Monday, May 31, 2010

So Vanilla

I'm not sure how I got it into my head that I wanted to make homemade vanilla extract.

But it got into my head.

I found some vanilla beans at a fantastic price ($4.00 for four) and some cute little containers at AC Moore ($3 each).

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I then slitted each bean lengthwise keeping them connected at the top.

I put two beans in each container and covered them with vodka.

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Now they're in a dark corner of a cupboard getting nice and vanilla-y.

I checked on them today and the vodka is getting nice and brown.

I'll be keeping one and giving one away as a gift.

Total cost for each is about $10. Not bad considering how much a small bottle of real vanilla extract will run you at the grocery store!

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Perfect Food For A Hot Day

I think I've mentioned that when, things aren't so insanely busy (like they have been recently for at least me) at work, my sisters and I email each other throughout the day at work.

Me in New Jersey, Sister T. in The Nati, and Youngest Younger Sister back home in Alaska.

My email thread with Youngest Younger sister took a turn towards food (it will often do that) and she was describing what she had brought for lunch.

She brought a pasty. She explained how to pronounce that word and what a pasty was.

I wrote her back informing her that, dude, I lived in Michigan for six years, state law requires that you know what a pasty is!

But then I put two and two together and it all came together this weekend.

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I had two tubes of those Pillsbury Grands in the fridge that I didn't know what to do with. Normally I don't buy them because well, they're expensive and if I want biscuits I can make my own.

But I got both tubes (16 biscuits) for $1.00 and at the time I had a craving for Monkey Bread.

That was until Youngest Younger Sister and I started talking about pasties.

I diced up some baby carrots and boiled them til they were cooked, nuked eight baby potatoes til they were cooked, pan fried some stew meat I had diced into super mini chunks (for Moochie mouths), and added a cup of brown gravy to the meat.

I then rolled out each biscuit til it was thin and flat.

Yeah, you're not supposed to do that to biscuits because it will make them tougher and less rise-y.

But that's OK. That's what I wanted.

I then put the meat, carrot and potato mixture on one flattened biscuit, popped another one on top, sealed the edges, slit the top and brushed them with melted butter.

I baked them at 350 degrees for 17 minutes.

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Oh wow. Amazing. I thought for sure they'd explode and leak in the oven.

Not so.

They were perfect portable pasties.

My only complaint is that they're not really good hot-weather (which is what we're having) food. Too much baking and heavy food involved.

But that's OK. Moochie liked 'em anyway.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Every Two Years

It seems like every two years I knit Chunky a pair of socks.

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I knit him a pair of tiger stripe Opal socks back in 2008 and finished them just in time for the 90 degree July heat.

This time I finished them in time for the MAY 90 degree heat. Yuck.

Pattern: Just a boring 2x2 rib cuffed sock

Yarn: Trekking XXL in some uncreative numbered color. I'm going to dub the color Rainy Day Bumblebee.

Needles: US2

Notes: This time I got smart. I made the socks to fit MY feet. Last time I made them exactly Chunky-foot size and they fit him for about 2 seconds. Right now my feet are about maybe 1/2 an inch longer than his. This means these socks should fit him for 4 seconds!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer Dreaming

I figured since the temperatures are reaching up in to the mother effin' 90s, it's probably a good time to give you an update on my Pot Garden 2010 edition.

It's not as much as last year, because well, this year while I should have been starting my seedlings--I was busy packing to get the hell outta Squirrel Gables!

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This is our little "side" of the yard. The neighbors don't really give a shit where I put my stuff, but this is where I put it before I knew they didn't give a shit, and I'm too lazy to move it.

I've got a pot of peas, lettuce, impatiens, chives, oregano, cilantro and basil.

I got the basil from the Chunky School Herb Sale this year. That's right--I got BASIL! Last year the Soprano moms all beat me to getting basil.

This year they either must have planted more basil or somebody got whacked.


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I've also got a pot of cukes, cherry tomatoes, marigolds, my hardy "mom" mums, and oregano.

In the white crockpot are some snapdragons and some nicotiana that Chunky picked up at the school plant sale.

