Saturday, March 30, 2013

Updates, News, and Other Info


Blogging A to Z - Guys! Can you believe that it starts Monday? HA! Me either! Remember back when I said I was going to work at getting everything set and prewritten and...yeah. That didn't work at all. So I had a theme, I dropped a theme, I went back to my original idea, struggled to plan it, got a job, and almost decided to forgo the challenge. Then I read a news story in my local paper the other day that made me go, "hmm."

And with that, I present my new and improvised theme:

Archaic Slang Of America's Yester Years Through The Ages And Across The States

I'll admit, the title might need some work - it is a bit wordy, but I like words. I especially like words and sayings that not many people use. So there you go. 


Did you catch up there how I mentioned getting a job? Skimmed right over that part, didn't you? Well! I never...okay, I have but that's not the point. The point, Friends, is that I am once again  gainfully employed. Scott and I had a super long talk (seriously, it's been going on for about a year or so) and after nearly two years of playing the application game with the local school district we came to the decision that I needed to look at other options (really, it is wicked hard to get a position in this district. I'm pretty sure that unless you know someone, it just isn't going to happen). 

Interestingly enough, just like we found our current home on craigslist*, I found my job there too. I am back in the hospitality industry as a front desk clerk at a local hotel. I had my start in hospitality/service way back after I graduated high school and then all through college so I am familiar with it and honestly, I'm good at it. As much as I like to try to deny it, I am a people person and I like interacting know...people. 

That being said, I'll be working a couple of wonky shifts and until I adjust completely, interneting and blogging will be taking a backseat. I'm going to do my best with the A to Z but I honestly don't expect my posts to be very long or story-like as they were last year. FYI - if you are recently joining me, you should check out last year's A to Z when you have a chance.

*remind me to share a really funny-creepy story about looking for jobs on craigslist! Honestly we should do a craigslist bloghop with funny-creepy stories because oh man! do I imagine that you guys have a bunch!


Umm...Okay, yeah, you got me. I don't have anything else to add right now. How's about I leave you with a photo?

Mysterious Cinder Block Circle found just off a trail at Girl Scout Camp.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I Made It Monday

So long story short. Last week was one just plain forgotten. Girl Scout camping was okay but the car breaking down in the middle of No Freaking Where was decidedly not fun, especially when the battery on my phone was going, we were hungry, tired and grungy AND I as a girl (if you know what I mean). Then a week of illness. A head cold got Cyra and stomach bug hit me mighty hard. All that equaled a big "Piss Off" to the world. Which was okay because it was clearly needed. On my end. Not the world's.

Anyhow, After a week of nothing and finally feeling better, I went about this weekend like a prisoner after doing twenty years for a parking ticket. Saturday I tackled the lawn and realized that despite Scott's assurance that I don't need a machete for the Zombie Apocalypse, I most certainly need one for the lawn! Then I spent Sunday baking.

Oh yes, my friends, I give you plenty of warning, this is a yummy I Made It Monday. I give to you:

Battle of the Beer Breads

I've been wanting to make beer bread for a while now and finally found some motivation. It could have been the sheer amount of beer crowding my refridgorator. Or maybe the...nope. It was pretty much all the beer in the house. Now, fair and honest here, I do not drink beer. I don't like it. Never have. Give me whiskey, rum, Bailey's! Scott, however is a big fan of beer - it's his job, you see, so we often have a good deal of it around. 

Beer bread is another matter altogether and I do like it. So, this is what I had sitting in the fridge:

Budweiser, Shock Top End of the World Midnight Wheat, Goose Island India Pale Ale, and Murphy's Stout
And wouldn't you know it I happened to find a whole slew of recipes online for beer bread. For simplicity's sake, I'm not going to upload a gazillion photos of batter and individual loaves. I'll focus on the ingredients and show the end results altogether at know...end.

First up, the Shock Top. This beer, clearly for the December 22nd apocalypse, has been around the longest and needed to be used up. I really wanted to actually try drinking it with it's hint of chocolate, chili and other spices, but I just never got around to it. I found this recipe, at Tasty Kitchen, made with a touch of honey that I thought would compliment the Shock Top nicely.

Cast for Honey Beer Bread: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, honey, beer, and melted butter.
This was an easy recipe to put together. And Holy Moly! Melted butter! The butter was poured over the batter once it was in the loaf pan. I'd never seen that done before and I had my doubts, but man! did it turn out pretty.

