Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bath mat = dog toy

We might need to actually invest in some dog toys for Sammy. She wanted to play and the bath mat was the only thing available. You'd think I'd be mad. Instead I was so proud of her new trick, I had to show you all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I know I haven't written anything in like two weeks, but thats what I get for mentioning I had spare time. Work has exploded and there are halloween costumes to make, so bear with me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Crafty Crap

This year has provided me with something I had forgotten—spare time. In the past three years, I’ve done a good job of using up every imaginable minute of my life outside work. If it wasn’t going to school, it was planning a wedding or training for a marathon.

My reintroduction to my spare time went a little something like this…

Me: Hello Spare Time, I’ve forgotten what you look like.
Spare Time: I’m looking a little empty. You should fill me up.
Me: With what?
Spare Time: Most people fill me up with hobbies. Don’t you have any?
Me: Hobbies, I forgot all about those.
Spare Time: Better find some quickly or Work will come back and fill me up.
Me: Ok, Ok. Maybe I’ll learn to crochet. All I need besides you is yarn and a hook.

And so went my attempt to Crochet. I headed off eagerly to the Jo Ann Fabric, excited to find multiple aisles of yarn. There was yarn of all sizes, textures and colors. I gingerly selected my first couple colors. Already I was envisioning the beautiful scarves, hats and blankets I would be making—oh the color combinations, the textures, the possibilities. Spare Time, you won’t be empty for long.

The idea was all very romantic in my head. I would be an expert in no time, flying through projects, adorning my friends with colorful gifts. But then there was the reality, I have NO IDEA what the hell I am doing. I have NEVER created anything from YARN. How did I get this romantic idea in my head. I’m pointing straight at you Linda! She comes in with scarves and baby blankets in a plethora of colors and styles. Beautiful pieces she whips up in a week or so. “It’s so easy” she says…

You Tube taught me enough basics that I began my first scarf with a simple stitch. I knew this first attempt would be messy. I struggled through it until I find a rhythm, or so I thought. I got through the second ball of yarn, needing a third to make the length appropriate for a scarf, when I had to stop. NOONE, not even the proud crafter herself, will EVER wear this thing. I gave up. But then there was this nagging voice...

Spare Time: Hey, I’m a feeling a little empty again. What happened to the crocheting?
Me: I don’t have everything I need for that
Spare Time: You have the yarn, the hook and me.
Me: I don’t have skill!


At least it looks good on Sammy!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gourmet Birthday Cake Attempt

So for Biscuits Birthday I wanted to make her a cake. When I told her this she said, “I have one I want but it will be difficult.” I really wanted to make something, so I told her to give me the recipe and I'll make it. .

She then showed me the recipe for this cake—delivered to her door courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Holy Crepes Batman!

Well, I was excited to take on the task. So a couple of Saturdays ago, I devoted myself to a day in the kitchen.

First, I had to make ALL the crepes. Mind you, I've never made crepes but thought I could make it work. Thank goodness for flat cooking surfaces. As you can see, I'm a mess in the kitchen. The first 5 - 10 were a rubbery mess. I couldn't find the right utensil, so resigned to finger flipping. That worked and I soon got into a rhythm.

Here are a pile of about half the finished crepes. Notice how the plate is precariously perched...I've been know to drop things in the kitchen. After seeing this picture, I now know why.

Then I had to make the hazelnut filling. Let me just tell you about how rich this was. The hazelnut filling called for 2 cups of whipped cream, 2 ½ STICKS of butter, and egg whites along with some sugar and everyone’s favorite staple Nutella. Ok so maybe it didn't call for Nutella. That doesn't really sound like Martha, now does it. Well it call for something I couldn't readily find in Ohio, so Nutella was my replacement (and a damn good one).

So then I layered, layered and layered some more. The biggest problem was keeping the cake vertical as I stacked. The bottom layers wanted to shift left and right. It was a wobbly to say the least. As I tilted it to fit it in the fridge, the layers all shifted. I had to pull it out and give it a shake to straighten it out.

And then I had to top it all with a yummy chocolate ganache. Then is when I realized I didn't have corn syrup. Corn syrup is what gives it that shiny texture and finish. Oh well, I figured there is enough sugar in this thing anyways.

So the cake was in the fridge firming up, but what about those candied hazelnuts? I made those too. I won't even tell you about the experience trying to find WHOLE hazelnuts at the grocery store, UGH.


Here is the candy in the making. mmmmmmm sugary bubbles...

Ok, definitely not as spectacular as the picture to begin with, but YUMMMMM. Thanks for giving me a challenge biscuit, it was fun.