I love my boy.

Last year he brings home salvia from the plant sale--a plant that can be smoked and is illegal to purchase in some states, and this year he brings me home flowering nicotiana, a relative of the tobacco plant! Ha ha!


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This is the other half of the yard. You can see the little "walled in" garden.

It's now lined with pots of collard greens, lettuce, eggplant, tomato, carrots, beans and my potato (I'm on my third generation of potato from the grocery store tater I planted in 2007!).

This picture was taken before all those pots were set up.

Inside the small fenced off area my neighbor has lettuce, onions, and more tomatoes and eggplants.

He showed me pictures of his garden here last year. The tomato plants were higher than the fenced in area and I guess he was up to his eyeballs in tomatoes.

What a horrible problem to have!

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This is the back portion of the yard (it's a small yard).

Neighbor has a blueberry bush there to the right, and see that pole where the strawberry topsy turvy is? He now has three strawberry topsy turvys on that pole. Complete with pie pans to keep away the starlings.

Along the back fence he set up clear Christmas lights--they're amazing at night time.

The neighbors upstairs and the basement (gardener) neighbor are really nice people. It was a little hard to get used to how nice they are when I'm not used to talking to the shut-in living below me.

I imagine this summer will find us all outside in the back yard quite a bit!

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Peek A Boo

I'm still here.

This Dilbert from Saturday about sums it up.

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I got chumped into staying late on Friday night to do another secretary's work (because you know, she had to leave at 5:00) and oh, of course look up plane tickets to Rome for fourth of July for Big Boss.

Uh huh.

The attorney I got chumped into doing work for was nice enough to jot me off a little "thank you for staying late Friday night" email.

Big Boss thanked me by dumping a 3' stack of filing on my desk.

Ok, that's cool. I know, filing is part of my job description.

But seriously, when you put it on my desk could you be a bit more gentle?

He slammed it on my desk with such force my keyboard, date stamp, water bottle, stapler and pens all went flying.

I had a nice little mess waiting for me this morning.

On the plus side he booked his own damn Rome tickets Friday night. I love it when they go on vacation overseas. No fucking email and no fucking iphones.

Instant connect-ability is one of the many reasons I hate iphones.

Ok, pushing out the jive and bringing in the love!

I've been pushing out the jive by doing some cookie R&D for the next issue of Knitcircus. (For some reason, I can't get the site to link to my blog--just go to www . knitcircus . com!)

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I'm still futzing around trying to capture the perfect "fall" cookie.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Victory Is Mine!

Remember my plans to make one of these dresses?

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And my plans to wear it to my sister's wedding in Alaska next year?

Well, she got married already.

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Aren't they cute?

No biggie. They got to buy a house and I guess we saved $6000 not having to go up to Alaska next year. Given the dismal state of the job market for teachers and the hatred Governor Chris Crispe Creme Christy is stirring up for teachers and their unions, it probably all worked out for the best.

Maybe it will be 20 years when we finally make it back home.

I decided to make the dress anyway since I had the fabric, the zipper and the thread.

I was a little apprehensive since a) My sewing machine is the mechanical incarnate of Satan and b) I'm still a beginner sewer. The most complicated thing I've sewn are jammie pants.

Since the pressure was off to make something that looked fantabulous for Youngest Younger Sister's wedding, I jumped into it.

I had a little help on the way.

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The furry little shit had the audacity to start batting at my scissors as I was cutting! Pardon me for ruining your little pattern tent Springsymcdoodle!

The whole thing took me three days to make--working when the littlest Mooch was in bed for the night.

The verdict?

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Chunky doesn't understand how to use the "zoom" function yet.


LOVE IT!

The deets ala knitted FO style:

Pattern: Simplicity 4675, Style A, Size 14

Fabric: Just a simple 100% cotton, brown with light pink dots

Notes: It's not perfect. My biggest gripe is the neckline.

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It shifts and you can see my bra straps and tattoo. While I'm not so worried about my teeny lady bug (I can name like five secretaries that have much larger and more visible tattoos than mine at the office), the bra strap thing bugs me.

