"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why You Need Worm Poo

I just finished getting together another worm bin kit to donate to Joey's ex-school. As I printed up the material to go with it, I came across the following info. Since I've been extra consumed with homeschool activities this week (and thus haven't posted much) and because we're all starting to think about gardening, this seemed appropriate.


Some Gardening Benefits of Worm Castings
  • Suppresses fungal diseases
  • Increases drought resistance
  • Contains high levels of water-soluble nutrients
  • Contains essential nutrients, micro nutrients and trace minerals
  • Reduced use of chemical fertilizers
  • Improved soil structure, resulting in improved aeration as well as water retention capacity
  • Organic and Non toxic- safe for plants, animals and humans!
  • Odor free
  • Studies show that plants fed with earthworm castings tend to repel white flies, aphids and spider mites.
  • Contain high levels of beneficial bacteria and microbes, which help protect your plants from disease.
  • Use them anywhere that needs fertilizing, houseplants, flowers, vegetables, trees and lawns
  • Can be used to make compost tea, a liquid fertilizer that helps protect your plants from diseases as it fertilizes them.


Related Posts-
Worm Composting (1)- Setting Up the Bed
Worm Composting (2)- Some Other Thoughts
Worm Composting (3)- Harvesting The Castings
Worm Composting (4)- Troubleshooting
Using Eggshells

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Few Random Things About Me- 26 thru 35

OK, so Angeleen tagged me to create a list of weird things about myself. She only asked for 7, but well, I guess I've got a lot of strange saved up.

However, since I seem perfectly normal to myself (heh), I asked Jeff for help. He said, "Weird? I don't know. How 'bout annoying?" I knew it was a joke because he's funny like that, but that didn't stop me from asking him about 10 times over the next hour, "Fine, so just what are are the annoying things about me?" (I don't know; I think I might have found one of them.)

So, I guess we'll save the annoying things for another post. Here's what I came up with for the weird and/or unusual stuff.

35- I get anxiety attacks and pass out at the sight of (and sometimes just the thought of) blood.
Here's a short list of just a few of these instances...
  • elevator at a hospital (visiting my mom after her mastectomy- my friends thought I was joking and just left me there on the floor)
  • parking lot of the tattoo parlor where I got a quarter inch daisy tattoo (and again in my front yard when showing it to my mom)
  • picking my cat up at the vet after being spayed
  • when I got my bellybutton pierced (both in the chair and at home in the bathtub cleaning it)
  • touring the radiology wing of a newly built hospital (it didn't even smell like hospital yet, just new paint and carpet)
  • in Anatomy Lab
  • a particularly heavy nosebleed of Joey's at 2:30 in the morning
34- I went bungee jumping the day before high school graduation. (this picture was taken from the hot air balloon I'd just jumped out of.)


And here's a couple of other pictures from the day (though they're not of me, but of one of my best friends at the time and her brother)...

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33- I've been conditioned like Pavlov's dogs when it comes to Mexican food. I cannot listen to mariachi music without needing to eat green chili the next meal. And I'm starting to get this way with Bollywood music and Indian food.

32- I threw up for 8 of the 9 months that I was pregnant with Joey. By the time I went into labor (still throwing up) I couldn't even remember what it felt like to not be nauseous. I honestly worried that I would never feel well again. And then 1 hour after Joey was born I was happily scarfing down my favorite pizza (sausage, mushroom and green chilies). Thanks Jenny; you're so awesome for getting it!

31- Gardening was one of only two things that made me feel better when I was pregnant and nauseous. I won't go into details on the second thing. ;)

30- My sister and I used to fight over who would be first to use the 'bellybutton' in every new tub of margarine my mom bought.

29- I can tie a knot in a cherry stem using only my tongue.

28- I reread at least one of my favorite books once a year (To Kill a Mockingbird, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Prodigal Summer, The Hitchhiker's Trilogy: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe, and Everything, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; Mostly Harmless).

27- When I was a kid, my dad bought me my own little gold pan.

26- Instead of sucking my thumb or twirling my hair like most normal kids, I used to play with my mom's hands. I'd play with her fingernails or rub two fingers together and listen to the sound. This is probably one of the weirder things about me. That and the fact that I still do it, to Jeff who lets me rub the tops of his fingernails even though I'm a grown woman and shouldn't have nervous twitches like that. (hum, did we find annoying thing number 2?)

