the candies smooth, I tried a new technique this year that I saw on Food Network - I think it was actually on Road Tasted with the Neelys when they went to see a candymaker (I remember Bananas Foster truffles...). Anyway. You pour a ton of chocolate into the mold and then scrape off the excess with a pastry scraper. I actually had better results with the back of a butter knife, since my molds are all warped.



I don't really know how to wrap this up, except to say...Merry Christmas! I hope that I've inspired you, either to try to make your own chocolates, or to go to the store and buy a box of the good stuff. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

maybe the Christmas Spirit is getting the better of me...

I haven't been shy about complaining about the "new and improved" Shutterfly. I've written emails to customer service to complain about problems I've had with the Share 2.0 site, and I am consistently annoyed with the new interface for editing/organizing/sharing photos. Really the only reason why I didn't just abandon ship was that I have thousands upon thousands of my pictures on their server already and it would take FOREVER to move it all somewhere else.

But I have to say, I've been having some good experiences with them over the past couple of days. First of all, the "photobook storyboard tool" has made my life so much easier I can't even fully express it in words. Putting together a book of pictures from the past year takes FOREVER - I spend hours and hours sifting through the thousands of pictures I've taken. The storyboard tool made it a LOT quicker to put the photos into categories and further narrow down which ones I wanted to use, and which ones were redundant. It didn't always choose the best layouts, but I don't mind doing that myself. For me, the benefit is really just that it cuts the time spent placing photos on pages to a tiny fraction of what it once was. Brilliant.

The other thing that I really appreciated was the way in which they apply their discount codes. Right now there's a code for free shipping on orders over $50. Well, I spent well over $50, but my order was split among three different shipping addresses. Most sites (which shall remain nameless) would declare the discount code invalid for this particular order, seeing as how there wasn't at least $50 of merchandise being shipped to any one address...but Shutterfly actually made sense and shipped for free to *one* of the addresses and charged me shipping for the other two. It makes so much sense, it took me a minute to wrap my brain around what was going on.

And with that...I am officially done shopping. (Unofficially, though, I have couple more things to buy...)

Next up, Christmas candies! I am using (and tempering) real chocolate this year (as opposed to using the stuff that's designed to be fail-proof)...wish me luck...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

how about "Hanukkah on Sesame Street, featuring Murray"?

Okay, so...Children's television shows. Holiday specials. They're either about Christmas, with no apologies (like, say, Go Diego Go); or they're about "The Holidays", generically, without naming names (like Wow Wow Wubbzy); or they do a little bit about everything (like Blues Clues). I would really like to see a Hanukkah special, that's only about Hanukkah. Or a Kwanzaa special, that's about Kwanzaa and nothing else. Just for a change of pace.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

yup, I really did it


yup, I really did it
Originally uploaded by LavenderLily.

It's our last Christmas in Hawaii, and we don't have a "normal" Christmas tree anymore...so I got a palm tree. For real. (Well, an artificial one OBVIOUSLY, but I really did it.) Still have to decorate it...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

eggnog cake



For Brian's command holiday party last night, I wanted to make something festive, and for some reason, "eggnog cake" is what popped into my head. And I instantly knew exactly how I wanted to do it, too.

I started with the same white chocolate pound cake recipe that I dressed up with coconut filling for Brandon's birthday party. It tastes great and smells amazing while it's baking, but I'll admit that it is a little dry. Dousing it with a little bit of simple syrup might do the trick, although I've never tried that particular technique. (My alcohol-free rum syrup would do nicely for this particular application, although you could certainly use simple syrup laced with real rum!)

I baked the cake in a 9.5 inch springform pan and torted it (split it in half to make it into two layers), although you could easily bake it as two separate layers; I just wanted it to be a bigger cake (since it was for a party) and the only big cake pans I have are springforms.

For filling, I used eggnog ganache. I used this recipe, and added a dash of rum flavoring. I don't know if I did something wrong, or if it's just the nature of this particular recipe, but it didn't set up nearly as firm as regular ganache usually does, and I couldn't get it to whip up, either. It came out kind of creamy, almost custard-y. Kind of perfect for a cake filling, actually, although it did start to run out after the cake had been cut.

As for the icing, I decided to go with a butter buttercream, because this cake was all about flavor. I briefly considered doing a Swiss meringue buttercream, but decided against it since I had never tried one before and in order to make it taste the way I wanted it to, I'd have to be switching out some of the ingredients. When experimenting, I like to start with a recipe I'm already very familiar with! So I started with the Wilton Class Buttercream recipe and made some significant alterations.

(I left out the meringue powder because I thought I had a sensitivity to it - the frostings I've been making lately have been making my tongue kind of numb and tingly - but it happened with this frosting, too, so I think it might actually be the powdered sugar! Anyway, I think the meringue powder might have made the frosting a little easier to work with - at the very least, it would have crusted, which would have made it possible to get it a lot smoother - so 1 tbsp of Wilton meringue powder is an optional ingredient in this recipe.)

Eggnog Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 pound (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
1 tsp rum flavoring*
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
eggnog

Cream the butter, flavorings, and 2 tbsp of eggnog. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time. Add additional eggnog, a little at a time, until it is the consistency you need.

*I'm sure that if you wanted to, you could use real rum, you'd just end up using less eggnog to get the proper consistency, because you'd probably want to use more than one teaspoon of rum ;)

Real butter buttercream is tricky as far as consistency. You'll think it's too stiff, and then it melts and gets too soft. I had a LOT of trouble covering the cake - I guess I made the frosting too thin, because it kept on sliding off the sides of the cake. Luckily I was going more for flavor than looks with this cake. :)

However...I am who I am, after all, and I did do some decorating. I thought about doing a puffy-star Christmas tree on top, but then I remembered that this was a "Holiday" party, not a Christmas party. So I did a snowflake instead.

First of all, Wilton piping gel is a PITA. It simply would not pipe evenly, so my lines turned out kind of lumpy. Ah, well, every snowflake is different, right?


I covered up some of the imperfections on the sides of the cake (there were plenty!) by piping randomly-placed stars of different sizes. They were supposed to represent snowflakes, so I let the Martha Stewart snowflake cake inform my design and put smaller stars at the top, medium in the middle and larger at the bottom. (I used tips 14, 18 and 133.)



My local craft store only had edible glitter in green, purple and orange, which would have been fantastic if this had been a Mardi Gras party, but it wasn't so great for my snowflake cake. So I made my own. Very very easy:

Edible Glitter
Brush pasteurized egg whites (I used Egg Beaters) on a sheet of waxed paper with a pastry brush. Allow to dry. Crumple up the paper and shake the flakes into a container. Sprinkle on your cake. Ooooooh, shimmery!!



