Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Best Ever Texas-Style Chili

Boyfriend brought a pound of ground venison to my house last weekend. Now, my family is not the hunting-type, so I've only had venison once and thought it tasted like cafeteria mystery meat. So, like any modern woman, I polled my facebook friends for what to make for dinner. Chili came in first with two votes, followed by tacos, then empanadas. Other suggestions included, "garbage" and "something you don't want to eat" which just made me laugh.

I used this recipe for inspiration and we went on our own from there. I love Fritos in my chili anyway, and any excuse to eat Fritos, and also, eating Fritos, so the Fritos and cheese were obviously the way to go. Justin said he added avocado and onions to his leftovers and it was even better. I'm eating my leftovers as I type this. Om nom nom.

As always, I'm guessing on the seasoning, because I rarely measure, or add more after I measured it, so, sorry about that. Can I just say that I really, really like this chili? Really.

Mmm, chili.

Best-Ever Texas-Style Chili
here, "Texas-style" meaning, without beans

2 lbs ground venison, beef, or both (we used one pound each)
1 14-oz can tomato sauce
1 10-oz can Rotel
1 4-oz can diced green chilies
1 t. dried oregano (Mexican would be best, but I ran out)
1 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder
2 t. ground cumin
2 T. chili powder
1/2 bottle beer (we used Bud Light)

Friends for your chili
Fritos (we like the Scoops)
Shredded cheese (we used cheddar)
Chopped avocado
Cilantro
Scallions or raw onion if you like that sort of thing

Cook the meat. Drain the grease if you want to or need to. Or don't, and live on the edge like us. Add the canned things, spices and beer. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for at least half an hour. Top with whatever you like on chili, eat with Fritos.


Here are the things I might change next time, just for the record:
1. Add real garlic and onions. It will add to the prep time, but real is usually better.
2. Add some heat: more green chiles -or- cayenne -or- a chipotle in adobo.
3. Try the masa-thickening method, not that it really needs it, just because it's interesting.

If you'd like, you can complete your Jordan & Justin Experience™ by drinking the other Bud Lights and watching Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World while you're eating, then serve crustless-pumpkin-pie-that-needed-more-sugar for dessert.

SOTD, now with yogurt

1 container Vanilla yogurt (I used Activia, because I got it for free from Kroger)
4 chunks frozen banana
5 frozen strawberries
1/4 c. frozen blueberries
orange juice

Blend. Enjoy.*

*Except the part where you have to drink it with two coffee stirrers instead of a straw because your straw broke in your purse on the way to work.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

First-Ever DIY: Thrifted Arm Warmers

We have already established that I love thrift stores (haven't we?) but now, thanks to Pinterest, they have a whole new dimension for me. What is it, you ask? Craft projects, my friends, cheap supplies for craft projects. I have quite a few blogs 'pinned' because they found something cheap at a thrift store and made something cool out of it. And today, I join those esteemed ranks. So let's get started.

I decided I wanted some arm warmers the other day. Because they're cute, and it's usually cold in my office where I type and click on things all day. Plus, it's getting to be wintery here in the NEOh and I don't like it. So there. My knitting skills haven't leveled up beyond Scarf World, and I've never learned to crochet, I had to come up with another plan.

The Plan: Find a cute and cheap sweater at a thrift store that fits your arms. (Obviously the rest doesn't matter since you won't be using it in this project.) Cut off the sleeves, add thumb holes. Ta-da! Arm warmers. 
The results of my thrift store trip. Total cost: $20.

Things You Will Need:
 - A sweater whose sleeves fit your arms pretty well (100% wool if you want to felt it)
 - Scissors
 - A bucket filled with hot water plus a little dish soap
 - A towel (if you are messy like me)
 - Rubber gloves
 - A blow dryer, or some patience
As you can see, I also had snacks on hand, as well as fabric glue and a sewing kit I didn't use.

Step 1: Cut off sleeves.
I recommend cutting them a little longer than you think you want the final product to be. I "measured" by putting one arm in, noting the stripe I wanted to cut, then taking it off and cutting it. If your sweater is not stripey, you might have to actually measure, or draw a line or something.

Step 2: Felting.
This is only possible (as far as I know) if your sweater is 100% wool. And it will cause skrinkage, so if your sleeves fit exactly how you want them to already, skip this step. The point of felting is to keep the material from fraying where it is cut by getting the fibers to lock themselves together, so agitation is your friend here. I did it because my sleeves were a little big, and so I wouldn't have to sew anything. I am, how you say, terrible at sewing.

Put the sleeves in the hot water + dish soap bucket. Put on your rubber gloves and pretend to be a washing machine, noises included if you are home alone and forgot to put in a movie before getting your hands wet. Do this until they are as felty as you'd like them to be. I didn't take mine all the way to true 'felt' because I thought they would shrink too much. You know it's felted when you can no longer see the original knitting stitches.
Left side: Original sweater. Right side: After felting. See how the stitch is kind of indistinct?