Check out the inside!


NOTE TO BISCUIT: While scouring the internet for the original picture of this cake, I found a dozen bloggers who also were lured into ATTEMPTING this cake. One annoying person replicated it beautifully HERE, while the majority of others struggled as much as I did. I'm linking you to the successful execution because I really didn't believe it could be done that professionally outside of a test kitchen and food stylist. I guess you were the only one lured into the decadent, layers of chocolate hazelnut intoxication.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The final chapter to vacation

One of Padre’s favorite ways to end a good evening on the boat is with a bloody-mary. Padre is not much of a drinker, but this is one of his indulgences.

On our last night in the cabin, Biscuit and I mixed up some loaded drinks, handed one to dad and sipped on ours as we cooked dinner. As usual, they went down smooth and fast.

Dinner helped temper the buzz.

After dinner, Biscuit and I had our eyes set on the fire pit. We even bought dry firewood so we were stocked. Are you remembering that this vacation was plagued by rain and clouds? One may say it was forboding.

We ambitiously stacked the logs and found kindling (and cardboard) to get things started. Try as we might, the fire wouldn’t start.

To all of you people out there thinking I did it wrong (I'm looking squarely at my husband), I did not! Not only do I have a fire-pit in our yard, I also, just the Friday before we left, built a fire with only a lighter and some scraps from the woods.

So this fire wouldn’t start. Even the cardboard wouldn’t light. It was getting dark. The lighter was burning my fingers as I circled the pit, fanning, lighting, and fanning some more.

It was after the first twenty minutes that we (I) had ran out of cardboard, broken the lighter and spilled two drinks.

Now what? No lighter or matches to be found.

Enter Padre to the rescue with our next idea. Dinner was cooked on the charcoal grill. “I’ll bet those coals are still glowing hot” he said. Off he goes to scoop up some coals and add them to the fire.

Now we have glowing coals lying in the moist ash at the base of the dry firewood—still no flames. We had more paper, but the coals wouldn’t catch it on fire. I think it was Padre under the influence of too many bloody mary’s who said “Sparklers?” Long story but yes, we had sparklers with us. Biscuit returned with the sparklers. What a sight, the three of us bent over the non-existent fire, holding sparklers to the glowing coals. Still nothing.

I think that was about when Padre gave up and went to finish his book.

I had another idea, I ran inside and grabbed a roll of paper towels. FINALLY something the coals were hot enough to light. I circled the fire ripping off sheets of paper towels, stuffing them in the base, followed by Biscuit who ensured they lit. FLAMES!

The flames only lasted until the fuel of paper towels ran out. So we continued to circle, fueling the fire with Brawny. After a whole double roll was engulfed, the dry logs had finally caught fire. We took turns watching it, fearful it would go out.


So what was the point? Why did we exhaust all sources of spark and fuel?

SMORES, why else.

Oh and don’t forget about those sparklers. They were still in the fire pit, One ignited while I was taking the picture below.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vacation part 3 - Skiing

This trip was the one-in-a-million where Mellow Yellow performed at her peak. She was begging us to ski, to show off how great she was performing. When we were kids, the boat served one purpose—pulling us on a tube, skis, wakeboard or whatever contraption dad would allow. We would fight for turns in the spotlight, refusing to get tired thus relinquishing the rope.

We all remember fondly those days, as now we are lucky to make one trip on the boat per season, even luckier to have to boat in good working condition.

So why am I telling you all this? Sure, the memories are nice but there is another reason. In our anticipation to bring back to life the vacations of our childhood, we (I) sometimes forget how much things have changed (size, weight, stamina, athletacism, etc).

A good example s illustrated below. When we were kids and we were cold, wet and tired, the best place on mellow yellow to cuddle up was this little cuddy. Biscuit and I remember fitting both of us int here at a time with a big bath towel around us, bouncing with each wake, heading back to the dock for the night.


And for perspective, here is a grown up biscuit in the same cuddy.


Skiing is like riding a bike, none of us have forgotten or lost our ability. The time spent behind the boat has decreased exponentially resulting in the rooster tail of spray from our ski isn’t as tall, the slice through the wake isn’t as quick and smooth, and the angle on the water isn’t as sharp. The most noticeable change for me is how loud that voice is. The voice that reminds me of how painful it is to bite it. The voice that says, don’t push yourself too hard, you don’t want to be aching the rest of the trip. The voice that represents fear has gotten much louder and more persuasive.

Being that we were the only ones on the lake and mellow yellow was running so smoothly, the glass surface of the water was calling us. We all skied successfully. It just wasn’t the as long, sharp or tight as I remember it.