So, anybody who knows me in real life... feel free to chime in.

Anything I'm forgetting

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Easter Garden

Two or three years ago, I was attempting a new project, an indoor Easter garden complete with sprouting branches to hang blown eggs from. It was something I'd never tried before, but had high expectations for. And my friend Jimi asked, "Doesn't Jeff mind?" referring to the large container of dirt in our living room.

It had never actually occurred to me that he might. If he had a problem with that sort of thing, I don't think he would have stuck around for long. It comes part and parcel with the crazy that is Wendy.


This is not in any way meant to discourage you from trying the following project. It's really fun (especially for kids) and is actually a lot easier than it looks. I think the only reason Jimi questioned my housekeeping skills was because she had not yet seen (nor had I for that matter) the awesomeness of the finished Easter Garden.

I guess I love it so much because here in Colorado, green takes longer to arrive in the landscape that elsewhere in the country. So even though this time of year is all about new growth and rebirth, nature is usually still hibernating and really pretty gray.


There are basically two parts to this project, forcing the branches for the tree and growing the grass for the garden. Though, you could easily do just one or the other with happy results.

1) Forcing Branches
The web's got many resources with detailed instructions for forcing flowers from branches, but basically it involves cutting branches from trees that flower (several weeks before you need them), and keeping them inside in a few inches of fresh water. Once you bring them in, re-cut them while the stems are underwater (in the sink or bathtub) and then transfer back to their container. This keeps air bubbles from entering the xylem or phloem (don't remember which one brings water up the stem- Botany was a long time ago) and plugging it up.

I usually pick several kinds of branches because I just never know which ones are going to look best at Easter. I sometimes pick a new bunch every week, because it is really hard to guess how soon they're going to bloom. I like the way they look around the house as the buds emerge, changing from plain sticks (which are great in their own Zen way) to pretty little blossoms.


Whatever looks best at the time gets put in the Easter garden. I've used forsythia, lilacs, crabapple and cherry branches. I think the cherries are my favorite (nice tight little buds), but the lilacs are good for green leaves. Every week I trim a half inch off the bottom of each of the branches.

2) Growing the Grass
Then, about 10 days before Easter, I start the grass.

The colder your house, the longer this will take. Green Bean, I'd give it a couple weeks in your house. :)

I use coconut fiber because it's lighter and less messy than regular dirt. And it's not currently frozen in my garden, which tends to slow the process. Also, I'm going to dump the whole thing in the worm composting bin when it's done, so it's good to use the bedding from that. Dirt would work too, though.

I fill up the container with damp coconut fiber, creating a hole in the middle and then put a fairly large vase in it. It's easier to add the vase now before the grass starts to grow. I leave the vase empty and cover it with either plastic or a lid in order to keep fiber and seeds out. (because I'm messy.)

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Then I spread the dirt/ fiber with seeds of Cat Oat Grass that I bought at the garden store, cover it with a half inch of coconut fiber (or dirt), tamp down lightly and cover the whole thing with plastic to keep the moisture in. When the seeds have sprouted, I pull off the plastic. I water gently when it looks dry.

I don't even put it right in a window, just somewhere where it gets a decent amount of reflected light. It tends to grow straighter if it doesn't receive direct sunlight. But if the blades of grass start looking a little anemic, I put it in a sunny window and turn often or stick it under a fluorescent shop light on a timer.


When it's time, I put the container in it's final place, fill the vase with marbles (this helps keep the branches where you put them), water and add the branches. You can add blown and decorated eggs (links to how to do those below) if you'd like, but it's not completely necessary.


That's it.

One of the things I like about this project is that it makes a great decoration that is completely biodegradable (unlike the basketfuls of plastic grass and eggs). If you don't have a worm bin you can always toss the whole thing in the garden as mulch. This is also one of the reasons that I'm loving my stained glass cookies, which either got eaten or worm-binned.

Added Note- If I could get the timing right, it would really fun to force some bulbs underneath all of this. So far, I haven't managed to pull it off.