Step 3: Blow dry or learn some patience.
I wouldn't recommend blow drying them. Why? Because it took forever and didn't really work. If I wasn't so impatient, I would have spread them out on a towel and let them dry overnight. But instead, I continued to the next step with damp arm warmers. (If you have a clothes dryer, that would work too, but it might shrink some more, so keep that in mind.)
This is me invading the sleeve's personal space with my blow dryer.

Step 4: Cut thumb holes.
Once again, I "measured" using the stripes on the sweater. I laid the sleeve out, put my hand on it so the opening was under my palm, noted which stripes were under my thumb, then cut a hole opposite the seam. Again, since I felted the material, I didn't have to sew anything here. 
I cut through that black stripe because it's where I wanted my thumb to come out.

Step 5: Final touches.
For me this meant cutting off the fuzzy back edge and letting them dry the rest of the way. If you didn't felt, you'll probably need to sew your raw edges at the back and around the thumb holes so they don't fray. Or use fabric glue, or some kind of magic. If you want to add any embellishments, ribbon or whatnot, now would be the time to do that too, but I like mine the way they are.
Close up of fuzzy edge removal.
Step 6: Wearing your awesome project and taking dorky pictures of them. Ta-da!

Maybe if you'd wear a shirt with sleeves when it's cold out, you wouldn't need arm warmers.

Final Cost of Project: $2.00 for a thrift store sweater, so technically less than that, if I end up using the rest of the sweater for something else. If I don't, I'll give it to my sister since she cloth-diapers her kids.

Difficulty Level: Meh. It wasn't hard, just a bit time-consuming.

Satisfaction Level: Pretty high. I wore them the next day and they were toasty-warm. And since I picked a multicolored stripey sweater to begin with, they should go with lots of my clothes. (I am clever like that.)

The end! Hope you enjoyed my first foray into the DIY crafting blogosphere!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Food: Birthday Cakes

I have recently begun nominating myself to make people birthday cakes.
Why?
Because I like to. And because I don't like DQ ice cream cakes, which seem to be the default in our family. And because I can always use the practice. And because I know they will be tasty and ::insert the I-bake-from-scratch-snooty-face:: not box-mix-pre-fab hullabaloo. [Aside: I spelled "hullabaloo" correctly on the first try, even though that might be the first time I've used that word in my life.]

Here's the first cake I ever put any effort into decorating, including learning to basket-weave the sides because that is what my mom wanted on the cake. (Chocolate with chocolate cream cheese frosting.)

 Lisa - Chocolate Basket-Weaving (06.21.10)
The outside of this next cake was plain on purpose, to disguise the fact that insides were meant to look tie-dyed. Jenni loves tie-dying things, so I thought it was a clever idea. (Almond cake with cream cheese frosting.)

Jenni - Tie-dyed Layers (11.21.10)
This is the smoothest I've ever gotten butter cream to look, and the only time I've liked the look of text I've piped. Amie likes Celtic things, so I looked up some Celtic fonts and sketched it out first. And I free-handed the design just out of my head. I was pretty proud of it. (Chocolate cake with probably cream cheese frosting but I don't remember.)

Amie - Smoothed Frosting (04.24.11)
I put these together in one post, because they were more about experimenting with techniques. The people they were made for seemed to enjoy them, which is always the best part. Well, that and eating them later.

And don't judge me: cream cheese makes the best frosting. FACT.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sketch: Several of Me

If you were to look back though all of my sketch books, you would see that I tend to draw myself as a some kind of character. I don't know why. It's something I started once and just haven't stopped. I am partially convinced it's a sickness.
The cartoon me has gone through quite a few iterations, one of which is my relatively-recent Faceless series, and another that lasted through a lot of the college years. That character was usually accompanied by a small cat, and doing weird things like hitting a large pile of Jell-O with a bat. (I really need to get those scanned and onto the blogosphere.)

Today, for not really any good reason, I drew another one. It's pretty similar to the college one actually.

Sketch: Regular Me, 10.28.11

Actual picture of me included for comparison. Unlike the cartoon, I have a neck.
Also, it's not doing anything other than standing there.

...

There. I just drew a new one.

Sketch: Halloween Me

Now it's wearing my Halloween costume.
But, I was thinking of wearing a different costume to Karla's birthday party tonight.

Sketch: Fairy Princess Me

What do you think? It's certainly fancier than Pikachu.
But the best costume I've ever had was the time I dressed up like a really convincing pine cone.

Sketch: Pine Cone Me

Disclaimer: I never dressed up like a pine cone.

...

Did I mention that I think it's a sickness? Now I can't stop! Ahhh!

Several of Me

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Food: SOTD* Dole-Whip Style

6-8** chunks frozen pineapple
3 frozen strawberries
1-2*** coconut milk ice cubes
orange juice

This one makes the best-ever list. If you know anything about my unmitigated love for Dole Whip, telling you this smoothie reminds me of it is saying something. I don't have any kale today *gasp!* because I couldn't find it at Giant Eagle, but I bet there's enough fruit power in this to make a green smoothie too, if you so desired. I couldn't even take a picture of it, because I was too busy nomming, but it would also make the prettiest-ever list, coming out the perfect shade of pink. (Aww. Now get in my belly!)

