Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Zack--Before and After Growth Hormones

We actually didn't give him hormones but when we got him, he was about five pounds. Now three years later, he's of gargantuan size and appetite. He's seventy pounds and is about three feet tall. He's all bones and fur and muscle. Not one ounce of fat. He's also very good at squeezing between me and the edge of the sofa, stretching out and a) pushing me off my own couch or b) pressing a paw into my bladder, making me have to get off the sofa to pee. Either way, he gets the sofa.

Love the big goon but why does he think he's a lap dog. Technically, he's a smooth haired collie mix but we call him a Colli-yote (Collie plus coyote). Dave says his mother was a collie and his father was some wild animal like a wolf or coyote.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pecan Caramel Pralines

I stole this recipe from Southern Living and tweaked it. Regan tried to lick the pot but she would have burned her tongue. Right now, she's fussing at me for it. I'm "Mean Mommy" but I guess the trade off would have been a run to the ER for a burned tongue.

1 stick of butter (of course, butter, what else?)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of caramel (I used the new caramel chips but next time I'll try the caramel ice cream topping)
3 tsp corn syrup
1/2 cup milk
1 large package of pecan pieces (The SL recipe calls for them being toasted--I was lazy and didn't do it)

Combine the butter, sugars, vanilla, corn syrup, and milk in a heavy saucepan. Mix and melt butter. Make sure the sugars melt. There'll be no graininess when you touch it or taste it. Add caramel and melt. Stir it constantly as it will scorch and stink your kitchen up.

Make your husband or significant other line a cookie sheet with wax paper b/c you'll be stirring the praline mix. When the caramel is melted and there is no grainy sugar bits,remove from heat, add the pecans and mix well. Dump into wax paper and refrigerate to harden. It will not completely harden. You won't be able to cut it like brownies because it's too soft. You can hand out these candies wrapped individually in Saran Wrap.

WARNING: DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD REACH INTO THE PAN (or yourself)! Trust me on this one. It's a very sticky candy. See above picture. Regan had to be hosed down.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My yarn stash is taking Viagra and fertility pills

It's the only explanation. I'm knitting as fast as I can but yet my lovely stash is expanding.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm a Polygamist...

Not in the traditional sense, no but I'm in love with SOOOOO many yarns, it's ridiculous. My new current fave is Paint Box yarn in Thistle. Reminiscent of Noro, it's 100% wool, great potential for felting and the colorways are amazing. The colors bleed seamlessly into the next. It's almost hypnotic. I must buy more... I must buy more...My kids don't need food...I must buy more. Lacy, delicate scarves for all. Spread the message...You must buy this yarn.

Gig 'em, Aggies and Go 'Boys

Not gonna be overbearing on this one but what kind of Aggie fan would I be if I didn't post the score of yesterday's great football. Texas A&M 38, UT 30

My first opportunity to watch the Dallas Cowboys this year and they win! I sincerely hope the game between the Boys and those cheese people get televised.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mighty Banana Muffins

Regan named these. She just saw an episode of Curious George. I found a basic recipe from Allrecipes and "juiced" it up a notch. They're really good hot with melting butter over them.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (plus 2 tablespoons)
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (about two large bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in microwave and add to 3/4 cups brown sugar in bowl. Mix well. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Add bananas and then flour and baking soda.

Pour one teaspoon of batter into large muffin tins lined with cupcake holders. Sprinkle a few caramel chips and gently pour another teaspoon of batter over chips. Lightly dust a bit of brown sugar over the top. You'll be about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 12-15 minutes until firm.

You can use a bread loaf pan if you spray it down with Baker's Joy (kind of like Pam plus flour). Bake until it firms up about 35-45 minutes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hello Cindy!!

This is my big super secret knitter/agent reveal from Secret Pal 11. Cindy was the recepient of my strange (sorry) greeting cards and bizarre taste. And to think she actually answered my emails! Visit Cindy's blog--she's hilarious. And living in Texas, she can't help being cool.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My first sock!!!!

So what if only Bigfoot can use it. I don't care. I've done it! I've even cast on for the second sock because, of course, you need both socks to make a pair. Although I am so proud of this sock, I may just frame it in a shadow box for posterity.

