Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy start to your fiscal first quarter!

Why do we celebrate accounting deadlines with drink, frenetic dancing and acting out in inappropriate fashion under the guise of inebriation? I mean, I understand that everyone needs to mark time in some way, but this one boggles me. It's an accounting deadline, more than anything else, and not a very logically placed one, either.

I blame the Romans.

Anyway, in the new fiscal quarter I will be using this:

to make a tea cozy for my dedicated, hard-working Brown Betty (a 6 cupper, allegedly, although I usually only get two or three American cups out of her). It's only 45 yards, which should just suffice, and when I bought it, I bought it because I couldn't resist that color and shine. It's gorgeous, and I wish you could see it in real life because it's even prettier there. As soon as I had it at home, I realized it would have to be used to clothe my Betty -- mostly because there's not really enough to do anything else with, but also because I'd been contemplating a tea cozy and it was perfect for the job.

Of course, I'll have to improvise a pattern for my Betty Dress (her curves are so glorious, how could she be anything other than a She?) The only pattern I've seen that calls for 45 yards of bulky yarn for a tea cozy is rather sack-like and dumpy, and Betty deserves so much better than that.

Tea cozy making seems more sensible now, too, because I've actually been using her to hold my excess tea before it gets drunk. I've been using a tea towel as a make-shift cozy, but really. Betty's excellent service and utility demands I give her something more fashionable than a house elf in servitude would wear!

Oh, and did you notice the cream blanket on my photographic chair? Why is it there, you ask? Why because I had a week-long visit from the Poop Fairy. Who is the Poop Fairy?

Oh, she's adorable, I'll admit. Particularly that juicy little nose. See?

But she's taken to...informing us when she is displeased by anything by leaving little turds. IN MY CHAIRS. First, she desecrated my desk chair (which is now, post-cleaning, covered with an old throw blanket), but then she went after my recliner! I won't describe that horror for you, but suffice to say I almost chucked her outdoors to fend for herself after that. Yikes.

Oh, I've spilled stuff on my recliner before -- soup, mostly -- but that's different. And if I thought she had a physical complaint that made it difficult for her to find her litter box, that would be different as well.

These were "I'm angry and you need to know it" poops. We're doing her a favor, letting her stay here while her mommy is out of town, and this is the thanks we get. We fed her (extra -- hey, she was hungry!), we watered her, we issued her meds on time. Just because we confined her to one room at night when she would rather wander free and loose.... Oh, well. Water under the bridge. She went home today, anyway. I've warned my aunt to watch her nub end for a while.

Also, I've made use of my favorite of the holiday bounty already:

That's my new French rolling pin -- the one I got from Nieceling and The Phew. I thought they'd heard me say that I wanted one on Cookie Baking Day -- the Thursday before Christmas -- but now I find they've had it in the closet for weeks.

All of which gives me pause. Just goes to show, you have no idea who knows you best until you get a gift like this. Poor kids, knowing me this well must be a trial. :-)

Anywhoo, it was used to make this:

Sugar cream pie. It's wonderful, isn't it, how the Amish can manage to devise a pie recipe so sublime, so perfect in its simplicity when they haven't got electricity or cars or telephones. Then again, perhaps that's precisely how they do it.

I'm off for pie. May the next tax season bring all joy and happiness to your home!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What I Did Today: A Pictorial Essay

For my next beading project:

I do love the holidays, and my brother doesn't allow colors other than red, gold and green on the "proper" tree.

Ornaments made by a member of my Knit Coven. Aren't they great?

I wish I could crochet.

A handmade ornament from a friend from two Yules ago. I love the colors.

My mother gave me all the ancient ornaments that used to go on our family tree but are blacklisted because they're the wrong color. This is one of my favorites.

A message for one and all:

I wish I had one that said "Happy Holidays" to cover all my bases, but this particular ornament is older than I am. Just know my wishes for a happy holiday season for all of you are non-denominational. Choose your holiday and run with it. It's a sucky time of year in the northern hemisphere, cold and dark and cold, so start a party, hang out with your peeps and make like a drunken elf with the pumpkin pie. Or stay home, light a candle and meditate in silence if that's more your bag.

Whyever you choose to do what you choose to do, I hope you have a very merry.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Every time I start to get down about the world..

someone comes along and gives me hope.

I am so blessed to know the people I know, and the people I know are some of the best people anywhere. I don't know how I get so lucky.

Someday, I will be in a position to help others out as some kind souls have helped me. I sincerely hope that I can be as loving, kind, open and generous as those who have been an example to me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Marshmallow Memo

I had a marshmallow making marathon today -- I made three ginormous batches of marshmallows. I wanted to try flavoring them with candy, an option allowed for in the recipe itself. I wanted to make some notes on the changes the candy made to the process so I don't forget.