* Smoothie of the day
** I didn't count. I'm just trying to remember how many fell out of the bag.
*** I had one regular and two tiny ones. So it was probably like 1.25, but more wouldn't have hurt it.

What I Do In My Spare Time

I am grateful, on a daily basis, for how good I am at entertaining myself. 


video

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cake Pops and Life Lessons

Last weekend, my friend Lyndsey came to stay with me for a few days because she was throwing a baby shower for our friend BreAnn. I didn't know until we got home from the airport that it also meant we were in for a two-day marathon of baby shower crafts, and even though I was grumpy from not getting much sleep and driving out to East Jesus Nowhere, it all turned out wonderfully. It was probably the cutest (not cutesy. cutesy = puke.) baby shower ever, and people seemed to actually enjoy themselves, which I find to be a rare thing for showers.

The whole shower was robot-themed and one of Lyndsey's ideas was to make cake pops shaped like robots from this book. Now, you probably haven't heard me expound on my feelings for cake pops, so I will indulge myself now by doing so again. [Disclaimer: Up until last weekend, I had never had a cake pop because I thought they were weird. So, the only one I've had is one I made.]

Cake pops are made of cake crumbs. Cake crumbs glued back together with frosting. Am I really the only one that finds this weird? You bake a cake, crumble it up, then mash frosting into it until it is the consistency of play-doh or some crap, and roll it into balls. Furthermore ::insert the I-bake-from-scratch snooty face:: the recipe calls for boxed cake mix and canned frosting! Bleh. So, we (the recipe and I) met in the middle by using a boxed mix and making the frosting from scratch.

Long (long, long) story short, here is my advice on cake pops:
1. Don't use canned frosting on account of how it tastes like Crisco. Unless maybe they're just for kids because kids will be all YAY! CAKE ROBOT! and not care what it tastes like, or will just eat the candy faces off them like Bre's adorable little brother did.
2. Give yourself a lot of time to make them, especially if you've never done it before. You will be swearing* at them a lot, mostly when the filthy little buggers fall off their gorram sticks into the em-effing mug of candy melts for the fourteen-thousandth time. Believe me, the swearing level ranks up there right behind Mario Kart and being an olde-timey sailor.
And most importantly,
3. Don't make cake pops. I mean it. Even after making them myself, I still thought they had the consistency of cake-I-already-chewed-on-for-a-minute (plus I could taste that it was box mix, even with the real buttercream, but I am weird like that.) Furthermore, it will make your friend who asked you to make the cake pops wonder if you hate her forever for making you make cake pops. Luckily for everyone, I don't hate her. I just also don't want to make cake pops again.

But in all seriousness, I'm kind of glad I had the experience now. I thought they were weirdos beforehand, and since I made them, I can now say for sure that I still think that. And at least I can say I know how to do it if I ever get asked to again, even though I will likely refuse unless I love you a lot and your life depends on me making you a weirdo dessert on a stick. And they turned out pretty adorable and people at the shower told me they really liked them. So, all good things in the end.

My first (and possibly last) foray into cake-poppery.

*swear words changed to protect my parents from realizing I know real swear words.

EDIT: I don't still hate cake pops. I almost like them now.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Food: Smoothies

This post written by popular demand.*

Today we break down the smoothies I've been making into more of a "recipe" format. Now, as you may or may not know, I don't generally cook with recipes. If it's something new, sure, but even then I will usually have different ideas about it, or not measure things, or forget to buy something at the store. So recipes from me personally are usually more like this: me rambling and you doing your best to figure it out. Got it? Good. Let's go.

1. Choose your hardware. Justin uses his Magic Bullet. I use my blender base + a mason jar because I am the coolest person ever that constantly trolls the interwebs. You might use a regular blender. I'm not here to judge.
2. Choose your frozen things. My standbys are: 4-5 frozen strawberries, and 2 coconut milk ice cubes.
3. Choose your other ingredients. I like: a small-medium banana (sometimes this is in the frozen category), a good-sized handful of kale (stems removed), a scoop of protein shake mix, some cinnamon.
4. Choose your liquid. My go-to has been whole milk, but sometimes I also like orange juice. I prefer thick smoothies, so I err on the side of less liquid. (you can always add more, you can't add less! {thanks mom!})
5. Put all those things in your blending thingy. I don't know if the order matters. Probably not.
6. Blend! Blend like there's no tomorrow! Blend like no one is watching! Blend the night away! Okay, not really, because you'll be late for work or whatever. But that kale does take quite a bit of blending to work in.
7. Adjust if needed. More liquid, another strawberry, etc.
8. Drink! Love! Dance about!

Note to self: Dear Self, This is how most people write recipes:

Ingredients
4-5 frozen strawberries
2 cubes frozen coconut milk
1 smallish banana, broken into pieces (optional: frozen)
1/2 c. kale (stems removed)
Optional: Protein shake mix
Optional: Cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 c.Whole milk, coconut milk or orange juice

Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until kale is very tiny.
Warning: Smoothie will be gross-colored. Drink it anyway.


*Not really, it was just Karla.