I wore it to work today with a strapless bra and my god, that was UNCOMFORTABLE!

As for the rest of the pattern, I feel for a beginner, I effin' rocked it.

I rocked the pleats!

I conquered the 22" zipper and made it look somewhat decent!

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There were princess seams on the boobies--those were very hard to sew! And I they don't pucker!

And I made decent looking darts too!

I really love this dress!

I probably won't wear it too much due to the bra-strap issue, but I could totally see myself making it again using the neckline that Style D has.

In the meantime, I'm going to do a little victory in sewing dance!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What $1050 Will Get You

A really nice oven knob.

Remember my oven knob debacle from three years ago?

Where Zorba told me the oven knob was my problem?

And I went on a wild goose chase and through the powers of the virtual circle of the internets was able to find the model number of that POS oven and order a knob for $50?

Well, the knob came with me when we moved out.

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That's right kids. I bought a shadowbox for it, mounted it, and now it hangs in my new kitchen.

And am I ever glad I took that effing knob with me.

I replaced it with a knob that didn't fit right that Chunky found on the playground 3 years ago--he was tuned into my hunt for a knob that he brought it home from school thinking it would fit. It didn't, but I saved it because I knew I was going to take my $50 knob with me when we left.

Squirrel Gables is up for sale again.

They took it off the market after it was up for sale for about a week. It went back on yesterday.

I took the virtual tour of the place tonight.

It's a short sale.

Meaning, I really don't think we're going to get our money or at the very least an itemized list of where our $1000 went.

I was talking to the associate attorneys I sit next to (two are labor lawyers and one is a real estate lawyer) because we got on the subject of douchey landlords and I told them my story.

Two of them started drooling and offered to help me nail Zorba's ass to the wall.

The other one, like me, had reservations about going after a guy who's senile.

I vacillate from day to day.

I haven't cashed the $1400 check he did pay us. I don't want it to be construed that I'm accepting that as payment in full.

(ETA: The check is a certified check, it won't bounce.)

But I've also got a credit card bill with a hefty balance on it stemming from a pothole Dr. Mad Scientist let his car get intimate with.

And today is also the last day of school for Dr. Mad Scientist. Meaning--it's time to find a job.

Things aren't looking so hot.

He never heard back on that interview he had a couple of weeks ago. We're assuming that means he didn't get the position (the position starts Monday). And the program he's with is being really dodgy about getting them details about what schools they can apply to and still have them "count" as fulfilling their obligation to teach in Newark. (We don't know if charter schools or private schools count or if they'd settle for him teaching in say Paterson, NJ--another not-so-hot-urban school district.)

Luckily I have until May 23 to make up my mind about going after Zorba (he's got 30 days from our last day to get us a list and/or the rest of our money) or not.

May 23 is also three days after the credit card bill is due.

Things aren't looking so good for Zorba.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Hairy Deal

This weekend I bought my yearly supply of razor blades.

Four disposable razors.

Yeah, I don't shave much.

Maybe that's why I don't understand this.

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Lavender scented handles?

Um...why on earth would I be huffing my razor handles?

Do Gillette razor blade handles smell like ass?

Is it because I'm a girl that me and my worldly possession, including the implements I use to detach hair from my body need to smell pretty?

Weird.

And then I noticed something when I was on my nightly walk with the boys around the neighborhood.

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No, not that cute little monkey making googley eyes at his chauffeur...

This:

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The sign in the storefront with the yellow awning reads:

"Coming Soon In June 2010 Ultra Hair and Shave Lounge"

What the hell is a shave lounge?

Is it like an opium den, but with more wax and screaming?

I just imagine a lot of people in a smokey, poorly lit place getting their unmentionables and their backs shaved.

Perhaps it's just a place to get your hair cut and if you're a dude your face shaved.

But that seems as boring as non-scented razor handles.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Cookie of the Week

I haven't done cookie of the week on the blog in a while. We're finally getting into a nice routine now that we're settled down and I'm back into more a cookie routine.

This week, the cookie of the week is all Miss T's fault for mentioning these to me...