Enjoy this tutorial? Get more like it by subscribing to my RSS feed


Related Posts-
Easter Prep (for Blown Eggs)
How to Blow Eggs- 7
Less Frustrating Ways to Dye Blown Eggs
P3310963 copy
Ukrainian Egg Dying
Egg Drying Rack
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sojourner Truth- Ain't I A Woman

I was led to the following by Cami over at Full Circle. We picked up some info about Sojourner Truth when we went to the Martin Luther King Memorial, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

I guess I'm going to have to find more stuff like this to get Joey interested in history. Once she's interested in something, she'll devour anything related to the subject. (You should see how many books about Frida we have here, all inspired by the movie.) She just needs that original spark.

I hope this does it. This book is already on hold for us.

I couldn't narrow these readings of Ain't I A Woman down to one. The first one is by Alice Walker (whom I love) and the second one is a bit more spunky by Kerry Washington. I adore them both.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Help Cure Childhood Cancer and Win Prizes! This Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!*

Come on, people, don't you wanna see us bald? I bet we'll look great! Or not. It's just something you can't predict. That's what's so exciting.


If you go over to our page at St. Baldricks and make a donation (I really don't care whether you donate to me specifically or our team in general), several things will happen…

1- You will support a fantastic cause. They raise money (and awareness) to help cure childhood cancer.

2- You will get to see me, Jenny and Aurora bald. I'll even put up pictures of the shaving process which happens on the morning of March 14th.

3- You will most likely get to see pictures of Aurora crying. I can almost guarantee that she will; she does that whenever she gets really excited. And I know she's super stoked to be doing this. (I might cry too; we're an emotional bunch, ya know.)

Not enough incentive yet? Our tears aren't good enough for you? Is it prizes you want? OK, we can do that too.

4- For every $10 that you donate, you will be given one chance in a drawing for any one of my aromatherapy necklaces. So, if you donate $50, you'll get 5 chances. If you win you can choose from anything in my Etsy shop.

5- Anybody donating $100 or over, will be entered in a drawing to win a package deal from the 3 of us. The $100 donation prize includes all of the following…
  • a bag of pretty fabric grocery bags complete with sheer produce bags (and made specially by yours truly)
  • any one of Jenny's prints (up to 8x10)
  • any one item from either of Aurora's Etsy shops (Auroramae or Auroramae2).
(You'll get one chance for every $100 you donate.)

Them's a lot of prizes, people.

Also, feel free to give us a little blog love and post about this on your site. Special thanks to Aimee from Aimee's Petite Maison and Robyn from both Warm With Love and Craft & Found who've already done this. If you'd be willing to put a button on your sidebar, just email me and I'll send you the HTML code.

And for those of you that are totally and completely strapped for cash, but still want to join in the fun… whether you donate or not, we're having a contest to see who can accurately guess the weight of all of the hair that we'll be shaving off and donating to Locks of Love. Just put your guess (one per person) in the comments here or over at Aurora's site. The person that is closest will receive a set of Aurora's Upcycled Cork Stitch Stoppers so your knitting will never fall of your needles again. I've got several sets and they work beautifully!

Oh and one last thing… this weekend Jenny received a $2 donation from a 9-year-old, so there's absolutely no backing out now.

* OK, I admit that it won't be this Sunday. I just wanted to get your attention. It works for race car driving, doesn't it? (or is that just on the Simpsons?)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Growing Pains (note- this post is not about Kirk Cameron)

When someone isn't feeling well around our house, I tend to shy away from pharmaceuticals, both prescription and over the counter stuff. I have several reasons for this...
-unwanted (and sometimes dangerous) side effects,
-news of supposedly safe, FDA approved medicines being pulled off shelves,
-the fact that they tend to fix the symptoms and not necessarily the underlying problem
-not to mention the stress they tend to put on our liver and kidneys


I've always been willing to suffer through a little more discomfort in order to avoid drugs that actually harm my body or put my health at further risk, while essentially only treating symptoms. Over the years, though, I've found several natural remedies that work as well, and in some cases better, than pharmaceutical alternatives for both the symptoms and the underlying causes.