Friday, September 23, 2011

WTF: Thrift Store

Confession: I love thrift stores. I actually peruse them rather frequently, because when someone says, "I like your shirt," I like to be all, "Thanks, I paid a nickle for it!" It gives me a pleasant feeling of pride which if it leads to a fall, will probably only also be about a nickles-worth. {Aside: The more you type the word, "nickle" the less it looks like a word.}

Today, however, I'm not here to talk about cute and cheap clothes from thrift stores. I'm here to ask thrift stores the world's most pertinent question: WTF, mate? I would hope all of you allot some of your thrift store time to wander through the housewares and knickknacks {also doesn't look like a word} just to see what kind of random total crap has ended up there. I find weirdest, creepiest, most-random object and send a picture of it to a loved one with a caption that says, "I got you this for [insert up-coming holiday]."

FACT: This game is why camera phones were invented.

So without further ado, the proof. Here are my two most-recent Thrift Store finds.

WTF Dinosaur Mug

A mug with dinosaurs. Not that weird for a kid, right? Wrong. I was carrying littleQ when I saw this, and pointed it out in an oh-look-dinosaurs kind of way, then instantly regretted doing so. How do you explain sitting-in-a-pond-while-smoking-a-cigar dinosaur to your nephew? Furthermore, the other one is listening to a Walkman-- talk about waaay before his time.

WTF Ugly Pioneers

Does this one really need any explanation? Not only are those people hideous enough to make you wonder who owned them before they got to a thrift store, but I found the setup quite entertaining. It wasn't until I went to take the picture that I noticed the Virgin Mary clock/statue (?!) in the background, so I adjusted my framing to accommodate The Rule of Thirds.

I play this game almost constantly, so stay tuned for my next edition-- WTF: Coupon Magazine.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Food: Rosemary Almonds

I have a weird love affair with rosemary. And by "weird," I mean "one-sided." I'm sure it would love me back if it could, but it is sadly inanimate. "Sadly" because of this conversation, circa whenever I was about six.
Me: This chair is my friend.
Dad: You can't be friends with inanimate objects.
Obviously that leads to being 26 years old and having secrets like your unmitigated love for an herb. But I digress. Exponentially.

Today I discovered a new paleo food blog called Nom Nom Paleo, and thought this recipe for Rosemary Almonds sounded good. I picked up some almonds on my way home today, and it's a good thing I did, since I forgot the sauce I'm making for dinner needs to simmer for approximately nineteen years and I am a hungry bear! Except for the part about how I am not really a bear.

So I made them mere moments ago. I halved the recipe (except for the butter, since I can't count or read or something) and didn't use all the seasoning because it seemed like a LOT of salt.

Rosemary Almonds FTW!

Verdict: Delicious! I'm not a huge almond fan, but they're good for you, so I eat them. I like those cinnamon and chocolate flavored ones, but I know the flavoring is held on with cornstarch or some crap, and that I am not a fan of. So here's a new conversation.

Me: *eats first almond*
Me: Hmm. It's okay.
Me: *eats another almond*
Me: Actually, they're pretty good. And not too salty!
Me: *eats several more almonds*
Me: I should stop eating and go blog about these almonds.

The moral of the story is, eating these almonds will convince you that you should keep eating these almonds, which will lead to eating more almonds until you distract yourself with something shiny.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Story About How Awesome I Am

If you are at all like me (here "like me" meaning, "picky about smoothies") you will like this. I generally vote no on adding ice to smoothies (smoothies from coffee shops? always disappointing.) But I do like them to be really, really, really cold. Otherwise they kind of gross me out, especially the green ones. (Peanut butter and kale protein shake? Nein danke.) So...

Problem: Smoothies not cold enough

Obviously, frozen fruit is the first solution, but what if someday you wanted one that didn't have fruit in it? Regular (cow) milk, doesn't freeze well in my experience. Plus, you need some kind of liquid to blend it, so that rules out the milk or juice. I like that ice cream that's made from coconut milk (So Delicious!), and smoothies are best when they are the consistency of milkshakes (because, hey! milkshake for breakfast!), so I figured, why not freeze the coconut milk (benefits: good-for-you fats, tasty deliciousness) that I already add to smoothies? 

And it worked! My smoothie this morning was the best green smoothie I've made to date. It was super cold, covered the kale taste, and had the consistency of a milkshake. Oh, and I also took Kerry's advice, and added some cinnamon. Om nom nom. So...

Solution: Make coconut milk ice cubes.

How-To:
Buy a can of coconut milk. (I like the red one, called Thai-something-or-other. Not the stuff in the box; it's mostly water.) Find an ice cube tray. Fill it with coconut milk. Freeze, probably overnight.
When ready to use, pop some cubes out (I used two), and add to smoothie. (You might have to run some water on the bottom of the tray to get them out.)
Also, my can of coconut milk was about 2/3 gone, so it only made 6 ice cubes. I don't know how much a full can would make. More than 12, I'm guessing. (Or, "math-ing" if you will.)

