Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook: How to Make Truly Scrumptious Candy in Your Own Kitchen!

The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook: How to Make Truly Scrumptious Candy in Your Own Kitchen!

I saw this listed in the new books section on my library website and requested it, not expecting much of anything. Cookbooks lately just haven't appealed to me at all.

My reserved copy came in and I sat down on the couch with it. WOW. Jen & Liz have done a great job with this book! They don't just assume that the reader knows how to do things, but they also don't dumb their insructions down to the point that you feel your intelligence has been insulted. There are clear step-by-step instuctions for various techniques, tips for how to save failed attempts, and suggested variations on nearly every recipe.

My favorite section of one of the baking classes I took in culinary school was the one where we made candy. We mostly did chocolates, and I had hoped to get a chance to try other things. Sadly, that didn't happen, but this book has rekindled my desire to give it another shot. I've placed an order for a copy of my own and suspect some of my officers are going to be my guinea pigs as I try a few recipes out...


You'll want to give this one a shot.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Things I Hate About Winter

1. My office maintains an average temp of 50 below and it is not an uncommon sight to see us in parkas & fingerless gloves while we try to handle evidence.

2. The homeless people who get arrested so that they'll have somewhere warm to sleep. I don't begrudge them getting shelter, however misguidedly, but I hate that Corrections won't take their bags so that WE are forced to deal with the (often stinky) mess. And the cranky people that then have to hike 4-5 miles to our office to reclaim their stuff.

3. The cold weather plays hell with my arthritic knees & back.

4. The nasty slushy mess that makes driving in Louisville an even more hazardous task after the first snowfall starts to melt.

5. Every stray cat in the neighborhood comes to roost under my house, often mating under my bedroom floor. Glad they're warm and somewhat safe, wish they weren't homeless to begin with.

6. My little black cat loses her mind and races around the house, often shrieking madly, until I snap and threaten to kill her.

7. My father gets VERY grumpy about the cold weather, making my mother crazy, in turn making me even crazier.

8. Listening to holiday music ad nauseum EVERYWHERE I go.

9. The office holiday party.  Almost nobody ever really wants one, but there's always some gung-ho idiot who just HAS to organzize one. I put my foot down last year- no presents for the jackholes I work with, no special treats, and since I'm not participating, I'm not cleaning it up. Expect a repeat performance this year.

10. The politically correct police who insist  "We should say Happy Holidays so that everyone will feel included!" and those who argue that "Christ is the reason for the season" and "You cain't take Christ out of Christmas!" Here's my take on the issue- SHUT UP, celebrate the way you are comfortable, and don't force your views on the rest of the world. If someone gives you a holiday greeting that's different from your view, just smile, thank them, and be grateful that anyone is speaking to your sorry ass in the first place.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Oyster Dressing Story Concludes...

So I got over to the parental abode just enough ahead of Thanksgiving dinnertime to get Dad’s oyster stuffing heated up. Silly me thought my mother would do the intelligent thing, transfer the dressing into a pan and stick it in the oven to heat/crisp up some. Nope. She microwaved it, so we had a bowl of smelly (to me), slimy looking glop.

Dad ate a couple of spoonsful, but wasn’t totally delighted. (He WAS happy that I’d thought to get him some, just not the way it turned out) When we were clearing the table he said to Mom, “Mix the rest of that with some of the regular stuffing and I’ll eat it later.” Mom didn’t hear him, so she threw it out, thinking he didn’t want any more of it. We figured this out as I was leaving and telling him I was sorry he didn’t like his surprise. He did allow as how I might could get him some more at Christmas.

I also got an email from the manager at Whole Foods thanking me for sharing my great service story. He said that they have discretionary bonuses that they’re allowed to give employees at holiday time and the two associates that I named in my letter will each get one. How cool is that?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Day!

As usual, many thanks to Google Images. Also to the late Charles Schulz.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Craft-A-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects

Craft-a-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects

I was really hoping for more than I got from this. I sporadically get bitten by the craft bug and decide it's my mission in life to make goofy stuff. The projects included in this book are cute and definitely simple, but it's rather repetetive. This would be a good book for parents with small children who need indoor projects on bad-weather days, teachers, and others of that ilk. I needed just a little bit more.

I will admit that the cat, lion, and bird projects were all tempting, despite the repetition. I may give a couple of them a try.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Today's Rant, with a surprise postive twist!