All in all, not the prettiest or most professional-looking cake I've ever made, but it's up there with the yummiest. The leftovers are even better, because I love the texture of refrigerator-hardened buttercream. Everyone else seemed to like it, too - I even had one person who claims to hate eggnog tell me that they liked the filling, which I thought was odd, since it's VERY eggnogg-y, but I'll take the compliment.

Enjoy!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

an open letter to butter

Oh, butter, you yellowy, sublime stick of milkfat, semi-solid at room temperature, with your smooth, delicious taste...let us never part again.

When I bought those sticks of Crisco, and that tub of palm oil, I swear to you, it meant nothing to me. I bought the Crisco because I was taking a cake decorating class, and I wanted to learn the way you're "supposed" to do it before I started branching out and experimenting on my own. I bought the palm oil in an attempt to replace the Crisco with something natural and unprocessed. But even the organic, sustainably harvested palm oil has a chemically aftertaste, and no amount of artificial butter flavoring could make it taste like you.

So, butter, even though you will never be able to create a pure white frosting, and even though real buttercream is difficult as all get-out to decorate a cake with, and cakes iced in real buttercream need to be refrigerated, I swear to you that you will always have a place in my kitchen. Because damn it, butter, you taste amazing.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Birthday party every day!!!"

Having his birthday party on a day other than his actual birthday has proven somewhat confusing for Brandon. For example:

Brandon (eating day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers): "I love purples! I love turkey! Best birthday party ever!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

things to be thankful for

They actually had everything I needed at the commissary yesterday...for the first time in 4 Thanksgivings, they had all varieties of fresh herbs (they usually only have basil and maybe some oregano around Thanksgiving - WTF?), they had half & half, they had Pillsbury pie crusts, they even had buttermilk. I usually have to drive all over the island going to 3 Commissaries and at least 2 civilian grocery stores, and I don't this year. I almost don't even know what to do with myself for the next two days. I just have to go to the natural foods store to get a vanilla bean, and I'm all set. It's almost imcomprehensible.

On another note, if our transfer hadn't been moved to April, we'd be packing out next week. Incredible. I'm very, very grateful for the extra five months because there's just NO WAY we could've been ready by next week. Really dodged a bullet on that one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

now THERE is a cake for a 3-year-old boy!



Today was the last day of the Wilton I course I've been taking. Since I just made an enormous cake, and since the day after Brandon's birthday is Thanksgiving (when I make four different desserts) I did a little 6-incher for my final project. This is the one we'll be eating on Brandon's actual birthday, I hope it doesn't get smushed before then.

(Blue roses kind of make me cringe inside, because they don't exist in nature, but I told Brandon I would do them in any color at all that he wanted, and he chose blue. Sky blue. So, blue it was!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the Amazing Spongebob cake


I had to keep on leaving the cake to put Jack back to sleep, so I recorded this in five separate sections. Turns out, though, that the video files that Gawker makes can't be imported into iMovie, for whatever reason, so I had to upload them to OneTrueMedia to string them together. Grrrr.

I could have very easily left out the section where I tried to cover the cake in fondant, but I included it because it was part of the process, after all. It kept on tearing, so I went to plan B - little frosting stars. I didn't want to do the little tiny ones because that would have taken forever, but I figured that bigger ones might actually look like a pineapple - little did I know that the larger star tip (1M) doesn't make actual stars, per se - they turn out kind of petal-y. It ended up looking kind of like a papier mache pinata. And the gumpaste leaves were out of proportion - way too small for the cake - and kept on breaking and falling over. And the top layer was separating from the bottom layer and a crack opened up in the icing - oh well, it made it easier to separate the two halves when it came time to cut them.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. And it was delicious, by the way. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

sometimes I wish Dora would just explore in silence

Sometimes when I watch shows like Dora the Explorer, I have to remind myself that it's intended for a very, very young audience. Then I can't help but wonder whether it's telling stories and teaching lessons at a level that preschoolers can fully understand (I certainly remember a lot of things going over my head when I was a little kid), or if it's just talking down at them.

It sure is fun to hear Brandon try to say the Spanish words, though.

Friday, November 21, 2008

super awesome

I just downloaded this program and it is just waaaaay too much fun. I think this is going to be a major player in my arsenal of awesomeness.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

tick...tick...tick...

I'm watching the days tick away in the countdown in my sidebar, and I can't believe it. Every day is one day closer to moving, to living in another country for three years. Moving sucks enough as it is, but how are the children going to handle it? How are we going to handle it, just logistically, with the children? How are we going to get the carseats there? (We do NOT have two pieces of checked luggage to spare, seeing as how we will be living out of our suitcases for God knows how long.) How do we decide which toys to pack in the suitcases, and what happens when one of the boys asks for one of the toys that we didn't bring, that we won't see for two months? Where are we going to live? How will we get through the day without the Disney Channel and especially Noggin? And how am I going to find Burt's Bees shampoo and conditioner in Japan?

I feel woefully unprepared for any move, let alone a trans-Pacific move. Day-to-day housekeeping is hard enough to squeeze into my day; purging my closets and cataloging my belongings is pretty much out of the question...but it must be done.

I am not knitting Christmas presents this year. There is just no way.

Brandon's birthday party is a week from today. Then comes Thanksgiving, then we get ready for Christmas. Then it really has to be down to the business of getting ready to move. There's just so much to be done. You have no idea how much unnecessary and redundant crap we have. And it all has to be sorted through. Oy.

On an unrelated note, Jack is so eager to stand up and walk, that he keeps on pulling himself up and letting go. Of course he falls down. Yesterday he busted his face on the coffee table. He looks like Rocky, and the coffee table has been temporarily removed. He seems to have inherited his brother's knack for getting facial injuries at the worst possible times. Looks like it's going to be another week or two before we take the pictures for the Christmas card. (Don't worry, he's fine. Just a little swollen over his eye. He's looking much better today than yesterday.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

"pumpkin" pie

There was an article in Yoga Journal recently, about tweaking traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier. They talked about how if you use fresh pumpkin instead of canned, you won't have to use as much sugar - not only because it is naturally sweeter, but also because you don't have to cover up the metallic taste. Well, that ruined it for me, because the next time I was feeding Jack canned pumpkin (mixed with applesauce), I tried some and I could definitely taste the metal. Darn it. Once I notice the metallic taste, it's all over. It was the same thing with cranberry sauce.

