Saturday, January 22, 2011

Anatomy

A little science to compliment yesterday's math lesson...


video

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Numbahs!

It's been requested that there be more video documentation of the little man. So here ya go.

Number time. I'll try to be better about taking and posting more videos in the future.


video

Friday, January 14, 2011

Living Option #23

One of many housing ideas should we lose the one we are in currently...




(enjoy!)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Only one way to go from here...

Before I ramble about what would only be of interest to my good friends and family, its come to my attention that there have been a few more readers on the blog lately.

To you who are not the small handful of loyal readers, hello. Also, it should be pointed out that this blog was never created with the intention of entertaining the masses. It has always been an easy way to keep my closest (yet physically far) friends and family up to date on what has been going on in my life.

To the random passerby, I can easily see how stumbling across one of these posts could elicit a "who cares?" response. And I understand. I mean, you don't know me. Why do you care what I made for dinner, or about my latest unemployment woes? Why on earth would you want to hear me talk excitedly (and repeatedly) about my grand plans for losing weight? And for the childless among you readers, enough about your stinkin' kid already!

So, to any of you whose thoughts sound a lot like the previous paragraph, feel free to stay or go. Just be warned, these posts may bore you at times.


Having said all that, I've had quite the week. And not in the best way.

I came down with some cold/flu bug back in December that hung on for about 2 weeks. I seemed to be rid of it, and then early this week, a sore throat reared its ugly head. I was hoping it was just a sign of the lack of sleep that has become the norm for me, or the "cold" weather we've been getting here in Florida.

No such luck.

I relapsed. Hard. The coughing has been intense. And painful. Add to that having to be responsible for the little guy most of the day as J tries to recover from a messed up shoulder, and you have me walking around barely conscious.

You know what you need when you feel like that? A mini disaster that gives you heart palpitations. Let's see...how about your dog getting hit by a car? Right in front of you. And your child.

That's right. Dudley got hit by a car this week.

I was walking Jonas down to see my mom, and Duds slipped out of the house and followed us. We live in a small, quiet, residential neighborhood - no through roads. While I don't like him off his leash, I couldn't do anything at the moment with Jonas, so I let him continue to follow us. (For those who don't know, my parents live about 4 to 5 houses away - on a different street, but about that distance) Once there, I was poised to knock on the door when I heard the neighbor across the street come outside with her dog. At the same time, I could hear a car up the road. In an instant, I knew what was about to happen and stood horrified that there was nothing I could do to stop it. Dudley darted to see his doggie friend, the car (going faster than it should) came flying down, and SMACK!

My instinct was to run towards my dog. I actually started to take a few steps in that direction and realized I couldn't leave Jonas. Knocking on my mom's door, I saw Dudley jump off and run up towards our house.

In a rush, I told my mom that Dudley had been hit and I needed to go after him, handed off Jonas, and headed up the street, ignoring the man standing outside of his car, who up to this point had only said, "Did I hit him?" and "That wasn't my fault."

Back at the house, J was already on the lookout for Dudley, since he could hear that someone/thing got hit from the house. When I walked in the house, there was Duds, tail uncurled (a sign that he is sad) looking up at me with a frightened look on his face. I examined him head to toe, squeezing his limbs gently to see if he flinched or whimpered.

Aside from a few scratches, he was completely fine. Yup. Smacked by a car, totally ok.

Shortly after the accident, ok, but milking it for the camera.

I went back outside and calmly talked to the driver, who had followed me to my house and told him things were ok, and while I wanted to tell him he needed to reconsider the speed he chooses to cruise down the street at in a neighborhood full of kids and dogs, I decided that it was best that I just let it go.

To recap, up to this point, miserably sick, near heart attack over the almost loss of Duds...that's enough for one week, right?

Apparently, no.

Somewhere in the process of trying to massage J's messed up shoulder, and hacking my lungs up, I pulled MY shoulder.

So, as if the incessant coughing wasn't enough to contribute to my lack of sleep, now the shooting pains up and down my neck and shoulder would ensure that I only catnap.

That brings us to me sitting here, with a bag of heated rice slung over my shoulder, hacking away.

At least I can hold on to the hope that if your week is this crappy, it can only get better, right?

.....

In employment related news, there is no news. BUT, J is getting more calls from recruiters and even had an interview this week, which is a positive way to start the year. And a friend of mine who was let go from the same company I was, on the same day, finally found a job. Which makes me hopeful that things may start to turn around for the rest of us in the same boat.

Yup. Silver lining and all that.


Current Mood: Hopeful. And slightly cranky. Yes, you can be both.
Currently Listening to: the sounds of Oswald playing on the TV

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

I love my Wii.

Just putting that out there.

It is good for so much.

In the past 48 hours I have:

- Had a mini Office marathon
- Got my Nathan Fillion fix
- Played Jonas' favorite tune, the theme song to Psych, over and over and over
- Watched Blues Clues (again, Jonas' choice) at 2:30 in the morning
- "Biked" a couple of miles
- Worked on my balance
- Skateboarded
- Checked in on my weight (I am .2 pounds from the goal I am supposed to meet by Thursday, thank you very much)
- Watched a little Popeye* with Robin Williams


While I realize a lot of that involved TV viewing (Netflix on the Wii is awesome), it was mostly viewing with a purpose...things to occupy Jonas at weird hours of the night, things to play in the background while I got things done, etc. Better than channel surfing :)

So, thank you Wii. You may be yet another time waster in my home, but at least you do it with flair.