Left the house early today to try to get some errands run before coming to work. Started with Kroger. Mistake #1.

Kroger: Stopped at the pharmacy to see if the Rx I called in LAST WEEK was ready yet. (it wasn’t the last 2 times I went in) The girl at the counter said “Sure!” and then started looking for it. 20 minutes later she was still looking for it and enlisted the help of a pharmacy tech to help her find it. he pulled it straight out of the basket and gave her the “you are a total dumbass” look. She rang it up and cheerfully told me my total was $58. Um, no. MY prescription is a $4 water pill. She looked at the bottle and it turns out that they put someone else’s meds in my bag. I had to wait another 20 minutes for them to find that person’s bag and see if mine was in it- it was- and then verify that we each were getting the right medication. Paid for that and then ran to get the other things I had intended to pick up...and gave up on that idea after the 3rd aisle where I was blocked by an elderly person slowly meandering up the middle of the freaking lane. I understand that older people and/or those with physical problems sometimes move slowly. When my back & knee aren't cooperating, *I* move slowly. But I don't do it UP THE MIDDLE OF THE GADDAMNED AISLE, BLOCKING OTHER PEOPLE, AND GLARING IF THEY TRY TO GET PAST ME. And then I got stuck behind Shamu's sister as I tried to get out of the store and she ambled slowly through the middle of the exit, leaving no room for anyone to get in or out around her. Again, I'm a fat chick, so I understand taking up space, but seriously? WHY THE MIDDLE?!?

Left Kroger in a rage and headed to Rite Aid to get the next Rx. No problem there. I never have problems there and am transferring the one I have at Kroger back to them next month. The problem I run into at Rite Aid is trying to get out of their parking lot. It’s on a busy intersection and really difficult during normal business hours. I was about to make my turn when this bitch in the left lane decides to make a right turn in front of me, cutting me off and nearly killing us both. And then has the nerve to flip me off. You can imagine how well that went over. I caught up with her at the next light and cussed her out thoroughly. She was too stupid to roll her window up so she got to listen to my entire tirade.

Headed to Whole Food$ next. Realizing that I wasn't going to have time to stop and get lunch at Jason's Deli as I had originally planned (THANK YOU ASSHOLES AT KROGER) so I decided to get some rolls from the self-serve baking case & tuna from their deli to eat when I finally got to work. The store was packed- apparently the rich people in town took the whole week off for Thanksgiving and most of them chose today to do their shopping. at the bread & pastry case, there was a little old lady (god, another one) examining every roll in a basket. With her bare hands. She kept picking them up and squeezing them, looking for a soft one. The bakery associate & I stood there in shock. Finally the baker said "Um, ma'am, you really need to use the paper we provide to pick up the rolls." The old bat snapped back that her hands were perfectly clean and she needed to test the rolls to find the softest ones. The baker reiterated that she really shouldn't touch the food with her bare hands and the crone stomped off in a huff. Luckily, the rolls I wanted were in a different basket and she hadn't touched THEM. The beleagured baker wearily removed the basket that had been manhandled and wandered off.

The reason I went there today is this: When I stopped in last Sunday, I had asked the staff at the Thanksgiving table about oyster dressing. One of Daddy’s favorite things in the world is Uncle John’s oyster dressing. Since he’s still in the rehab center and we’re not going to NC, I thought I’d see if they had some. We’d bought some a couple of years ago and he liked it. It wasn’t on their production list, but the girl walked me over to the seafood counter and asked the guy working if it was something he could get for me. He grinned and said they’d had so many requests for it that they would be making some later that night and to just put in a request for however much I wanted.

Well, I went in to pick it up today and the girl was thrilled to see me. She remembered how happy I was when they said they could make me some. We went back to the seafood counter and my new buddy there went back and got it for me. Went to check out, when I got a delightful surprise. E.K.- the guy in seafood- had marked my pound of oyster dressing NO CHARGE. They gave me a pound of expensive freaking oyster dressing for free! I went back and hugged him and Star (the girl) both and I am sending a letter to their corporate office to let them know how cool those two are. Dad is going to die when he gets his stuffing for Thanksgiving.