So I started keeping an eye out for pie pumpkins, but I haven't been able to find any. And I've read in a couple of places that if you can't find a pie pumpkin, you're better off using a butternut squash than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin (not that I can find any of those anymore, either). One website even said that commercially canned pumpkin is actually a variety of butternut squash, but I don't know about that.

Well anyway, it seemed like a reasonable idea, so I decided to try it. I bought a big ol' butternut squash, cooked it, pureed it, and baked it into a pie. It certainly did take less sugar to make it sufficiently sweet - only 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, whereas I usually use a full cup when I cook with canned pumpkin. The color of the finished pie was kind of beige-ish as opposed to dark orange, but it did look like a pumpkin pie. It smelled like a pumpkin pie, and I suppose it did taste like a pumpkin pie as well. It wasn't as if you could tell that it wasn't made with real pumpkin, but it did taste a little bland - there was a depth of flavor missing. It's a light and clean taste, but it just doesn't taste all that pumpkin-y. It's kind of like the difference between a Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks and one from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf - one tastes like pumpkin pie spice, and one has real pumpkin flavor. (FYI, the Pumkin Pie Blizzard at DQ is the most pumpkin-y thing I've tasted in a long time.)

The verdict: is butternut squash an acceptable substitute for pumpkin in a pinch? Yes. Are they interchangeable? No.

I'm going to keep on looking for pie pumpkins...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ohhhhhhhhhh...who lives in a pineapple under the sea...

Here are the gumpaste pieces for the Spongebob Pineapple cake.

One of the long leaves (drying on the blue vase in back) already had its tip break off, and it's not even dry yet. Well, there goes my extra piece, I'd better not have any more breaks! Next up: the flowers around the base of the pineapple; I'm making those by piping out royal icing. Hopefully I'll get to it today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

my latest photoshop project



That's supposed to be Brandon sitting on the bubble. As usual, I saved money on awesome birthday party invitations, and had fun doing it, by using Photoshop Elements and my Shutterfly discount plan (30% off of prints - I got 5x7's this year).

His cake is going to be Spongebob's pineapple house, in 3-D. I hope it comes out, um, not sucky.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

three things Brandon has said in the past two days

  1. Reading a book called "Who Lives in the Pond", I told him that the plants in the picture are called "cattails". After saying "cat-tail" several times, he pointed at the tadpole (which he usually pronounces "ta-poo") and said, "cat poo".
  2. Pointing to a picture of a child playing crash cymbals, "cymbals, crap." (He meant to say "crash".)
  3. Lying in bed with him at bedtime, he looks at my nose. "Boogies!"
    Me: "Oh, thank you for pointing that out."
    Brandon: "More boogies! ... Really really big boogies!"
You wait and wait for them to be able to talk, and when they do...it's totally worth the wait, let me tell you.

ETA: Jackson is standing in the crib, chewing on the railing while I change Brandon's diaper.
Brandon: "Eat crap!"
Me: "What??"
Brandon: "Eat crap!"
Me: "Ohhhh, eat crib? The baby is eating the crib?"
Brandon: "Yeah!!!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

this is my last politcal post for a long time, I promise. I'm getting weary of it all.

If you look at the demographics from the exit polls, voting on California's Prop 8 was almost equally split in every racial group except one - black people. 70% of blacks voted in favor of amending the state constitution in order to take away gays' right to marry.

I already wondered, in my twitter feed, whether this election marked a turning point, wherein one minority group passed the torch to another as the "most oppressed" in America. David Allen Grier did a sketch about this on Chocolate News last night, but he stopped just short of being really meaningful by leaving out the group who the torch actually was passed to - gays. And in a truly ironic twist of fate, it was was African Americans who handed the torch over with their own hands.

truly, hell is other people

It has been brought to my attention that I may be going to hell because I voted for the Antichrist. Well now. I'm sorry to disappoint the people who believe this, but I was already going to hell.
  • I have gay friends.
  • I use birth control.
  • I lived with my husband for six months before we were married
  • I gossip sometimes.
  • I have been rude and disrespectful to my parents.
  • I say "Jesus Christ!" waaaaaaay more often than I should.
  • I spent two and a half years going to yoga class instead of Church on Sunday mornings. Not only that, but there was a shrine to Ganesh in the corner of the room and we actually chanted at the beginning of class. And I want to start going again! Somebody save me from myself!
  • I read The DaVinci Code, and saw the movie, too.
  • I believe that Jesus had knowledge of Eastern religions, if it is 100% true that he actually said 100% of the things that The Bible says he did.
  • I do not believe that Jesus actually said 100% of the things that The Bible says he did.
  • The worst offense of all, I am Catholic. *gasp* At least I can go to confession and wipe my slate clean, right?
And of course, I voted for the Antichrist.

Can I just ask, honestly, in a spirit of really wanting to understand this, why so many people think that Barack Obama is the antichrist? It seems really, well, racist to me. If it were a white man who was so popular, who had so many people behind him, who was respected and admired the world over - he would be called a great man. But because it's a black man, he must be the antichrist? Hey, your bigotry is showing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

if you want to read about something other than the election today...

...here's a little bit about something completely unrelated that I'm outraged about.

I realized, though a serendipitous magazine article and some google research, that I am probably magnesium deficient. But how could this be? I'm still taking my prenatal vitamin, and surely that has all of the vitamins and minerals I need to be healthy, right?

Wrong. I looked at the label of my prenatal vitamins, and not a single milligram of magnesium. Magnesium deficiencies are linked to preterm birth and SIDS (not to mention depression, anxiety, heart problems, skeletal defects and a spate of other problems)...and they don't put magnesium in a nutritional supplement that is specifically designed for pregnant and lactating women? WTF??????

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I bought some sparkling apple-pomegranate juice, in case of celebration

You know what irritates me? (What doesn't?) Around the time of day that they're usually calling the election, I will be giving my kids their baths and putting them to sleep. It literally takes at least 2 hours to get through the whole process on a normal day. Brian is in Hilo for the week, which makes the whole thing a complete crapshoot - will Jackson fall asleep and stay asleep long enough for me to give Brandon his bath? Or will I have to let him sit with me on the bathroom floor? (And by "sit with me" I mean that he will be pulling up on the edge of the tub and trying to climb in.) Either way, I certainly won't be watching CNN. Rats. Stupid time difference.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

vote-y vote vote vote vote

(The title of this entry is to be sung to the tune of "Jumpy jump jump" or "Skippy skip skip" from Yo Gabba Gabba.)