The Kitchner stitch was interesting. I think it's a horrible sobriety test for knitters. It's not hard. It's need to be focused and not exchange recipes with your neighbor while doing it. Or the very least, not watching a movie with Hugh Jackman in it.

Is he a hottie or what? But I do have to add--Hugh has nothing on my teddy bear hubby.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Come into my web", said the spider to the fly....

Yes, my cobweb shawl is growing by leaps and bounds. It is so light. I feel like like I'm knitting with thread but it is surprisingly strong. I so love Fleece Artist. If I could only win the lottery....

Kolaches That Dave Only Gets Once A Year

I make these once a year at Christmas. Dave will eat these until they come out of his ears. My mom made these--once again learned from someone in her family. Kolaches are really popular in southeast Texas. My momma's family came from Germany and Poland. According to the dictionary, kolache (also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky, from the Czech and Slovak plural koláče) are a type of pastry consisting of fillings ranging from fruits to cheeses inside a bread roll. Some people will argue my family's recipe is not a true kolache. To them, I say, take it up with momma because she will win an argument against anyone.

2 tubes of biscuits (Mom made her biscuits from scratche but I use butter-flavored biscuits)
1 small block of smoked cheddar cheese (or the cheese of your choice)
2 packages of Little Smokey Sausages

Preheat oven according to biscuit package directions. Roll out each biscuit on a floured surface with rolling pin. Place two sausages in middle of flat biscuit and throw a small slice of cheese on top. Wrap the biscuit with the sausage and cheese and pinch the corners to seal.

Bake on cookie sheet according to biscuit packages. Sometimes the cheese oozes out from cracks and bakes onto the cookie sheet and gets crusty. I have to chase Dave out of the kitchen because he sneaks in to eat the cheese. His excuse? My food presentation would be off if he left it alone.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Student of the Month

Where Wesley gets his manners is beyond me but I've never been so proud of him. His teacher said that Wesley is a positive role model who tries to help his friends make positive choices and he is extremely polite.

I also feel Regan needs to be chosen Student of the Month but they don't do that in Pre-K so she is my Girl of the Month.

So here's to my Monster Boy and Muffin (their nicknames). You two are always my Kids of Month

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hippie Dye

I space dyed this yesterday. It came out, in my son's words, "Snap, it's the bomb." Six years old and already I can't understand him. I can only assume it means he approves.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Up to My Garishly Dyed Hair!

Sit back and let me vent. I, in a weak moment, agreed to coordinate Barrow County's Holiday Connection. What is Holiday Connection? It's a countywide clearinghouse to provide Christmas assistance to needy families. Last year 1,100 children were served. I just picked up 250 applications from the school system, Department of Family and Children Services and other social service agencies. Want to know how I feel right now?

Picture yourself on the edge of the Grand Canyon looking down over the safety bar, snapping pictures and suddenly the bar gives way. In a split second, you start to fall, pee on yourself, scream for help and flail your arms in attempt to fly. Then a second later, a hand latches onto your shirt and bra (thank God, you wore one today) to pull you to safety.

Doesn't work for you? Try imagining that icky, throw up feeling you get when you realize that you don't have enough scarce and no longer made yarn to finish a sweater you've knitted and cabled for the past two months? Then after scouring your stash for an hour, find one last skein.

Or how about looking at a single pink line on the pregnancy test three years after you've had your tubes tied? Then you read the directions and you find out that two pink lines indicate you're pregnant.

Basically, I'm panicking. All these kids needing help for Christmas and not enough donations. I don't want children to wake up Christmas morning to an empty tree. Everyone keeps telling me--it'll all come together but good grief, does it have come together at the last minute?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Knit of Passion Contest

Happy Blogiversary to me! It's been about a year and 100 posts later. I'm now making less sense than when I started this blog. To celebrate, I'm hosting a "Knit of Passion" contest. The prize? Two skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (new and still in wrapped in original tags and from smoke-free home) in an eggplant color (Color Lava--005 and dye lot 158). Really beautiful color and luxurious feel. It was reviewed on the Knitter's Review. Incidentally, the color I'm giving away is the same one on the KR site.

To enter the "Knit of Passion" post a comment on this post. Tell me what drives you to knit? Why is yarn your passion? Contest ends 12/10. I will have my Knit Wits knitting group vote on the answers during our December meeting and I'll ship the yarn to the winner on my dime. If you want to win, you cannot post anonymous comments. You don't have to have a blog but I'll need a way to contact you.