The first problem that I ever learned to treat non-pharmaceutically was growing pains and leg aches. As a kid, I had awful growing pains. I can remember crying and crying for what seemed like hours as my mom sat up rubbing my legs. When I was pregnant I started to experience the same thing again.

Then I read in one of the dozens of pregnancy books by my bed that it was because the growing baby was stealing my calcium (sneaky little thing). So, I got a decent calcium complex from the health food store and started taking it before bed. This is something I should have been taking anyway, just the regular dose, nothing above and beyond.

And it worked the first night!

Later, when the kids had growing pains themselves, I began giving them the age appropriate dose most nights before bed and it worked for them as well. If I forgot to give it to them and their legs were already hurting, I would give them a half dose of pain medicine along with the calcium, because it does take a bit of time to work.

The older kids could swallow the capsules, but for Joey, I would just open one and mix it into a spoonful of peanut butter. Nature's Way is the one we found that didn't taste gross that way; it just made it a bit gritty. (That link takes you to VitaCost, a company that I buy a lot of my vitamins and herbs from. They don't have everything that I need (and they have a lot of stuff that I wouldn't buy), but they do have brands I like for super cheap. And their shipping is only 5 bucks for any size order, so I order big.)*

I believe that it is fairly important to buy high quality supplements. Most of the stuff sold at the grocery store does not get absorbed well by the body. I usually judge products by whether Vitamin Cottage carries it, because they are fairly strict about what they put on their shelves.

I do not feel that just because something is natural, that it is completely safe. They wouldn't work as medicines if they didn't cause significant changes in the body. And even though something may be safe at the suggested dose, does not mean it's safe in higher quantities. Also, it's important to remember that what works for one person, may actually exacerbate problems in another person with a different medical history. It is for these reasons that I suggest you check with your doctor before taking anything new.

Just something to keep in mind.

*Wow, a parenthesis within a parenthesis. I think that's a Wisdom of the Moon first!


Related Posts-
Fighting Heartburn with Peppers
Spicy Pee (Natural Help for UTIs)
Acupressure for Constipation

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday Funnies-

OK, this is pretty amusing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

My voice is hoarse, I feel hung over and I've spent most of the morning watching videos on You Tube.

We went to see Rodrigo Y Gabriela last night at the Fillmore and I don't know that I've ever done so much singing, jumping, dancing, clapping or screaming at a concert (and I saw the Explore Monogomy tour).

That's a joke, people.

Anyway, Gabriela and Rodrigo are this fantastic combination of cool and adorable. Their website has links to animal welfare causes, a cancer program and Oxfam Ireland. And Gabriela cusses like a sailor. She must have learned English in Ireland because she says 'foo-kin'. As in, "We'll be glad to get home and have some foo-kin peace and quiet."

Seriously, I wanted to bring them home with me. They just have fantastic energy. At the end of one of her solos, Gabriela stood up with her fists clenched, like in victory. Like, Yay for Me! It was great.

I don't remember the last time that a concert made me so happy. I wish it had been all ages because we would have brought all our kids. I would have loved for them to see these two play.

So, after all the You Tube searching, I've narrowed it down to 3 videos to show you all how fantastic these guys are. I would also like to point out that everything you hear is just done on two guitars. All the percussion is just from pounding on it. To me, Gabriela's playing looks a lot like how they play a Bodhran, an Irish drum. And, yes, it is much better in person.

The first is from the DVD that comes with their CD. It's a little tutorial on how to play like they do (yah, like it would be that easy). It's worth watching just to see how truly amazing they are.

This one shows what I think most people look like when they're doing what they love. Gabriela's so adorable, it almost makes me cry.

And finally, the cover they did of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. It was amazing how easy it was for them to get the crowd involved.

I can't wait for their next album.

Added Note- I would also like to put up a link from someone who was also at the show and took some fantastic pictures. He's got a slideshow of them here. Thanks, Brian!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Worm Composting (3)- Harvesting The Castings

This is what the finished worm castings look like.

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(If that doesn't make you want to try worm composting, then you should consider the possibility that you just aren't a gardener.)