I am aware that to fully test this theory, I will have to make a smoothie without banana, since that adds to the creamy texture. I might do that for dinner tonight or breakfast tomorrow, since I chickened out about adding an avocado to the one I made yesterday. Strawberry-banana is my go-to smoothie flavor, but I might burn out on it if I don't expand my horizons. And my-boyfriend-the-personal-trainer would say it's still pretty sugary, on account of the banana. Therefore, I'm thinking an avocado/strawberry/lime/coconut/kale smoothie is in my near future.

Green smoothie, now with frozen coconut milk!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Design: Invisible

This was another prompted piece; this time the word was "invisible." I also wanted to experiment with text as a texture, and this is the result.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Primal Challenge 2011 - Day 1

And in this corner, weighing in at 139 pounds and getting pestered by her boyfriend to do it, we have AlwaysGettingLost joining the 2011 Primal Challenge. :) I'm kind of easing into it again, since I've got stuff at home I'm not going to let go to waste just because it isn't primal.

Goals
1. Feel better. Eating crap makes me feel like crap, but I keep doing it. No more.
2. Get stronger. My nephews keep getting bigger, and I'm going to want to keep picking them up for hugs, so I'll have to keep lifting heavier things.
3. Look better. I'd like to not feel awkward in a swimsuit for once in my life.
4. Generally eliminate the junk. It doesn't bother me to eat bread or pasta occasionally. Mostly it's my soda/chips/fast food habit that I want to break.

Fuel
B: Coffee (whole milk, sugar)
     Smoothie (banana, strawberries, orange juice, kale, Greek yogurt, coconut milk)
S: String cheese
L: Salad (romaine, cheese, banana peppers, pepperoni, homemade yogurt/herb salad dressing)
     Hard-boiled egg
     Fruit 2O Water (Peach flavor)
     2 prunes
S: Iced coffee (half&half, simple syrup)
D: Zuppa Toscana (sausage, kale, pasta, chicken broth, heavy cream)
     Water
S: Frozen peaches

Sleep
~4 hours, lots of waking up from street noise

Sun
~10 minutes at lunchtime

Exercise
Newp.

Pictures
My first ever green smoothie! (Pre-blending, obviously.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Food: Monstrosity Brownies

I have mentioned before my love of Pinterest. And obviously, I love to cook and bake. And even more obviously, I love chocolate, because only total weirdies don't like chocolate. So when I saw a picture of brownie batter being poured over chocolate chip cookie dough that had been covered with Oreo cookies, you know I had to make that crap ASAP.

Crappy cellphone picture of what I like to call Monstrosity Brownies.

And they were glorious. I had friends over for dinner and BJ, who notoriously doesn't like sweets even said he liked them. So, there you go. I also brought some in for my dad and my co-workers Jonathan and Joseph this morning, just to spread the love... or the calories... or the sickness. Whichever you prefer.

The original recipe/madness is here, but I didn't follow it exactly. I just used the concept, so here's my altered recipe. Since it was just a ridiculous experiment, I bought pre-fab ingredients. No snooty face. Every rule has an exception, right?

Monstrosity Brownies (makes 16)
- 1 tube of pre-made cookie dough (mine: Great Value Chocolate Chip)
- 1 package of chocolate sandwich cookies (mine: Double-Stuf Oreos)
- 1 box of brownie mix (mine: Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge, I think)
- And whatever your brownie mix calls for, i.e. water, oil and eggs.
- Square baking pan (9x9)

Line pan with aluminum foil, with enough over hang to use for handles later.
Mash cookie dough into one layer in the bottom of the pan.
Line Oreos up across cookie dough. My pan held 16. (If they are evenly spaced, you will have nice guidelines to cut by later.)
Make brownie mix according to package instructions, pour over cookie layers. I had to use a spatula to spread it around, then I tapped the pan on the counter a few times to be sure it filled in the spaces between the Oreos.
Bake at 350F (ish) for 40 minutes (ish) until a toothpick inserted near the center (but try to miss the Oreos) comes out clean. Mine were still kind of gooey, but I like them that way.
Let cool, or mostly-cool before cutting (serrated knife, clean after every cut), serving, eating and going into a well-deserved sugar coma.

I might do it again in the future with different flavors of cookie dough and/or brownie mix. And if they ever bring back the peanut butter, or even better coffee-flavored Oreos, I will be all over that.

P.S. Elsewhere on the internet, I've also heard them called "Slutty Brownies" which is hilarious.

Motivational Story: Edwardo Eel

I wrote this story back in April of 2009 for my college friend/arch-nemesis, Kyle, via Instant Messenger (hence the lack of punctuation and capital letters). His reply to it was, "That is a terrible story." As everyone knows, that really means he loved it.