Next, I went with the Murphy's Stout. I found a recipe on TheKitchn for a Cheddar and Chive Guinness Bread that looked like it would be delicious. Again with the melted butter! So much butter! Many of the recipes I looked at called for drenching the batter in butter. Who am I to argue with butter?

Ingredients: Flour, sugar...blah blah blah, cheddar cheese and chives!
For the last two loaves I used the same basic recipe I found on FarmGirlFare. Now her actual recipe is for a dill and cheddar beer bread, but she gives instructions for just a basic loaf. I used the India Pale Ale alone for one loaf and then for the loaf I made with the Bud, I threw in a packet of Ranch seasoning.

Cast: blah blah blah BEER! Could it be any simpler?

Rinse and Repeat. No wait! That's shampoo.

Out of all the recipes I tried, the last one is the easiest to throw together and the quickest cooking. Although, honestly I found that pretty much all the recipes are alike in the basic ingredients and the variations come with the extra seasonings and spices. FarmGirlFare offers a variety of flavors to try.

Now for the reveal:
From left to right (by beer): Shock Top, Murphy's. IPA, and Bud
By far I think my favorite was the Honey Beer Bread with the Shock Top. It's a bit sweeter and with just a hint of the chocolate and chili it could almost pass for a heavy cake. It could have used a touch more honey, I think, and a little less butter. The girls also preferred this loaf.

The Murphy's Cheddar and Chive was I think had the most powerful beer flavor come through. It's very hearty and I thought it could do with a bit more cheese and possibly some oats or nuts or seeds. This was Scott's favorite.

Out of all the breads, the India Pale Ale was kind of boring. There wasn't any punch, any zing, any pizzazz like the others to compliment the hoppyness of the beer. Also, it was very crumbly and the lightest of the four loaves. The girls didn't favor this one at all!

The Budweiser Ranch bread needed something more. Maybe some cheese, I'm not sure. Thinking about it, maybe it was the recipe itself because both the IPA and the Bud followed the same recipe and both ended up feeling incomplete. I like the lightness of the bread as compared with the denser loaves, it just needs something to punch up the flavor a tad.

All in all, I'd say it was an overall success. I think in general I have learned two very important things: first, all beer bread recipes are pretty much the same and very simple which means there is a lot of wiggle room to improvise and devise my own recipe; and two, the darker the beer, the better the beer bread. 

Bonus Bread Photo:

I also, because I'm crazy and was clearly on some sort of bread making trip, made a loaf of Irish Soda Bread which turned out so delightfully good that I'm going to need to make another loaf ASAP, because this one won't last for more than a day!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Photos

I love going to museums. The carefully arranged display cases, the history, the amazing art, the creepy, creepy sculptures lurking around every corner. I think the photo today speaks for itself.

As you can see from his leering, Ezekiel* is not messing around. You come near his fruit and he will take you down. The girls wouldn't go anywhere near him, but I was fascinated by the additional face on his belly. I think that creeped me out just slightly more than his overtly menacing expression.

* Not the sculpture's real name/title but, fitting, I think, nonetheless. He looks like what I picture the biblical Ezekiel as: Wild eyes, crazy hair, mouth open in amazement or hunger or a blood-curling scream of death.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Oh, Patrick Stewart! You Make Me Sad.

I won't say I'm a fan girl. I don't obsess. I don't squee. I have a healthy appreciation for certain celebrities and many of them are from geeky sci-fi like Star Trek, Star Wars, Star Gate. Things like that. Most of all I love Patrick Stewart. I liked him before Star Trek. I liked him after Star Trek. I like his bald head and I could listen to his snoozy British accent all day long.

But, I've got to say, I'm disappointed in the celebs right now. Yeah. Even Wil Wheaton who I praise up down left and right for his work on TableTop and other shows.

You see, here's the thing: I desperately want to go to a con. Dragon*Con. Gen Con. Even Comic Con. Scott is keen on getting to PaizoCon. We never have money to go. Sure we could afford the tickets if we budget carefully, but then add travel. hotel, and eating expenses in and there's no way. At least, not right now and probably not anytime soon. And for the most part, I'm okay with that.

Except for the case of MegaCon. MegaCon takes place in Orlando. Orlando, my friends, is not that far from here and we could conceivably make a say trip to go to at least one of the days. There are many great things to do and see at a convention and the panels this year sound fantastic! But one of the things I would love to do is get a chance to meet, greet and maybe get a photo of or with some of the celebs.