  • After 4 to 6 months of feeding your worms, you will notice that the bedding has become much darker and takes up much less space. This is because most of the bedding, food, leaves, paper, etc has been through the gut of at least one worm.The worms are now living in their own poo (castings) and it is now a good time to harvest your compost. Everyone will be happier.
  • The first thing you need to do is to stop feeding your worms for a week or two. This gives them a chance to eat up all the last little bits of food that you’ve added and makes them more willing to move to where you want them to move.
  • There are many ways to actually transfer the worms from old bedding to new. The first is to fill the white plastic basket (see picture of kit here) with new bedding, add food scraps and then bury it down in the bin. Make sure the holes in the sides are buried below the line of dirt. And remember not to add food to the old bedding. The worms will now be attracted to the new bedding and food and crawl through all the holes and into the basket. This way works especially well if you plan to share worms with friends.
  • Another way (the easiest in my opinion) is to shove all the old bedding over to one side of the bin (leaving any big chunks of food) and add new bedding and food to the other side.
(This picture shows the finished compost on the left and new bedding on the right. The compost is actually darker than this, but the flash lightened it quite a bit.)
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  • For either of these methods, don’t add any more food to the old bedding.
  • After several weeks, most of the worms will have migrated into the new bedding and the finished compost will be relatively free of worms. You can remove the finished compost (now mostly worm castings) and use it on your garden.
  • The last, and most tedious way, is to manually pull out all the worms. Lay out a big layer of plastic and make little pyramid shaped cones all over it. The worms will move downward, away from the light and you can pull off the top part of the pyramid and add that to a bucket for finished compost. Rebuild the pyramids and keep going until you’ve got a bunch of worms concentrated in a very small amount of compost. Scoop that back into the worm bin to begin your new batch. I have never once done it this way, but it’s the way that Joey would prefer to do it if she knew about it. She tends to sift through the compost I do remove to make sure that no little wormies are getting thrown out in the garden.
  • If you live in Colorado, I'd be happy to share, but I have no idea how I would ship them anywhere else.

Related Posts-
Worm Composting (1)- Setting Up the Bed
Worm Composting (2)- Some Other Thoughts
Worm Composting (4)- Troubleshooting
Using Eggshells
Why You Need Worm Poo

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Flame of Surrender

Do everything with a mind that lets go.
Don't accept praise or gain or anything else.
If you let go a little you will have a little peace;
if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace;
if you let go completely you will have complete peace.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Don't Do What Donnie Don't Does- Gingerbread Houses

After completing the gingerbread hearts, I had a grand vision of a lovely little gingerbread house, complete with heart-shaped stained glass windows to add to our Winter Wonderland. Which happens to be right underneath the heart cookie garland that I am loving more and more each morning as the sun shines through it (and also happen to be photographing like a newborn- you know, a whole bunch of pictures that look exactly the same to most people, but are each unique and precious to the parents).

I even had an adorable little name picked out (for the house not the newborn garland), The House That Love Built.

Awww. Isn't that sweet? Yes, yes it is.

Since Monday, though, Casa Wendy has a new name, The House That Stubbornness Will Finish, By God.

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Here is the finished project shown from the prettiest angle I could find. I seriously considered using the hot glue gun to get this damned thing together. Looking back, I probably should have. It's not like the icing (that sat out all night) is any more edible than the glue would have been.

I also attempted to light THTSWF, BG with battery powered tea lights. It turned the heart kind of orange, but was still sort of cool.

So, here is my list of Donnie Don'ts for this particular project.
DDWDDD #1- If you blog, don't get too excited to post about a project made with materials you've never worked with. And for God Sake don't mention that you'll have it done later in the week. If you don't blog, don't plan to make the project for an important party or anything with a tight deadline. It puts all kinds of unnecessary pressure on the entire project, casting an unhelpful pall of tension that occasionally makes you say bad words.

DDWDDD#2- When mixing gingerbread dough, you need to (or at least I did) knead every single molecule of it by hand in order for it to roll out smooth instead of cracked and crumbly. It was like working with Fimo instead of Sculpey. Probably sturdier in the end, but too much of a pain in the ass for my limited supply of patience.

And speaking of patience...