I voted yesterday afternoon. It was a family event. I choose a booth at the end so that I could pull Jackson's stroller alongside and he could peek up at me from under the curtain. Brandon went in the booth with Brian.

It was my third presidential election, each one in a different state. (2000 - New York [absentee ballot]; 2004 - Louisiana; 2008 - Hawaii) I am really hoping that my candidate actually wins this time. Then the picture I took of my children in front of the "Vote Early Here" sign will mean something someday. My sons will be able to say: I was there when my parents voted in 2008. I was there when the world changed.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to say that if McCain wins, and that scary, scary woman is a heartbeat away from running the country, I'm gettin' the heck out of Dodge. HAHAHA, it's funny because I'm leaving the country regardless! I kind of don't have a choice. (See the left sidebar for a countdown.) And then someday, my boys can have their status as "real" Americans challenged because they lived in a foreign, non-Christian country for a while when they were young. Ah, well, at least there will be good sushi.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

for my homies, the theater folk...

...cause the rest of you will SO not get this.

I'm going to assume that they're not implying that Obama supporters are going to end up, well, massacred on Election Day.
(PS, the Valjean guy is my favorite.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

this started out about one thing, and kind of evolved in a spiral of bitterness...


This sign reads, "Navy Reserve - Now Hiring - Sign On Bonus Available, Money for School, ADVANCED TRAINING, Military Access, etc."

Wait...Military Access?? What exactly do they mean by this, and why are they using it as an incentive to sign up for the Reserve?

I'll tell you what it means: it means access to the Exchange for you and your extended family. (Because once you sign them in at the door, you know that your [civilian] buddies at the register won't check to make sure that they have a military ID, like they're supposed to.) It means using the Commissary as if it were a big-box discount warehouse, rather than a supermarket, so that those of us who use it as intended can't buy the things we need.

People shouldn't abuse military benefits in this way. But they do. When I saw this sign (in August) I was dumbfounded, because nobody would join up just for the "Military Access", would they? But I'm really starting to wonder. There's an attitude bubbling just under the surface, that that the military doesn't belong here, that we don't deserve the things we have. Why should we have it so good when the locals have so little? Many people seem to feel that they're entitled to use our facilities (like sneaking into housing and using the basketball courts, for instance - AKA trespassing on government property) simply because they happen to live nearby. (BTW, when you call the [civilian] security service about this, they straight up hang up on you!) As if the sacrifices that military families make mean nothing, that we should not be entitled to live in a safe, secure, comfortable neighborhood, free of obscene graffiti; as if all of the individual families who make up the collective "Military bitchs" (sic) are here because we each individually chose to live here specifically. As if I one day woke up in my bed in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, and decided, "you know what, I think I'd like to move to Hawaii and oppress the locals."

Don't get me wrong, I love Hawaii. I love living here. But I did not *choose* to live here, and throwing a shopping bag of fish guts out your car window and leaving it to decay in the middle of the street is not a particularly mature way to deal with your displeasure with my being here.

Neither is buying up all of the cherry yogurt.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

waiting for gabba

I realized today that the choreography on Yo Gabba Gabba reminds me of Waiting for Guffman. It added a whole new level to the show to imagine it as part of a Christopher Guest movie. Seriously. I mean, I've watched it from the point of view of "is this educational for my child?" (yes) and "would this be more awesome if I were high?" (probably), but it's always good to have a new way of looking at it, when you see the same episodes over and over again. (I also think it's fun to imagine Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as a Seinfeld episode.)

So the next time you watch Yo Gabba Gabba, imagine that it's being acted out by Parker Posey and Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard and all of those guys. It's so obvious, I don't know why I didn't see it before.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Super-Simple Nachos



On Super Bowl Sunday a couple of years ago, I decided to do a kind of party-food tapas. I didn't make any actual "lunch" or "dinner", just a bunch of fun, eat-while-you're-watching-TV kind of foods: wings, fries, nachos, etc. I invented my own "recipe" for nachos, which Brian dubbed "Supernachos", and it has been a part of our regular dinner rotation ever since. I don't think they're necessarily "super"; they're actually pretty basic. But they're good, and they're easy.

All you need is tortilla chips, refried beans, pickled jalapeno slices, and shredded cheese.


Spread a layer of chips on a microwave-safe plate.


Using a 16" pastry bag and a Wilton Cake Icer Decorating Tip (#789), pipe a layer of refried beans over the chips. I have tried many different methods of spreading the refried beans, and finally settled on this - it is by far the easiest, the least messy, and gives the best results.


Place some pickled jalapeno slices on top of the beans. I don't use as many as I used to; they used to be pretty thinly sliced out of the jar, but they've been really thick lately. You could chop them into smaller pieces if you wanted the heat and the delicious jalapeno flavor to be more evenly spread throughout the nachos.


Add a layer of shredded cheddar cheese. I personally like to use Kraft Mexican 4-cheese. (I don't like the "taco cheese", with the seasonings in it, but you could certainly use that if you do like it.)


Pop it in the microwave until the cheese is melted. It takes about 2 minutes in my microwave, but my microwave is old and always takes at least 30 seconds longer than the stated directions for ANYTHING. So maybe try a minute and a half first.


I usually make individual plates for everyone when we have this for dinner. This makes it possible to personalize it - for instance, mine gets more cheese, Brian's gets more jalapenos, and Brandon's gets no jalapenos at all. Last night I put some cilantro on mine.

This is particularly good served with homemade guacamole, but then again, everything is.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm so beyond caring enough to be polite

Almost two weeks ago, I placed an order for a part for Jackson's carseat. The part itself costs about $5, but nobody will ship it for less than $15. (Ridiculous!) I found one site that had the shipping cost listed as $5 (although the part itself was $6.99). So I placed an order...kind of. There was never any page to enter payment information. It said that I would get an email from a manager, and I was like...um, what? Okay...
So today, almost two weeks later, I finally got an email. It read:
"Hi
Sorry, we do not ship outside the United States
Huffman's"
That was it.

Usually when I'm pissed off and writing an email, I go out of my way to be civil and polite and intelligent-sounding. I try to never stoop to anyone's level. But I just don't have the patience for these people. So this was my response:
"Sorry, but Hawaii is part of the United States. Has been for quite a while now.
But thanks for getting back to me ever so quickly."
I mean, sheesh.