Edwardo Eel
once upon a time there was an eel named edwardo.

edwardo was very smart, but didn't like to apply himself to the task at hand (figuratively speaking, because, of course, everyone knows, eels don't have hands).

so one day, edwardo was watching underwater tv and talking to his friends online (typing with his face, of course, because, everyone knows, eels don't have fingers).

when suddenly, out of the blue came a terrible blood-curdling scream!

although, since they were underwater, it just sounded like blub blub blub.

which is less than terrifying, unless you're an eel and can understand the subtle nuances of those sounds and since you're not, you'll just have to take my word for it.

so, being the heroic eel that he was, edwardo rushed towards the sound, hoping it was not too late to be of service!

but it was.

furthermore, the fish that made the horrible sound that edwardo heard was totally and irrevocably dead, having been attacked by a bear.
 

little did he know, the bear was actually hungry for eel and the fish attack had been a trap all along.

so the bear scooped edwardo out of the water and bit him in half.
edwardo lived long enough to see his midsection devoured by a bear and to wish he had been at the library, and not shirking his duties.

so the moral of the story is, you should do your homework or a bear will trick you into being its dinner.

the end.


After I wrote this story, I found out that no one is named Edwardo. "Eduardo" is the more common spelling, among humans, at least.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Design: ITKOG

This came from a self-guided practice session on designing with only text. If you know me at all, you know that I love words and text and fonts and quotes. 

This is the name of a band a couple of my friends were in at the time, which I chose because there were a lot of different letters to play with. Their website is here, but it says their ITKOG projects are currently on hold.

ITKOG Design - (08.14.08)


I made a couple different versions of this idea, but that one is my favorite. I wish they would've made t-shirts of my sweet design. Maybe I'll just make one for myself anyway because I am cool like that.

That squiggly lower-case G is one of my favorite letters.
Don't look at me like that. You have favorite letters too.
Admit it.

Sketch: Wander

I drew this one day because there was a was some kind of word-per-day inspiration/challenge thing going on over on Kal's blog. The prompt for the day was "wander" and this drawing actually ended up spawning a series of similar drawings, which was new for me.

WANDER - Faceless1 (02.03.10)
In a way, they're all me (hence the 'self-portrait' label). Obviously the words are mine, and they're all female. (And I was wearing a shirt similar to that when I drew it.) But that doesn't mean the series won't change, since I'm still doing them every once in a while. Maybe I'll stop when I get to seven, you know, like the Harry Potter books.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Food: Lego Cake

I made this cake for Q's second birthday. (Can you tell I love my nephews?) Obviously the frosting could be smoother, but I thought it came out pretty well for a first attempt at anything like that.

It's a 13"x9" cake, cut into thirds vertically, with one third cut in half horizontally. Got it? Good. And what makes them look like blocks are marshmallows cut in half.

Lego Cake (01.29.11)

Have you ever tried to frost 24 half-marshmallows in four different colors? It is more difficult than you might think!

Original inspiration for this cake here. Instead of box mix and canned frosting (::insert snooty face::), I made this cake and cream cheese buttercream. And Quinn was really excited about it, so you know, that's what really counts.

Design: Alphabet Posters

I saw something like this online (Pinterest: the source of a million ideas I might never get around to) and made my own version for my nephews' rooms. They're 24x32 inch posters that we printed in-house at work and my sister-in-law framed and hung up. 

Alphabet posters for Q&E (08.18.11)

Ironically, I'm going to pin that image to Pinterest now, so it shows up on the board my sister-in-law made for the kids' rooms. Ha!

In the spirit of Link With Love, you can find the poster that inspired my design here. Oh Pinterest and Etsy, two of my biggest time-wasting sites in one post

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Design: DinoLove

Rawr. It means, "I love you" in Dinosaur. I made this in about five minutes in MX Freehand.

DinoLove (04.01.09)


When I made this, I was told I should make it into a shirt for my nephew. Now I have two nephews and still haven't gotten around to that. Putting the "pro" in procrastination since 1984!

Sketch: Grammar Rage

This is how I feel about terrible grammar. I make that face and my hair is like Pikachu.

Grammar Rage (02.18.11)


And I've recently discovered that I feel the same way about people who review recipes where they changed nine thousand things about the way it was written. You can ask my coworker. I am frequently trying to kick shins through the computer. Sadly, to no avail.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bad at blogging

I am not a good blogger. It's not self-deprecating if it's the truth, is it? :)

Justin frequently tells me I should do a humor blog or something, because I draw weird pictures that I think are funny, and frankly, I'm pretty much hilarious. But I just don't think I could keep up. I have read a lot of blog posts about the pressure to keep up with previous hilarity once you have a following. And it's always disappointing when something you really like on the internet just stagnates. (I'm looking at you, Homestar Runner!)

My brother says the key to blogging is to store up a bunch of posts in advance, so that you can keep up some regularity on the days where you don't have time to blog. Or don't want to. Or, I don't know, have a regular life. Haha.

Maybe I should try it. Whenever I go through my old sketchbooks, the stupid crap in there still cracks me up, even though it's from years and years ago. It's funny how I don't really remember the girl I was in highschool. I must have done more "finding-myself" in college than I realized at the time. Thanks, college.  But then again, the majority of my closest friends now are the friends I had in high school. So, the real me must have been in there somewhere too.

One of these days, maybe I will drag out my scanner and start going through that stuff.

I will be the first recipes/art/humor/food pictures/graphic design/silly drawings/morbid motivational stories/whatever else-blog on the entire interwebs! Mwahaha!