DDWDDD #3- Don't be impatient when making gingerbread houses. This is because of the following...
-The walls need a long time to set up properly before adding the roof. After the entire house fell apart 3 times (I'd held it in place for 15 minutes each time) I finally gave up, iced the walls together (luckily they were fairly square and stayed put) and went to bed. They were solid in the morning. This is not like a house of cards, where adding the roof makes the walls more stable. It *is* like a house of cards in every other way, though.
-The 'snow' on the roof needs enough time to set up or you will end up with an unpretty landslide of icing. As I watched it go, I kept thinking, "It's OK, it's OK, it will look like the sun melted it a little and it's sliding a bit." But it didn't. It looked like icing sliding off gingerbread in nasty clumps.

DDWDDD #4- Don't make the full batch of icing for the gingerbread house all at once. The icing will be clumpy and separated long before you've managed to get the various parts of the house constructed. I don't know, though. This may or may not be true for you. You may be much more competent than me.

DDWDDD#5- When applying the 'construction' icing, add the icing, stick the pieces together and then pull them apart. Add more icing along the line if necessary and let the pieces sit, unattached, for 3 minutes or so, before reattaching. This gives the icing time to set up a bit, so when you do stick them together, the holding time is shorter. Which bring me to...

DDWDDD#6- Don't forget to put on some good music or an audio book before you start construction of the roof, because once you start holding the pieces together, you won't be going anywhere for awhile. If you think you've waited long enough, wait another 5 minutes. And then wait another 5. Even after that long, I still propped the thing up with a mug because I wasn't taking any chances.

During the course of this project, I did manage to solve a Martha mystery, how to get small pieces of candy for melting inside stained glass cookies without destroying a cookie sheet. And I'm really happy about that one, 'cause it's been bugging me since Christmas.

Let's see, what else. Oh, I also made fun little hearts out of melted Creme Savers. Use the cookie cutter on them right after they come out of the oven. Then let them cool completely and the edges just snap right off in a very satisfying way.

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And here's a picture of some of the cookies I made this week. Just because I like them so much.

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At one point, Jeff offered to make me a gingerbread house jig, which is something I might seriously consider if I ever forget this experience and attempt it again. I figure by next Christmas, I might be ready.

Who am I kidding? I've already thinking of a gingerbread rose window flickr group.


Related Posts-

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Valentine's Day Stained Glass Cookies

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Crushed Hard Candy

Halloween Cookie Shack

stained glass cookie 2
Stained Glass Cookies Flickr Group 

Breaking Hard Candy

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find the instructions on Martha's website a bit simplistic. I don't just mean that they keep it simple, but that they actually leave stuff out. Maybe it's an accident, or maybe they just don't want to explain the long, involved steps it took to get the end product.

Which, if you haven't noticed, is something that just happens to be my specialty.

For example, in the Stained Glass Cookie project, they say simply "Then sprinkle crushed hard candy generously in the window of the letter." What they don't mention is how to crush those hard candies (they do suggest using jolly ranchers specifically, which was helpful to know).

I did this to one of my old cookie sheets trying to get "crushed hard candy".

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I've tried putting them in the freezer to make them more brittle and was *this* close to heading to the hardware store to buy one of those tools for shattering windows. You know, the kind that you're supposed to keep in your car with you in case you drive into a lake.

Anyway, I'm here to tell you that I have come up with something that works fairly easily and doesn't involve a trip to the hardware store. It would be useful on both these cookies and this gingerbread house.

First put the candies on a parchment paper (or Silpat) lined cookie sheet.

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(The Creme Savers are there because I was melting them for another Valentine's project. Though I would suggest that you stick to doing one kind of candy at a time because they melt at different rates.)

Put in a 300 degree oven until they are completely melted flat. This takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

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Pull them out and let them cool completely.

At this point you can either crush them with the hard implement of your choice or break them into small pieces with your hands (though be careful, cause they can be sharp). Personally, I like the pieces. One of the other problems I'd originally had with the recipe was that sprinkling crushed candies resulted in lots of stray melted candy all over my cookies. These bigger pieces are much easier to place, which is good because I am messy.

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Now, put back into the oven to melt.

The bigger pieces do take longer to melt than the crushed. So, when cooking the cookies originally, you'll want to pull the cookies out about 10 minutes before they are done and then add the candy pieces. That way they won't overcook when you put them back in to melt the candy.