Ready? Set? Type.....

Mocha Skor Cake

Best darn thing you've ever put in your mouth! So good you'll slap yourself!

1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 1/2 cups of cooled very strong coffee (I used an instant coffee chocolate mix like suisse mocha)
1/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large tub of whipped cream, thawed
1/3 cup cooled very strong coffee
5 Skor or Heath candy bars, cut up (it's okay to eat some pieces before you use them)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two round cake tins or you can grease a 13x9 pryex dish. For a two layer, of course, use the round tins.

Mix cake mix, 1 1/2 cup coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix well until smooth. Pour into cake tins or pyrex dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until it gets springy on top. A tip I learned was that take it out a little early even if it looks almost done. It will continue to bake while it's cooling.

Cool completely (about 30-45 minutes)

Mix whipped cream and 1/3 cup coffee well. The cream will turn a lovely shade of mocha.

If you using the pyrex dish, spread cream mixture over top and sprinkle with Skor pieces.

If you used the round tins, put one cake on cake plate. Spread 1/3 of whipped cream mix on top. Do not go around the sides. Sprinkle a little bit of Skor pieces on the cream. Place second cake on top and spread rest of whipped cream on top. Again, do not go over the sides. Just leave cream on top. Sprinkle remaining Skor pieces on top. Refrigerate if your family doesn't demolish this immediately. You will be too full of Skor pieces to eat it so save yourself a piece.

A heel can't stop me!

The end of my first sock is in sight! I tried it on and it's a little big, well for me at least but not Big Foot. It wants to be a smooshy bed sock.

I had a couple of mistakes. I accidentally picked up two stitches from like four rows below the current. How? Beats me. I didn't slip stitch knit to the end of one row--just slipped the first stitch and then knit. It's a wonder my teacher, Anita didn't throw me out a window. Lots of patience that girl has.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sock Knitter In Training!

The low wattage light bulb that is my brain flickered to life. I took a Magic Loop class offered by Main Street Yarns in Watkinsville. Anita, my instructor and a complete knitting genius, explained what made the Magic Loop method, well, magic.

I have started my sock and next class is the gusset. For those who are leery of knitting socks, let me tell you---I was also intimidated. I read the Magic Loop book and nothing. I watched an instructional video--zippo. I looked on the net--nada. But hands on instruction is the way to go. I understand the basic construction of socks which was my "a-ha" moment.

Don't be afraid of messing up. I did lots of things--I knitted with my tail. I only knitted one side of the loop. Dropped stitches. You name it and I did it. But as the lead sentence said--somewhere in the middle of fumbling with the cord, it clicked.

And don't get me started on the new yummy sock yarns. I'm knitting my first pair with Lorna Laces Sportweight Sock yarn in this incredible colorway (Watercolor)

My Kind of Government Program.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Knitting with Spider Webs

Another Fleece Artist yarn added to my stash. I just can't get enough of their colorways. I don't know how they do it but their colors are the most incredible. Some are muted and some are jewel-toned. My secret swap partner gave me a beautiful colorway (Glacier) in their Camelspun line and I've got a seasilk skein in their Rose Garden. This month, I bought on eBay a shawl kit in their Ivory silk line which is the same color above.

It's a dream to knit although it is extremely lightweight like a spiderweb. The shawl will not be used for warmth but a wonderful accent piece. A pattern for the shawl comes with the skein but of course, I tweaked it. I slipped all first stitches and did the increases in the second stitch. Here it is in the beginning stages of the triangular shawl and the skein.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Teaching Kindergartners about dyeing

To honor our early settlers (both Pilgrims and Indians alike), my kids' elementary school has asked me to dye yarn like these people did. At first, I was disconcerted--am I that old--do I look like I was part of the Plymouth Rock gang? I was looking particularly ghoulish that day with a bad home dye job.

Then I realized it was compliment. So I'm off to the library to brush up on natural dyes. And then it's to the forest behind my home to find some suitable tree bark. Stick a feather in my strangely colored hair and call me Pocahontas.

I need a fix! Royal Milk Tea from Japan!