Bonus good service story:

Realizing I was going to be late for work no matter what, I opted to stop at Starbuck$ and get my jereboam of iced coffee. (you'd think I'm rich the way I blew money today. I'm not, just for the record) Believe me when I say that nobody wants to see me decaffeinated, especially my coworkers. The line there was ridiculous too, both instore and at the drive thru. I finally got to the window and the cashier (new) called over her should that the iced coffee lady was up. The duo who are usually at the drive-thru came running over, saw me and yelled hellos. "We thought this was your order!" (ok, so I go there a little more often than I should) Then they gave me my drink for free. They do that a lot because I am apparently one of the few customers that says please & thank you and they like my tie-dyed shirt collection. They're getting a thank you letter too.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Things I Like About Winter

1. I get to sleep under 500 blankets. I don't know what it is about sleeping under a ton of covers, but having the weight of blankets on me is very comforting. Odd, considering my minor claustrophobia, but there you have it.

2. I get to wear my flannel PJ's and fuzzy slippers

3. My asthma symptoms almost disappear in the winter months.

4. Hot Chocolate!

5. Hot Spiced Cider!

6. It's finally cool enough to bake without dying of heat exposure in my little kitchen.  (Weight loss tip 5833- I tend to take most of the goodies to work or give them to friends so I don't wind up eating an entire rum cake or batch of cookies by myself. )

7. Comfort food! Thick chewy homemade noodles in broth, creamy casseroles, roast beef and baked ham.

8. The calm quietness that fills the air after the first silvery snowfall blankets the ground.

9. Wrapping up in a comforter on the couch and having a sleeping cat snoring softly in my lap while I read and sip hot tea.

10. All the pert skinny little bimbos who pranced around in skimpy clothing the rest of the year now have to cover that shit up. HALLELUJAH!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wicked Wager- Anya Wylde

The Wicked Wager ( A Regency Murder Mystery & Romance )

This was a hoot! Emma has snared the one of the most eligible rakes in England, only her uncle the Duke isn't so sure he approves of the match. He orders Emma to come to his country estate and think things over. Richard, Em's betrothed, decides to come along disguised as a gardener, and if she can't persuade the Duke to let them marry, plans to compromise so that he HAS to allow the marriage. Things get tricky when the Duke (who is sharper than they think) decides to invite the prospective bridegroom to the estate and Richard enlists a friend to pose as him. The friend keeps forgetting who he is supposed to be in love with and winds up falling for Emma's cousin, who is conflicted about everything at this point. Add in an impromptu house party, blackmail, and a murder, and you have quite the entertaining read! I'm looking forward to Anya's next book, which I believe is due out later this year...

Note: I recieved a free e-copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Lunacy Has Already Begun...

I received my first Christmas card in the mail today. *headdesk*

Pioneer Woman's Chicken With Mustard Cream Sauce- AKA- Making Sunday Dinner for My Parents and Losing My Mind in The Process

Sunday Dinner- OMG. I was going to do Ree’s Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce. (recipe here:   I bought the brandy for the sauce and had the chicken- all my mother had to do was buy the cream. My dad likes to eat early (you know those senior citizen early bird specials? Meant for him) and I like to eat around 7, so I told them to make sure he had a snack or something so there would be no need to rush trying to cook.

Well, I got there at 6 and mentioned that the chicken was still partially frozen, so it might be 730 before dinner was ready. You would have thought I’d announced I was marrying Satan. “Well, your poor father has been starving for the last few hours, so I’ll have to go buy dinner then.” I gritted my teeth and said I’d brown the chicken and then nuke it while I was making the sauce and hope everything was done at the same time. Also asked what happened to “have a sandwich or something so I don’t have to rush cooking a new recipe.”

My mother follows me into the kitchen, griping about something and second guessing me on everything I did. their kitchen is really small- 2 big people in it is 1 too many. I finally told her to get the hell out and let me work in peace. She fiddled around, changed out the skillet I was going to use (which would have let me cook all the chicken at once instead of in batches), and finally left when I said I was leaving if she didn’t get out NOW.

Because I had to do the chicken in batches, the butter/olive oil mix I was browning it in got too hot and burned a little. Then when I poured in the brandy to start the sauce, it got really smoky. I quickly put the vent on, but Mom made a big production out of coughing and waving her magazine and opening the patio door. My equally helpful father came out of his room and asked what I was burning.

The brandy is reducing, I added in the mustard and chicken stock, and then I opened the fridge to get the cream…which is not there. I asked where it was and Mom said, “oh did you need that for tonight?” Well, the recipe is called Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce, so yeah. “oh, well, I’ll run to the store and get some. Do you need anything else?” Yes, some valium, Xanax, and 2x4 to clock you with. I settled for a Dr Pepper.