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This process might seem to require more time than banging away at hard candies, but it really took me much less time and definitely much less effort. And I'm sure Jeff's glad that I didn't pound dents into his fancy air bake cookie sheets.


Related Posts-
Valentine's Day Stained Glass Cookies
Valentine's Day Gingerbread House
Halloween Cookie Shack
Stained Glass Cookies Flickr Group

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Few Random Things About Me- 21 thru 25

25- I took an actual break-dancing class in the 80's. The instructor's name was Angel. I used to be able to do the worm... until I grew boobs.

24- We named our daughter Joey after Joe Sakic. It was either that or Claudette. ;)

23- I have my bellybutton pierced. Still. I'm beginning to feel that this is something that I am maybe too old for. But, I've had it for something like 13 years, so it's part of me. Mostly I just forget that I'm a person with a pierced belly (which I guess isn't as unusual as it seems).

22- I think I have the opposite of anorexia, at least in terms of self perception. People with anorexia see themselves as fat, no matter how thin they become. I picture myself (even when looking directly in the mirror) as about the same size as I was in college (not to mention the same age). Then, I'll see a picture of myself from a different angle and wonder who that chubby person in my clothes is. It's shocking, really.

(This is what I see when I look in the mirror. Well, usually without the vodka and cranberry juice.)

21- I am very easily amused. Which, I guess, means I am not at all sophisticated. I am constantly in awe of everything around me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Improv Everywhere

The following almost makes me want to move to New York to be a part of the group, Improv Everywhere, whose website has this to say about them…"Improv Everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places."

Here's their latest mission ...

This just cracks me up. When we showed it to Joey, she wanted to know why they did this. Personally, I think it's just for the fun of helping people to see something different than what they normally see day after day. We're so used to everyone behaving exactly the same. And it's good to be shaken up when we see something abnormal.

Honestly, I'm not sure how much it would freak me out to actually see all these people frozen like this and not know what's going on (alien mind control?!... government mind control?!!... Hiro Nakamura in the area?!!!).

Though I really love when everyone applauds at the end. It just makes me smile.

And special thanks to Jeff, who found them via Boing Boing.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Valentine's Stained Glass Cookie Decorations

I began thinking of these (and another project that will hopefully be posted later in the week) just before I went out of town. I've been working on them in my mind ever since and it's good to be able to finally get them done and hung up on my necklace tree.

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It is based on a project of Martha's, using gingerbread instead of sugar cookie dough. The recipe calls for the use of crushed hard candies, but at Christmastime I destroyed a cookie sheet trying to crush jolly ranchers. This time, I just used the whole candies, which worked fine. It took a bit longer to melt is all.

Added Note- Since this post, I have figured out a simple way to get small pieces of hard candy. I posted it here. It would be handy if you have a hole that's smaller than the jolly ranchers or if you want to mix colors.

I used this gingerbread recipe, but didn't add all 9 cups of flour. I've never worked with gingerbread before and had to muddle my way through. I think it came out all right, though.

Basically, I pulled the gingerbread out of the oven about 10 minutes before it was done and waited for it to cool before adding the candies and twine. I set it up like this with the baker's twine through the middle because I forgot to poke holes in this batch.

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I put them back in the 275 degree oven (watching carefully the entire time) for between 5 and 10 minutes, just until they were melted like so.

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It also works with Creme Savers.

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I do suggest that you melt the same kind all at once, since they have different melting times and some may begin to bubble before the others are done.

They looked so great when I held them up to the light that I decided to hang them from my winter garland.

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BTW, watermelon jolly ranchers are pink, cherry jolly ranchers are red and the one that is opaque is from the life savers.

Obviously, these would work well as cookies instead of decorations; just leave out the twine.


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Related Posts-

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Valentine's Day Gingerbread House

2008 02 08 029
Crushed Hard Candy

Halloween Cookie Shack

stained glass cookie 2
Stained Glass Cookies Flickr Group

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Saturday Funnies- The Onion, again

I love the Onion.

Area Eccentric Reads Entire Book

"Meyer, who never once jumped ahead to see what would happen and avoided skimming large passages of text in search of pictures, first began his oddball feat a week ago. Three days later, the eccentric Midwesterner was still at it, completing chapter after chapter, seemingly of his own free will."