My KTS4 partner Tiffany who lives in Japan introduced me to this drink. I don't know who makes--having never learned Japanese and of course, high school French is no help--this wonderful tea.

It's not tea in the traditional sense but is tea. There are no tea bags just individual packets of powder which look like Nestle Quik. Mix the bag up with hot water and voila, love in a mug.

The taste is sweet, milky, and tea-y all at the same time. It's definitely different but oh my goodness, so delicious. I'm feverishly hunting the net looking for a supplier. I sound like some sort of junkie trying to find a stash but the four packets Tiffany sent were downed in two days.

Help me before I started stalking Asian markets.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Learning the Magic Loop method!

I'll be heading off to Main Street Yarns in Watkinsville for the next three Sundays for two hour classes to learn Magic Loop and sock knitting. I'm stoked! For $45, I get the instruction, a set of circs (although nothing can top my Knit Picks Options Set), sock yarn and pattern.

Wish me luck in Sockland.

At least she'll be insulated.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Darth Vader and the Regan Princess Step Out.

It sounds like a horrible romance novel gone awry on the Death Star. But in fact, it's Halloween night at my house.

Wesley was bound and determined to be Darth Vader and with some divine intervention, we managed to find the last Darth costume in his size at Walmart. The earlier Darth was mislabeled as a medium youth but in reality was a medium adult--thank you Party City for adding to my stress level.

Regan knew from the get go that she wanted to be a princess so we bought her costume two weeks ago and now it was too small. But that was okay with Ray. Throw some cheap flashing tiara on her head and she was ready to rule us minions.

As usual, they got candy galore from our neighborhood. Wesley said thank you in his Darth Vader voice (which was a scratchy version of his whiny voice) and Regan kept forgetting to thank her "subjects" for the candy. By the time we were ready to go home, she had the funky royal wave down. You know, picture Queen Elizabeth waving like she's screwing in a lightbulb.

The pumpkins were a challenge to carve. Every year Wesley thinks up new ways to showcase our meager carving skills. This year one jack o'lantern was an imitation of Dave's (and my) college days. The pumpkin was throwing up pumpkin goo. Oh, those were the days.

Ga Ga's Flour Tortillas

My mother has made these things for years and years. She learned from my paternal grandmother who learned from an elderly woman from New Mexico during the Great Depression. There's never been a written recipe and when I asked for one, Mom just shrugged and said to figure it out.

So here goes my mom's version of her recipe with measuring estimates....

2 cups all purpose flour (if you use self rising flour, you don't need the baking powder)
Fistful of shortening (about 2 tablespoons)
dash salt
4 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Make a well in the flour. Add salt, baking powder, shortening, and water. Mix it together until it is stiff and smooth and you see no chunks of shortening. The dough should be like bread dough and not pie crusty.

Knead it for about five minutes on floured countertop. Take a fist-sized amount and roll it out into a circle (or if you're me, a strange looking blob resembling an egg). You will do one at a time while you cook one tortilla. The dough doesn't need rise.

Spray small skillet with some Pam and heat skillet over medium heat. Make sure the skillet is hot. Add tortilla and (this is the weird part), using a hand or spoon, twist the tortilla around in circles while it cooks. Also press it down while it cooks. Flip it after a couple of minutes (it crisp slightly and brown) and cook other side. Take out hot tortilla and place on cloth towel and cover.

Before you cook the next tortilla, fold a paper towel into fourths and slightly wet it with shortening. Clean out the skillet with it before you add next tortilla. Don't add Pam again.

Try these suckers hot with butter melting over it. OMG--my favorite non-chocolate thing in the world is my mom's homemade tortillas.

If there are any left over, reheat in microwave with a small glass of water (so the tortilla won't harden).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Who needs DIY?

Apple Crumb Cake

I found this recipe in a newspaper and again "tweaked it".

3 large apples, washed, cored and diced--leave skins on--they're great
2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar (or Splenda)
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Walnuts pieces and raisins optional

Preheat oven to 325. Spray pryex dish with Pam. Lay apples on bottom and sprinkle with cinnamon and white sugar. Add walnuts or raisins on top. Set aside. Partially melt butter in microwave (where is softened but not melted completely). Add flour, brown sugar and vanilla extract to butter. Mix until sort of crumbly. Sprinkle on top of apple mixture and bake for about 45 minutes until top is brown.