And guys, Patrick Stewart is going to be there this year! Shiny bald head and everything! And Wil Wheaton and Brent Spinner and practically every TNG cast memeber! It's like a freaking reunion! And I'd go. I swear I'd go. I'd find the money.


As I was scrolling though the Media Guest list, I started to notice something. Most every single actor charges for autographs and photos ops. Patrick Stewart? Charges $75 for and autograph! $85 and up for photo ops! I was outraged. Disappointed. Shocked and Appalled. The other starts aren't that much better. Most of them hover right around $40 and up. That's more than a one day ticket!

Now I have no idea whether conventions pay stars to appear or if they just agree to show up. I'm leaning towards "they get paid to appear." Do these stars, most of whom are still working and/or earning residuals, (I'm pretty sure that's the right term) need money that badly? I can't honestly believe that they are just appearing at a convention out of the goodness of their hearts or because they love it that much. Maybe they do and I'll be the first to write an apology if these guys get nothing for their time except what they make in autograph and photo op fees.

Sure nobody is forcing fans to cough up money to pay for an autograph, but come on! And I get that if they were just signing things willy-nilly they'd never get away but seriously, if you go to Disney, you only get to meet and get autographs from the characters at certain times of the day. Can't conventions do that? Give an couple one hour blocks scattered throughout the course of the day and that's that. If a fan misses out then it isn't the celebrity's fault, it's the fan's for not getting in line sooner.

Am I crazy for thinking this way? I'm all for making a buck! Heck, I could really make use of some buck making schemes here, but it just seems so...jaded and cynical and sad for celebrities to be charging fans for an autograph.

So yeah, I still love you guys, but I'm disappointed in you Patrick Stewart. You too, Wil.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Made It Monday

So crafty hasn't really been on radar lately. I've been...lazy. Yup. Just plain lazy. That isn't an excuse or maybe it is. Maybe the current financial issues that I've been going through have finally broken my creative side. Maybe I've been just a bit too obsessed with Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess (it's an old game, but new to me!). Maybe it's because the cold snap that settled on us over the last few weeks has done a number on my hands (what does that mean anyway? "Done a number?" Tap danced? Belted out a song?) and now they are cracked and crusty with dry skin that no amount of moisturizing can fix.

Whatever the reasons, I proudly present a Christmas project that I made for the girls. I didn't take photos of the process which is unlike me but I didn't want the girls to accidentally find them on the camera or on the computer since it was a surprise. We've always used store bought Advent calendars in the past so when I saw this for sale at Hobby Lobby, I knew I had to give it a try.

Remember all that glue I spilled over my dining room table because I was mod podging? Well I was working on this along with some other projects. Actually, this is the second Advent calendar I made.  The first one I nearly completed but with the Florida humidity it was still a bit tacky when Scott put some other things on top of it as he rearranged stuff in our closet. The resulting gluey mess was not pretty but I was actually okay with the wanton destruction as it allowed me to learn from the first one and make the second one better.

I filled it with some chocolates and charms for a holiday themed charm bracelet that we assembled as the month went on. The girls had fun rushing for it every morning; of course, they said I needed to make another one so that they can each have their own for "later on."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Photos

On their birthdays I encourage the girls to choose an activity for us to do. A few years ago it was camping. Camping in November and then again in January. Fun but cold. For Cyra's birthday this past November she opted for bowling.

There are three things that we know about bowling:

1. We love it!
2. We rather stink at it.
3. Scott isn't allowed to partake in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Period.

How much polish do those floors get and can I get someone to do my floors like that?


Is there a rule that all bowling alleys are a bit on the grungy side? I don't mind really, for the most part, but come people! GooGone is a major staple! Also there was a huge label on this ball return warning of the dangers of sticking your hand in the hole to retrieve the ball yourself. (Did that just come out naughty? Or am I just being thirteen again?)

I love racks of things. Guns, books, crafts, antlers, bowling balls. I especially love how all the balls gleam under the lights.

Heh heh. Gleaming balls.

I am the first to admit my immaturity.

And finally, my little decade old peanut with her big feet. Rather like a puppy I think! Big feet and gangly legs, she's got tallness in her genes and boy! are her growth plates working overtime lately. She can wear a ladies size 7 shoe and she is nearly as tall as I am.

Yeah, I bet you caught on to the date of these photos. November. Yup. I admit it. I pulled old photos. Ancient ones really. Almost four months old. But to be fair and honest, the past few weeks have been boring photo-wise.