Turned the heat down under the partial sauce mix. Put the rice & green beans that were the side dishes for this fiasco on to cook. Tasted the creamless sauce and it was not good. considered just going home at that point, but decided to stick it out. 40 minutes later, Mom returns from the store. Even on low heat, the sauce in the pan has almost gone dry. I throw in another splash of brandy and stock, let it heat up and add the cream the recipe calls for and another 1/4 cup, just because. Dumped the chicken back in, covered the pan and let it all simmer for another 5 minutes.

Amazingly enough, the meal turned out to be delicious. The extra simmering time for the sauce reduced the sting of the mustard taste. Having to microwave the chicken for a few minutes didn’t dry it out too badly, and being simmered in the sauce made it quite yummy. The only drawback is that we could have used about twice as much of the sauce as we had. We’re all gravy lovers.

Two thumbs up. Next week, we're trying this one:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Road Trip Rules

1. No smoking of anything in the car-EVER (thanks to a former co-worker who asked if she could smoke and then lit up a spliff in the wilds of Tennessee. I damn near turfed her out onto the road)

2. Drinks will have lids, spills will be sucked out of the upholstery by the spiller

3. Trash will be removed from the car at every stop. If my car is infested with fruit flies/ants/anything after the trip, every passenger will be called upon to come fumigate the vehicle while I crack a whip over their thick skulls.

4. If you are the assigned navigator, do not tell the driver that they need to “turn here” or “take this exit” as we are careening past it at 90 m.p.h. Otherwise be prepared to take turns on 2 wheels and/or be soundly cursed at by the driver.

5. If you are the assigned navigator, and we are traveling according to written directions, READ THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY AS THEY ARE WRITTEN. DO NOT THINK THAT THEY ARE OPEN TO INTERPRETATION. Trust me, they AREN’T.

6. We are not stopping every 50 miles for you to pee. If you have a bladder the size of a lentil, consider Depends or cut back on the liquids. (This will be waived for certain medical conditions and/or at the driver’s discretion)

7. When we do stop, if food/drinks are available and you feel the need for one or both, GET THEM THEN. Asking to stop for either after we have just pulled back onto the interstate will get you smacked, hard.

8. Meal breaks are negotiable. Saying “anything is fine” and then rejecting the driver’s choice is not.

9. Trunks & cargo hatches have limited space. Pack accordingly. You do not need as much luggage as the Cirque du Soleil for a 2-3 day trip. You may wind up riding with your excess luggage in your lap. (learned this one the hard way traveling with wrestlers. Trust me when I tell you that 6 hours in a car clutching a 75 lb suitcase on your lap teaches you how to pack lightly)

10. Sharp inhalations, clutching the dashboard, or exclamations of fear are frowned upon by the driver. You don’t like the way I drive, you can drive next time. (just be aware that I morph into the passenger from hell- there are reasons I'm usually the driver and that is one of them)

11. Unless you are alerting the driver to law enforcement vehicles or other impending doom, “Ooooh, look at that!” is not something wise to say. In other words, "Oh look, a cow!" is not particularly helpful. On the other hand, "Oh look, a state trooper," is.

12. Control of the music may be negotiated, but the final say is up to the driver. (Warning- musical complaints may be resolved by me singing the entire catalog of Garth Brooks, Animaniacs, Phantom of the Opera, and anything else I can remember the words to. You'll be begging for the Metallica CD witihn 4 miles)

13. Control of the heat/AC is up to the driver. (ie, during winter trips, we will not be driving with one window down so you can breathe cool air. Conflicting temps are one of my migraine triggers. Do you really want me driving with a migraine? Didn't think so)

14. We do not stop anywhere not visible from the main road/interstate unless it is a DIRE emergency. (see the story about the ride home from Aunt Lora's funeral for reasons why)

15. Contributions to the gas fund/toll booth fund are not optional unless arrangements were made WELL beforehand. (thank some former friends for this one)

Idiotic Things I Have Done On Road Trips (mostly in my misspent youth)

1. Worn a bra on my head

2. Changed clothes in the front seat (I wasn’t driving)

3. Tied glow-in-the-dark condoms to the radio antenna

4. Jumped out of the car before it stopped moving and skidded 16 feet across the parking lot to talk to Ric Flair (who was most impressed that I slid to a stop in front of him without falling or knocking him over)