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Scotcheroos!

I've made these before, but apparently Dr. Mad Scientist has never eaten them (crazy, yes, I know).

I packed one in his lunch today.

At about 1:00 p.m. I get an email from him:

OMG! These rice krispie things...are....so....good!!!

So apparently in addition to being very tasty, Scotcheroos will make a grown man email like a 14 year old girl.

My normal recipe called for corn syrup, but I didn't have enough corn syrup.

Instead I just made a normal batch of rice krispy treats using the recipe you can find on any bag of marshmallows, but at the end I added oh I dunno, about a cup or so of creamy peanut butter that I had warmed up in the microwave so it was nice and runny and it mixed well with the melted marshmallows.

After they cooled in the pan, I just melted 1 cup of chocolate chips along with 1 and 2/3rds cups of butterscotch chips.

Spread that over the top of the rice krispy treats, let it cool, and ta-da, squeal inducing deliciousness!

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mothers' Day Happy To You!

Because if it wasn't for your mom--you wouldn't be reading this right now.

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Well technically there was a male involved in one way or another for getting you here too...but let's not go there right now...

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Sorry other moms (except for possibly my own), but my kids are the best!

It's OK, you're allowed to disagree. It's the Rule of Parental Bias!

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Got Milk?

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I'm loving spinning this milk fiber!

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Now With 100% More Nudity!

Because now we have curtains in the bedroom!

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Yay! No more dashing around the windows topless hoping the neighbors don't see! I won't miss that about Northern New Jersey--the way houses are stacked within feet of each other.

I pushed myself to make these Sunday night. I made two and they cost me about $8 total. Fabric.com had this particular cotton lawn on sale. I'd never seen cotton lawn before, nor had I any idea what it was like, but based on the description of it (and the price!) I went for it.

The result is a lovely soft, thin, but not too thin curtain that wafts in the breeze quite nicely.

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You can see the transparency a bit better here.

I love Fabric.com too--I've had nothing but amazing customer service from them. One time I bought from them with an AMEX gift card someone had given me and I didn't realize you had to "activate" it online to get it to work and I made a purchase before activating. Fabric.com wasted no time getting ahold of me.

Another time they accidentally sent me a fat quarter I didn't order. When I contacted them, within two days they had my correct fat quarter to me--and they let me keep the one I didn't order that they sent by mistake.

This order I had ordered 3 yards of the cotton lawn--1.5 yards for each bedroom window. They emailed me immediately to apologize and inform me they didn't have 3 yards uncut. They only had two 1.5 yard pieces.

SWEET! Less cutting for me! I told them that was fine and they gave me a coupon for a few bucks of my next order as a "sorry for the inconvenience" gesture.

Anyway, it's nice to find people attune to their customers these days.

Which brings me to the latest Zorba update.

So on Wednesday I mailed out a letter thanking Zorba for his promptness in getting us a check. But then I laid out the math for him and asked him for an explanation as to why it didn't add up.

Thursday night while I was out walking the boys after dinner (Mooch LOVES to go for evening walks), Nurse Lady called and talked to Dr. Mad Scientist.

He tells me that she told him that she told Zorba he couldn't just send a check--that he had to include a statement as well, but that he ignored her.

She also said that Zorba was adamant that we had only paid $1400 as a deposit (huh? Did he not keep a copy of the lease? I have a copy of the lease!).

She told him he was wrong and then she went and dug up one of the early bank statements showing how much was initially deposited.

She said she couldn't guarantee it, but that she thought he'd be sending more money soon.

Yeah Zorba, that's right.

Which has me scratching my head--what did he do with nearly $1000 of our money? Where did he put it?

I know he opened a bank account (interest bearing) in our name because there every year around tax time we'd get a 1099 telling us how much money we earned in interest.

Of course I haven't seen one for a while now that I think about it since they only came once a year...