Wait. No, no, probably not.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food: Moose Tracks Inspired Cupcakes

The Moose Tracks Inspired Cupcake
Andrea and Jenni came over last night to help me with the crazy idea I had to try to convert Moose Tracks ice cream into a cupcake. It didn't turn out quite like I hoped, but the end result was still delicious. So much so, I wish I would have brought one to work so I could be eating it right now.
We started with Love & Olive Oil's Go-To Vanilla Cupcake. I thought the cider vinegar in the milk seemed weird, but her recipes have never let me down before, so I went with it. Since it was an experimental cupcake and going to be filled, I doubled the extract and skipped the bean for cost effectiveness. I also used whole milk instead of soymilk, because that's what I have at home.
I had planned on making a filling out of Peanut Butter & Co.'s Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, but the recipe I used (which called for regular peanut butter, not chocolate) resulted in the peanut butter going from looking like chocolate peanut butter to looking like ground beef. No joke. It was weird, but Andrea and I figured if we ever need to make something look like a taco, we'll know how to do it. So we filled one trial cupcake with it anyway. After I frosted it and Andrea swirled melted chocolate into the frosting, we cut it into thirds and ate it. [For the record, a third of a cupcake is quite a mouthful.] The consensus was that the overall taste was good, but the clay-like, slightly gritty texture of the filling was weird and vaguely unpleasant. Maybe we should have tried the chocolate peanut butter by itself, but I didn't think of it at the time.
So we moved on to Plan B.
...
We didn't have a Plan B, because I'm always so sure things will just work like I want them to.
So we made up a Plan B. 
The result was mixing the melted Toll House Chocolate Chunks with some Half & Half, resulting in a ganache-like substance that, as ganache should, just tasted like melty chocolate. It would probably horrify any ganache purists (if there is such a thing) since it was made from Chunks (oh no! the stabilizers!) and Half & Half instead of cream and all done in the microwave. But it worked, and tasted good, and that is the material point. So shove it, purists. :-P
We made such a mess with the peanut butter filling we didn't feel like getting out the piping bag and trying to do the half-chocolate, half-vanilla frosting I planned. So I just used an offset spatula and the vanilla buttercream (also, without the bean) from the recipe. [Can I just say that's the best vanilla frosting I've ever had? I could have just eaten that by itself. Okay, I so I did eat some of it... and saved the extra to eat more of later...] Then we finished them with the mini Reese's cups I bought for the occasion and some chocolate shavings so they wouldn't look so lonely up there. The verdict for me was: delicious cupcake, but not very Moose Tracks-y, so if you were going to market them, we'd have to change the name.
I also had to cut one in half to see if it matched the diagram I drew for it the night before (because I am a total geek), and lo and behold, it did! Well, mostly.

The halved cupcake, the the diagram.

This morning I realized they ended up the inverse of the classic Hostess cupcake -- vanilla cake with chocolate filling and vanilla frosting. Had I thought of it last night, we would have left off the Reese's cup, flattened the frosting and piped a little curly line of chocolate across the tops. Oh well. Looks like I'll have to update the diagram for next time. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

2010Holidays, Part the Second

...and by later, I meant, ten days later.

The point really wasn't what I made, or what I got for Christmas. It never is.

This is the first year that I've gotten to see almost all of my family and friends for around the holidays. I missed some of the K-side family because I didn't go to Christmas breakfast, and I sadly didn't hear back from Andrew before he returned to Kuwait, Nick is in NYC and Steph's family is in Texas now so she didn't come home. But that was about it.

I had quite a few glorious days off, making nice long weekends where I could cook, bake, shop and spend time with Justin or the friends and fam.

I don't know if I can actually put it into words. I guess what it comes down to was the prevalence of feeling loved and if everything was right in the world. Even the friends I didn't see were with their families, and Justin's mom had to work, but he got to see her a few days before and spent Christmas with my family.

I belong here. And I love them all.

I know my "home" will always be wherever my family is making dinner, my friends are playing board games, wherever we all feel loved and cherished for exactly who we are.

That is the magic of Christmas. Or the magic of girls' night. Or the magic of it's-Tuesday-I'm-going-to-chez-Quinn-because-I'm bored.

Love.

Love is always the answer.

Here's a pretty picture of my cupcake.
Guinness Gingerbread Cupcake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holidays2010

They were awesome. Here's why:

Christmas In October
This was Mom's idea, but she passed the planning on to me and I am glad to say it went well. We all went to Grandma's house and brought Christmas-dinner type things. I made gingerbread with Guinness and spiced crème anglais. It was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. I should stop taking camera phone pictures, because they are pretty crappy.



Thanksgiving
It was delicious. And fun. And a few days later, we had second Thanksgiving, just for the heck of it. :) I made cranberry sauce (that I added some red wine and orange zest to) and roasted brussel sprouts with shallots, pears and thyme. So good. Even people who don't like brussel sprouts tried them and liked them. (I don't have a picture though.)

Ninja Cookies
I tend to send random emails to Hannah of cute things I find on the internet and she bought one of them (ninja-shaped cookie cutters) for BJ for his birthday. So without him knowing, Andrea and I went to their house while he was gone and helped Hannah make a bunch of peanutbutter ninja cookies. It was loads of fun, because we eventually started making themed ninjas and discussing their lives and whatnot. :) I have the best friends.