Monday, October 13, 2008

busy busy busy

I've been complaining a lot lately. Sorry to be such a negative Nellie. I have a friend who has the exact same birthday as I do (same year and everything) and he's been really intense lately with posting political stuff on Facebook. So I think that we both have the same kind of energy right now - I'm totally blaming it on astrology - it's just that he's channeling it into something somewhat productive, whereas I just come here and bitch. *shrug*

I do have some entries planned...For instance, I finally finished knitting that lace scarf, I'll post about it when I have it blocked. I've just been putting my energy into different things lately. I'm working on a knol about natural alternatives to shortening in buttercream icing. I joined Facebook and am totally addicted to it. I've been reading a lot; I was invited into the Amazon Vine program and I have some reviews to write. I've been doing a lot of work on the video montages for Brandon at age 1 and Brandon at age 2 - I'm working on them both simultaneously, in an attempt to get caught up. I'm still sorting through photos and video clips, and editing together the music. (These video montages will be posted on my family blog; if you would like to be granted access to the family blog, let me know. I'm obivously picky about who I put on the list, but I know that there are people who read this blog who I wouldn't mind reading that blog.)

I've been spending a lot of time chasing Jackson around, since he's started crawling. I've also been spending a lot of time holding him, since he got his 6 month shots on Friday and has been feeling a little cranky. He's also been waking up before dawn...seriously, it's dark out right now as I'm typing this and he crawls around the living room. Brandon's also been a little clingy lately as he gets used to the changes in his bedtime routine. (We started moving Jack into the crib, so Brandon has to be consierably quieter since the baby is asleep in the same room!)

I also managed to hurt my ankle yesterday...not sure if it's yet another sprain or not, it doesn't hurt all that much, but I kind of passed out a little right after it happened, which happened two or three times of the five or six times I've gotten sprains. (I've honestly lost count.) So things have been a little crazy lately. But on the bright side, I finally got my waffler/sandwich press/pizzelle maker. And I made pizzelles last night. And the angels sang.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

update

So I got a response from DeCA. Something to the effect that they can't impose limits, but they SHOULD be doing a better job to keep the shelves stocked, and if something sells that fast, it should be ordered more often. And if I were ever to actually witness somebody abusing the Commissary privilege, I should contact Base Police!!! (So...how would that go? "Somebody is trying to buy all of the Green Tea root beer! Bring backup!")

The funny thing is, they also forwarded my suggestion to the director of my specific Commissary. So when you consider that I also dropped off a complaint letter at the office yesterday (see the comments from my last post) - yeah, um, I guess I'm THAT guy. The one who has nothing better to do than write complaint letters. And yes, my full name was on both of them. And one of the baggers was giving me a funny look while I was dropping the letter through the slot in the office door. ("I know who wrote that letter about you! It was that crazy lady with the giant baby in the front-carrier!)

Maybe I'll shop at the Marine Base for a while.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

if you're one of the people who does this...SHAME ON YOU!

This is a comment that I submitted to the DeCA (Defense Commissary Agency) website today:

"I would like to suggest that a limit be placed on how many units of a single item one customer can purchase at one time. I can completely understand the temptation to buy up the store's entire stock of certain items, especially when they are priced at a fraction of their cost at civilian stores - however, I tend to be of the mind that "we're all in this together", and I know that I'm not the only person who wants or needs these items. So I buy only what I need for the next week or two.

It is EXTREMELY frustrating, therefore, when I do my weekly shopping and find that an item I regularly buy has been completely cleared out (often in the wake of a price cut). This happens with at least one product every single week. This week it was FIVE different products.* And once an item is out of stock, it is often weeks or even MONTHS before the item is back on the shelves. For instance: vanilla extract was gone for a month, and lemon juice has been gone for about two months now. The brand of peanut butter I like to buy was completely missing from the shelf today, and the last time that happened, it was almost three months before it came back.

Like I said, I can understand the temptation to stock up on items that are hard to find and/or expensive elsewhere...but it seems to me that in order to serve your patrons better, an attempt should be made to ensure that there is enough for everyone. Some of us can't afford to buy 20 jars of peanut butter or 30 bottles of lemon juice all at once, just to make sure that we will have some available to us when we need it.

So once again, I suggest that a limit be placed on the number of units of a single item that one person can buy at one time. Nothing too restrictive, obviously, but I think that perhaps one person coming through the checkout with 15 bottles of vanilla extract or 20 tubes of toddler toothpaste should raise some red flags."

* Toddler toothpaste, lemon juice, chocolate peanut butter, coconut oil, and Steaz Green Tea Soda in every flavor but key lime (which is nasty). According to their websites, the peanut butter and soda aren't actually sold ANYWHERE in Hawaii - except for the Commissary.

ETA: Actually it was seven things...I forgot about the two kinds of yogurt I like to get: YoPlus Cherry and DanActive strawberry/pomegranate-berry. Why on earth people buy up all of something PERISHABLE is completely beyond my comprehension. I know it isn't just that those flavors sell "faster" because the other flavors are *completely* stocked, so it's pretty obvious that one or two people came in and bought ALL of the one particular variety.

Friday, October 3, 2008

oh, puh-lease

Can I just take a minute to roll my eyes about how acai berries are the new fat loss trend? Just because something is good for you, it doesn't mean you should take it in pill form in an attempt to lose weight. Stop eating junk and start exercising. And if you're living your life in a healthy way and you still aren't as small as you'd like to be, maybe - just maybe - you should consider that you aren't supposed to be any smaller than you are. And maybe we should all try to develop an attitude where we eat things that are good for us because it is enjoyable to do so, because we like how it tastes and we like how it feels to be healthy - rather than viewing the things we consume as fuel for our weight-loss plans.

So, I'm going to go make an acai smoothie now - because it is delicious.

wtf?

The Britax Marathon is now available in Mossy Oak:

So that, you know, your child's carseat can blend in with the terrain when you go hunting. ...?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

let's all have a good laugh at my expense, shall we?

I wasn't going to post a picture because, frankly it's embarrassing as hell, but Josh asked so nicely, and I have to admit that it's pretty funny.

I baked a cake yesterday. I wanted to try using marshmallow fondant at least once before Brandon's birthday, because I want to make a truly awesome cake for him this year, and the way my mind works nowadays, that means fondant. What can I say, I've been watching a lot of Ace of Cakes and Food Network Challenge and I thought, well, I can do that! It's just cake. (Go ahead and read the site that I linked to, and see if it doesn't make it seem sooooo super easy!) I did, however, have the common sense to realize that I should try it a couple of times first.

I thought I'd start with something simple: just a 2-layer, 9-inch round cake. Easy-peasy.