(Don't worry, it's just a way-cool camera flare, not radioactivity in the sugar. Promise)

OK, notes:

1. Peppermint candies make the mix about a trillion times stickier than regular. Cleaning it off the beaters is a special treat.
2. Cinnamon BB candies (what are they called, actually?) must be ground up in a coffee grinder -- but be aware that coffee will end up in your marshmallows.
3. Actually, grinding up candy in anything (including the blender I used for the peppermints) will produce a rather fine, caustic powder that floats through the air, gets in your hair and clothes and eyes and stings like the dickens. Wear goggles, or at least not contacts. I also think I have sugar lung now.
4. Peppermint melted with sugar will look and smell like Pepto in the pot, but the flavor is too faint to make much impression in the final product -- the whipped in air dilutes it. I think doubling the amount of candy used in the mix might help.
5. Making three batches of marshmallows over the course of one day means that I have to cut all three batches tomorrow and coat them in sugar. If it looked like I was cutting coke last week when I did the half batch, tomorrow's going to be an unholy mess.

And with that, I go to bed. I have to get up early tomorrow to meet with the office manager at my church about the gig. It's a feast day tomorrow, too, so she'll be very busy. I hope I can be concise!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pretty Bobbles

I'm branching out, y'all. The first thing I did this week in my course of doing new stuff was repair an old pair of earrings. Well, I say old, but I bought them three years ago. However, the hooks had turned to this:

Blech, you can see the dirty copper! Ewww! So I went shopping -- thankfully I got a few good coupons in the mail from my favorite Big Box Retailer of All Things Craftual -- and got some notions (aka, 'findings', which is now my favorite word for craft supplies evar), so the fish hook earring doo-dads could go from the above to this:

See? Shiny. It's amazing, with the old hooks on, the earrings looked dirty and down-market. With the new hooks, they look clean and brand new again. Which just goes to show, a little bit of maintenance can give you a whole new look!

I also got some extras. I have a blue ton of beads in a box which I only just rediscovered the other day. In light of the fact that I'm stone-broke at present, I decided to make a necklace to give a friend for her birthday. So, I tossed some extra things in my card at Big Box Retailer of All Things Craftual:

Wish me luck.

But the beads are totally her color -- red and purple and black -- so I'm hoping it will turn out alright:

Pretty, no? I don't even remember why I bought these.... Oh, well. Lucky me. I don't have to feel too bad that what she's mostly getting for Festivus is marshmallows. Granted, they are my special, hand made marshmallows, in a variety of flavors (provided I can figure out how to chop up the cinnamon candies I found), so they're not just marshmallows, they are Super Excellent and Moist Marshmallows of Joy.

Which makes them (naturally) superior to just about everything I could purchase. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just to prove I follow through on the promises I make to myself....

Here's the link to my book on Amazon: My book on Amazon.

I apologize for the title, I am terrible at titling things. I also apologize there is no cover image -- I have no photoshop skillz, nor a photo suitable. Next time, I will.

God have mercy on my soul.

And a little calming picture to make us all feel better:

A creative shot of Belvedere Castle in Central Park.

I really need to get back to New York.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I am done with the past week.

My family suffered a bereavement this past weekend. My uncle, my mother's brother, died early on Saturday morning. He had been ill for the past little while, and he made the choice that basically ended his suffering, so I'll guess he preferred to move on rather than linger. I'm glad he's not suffering any longer, and hope he's found happiness in the OtherWhen. He died on what would have been his mother's 99th birthday, so we all believe he got an invitation to the party. Perhaps he was a surprise guest for her?

I've been cooped up in the waiting rooms of the ICU at a local hospital for the past week and a half, so you can imagine how little I've gotten done in the past ten or more days. It's hard to get anything done when you're in the middle of a slew of relations, chattering away like a cage full of monkeys. And for once I've actually got work to do -- my church has engaged my services. They need to rebind the old church registers and have them conserved, and they want me to manage the project. I've got some notes I need to write up and then a conference to arrange with the priest and office manager to see what they think. Then I get to start working on how to accomplish their goals. I'm looking forward to it (it's my kind of fun; yes, I'm that weird) and can't wait to get it up and running.

But I had one big project to get finished today: My book is downloaded at Amazon, title and all, just waiting the 24 hours so Amazon can check it to make sure I'm not a dirty plagiarist. I will provide a link tomorrow -- when it's supposed to appear. I can't believe I've done it and it's too late to stop the thing now. I'm terribly ambivalent, excited and scared and exhilarated all at once.

Wish me luck.

In other news, I did something fun today (aside from spending hours and hours and hours on end trying to get the damn document in Kindle format): I made some lemon-lime marshmallows. Using these:

and the basic vanilla marshmallow recipe from the Brownie Points blog. Juicing a standard lemon and two limes gives you the 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of liquid required to bloom your gelatine (I also added in a few little drops to make it the full 2 tablespoons). Boil the sugar, corn syrup and that portion of water, whip the whole together and hey, presto:

a half batch of marshmallows. Actually, this is all that is left over -- I took them to coven tonight and they got predated by the ladies. They're soft and tender and have a really bright, light lemon tang. You can just barely get a hint of the lime. It's like eating soft sunshine.

I like this flavor. Lots.

I'll be making my friends marshmallows for the holidays -- only for their marshmallows, I'll be using hard candy to give them peppermint and cinnamon flavors. My mother wants me to figure out how to make coconut marshmallows, which should be an interesting adventure.

And on top of it all, I managed to get my mother's Christmas Cowl cast on tonight at coven.

I spend a week in the pound and come out swinging. I'm not sure if I'm entirely proud of myself, but it sure doesn't hurt.