5. Driven backwards down a dirt road at 90 m.p.h.

6. Raced a carload of WCW wrestlers from Winston Salem to Raleigh (I won!)

7. Asked someone with a mush-mouth Southern accent for directions. (20 minutes/6 passes up and down the highway later we figured out that "faaaar taar road" meant Fire Tower Road)

8. Decided that it wasn't time to fill up even though I was down to less than 1/8 tank of gas. (and very luckily made it to the next stop)

9. Decided that the solution to utter exhaustion was to take No-Doz on top of Dr Pepper, a quart of tea, and very little food. (first trip to Toronto- I saw every bathroom from Ohio to Toronto thanks to that bit of foolishness)

10. Picked up a hitchhiker because he was cute. (to be fair, there were 4 of us in the car, I wasn't the driver, and he was on crutches...and very relieved to get out at his destination. I think WE scared HIM)

Suggested items for road trips

1. Cooler stocked w/beverages of choice for asst passengers (for trips in excess of 4 hours)

2. Plastic bags (grocery store are fine) for trash disposal

3. Asst snacks for passengers (also for the 4 hour rule. Things like trail mix are good. Yogurt and things that require utensils or are potentially messy are not)

4. Wet wipes

5. First aid kit with extra pain killers, sunblock, antihistamines (for myself & allergy prone passengers), and lipbalm. Also good are those little Listerine toothbrush thingies.

6. Small pillow & blanket (you never know if/when you'll need a nap or someone is going to get cold while the rest of the party is roasting)

Anybody have any other rules or suggested items for the car?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The British: An Awfully Useful Guide- Toby Hill

A short, but cutely illustrated guide to some of the things that make the British what they are. It takes about 10 minutes to read through.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Election Day!

*happydance happydance happydance*

After tonight, the election ads will go away!  With any luck people will find something new to talk about incessantly. Actually, I know they won't. The next few weeks will be spent listening to people rant and rave about the results of the election. No matter WHO wins, someone won't be happy. However, they are missing the point.

This year's election was supposed to have record turnout at the polls. No matter who wins, this is a GOOD thing. It means people are participating. I truly belive that you have no right to gripe if you don't at least register your opinion.

Now, here's to hoping the candidates I voted for win....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Things That Make Me Weary

It's been one of those days, kids...

1. Arguing with the power company

2. Arguing with the IRS

3. Repeating myself more than twice when trying to give/get information

4. Cleaning the litterbox (how can two smallish creatures create such an unholy mess?)

5. Jeans that fit fine last week but suddenly won't zip without the jaws of life

6. Explaining to the barista that I REALLY DO want my iced coffee black with no sugar. (it might be weird to you, pal, but I'm paying for it, I like it, and YOU'RE pouring coffee for a living so shut up)

7. Explaining to the order taker at any burger place that I DO NOT want cheese on my burger. (I don't like the taste of the nasty yellow rubber that masquerades as cheese in most of those places)

8. My job, in general

9. Family drama (take my relatives, please...well, most of them, anyway)

10. Being in the mood to read/cross stitch, and not being able to because I'm at work/doing something else that requires my attention

I know these are trivial things, and that there are many people out there who don't have it as good as I do. But sometimes things just weigh you down, so you vent them out.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Heart is Aching to Stitch This One!

Ink Circles "Cirque des Coeurs"

and this is the thread I want to stitch it in:

Carrie's Threads in Renegade- the most beautiful purple & black mix.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nerd Cred- I Haz It!

Well, I just impressed a Sgt with my nerd credentials. LOL. I was putting in his evidence and we found a pair of dice mixed in with the drug paraphernalia. So I listed them as 6 sided dice. When I handed him the receipt at the end, he looked it over and started laughing. “Well, of course they’re 6 sided. All dice are.”

I looked him straight in the eye and said “You never played Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, did you?” Then I pulled up Google Images to show him the myriad types of gaming dice there are. His eyes got big and he shook his head.

“Just when I think I know you, you go and throw something new at me. Damn, girl.”

Wait until I tell him about my sword...

 If I was still gaming, I'd love a set of these steampunk dice.  
This is sort of what my default set looked like.    This is a fair idea of what my dice bag looked like when spilled across the table. Only most of mine were purple & black. Surprised?

Thanks again to Google Images for the pictures.