All I want is an accounting of what happened to our money. Getting back the nearly $1000 would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

Nurse Lady then told Dr. MS that after she gets back from Poland, which will be after Zorba's allegedly put in a home (that's happening allegedly at the end of this week--I bet we never hear from him or his stupid kin again after that), she's thinking about renting our apartment to live in herself (why not? She already knows exactly what's wrong with everything there...) and she asked Dr. MS if she could have our fridge.

He told her hell yeah.

Even we don't get our money back, at least my fridge (that I truly miss--who thought you could get attached to a fridge?) will be going to an honest person.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Lootastic!

Again, another Maryland post. Click away if you've come here and oh, no, it's another MDS&W post you don't want to read!

First up, the bus goodies.

The bus seat cost us $99. That included breakfast, a snack home, and lots of goodies including a little tote/backpack.

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Inside the bag was a pattern, a cute little needle felted sheep notion holder, a pattern holder and alcohol hand wipes (last two not shown). They also gave away door prizes to EVERYONE. I got a small skein of J-Knits yarn and a pattern and a spinning wheel lapel pin. And you'll see the custom sugar cookies they gave us too...shaped like sheep!

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Chris gave me her cookie and I brought them home to the boys.

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As for the actual loot I bought--it wasn't much. I went with $60 in my pocket and only spent $40 on stuff and bottled water.

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On the left is some milkfiber top from Clover Leaf Farms. I've only ever seen milk fiber online and figured what the heck--I'd buy some.

On the right is Koigu roving. That's right. Koigu roving.

I haven't bought something so fast and without hesitation in a LONG time!

It was $25 for a about 3.5 ozs. Yes, expensive, but if you figure a skein of regular Koigu sock costs $12-$15 for 50 grams (one sock) the braid of 100 grams is priced about the same.

A modest haul indeed.

One thing that cracked me up (and was annoying when they'd come into crowded booths) were the women dragging rolling suitcases or old lady laundry carts on wheels behind them stuffed full of yarn.

Did they perhaps live in outer Mongolia where perhaps there are no LYS's and they had to stock up for the year?

Now that I think about it, even outer Mongolia probably has some yaks you could get fiber from...

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Exhausted!

Yesterday was Maryland Sheep & Wool.

I know how much it sucks to read wool-festival recaps when you don't get to be there.

So if you click away, I'll understand. Really, I will.

Still here?

Ok, so here's how the day went down.

Chris and I (sans Jen who had to stay home to tend to a recovery pooch--we missed you Jen!) boarded a bus sponsored by Down Cellar yarn store in Basking Ridge.

We were an hour late leaving because they decided to wait for a straggler.

Can you say whoever that chick was was the most hated woman on her bus (there were two)? Ha ha!

We left at 7:00 a.m. and parked at about 11:15 a.m.

Then we were off!

We saw alpacas...
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Ludwig!

We saw pygmy goats...
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We bought stuff..
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Chris at Brooks Farm.

We hooked up with people...
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Can you tell which one of these people did not grow up in Canada or Alaska? I'll give you a hint--she's not short, pink and sweaty like the other two and look postively amazing given the heat! That's Chris and I posing with Jo.

Sadly, I thought I had taken more pictures--but that's all I had on my camera when I got home!

After we had walked around trying to enjoy as much shade as we could, we at lunch, took one more loop around the grounds and headed back to the bus.

About 20 minutes into the ride back home, I think the heat finally got to me (the A/C in the bus was broke and it was just blowing air--which was better than the other bus that didn't even have that!!).

You know how you break out in a cold sweat and your mouth begins to water and you start to fantasize about if you blew chunks all over the floor with three hours left of the bus trip you'd probably bump out that chick who was an hour late for the bus out of the "Most Hated" spot?

That's where I was.

Chris was sweet and offered to trade seats with me so I could be near the warm air-blowing window.

Before I switched with her--I managed to dash to the back of the bus where the bathroom was and I promptly expelled the contents of my stomach.

Aside from the intense heat and lack of A/C on the bus, I had an awesome time!

If I go next year and the weather is that hot, you'll recognize me as the short pink-faced sweaty girl with the glow in the dark white legs who might be driving herself enjoying the extreme decadence of her air conditioned car.

Next up: The Loot!

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