I don't know if the fondant itself was the right consistency because I've never used it before. It certainly didn't turn out looking right. But that was the least of my problems. First of all, even though I used the same buttercream recipe that I used for my birthday cake two weeks ago (and the same size cake), and I had leftovers then, there wasn't enough to completely cover the cake. So the buttercream layer wasn't nearly as thick as it should have been.

Then, the ganache that I made for the filling turned out...just...not right. Apparently, Ghirardelli squares that are completely oxidized (to the point of crumbling to a fine powder at the slightest touch) make a pretty good ganache - this is what I used for my birthday cake. But Hershey's semisweet chips? Not so much. I don't know how it happened, but there were little chunks and bits of chocolate and it was just not right.

So maybe the filling being "off" contributed to the two layers sliding apart when I layed the fondant over the top. I don't know, but suffice it to say, the layers didn't stay where they were supposed to.

And when I started "smoothing" out the fondant - not only did the fondant start tearing, but the cake did, too.

So why didn't I peel off the fondant, reposition the cake (maybe make another batch of buttercream to help rebuild), then re-cover it? Because it was sticky as all get-out. Like I said, smoothing the fondant tore the cake. Maybe the cake was too moist. Maybe the sticky consistentcy is the way marshmallow fondant is supposed to be - after all, it is just marshmallows and powdered sugar. Or maybe I just f***d it up completely.

Anyway. Here's the picture. And yes, I know you're not supposed to refrigerate fondant-covered cakes...but I wasn't all that worried about ruining the finish.



Let's call it my cakey tribute to Josh's staph-infected-poison-oak-face. That makes it art, as opposed to just being sad.

It did taste delicious, though.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I express my opinion at the risk of being blacklisted by the New World Order

I'm sorry, but I just don't understand why the jackasses on CNN are talking about how horrible and irresponsible it was of the House of Representatives to fail to pass the Bailout, how they're supposed to do what's right for the country...wait, what???? They did! Because, you know, the last time I checked, America is a democracy. Which means that, first of all, the opinions of the constituents are supposed to matter; and second, this is not a feudalistic society, where the hard work of the serf peasant average man pays for the ruling class's right to do whatever the hell they want. There are other ways to fix the economy without giving people who f***ed up a free ride at the taxpayer's expense.

Two years ago, I had it as a goal to get my weekly grocery bill under $100. Yesterday, I paid $249 and was glad it wasn't higher. I fail to see how giving Wall Street $700 billion would help that situation at all. I thought Trickle-Down Economics didn't work?

So why are the pundits pissed off, when the rest of us are relieved? I don't get it.

http://www.truthout.org/bailout

Saturday, September 27, 2008

it was easier last time, because I didn't have a preschooler leaving chokable objects all over the floor

A couple of days ago, Jackson figured out how to roll from back to front. He did it once right before bedtime. The next morning, he not only had rolling pretty much mastered, but he was scooting around, too - rarely forward, sometimes backwards, often sideways, and lots of spinning around in circles (which he'd been doing for a while). He's actively going after Brandon's cool toys and books - which he's been eyeing enviously for quite some time now - and naturally, it all goes right in his mouth.

Jack is so enthralled with his new skills, and so intent on getting better, that he has become a real handful. No matter how tired he is, he doesn't want to go to sleep. (He woke up at 5:45AM today and hasn't napped for more than 15 minutes at a time all day.) He gets tired, and frustrated with not being able to move forwards, and he wants to be picked up...but then you pick him up, and he wants to be back on the floor. Then he's tired again. Over and over and over, all day long. If you try to sit him in your lap, he'll lunge forward towards the floor. (He actually did this a few weeks ago at the beach and face-planted into the sand...thank goodness he was wearing sunglasses to protect his eyes!) If you lie him on top of you, he'll roll off. And did I mention that he's refusing to sleep? I can't wait until this newfound mobility is old hat for him, so that I can get a break from following him around and helping him reach toys that he's unintentionally moving farther away from. Oh, and making sure he doesn't chew a corner off of Brandon's books.

I absolutley insist that everyone reads this

http://www.truthout.org/article/rfk-jr-and-mike-papantonio-is-your-vote-safe

Friday, September 26, 2008

how Brandon sings "Twinkle Twinkle"

(I feel it necessary to mention that he gets the form right and the melody really close.)

"Tinkle tinkle winneh staw,
how I wunnuh what you awww.
Up a diamond inna sky
tinkle tinkle winneh staw,
up a diamond inna staw,
tinkle tinkle winneh staw.
Yaaaaaaaaay!!!!!"

(Cross-posted from my family blog to lighten the mood around here.)

more ranting! yay!

I think that if a product is prominently featured in your circular, it would be a good idea to have it in stock when the sale begins. Making your customers wait 2 months for it to be shipped...not good form at all. I'm talking to you, AAFES. Making me jump through hoops to cancel my order is not making me happy, either. I kind of NEED that new carseat, like, NOW - my baby is fast approaching the weight limit for his baby bucket, if he hasn't already surpassed it - and I'm not going to buy it anywhere else until my order with you is cancelled. So just "get with me"* already so I can go ahead and give my business to somebody who has their shit together.

*When you submit a support request through the website, the message that comes up is that somebody with "get with you within 72 hours". Snicker snicker.

ETA: Well, thank you for cancelling my order, but you know, an email confirmation would have been nice. I shouldn't have to log on and check my order status to know that my order was, in fact, cancelled. Sheesh.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

political soapbox

I got an email today from Moms Rising with a pretty disturbing statistic - in 2004, 1 in 12 women didn't vote because they weren't registered. So if you haven't registered to vote...please go do that now.

And if you're one of the people operating under the logic (or lack thereof) that "I don't like either of the candidates, so I'm not going to vote at all" - that is right up there with the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. Your decision to not vote isn't going to mean that neither candidate wins the election. One of those people is going to win, whether you vote or not, so just pick the one who bothers you less, okay? Or else you have no right to complain.

Not to mention that the presidential election isn't the only election you should be voting in. You have local elections, too! Again, if you don't vote, you have ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to complain about the way things turn out. Freedom of speech, my ass. A Democracy is a contract between the government and the governed, and if you don't hold up your end of the bargain, then you're just a freeloading ninny. Grow up and vote.

I didn't mean to get quite so worked up, sorry. Okay, I'm done now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm actually pretty impressed.