Ugly Sweater Party
My friends and I have been talking about doing this since at least last year, and Andrea and Jenni hosted one this year. It was a lot of fun. Jen and I painted a wintery backdrop to take pictures in front of in our Ugly Sweaters, and almost everyone managed to find really ugly sweaters. :) It was great. For that, I made spinach/artichoke dip which was also tasty and I also don't have pictures of. Boo. BJ has yet to send me the pictures of everyone in their Ugly Sweaters as well.

Ugly Sweater Party Cheesey Winter Scene


So apparently I worry about using up all my vacation days and not having any by the end of the years. Well, we get 10 and by the first of December, I had 5.5 left. Lol. So for Christmas and Birthday/New Years, I had three- and six-day weekends, respectively. The other ones I took randomly throughout the month, so I wouldn't lose them, using them to Christmas shop and help my mom craft with second graders, lol.

Zoo Lights
Justin took me to see the Lights at the Zoo. It was FREEZING. But, fun. It was the first time we'd been back since our first date there over a year ago. (Aww. :)) And we randomly ran into Jenni and Nathan, which was weird. Baby elephant, snake-neck turtles, good times. :)



Triangle of Trust
Lyndsey and BreAnn and I got together while Lynz was home. We just wandered around shopping and eating things, but it was a lot of fun. Bre drove so I was able to have my first Great Lakes Christmas Ale on tap at lunch time. Mmm. And it was great to see them both again, since we haven't all been together since Lyndsey and Mike's wedding over a year ago. Fun times. Bre and I are going to try to spend more time together in the future, since we only live about 20 minutes apart.

Christmas Eve
Before going down to the farm, I baked off some Gingerbread and Stout Cupcakes. I got the recipe from Love & Olive Oil, but I altered it a bit. I wanted to use the fresh nutmeg I got from Andy, so I took out the allspice (because I didn't have any anyways) and added more cloves and the fresh nutmeg. And I used Guinness for the stout, of course. I left them to cool, but I knew they'd be good just from their amazing smell.
As usual, spaghetti dinner was a huge success. I contributed a bottle of wine (because it was called Electric Reindeer and I thought it was funny) which was just okay, and I brought the Mexican Hot Chocolate cookies that didn't burn. [Which reminds me: I need to get Amy's mom that recipe.] All the food was amazing as always, and we got pajamas again this year after Mom and Dad said they were going to stop last year and transfer the tradition to Quinn. But instead of us all staying at the farm and getting up super-early to open presents, we went to our respective homes. Justin came up around 11 or so and we each opened one of our presents. Mine was the XKCD book and his was two pairs of Christmas boxers. :)

Happy Christmas Eve!


Christmas Day
I didn't go to breakfast this year, because I didn't feel right about leaving Justin alone and also didn't want to drive back and forth four times. So Justin and I opened our other presents. His was a Star Wars 'Cantina Band' shirt and mine was an N64 with Mario Kart. [Geez, we sound like nerds! :)] Then we made breakfast (farmboys with sharp cheddar and mustard, hashbrowns, +eggs for the boy) and swore at various Mario characters for a while.
After that, we made the frosting for my gingerbread cupcakes. I wanted them to have orange cream cheese frosting. [Best decision ever.] Although I should warn you to never try the mixture for taste BEFORE adding ANY powdered sugar. Not pleasant. I just made a basic cream cheese frosting and added the zest of one orange. Mmm. So good.

[Wow, this entry is getting long.]

So we frosted cupcakes, got ready and went to Mom and Dad's where we had our traditional English Christmas dinner with my family, Amie, Jason, and Rachel. It was so good. Prime rib and Yorkshire pudding are possibly the best combination known to man. Then we opened presents. Quinn was hilarious. Everyone seemed to enjoy their gifts. And we were SO full from dinner we ALMOST FORGOT TO EAT CUPCAKES! Scary, I know. But I remembered as Andy and Amy we packing up their stuff and their kid and passed them out to everyone. And it's a good thing I did, because they were amazing.

Honestly.
Best cupcake I have ever made or eaten.


Prettiest too, actually, since I've never before been able to get the frosting all fluffy like that. And Justin found the pretty crystal-y sugar in the cupboard and suggested a little sprinkle of cinnamon as well. The cupcake wrappers were cute too, but the cupcakes were really moist and soaked them so they weren't so pretty afterward.

Anyway. Enough waxing poetic about cupcakes. [But they were delicious!]

So then Justin and I hung out a while longer then went home with our full bellies and presents. :)


My Birthday (AM)
Went to Amish country with the fam: coffee, shopping, shopping, lunch, shopping. Lunch was at my favorite restaurant called Broken Rocks in Wooster. If you haven't been, you should go. Instead of my usual Cajun Chicken Pasta, I got the crab cakes this time (and another Christmas Ale!) and they were really good. And the Belgian Chocolate Custard, of course. Oh. So good.


...

So I've written all this, and still haven't gotten to the point.
More later I suppose.