*Random fact: the baby that plays Sweet Pea in the Popeye movie, which was released in 1980, was born 22 days before me. Yes, random.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Look, Ma, No Hands!

I have never in my life baked without a recipe. I may have altered something slightly, like spices or flavoring, but the core of anything I baked was always based on something I found online, in a Gourmet Magazine, or a random cookbook.

I got to thinking, there has to be a science to all this baking business. After all, on TV I see people throwing things in a mixer without a recipe in sight, so what do they know that I don't know?

After some googling, I came upon an article in Fine Cooking that discussed the ratios in a standard cake. The article was brief and to the point and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand their baking ingredients.

The trouble with ratios is they are based on weight measurement. So when the article tells me that my sugar should equal my flour, it doesn't mean one cup = one cup. Sugar and flour don't weight the same, so throughout my attempt at a no recipe baking experience, I had to do estimated conversions.

Like, if sugar should equal flour, and I do 1 1/2 C of sugar, and a cup of sugar is approximately 7 ounces, then I need about 10 1/2 ounces of flour. If a cup of flour is approximately 4 1/2 ounces, then I need...2 cups and some more?

As you can see, much math was involved in this process. And I did not add "calculator" to my list of baking tools today, so there was some serious estimating going on.

But in the end, I did get a delicious cake. Moist, tasty, and perfectly cooked. If I felt anything was lacking, it may have needed the tiniest bit more flour flour or egg for structure.

Rather than make more frosting and slathering the entire creation in it, I used leftover frosting from the pumpkin cupcakes and only coated the inner layer and top.


I think the whole process would be even easier with a kitchen scale (it's on my wish list)...but it worked out...

Apple and Cranberry Spice Cake

8 oz butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 C sugar
3 eggs
3/4 C sour cream
slightly less than 2 1/2 C flour :)
1/2 t baking soda
2 t baking pwdr
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t ginger
pinch salt
1 C chopped apples
handful dried cranberries

Cream butter and sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together.

Slowly alternate adding dry mixture to butter/sugar with adding eggs. Mix until smooth. Blend in sour cream.

Mix in apples and cranberries.

Pour into two round baking pans (greased) and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kiss the sky!

While my child is dragging his stomach along the floor, pausing to kiss it as he goes (thank goodness I bought a new vacuum and clean my floor on a more regular basis), I will take the moment to tell you about my latest attempts to lose weight.

It's come up several times on this blog, and the frequency with which I talk about it fluctuates about as much as the weight itself. As usual, my desire to get back to losing weight is attached to the need to get dressed up for an event. In this case, one of my very bestest friends in the world is getting married. In 4 weeks time, I would like to be able to wear a dress that does not resemble a tent.

Four weeks is not a lot of time. And to complicate things further, I am on a tight budget, which can sometimes make healthy eating a tougher choice. While grocery shopping at Publix the other day, I noticed that their cans of Slim Fast were on super sale. I realized that the "shake for breakfast, shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner" plan is not the BEST in the world, but it is easy. And in this instance, cheap. So, for the next month, that is the plan. Snacks are limited to unbuttered popcorn, veggies, and fruit.

Time for exercise still seems to elude me despite my lack of employment (with Jaycel cramming for his Cisco exams, I am chasing after Jonas a good part of the day). With that in mind, instead of insisting that I find a way to make it to the gym, I am just trying to make sure I do something each day, whether it be the Wii Fit, or walk with Duds.

I've already lost a couple of pounds, so it seems like a decent short term solution. We shall see what the next month brings.


...and for those of you thinking that I am going to find myself in trouble, what with all these posts about cupcake making being diametrically opposed to my plans for a slimmer me, I've been giving most of those cupcakes to friends and family. So, nyah.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I love all things pumpkin. Pie, soup, cake, bread...whatever else you can think of, I'm a fan. So a pumpkin cupcake was bound to happen.

I used a Martha Stewart recipe, based on descriptions that it was less "muffin-like" but didn't require any ingredients I didn't have, like, say, cake flour and buttermilk. I actually stuck to the recipe on this one, and they turned out really nice, although for my taste, I would up the spices and maybe even the pumpkin.

The frosting was the star again - a cream cheese frosting with just a hint of maple and cinnamon. As a tasty garnish, I placed a sliver of crystallized ginger on top. I use twice as much cream cheese as the traditional recipe, to give it a little more of that tangy-ness that makes cream cheese frosting so yummy.

Enjoy!


Pumpkin Cupcakes

Makes 18 (In my case, it made a dozen regular and two dozen minis, with about a cupcake worth of batter left)

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon coarse salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree. (And by whisk I mean, use your stand mixer :) )

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes (for regular sized cupcakes, 12-15 for minis)


Cream Cheese Frosting

2 packages of cream cheese (12 oz)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
3 cups of confectioners sugar (can be more or less depending on level of stiffness desired)
dash of cinnamon
2 T maple syrup (NOT extract)
1 T vanilla extract

Cream cheese and butter together, add syrup, then sugar one cup at a time. Add cinnamon as desired (if you like the flecked look, and the flavor, add much more than a dash)