Brandon's favorite book right now is Green Eggs and Ham. His favorite character is the goat, or as he says it, the "goap". Every page where the goat appears, Brandon points it out and exclaims, "goap!" He absolutely insists that that's how the word is pronounced. Or maybe it's just the Seussian goat that is a "goap", I don't know for sure.

Anyway, we decided that Brandon absolutely had to have a t-shirt with a picture of the goat, with the word "goap" under it. I scanned a picture out of the book, spent quite a lot of time in Photoshop, making the surrounding area in the image transparent, and painting out the stuff that bled through from the facing page. I uploaded it to Zazzle, designed my shirt, and placed the order yesterday.

I've gotta hand it to the folks at Zazzle, they're actualy paying attention. They immediately recognized it as a copyrighted image and cancelled my order. Good for them.

I'm still making the shirt. I'll just buy a blank one and print out an iron-on. It's not like I was going to sell it or anything - I just want a funny shirt that's only funny to me and Brian, that will only be funny for maybe a month or two until Brandon starts saying the word right.

GOAP!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

you know you're getting old when...

...your birthday present is a new keyboard for your computer. Not because you wanted one, but because you needed one, because you spilled miso soup on your old one and, as if that wasn't stupid enough, you didn't think to unplug it right away and it shorted out and stopped responding.

I did the same exact thing about 9 years ago, except with water. You'd think that I'd remember the lessons I learned back then, but...hey, what can I say, it was a long time ago and, as we have established, I am old. I mean - for my birthday, I got something that I not only needed, but that I needed right now, this is an emergency. At least we went out to dinner while we were at the mall.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

mice! yipee!

Number of mice we've captured and released: 7
How we've caught them:
In a drawstring bag: 3
With a Gladware bowl and a piece of cardstock: 1
In a backpack: 1
In a pack of diapers: 1
In a toaster: 1
In a snack cup: just barely missed getting 1
In a humane mousetrap: 0
Number of times an eyewitness saw a mouse enter the humane trap, pick up the food, and exit the trap without tripping it: 2
Number of mosquitoes I've killed with my bare hands (inside my house) since the mice scared off the geckos, allowing the insect population to skyrocket: too many to count

my brain might need an oil change, it's running a little sluggishly

Today I took the boys shopping. First we went to Toys R Us to get a present for the little girl whose birthday party we're going to on Sunday. What on earth does a 1-year-old girl like? I have no way of knowing, but I made my best guess and brought it to the register...at which point I realized that I didn't have my wallet. So I put the boys back in the car, drove home, grabbed my wallet from in front of the computer, got back in the car, went back to the toy store, and made my purchase.

Then we went across the street to the mall. Fist we had smoothies, then we went to The Children's Place to get some new jeans for both boys. As it turns out, neither of them has jeans in their current size - the last time I bought for Brandon was a year ago, and the first pair I bought for him was a size 12-18 months, so I don't have any hand-me-downs for Jackie right now. And yes, I do think it's important that my 5-month-old has jeans. Besides, they are $14.50 a pair or two for $22, so why not?

Anyway, I held up two pairs of jeans and asked Brandon which one he liked better - the one with the pockets and loops, or the regular ones. "Pockets!" Carpenter jeans it is. I grabbed a pair of Classics for Jack and went the register. As I was putting them down, I noticed that Jack's pair was a size 6-9 months, which was odd, since I had meant to grab a 12 month (I usually buy up a size when it comes to things like jeans and shorts). Once that was rectified, I paid, and we went on our merry way.

It wasn't until we got home that I noticed that Brandon's pair is a 24-month instead of a 3T. So I grabbed the wrong size - one size too small - two times in as many minutes. And now I get to go back to the frickin' mall to get the right size. Fan-freakin'-tastic.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

bullet-licious

It's been a while - I had family in town - so without further ado, here's some bullets:

  • The latest on the birthday party front: "Spuss-bop" aka, SpongeBob. I need to figure out what I'm going to do for the invitations to top last year's.
  • I made the cake. I understand some of Pablo's criticisms but I still think he's a dumbass. The moistness did, in fact, dissipate, or dessicate, or whatever the hell he meant when he said "designate", when individual slices were refrigerated. Not like a fog on its way to mass, though. I don't think I'll use the cake recipe again, but the frosting was awesome. None of my pirate guests said the cake was moist (it wasn't, particularly) but they did say it was delicious.

    Please excuse the blips in the decorating...I was working without a turntable and this was the first time my frosting was firm enough to actually decorate with it. (Yeah, so, I figured out why my buttercream never turned out right...I didn't have a stand mixer. All hail the almighty Kitchenaid.)
  • My nephews came to visit. They are 3-year-old twins (about 8 months older than Brandon). They got along fantastically. People tended to think that they were triplets, especially when they were dressed for the beach, since they all had the same rashguard. (Rock on Old Navy.) I will show you a picture, try not to let your eyeballs melt from the cuteness.

  • Participating in the timesuck that is Twitter has really opened my eyes to something that I already knew but didn't really think about: random people who I haven't met and probably never will may be reading my blog. So I'm not going to post pictures of my kids' faces here anymore. In fact, I think I'm going to go back and remove any pictures or videos of them that I have already posted. Call me wacky, but I just don't feel right about it anymore. If you'd like to be put on the access list for my family blog, let me know what your email address is, and if I know you, I'll add it to the list. You'll have to have a blogger account, but there's no other way to do it. (ETA: Nothing against you "strangers" who actually comment here, and whose blogs I read, too. I consider you to be people who I know. It's the randoms lurkers that worry me. No offense to the random lurkers, either...but if I don't know you, I don't want you seeing my kids.)
  • Jack cut his first tooth. I know exactly when it happened, too, because he was chewing on my finger at the time. Not many kids can say that they cut their first tooth on Waikiki Beach...my baby is very special.

Monday, August 25, 2008

(Alcohol-Free) Rum Syrup

3/4 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
3/4 cup water
4 capfuls McCormick rum flavoring (Yes, I was too lazy to use an actual measuring spoon. Just use the cap)

Combine in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the syrup has thickened somewhat. (It will coat the spoon.) Let cool and pour into a squeeze bottle; store in the fridge.

Use in your coffee, chocolate milk, pineapple smoothies, ice cream sundaes, etc.

You're welcome.

Friday, August 22, 2008

but how do you get crayon out of upholstery?

It should go without saying that a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can get crayon off of windowsills and windowpanes. But did you know that it can also, quite easily, wipe crayon off of a window screen?

The lesson: don't leave a 2-year-old alone in his room with a box of crayons.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I only have three more months to plan this thing!