Other Onion Goodies...
Mother Jealous After Reading Daughter's Diary

Atlanta Fans Smile Politely Through Entire NHL All-Star Game

CIA On Torture Memo: 'We Need to Stop Writing this Stuff Down'

Congress To Raise Alpacas To Aid Struggling Economy

Nations Grandfathers To Receive Annual Shipment of $2 Bills From U.S. Treasury

Back In My Day, Being An American Gladiator Meant Something

Mitt Romney Defends Himself Against Allegations Of Tolerance

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Random Thoughts on Life

First of all, what follows wasn't written recently. It is not based on any particular incident, at least nothing I can remember. It is just a comment about the ups and downs of life. I thought I would add it today because it was already written, I like it and I'm still catching up from being gone a week.

People are irritating, every single one of us is. I know that. I also know that living in a house with someone other than myself puts me in close proximity to the irritating behaviors of other human beings. And I do know that I'm probably the most irritating person of them all, mainly because I have so little tolerance for being irritated myself. But, I love these people more than I can say, so it's obviously worth it.

Most of the time, the irritating things they do don't really bother me. They bother me a little, but not enough to even mention. I just think, gee, I wish there wasn't this fine sprinkling of sugar here on the counter and floor left over from making tea. And then I wipe it up with a sponge (which takes all of 30 seconds) and go about my day.

Other times when I see that sugar, I think to myself, it only takes, like, 30 seconds to do this; why on earth didn't the person that made this mess clean it up? I didn't put the sugar here. Why should I clean this up? I've already cleaned up similar little messes countless times this month. I have better things to do with my time. I won't do it. That's it! No sugar for anyone. Everyone is grounded from anything granular until they learn to clean up after themselves. And then we have a big Come-To-Jesus meeting about the fact that, really, every single person living in this house is certainly old enough to wipe up sugar, for God's sake. And then for 2 weeks I patrol the kitchen, eyes trained for signs of stray granuals. And the moment I find one, I come down on the culprit with an appropriate Love-n-Logic consequence (or at least as appropriate as I can muster). And the kids begin to remember to clean up the sugar.

And then, for the most part, there aren't any more piles of sugar.

The difference between these two scenarios is based on a couple of things. The first is how much other 'household' type stuff I've been doing recently. Weeks when I've been cooking like crazy, doing mountains of laundry and running a bunch of errands, make me much less likely to just wipe it up and walk away. The second is, you guessed it, PMS time.

Now, personally, I don't really have a hard time with PMS (though my family might). It lasts for about one day and I usually get a whole lot of stuff done.

Normally, it's not worth the energy it takes to change bad situations. It is much easier to just wipe up the sugar and go on with my day. It just doesn't seem worth the fight.

Yet, when I'm PMSing, everything is worth the fight, especially the circumstances that seem to crop up again and again and again. And I'm not just talking about changing other people's irritating behavior, it works equally well for debt and projects and (especially) my own behavior...anything really. I finally have the energy required to Make A Change. I'm angry enough to actually do something about it.

I guarantee it was during PMS time when I created an Excel File sized to print on index cards that had every household chore, a weekly date and check boxes for each person to add their initials after they'd completed the chore. Occasionally, we skip our familial, weekly cleaning, but NEVER when I'm PMSing. That's when shit gets done, by God. And, honestly, I like it.

I really do love my hormonal cycle (I know Jeff is reading this with a look of horror on his face). Every month my situation improves, things change for the better, my life gets a bit more like I want it to be.

Also, about a week after the PMS, for one or two days, the world seems perfect to me. I feel absolutely content and mellow and everything seems just wonderful. I think that these two times balance each other out in that Yin Yang way.

And most of the other 28 days a month, I am a fairly happy and satisfied person. I love my life, I love my kids, I love my man and I'm OK with things, whether they are perfect or not.

If I couldn't occasionally find the energy to speak up honestly (to myself and to others) about my situation, to figure out what needs to change and then to actually be responsible for those changes, I don't think I would be nearly as happy as I am.

There's good in everything, I tell ya.