It shouldn't be surprising that I'm already trying to plan Brandon's birthday party. (His birthday is at the end of November.) I say trying, because we haven't decided on a theme yet. I was so sure that he would want a Mickey Mouse party...but all of a sudden, he just isn't into Mickey Mouse anymore. I can't remember the last time we even watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It kind of makes me sad.

Well anyway, I often ask Brandon what kind of party he wants for his birthday: Mickey, Blue's Clues, Elmo, Yo Gabba Gabba, or trains. He usually says trains. At various times today alone, he said he wanted a train party; a train cake with Lion King balloons (you may note, I never offered up Lion King as an option, he came up with that all on his own); and a Yo Gabba Gabba dance party (he came up with the "dance party" part himself - which, coincidentally, is what the Nickelodeon website suggests).

While I was reading him his favorite book at bedtime, I got a fantastic idea - a Green Eggs and Ham party. A cake that looks like green eggs and ham! How awesome would that be? And the colors in that book are awesome. I pitched the idea to Brandon but I don't think he really understood what I was talking about. He was also a little distracted, asking me to lay the baby on top of him again and again - "Again, Mommy! Again! Eat Bennan hair!!" (He just thinks it's the funniest thing ever when the baby tries to eat his hair - which he invariably does when I lay him on top of Brandon, tummy to tummy.)

I'm still pushing the Blues Clues party - I actually think a big blue pawprint would be the easiest cake (and look the nicest), and I have such an awesome idea for an invitation. Although I could have a lot of fun with a Yo Gabba Gabba dance party, too. Just picture it - a cake shaped like a retro 80's boombox! I'd be buying party favors at Hot Topic!

The little bugger is probably going to insist on a train party, though. Ah, well, I have at least two parties to go with Jackson where he has no idea what's going on and I get to do whatever I want.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

let me be immature for a minute

When, on Saturday, I saw that there is an Olympic trampolinist (trampoliner?) named Dong Dong, I naturally went right to Google to try to find a picture or something to post as a comment on my husband's Myspace. Because that's the kind of thing he would find hilarious. I mean, after all, he has a Yankees jersey on his Amazon wishlist with the comment, "The word WANG is on this shirt!!!!" So...a bouncing Dong Dong? How could I not let him know about this?

Well, anyway, I googled this guy, and this article came up. The headline is...well, pretty darn hilarious. I have nothing else to say about it. It needs no comment. Just click on the link.

Monday, August 18, 2008

at least he understands the concept of "two"

The leaps of logic that it takes to understand a toddler's vocabulary sometimes border on mind-reading. For example: "two-ies" means "sandwich"; as in "two pieces of bread with stuff in between them." Twoies. Of course.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

at least it's only two weeks every two years

What I'm thinking while I watch the Olympics: "Wow, I really should get back in shape. I'm going to start actually exercising. I'll do some yoga every day and some other kind of exercise at least three times a week...I should start going to the gym again. Maybe I should start swimming laps?"

What I'm actually doing: staying up late, sitting on my ass, watching the Olympics. Possibly eating ice cream.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

in conclusion, ergo, thus, moreover, stay in school

While looking for recipes for strawberry shortcake in layer-cake form, I found this recipe. Being an obsessive reader of reviews, I clicked on the "Reviews" button and found this gem from Pablo from New York:
"DID NOT ENJOY THE CHUNKS OF MEAT....the jell-o mixd with baking powder instigated a poultry-like benign mass. THe one plus to this recipe is that it was SO VERY MOIST, or so it seemed. that is the one compliment i kept getting from my pirate guests. They were all like "Woah, this strawberry pie is so moist" and I was all like "Woah, Thank you kindly". However; after furthermore refridgeration the moist seemed to designate like a fog on its way to mass. IN conclusion, ergo, thus, moreover, this cake are good"

Wait... what?

  1. There's no jell-o in this recipe. There's a bit of a difference between jell-o and gelatin.
  2. The gelatin and the baking powder aren't supposed to be mixed together. The baking powder goes in the cake, and the gelatin goes in the frosting.
  3. Pirate guests? Does he mean polite? Or was he really serving strawberry shortcake to pirates?
  4. Wait, strawberry pie? I thought this was a recipe for cake? I guess that's what happens when you just throw all of the ingredients (or approximations thereof) into a pan together without reading the instructions.
  5. further+more = a completely different word that means neither "further" nor "more".
  6. I hate it when my moist designates. Especially when it designates not only like a fog, but like a fog on its way to mass.
  7. That last sentence almost made my brain try to escape through my ear. Do you think he typed "in conclusion" into a thesaurus and when 3 alternatives came up, he couldn't decide which one to use, so he just used all of them?
I think I'm going to try this recipe, despite the meaty chunks that might be instigated. I'm pretty confident that if I follow the instructions, it might just come out like a cake.

Friday, August 8, 2008

update

I can't believe that I haven't gotten around to mentioning this yet, but Brian's orders got changed. We're still going to Japan, but we're going in April instead of December. Those four months actually make a really big difference - I think that moving with a one-year-old will be a lot easier than moving with an eight-month-old would be. For one thing, we won't have to deal with his swing and exersaucer being in transit for two months (which is how long it takes for your stuff to get there) because he won't need them anymore. And he'll be old enough to use a CARES harness on the plane instead of a carseat, which is a pretty big plus if you ask me. (Even if it means that we'll have to spend the money to buy a second one - it is worth it.)

Having Christmas here will be much better than spending it in a hotel in Japan. (Even though we already sold our tree at our garage sale - we will just have to get a real one this year, I guess!)

Of course there are a couple of things about it that are a PITA. For instance, I had originally planned to sign Brandon up for preschool starting this fall. I was going to get him registered around April or May...but then we found out we were transferring in December. I didn't want to start him in school if he wasn't going to be able to continue in the spring, and the preschool on base where we're moving has a September birthday cut-off date. (So he won't be able to start there until next fall.) So I didn't sign him up.

But now that we're not moving until the end of April, Brandon could attend preschool for almost the whole year, and with him in school two days a week, I could go back to teaching music classes. (I can manage it with one child with me, but not with both of them!) But you can guess how possible it was to get him registered for preschool a month before it starts. He's #14 on the waiting list. "A spot might open up for him in December when all of the military families move," the lady told me. Yeah, that really helps me out. Thanks. Stupid Navy, always changing things around on us. Grrr.

But at least I have an extra four months to get ready to move. And another year before we have to get winter clothes for the boys. We'll probably miss the cherry blossoms, though. Bummer.