I had unofficially decided who I was voting for in the next Presidential election. Of course, I knew full well it was possible that the candidate I’d selected wouldn’t make it that far. Well, as it turns out, Edwards is dropping out of the race. Now who will I vote for? I’d threaten to move to Canada if McCain is elected (like I did a few years back, though I can’t remember who I was protesting at the time), but I’m not sure I could convince , and living in Canada without him would pretty much suck. I had already decided not to go to my caucus next week, but this was definitely the final nail in the coffin. I have no party loyalty, so the caucus didn’t really tempt me.
Sad. I like none of the other candidates.
Have I noted how cold it is today? We got home last night and the house was 54*! cajoled the furnace into working and we woke up nice and toasty this morning. But it was -14* outside upon leaving for work. I let my car warm up a good long time in the garage before leaving. It will not be happy when I arrive back at the Transit Center tonight and want to use it to get home.
I’ve got about 50 pages left in Darcy and Elizabeth: Days and Nights at Pemberley, and I really want to know how all the ends of the plot lines are going to be wrapped up. I mean, I would sit here at my desk and read until I finished it if I thought I could get away with it. I’ve definitely been enjoying this book. It’s not nearly so much smut as some people think (though it has its share, I think the contrast is in to the original Jane Austen, which is beyond chaste), and I have appreciated how many plot lines there are and the intricacy of the story. I’m wondering if there will be a third book, but I’m not exactly sure what else the author could do with the characters at this point. It may be time for it to end.
It has been painfully dry this winter. We have a humidifier in our bedroom which has helped my sinuses significantly, but my recent skin sensitivity to lotions and soaps has made keeping my skin happy quite difficult. (Most recently, Dove Sensitive Skin shower wash and Eucerin, both hypoallergenic, have been rejected by my skin.) I’ve been alternating between baby oil, baby lotion (which is not that moisturizing), and Eucerin (even though my skin isn’t that happy with it, I have yet to break out in a full-scale rash). Yesterday morning I just didn’t have the time to put anything on, and thought nothing of it. Last night after getting back from the gym, I checked my legs and noticed that not only did I need to shave, I had turned quite amphibious during the day and it was a little painful (that was the polite way of saying my skin was dry and scaly). I attempted to remedy that situation and after showering coated my skin with Eucerin, sensitivities be damned. I avoided showering this morning and put on another coat. I decided that little red bumps and even an itchy patch or two would be worth it and probably healthier for my skin than for it to be that dry. My hands and cuticles have cracks and so forth all over. Papercuts are dangerous in this weather, in that they could easily turn into something much worse that won’t heal until spring. [Author pauses to put on Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream.] has it much worse, however, since she has to wash her hands about a billion times each shift she works.
A coffee break is calling out to me. It’s really more of a hot cocoa day, but I think I’ll get coffee anyways.
I made a rather large decision yesterday, and I didn’t even mean to.
The FM radio in my car has been mostly “out” for the last few weeks. So I’ve been limited to AM radio, an experience unto itself. My choices at the moment are: the true oldies channel, more spirited radio, and the Patriot. I’d already decided that The Patriot was not for me – I am not an older or middle-aged white male with strong conservative ideas, political or otherwise. That was sealed when I tuned in briefly to hear one of the hosts repeatedly refer to a US senator as “demented” and then proceed to make up a story about her that was beyond inappropriate. I’ve been listening to oldies when possible, but the station turns into a Toronto-based channel after 5pm (no joke). So last night as I was out driving between craft stores, I was listening to KKMS, which I’ve previously half-enjoyed.
Did you know it’s pro-life week? Yeah. (Coincidentally, yesterday was also Pro-Choice Blogger day. Not really a coincidence. It’s the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22nd.) And in the hour or so of radio I heard between commuting and searching for yarn, they were quite persuasive. (Stick with me here and let me further explain.)
I’ve been on the fence on this issue since… well, since I was conscious of being a woman. My relatively conservative Christian background wants me to be pro-life, and my feminist leanings want me to be pro-choice. Since I’ve never needed to really argue the issue or decide, I haven’t, other than the singular decision that I wouldn’t personally have an abortion (barring medical necessity). And I was really quite fine with being undecided. I’ve got plenty of opinions on other controversial subjects that if people want to argue with me, there’s lots of ways to go.
Last night, however, the multitude of voices on the subject pushed me over the edge. I’m officially pro-choice. Why? Because when it came down to it, it first and foremost needed to be my choice. I’m not going to be a good one to argue with on this because I fully understand both sides of the issue and will never be able to let go of the pro-life arguments. Life is life and I do believe that it begins at conception (just ask any parents who have miscarried). But… I still think choice wins out. This won’t win me any friends in some of the conservative circles I’m familiar with, but we don’t usually talk about stuff like that anyways. Or, really, we don’t talk much at all, so I don’t think it’ll be an issue.
One of the radio hosts was a self-admitted middle-aged father of 9 children and 3 foster kids. (My mind immediately went to the “excessive childbirth” argument from the early 1900s when birth control was not yet legal.) He basically told me that I was supposed to be having sex for procreation only, and that being on birth control for reasons other than medical or financial ones was “morally objectionable.” Because I enjoy sex and have no desire to give birth to a child right now, I am selfish and, ultimately, a bad Christian. He doesn’t care that I don’t want children right now or that it might not be the right time in my life. I’m selfish. Heck, maybe I am. But I think it’s very responsible to avoid having children when you don’t want them. And I’m pretty sure God isn’t going to strike me dead for 1) enjoying sex with my husband, the only man I’ve ever had sex with, and only within the confines of our marriage, 2) not bringing unwanted children into this world, and 3) not wanting to have kids right now. (And I think that not having sex with my husband because we didn’t want kids was also not allowed. Gotta have sex. Gotta have kids. No birth control. It’s not even a Catholic radio station! I didn’t realize how far some conservatives went on this!)
And that’s basically when I realized… there was no way this man had the right to decide for me whether or not I was having kids. His moral damnation of me because I wasn’t jumping on the motherhood bandwagon the moment I was married was beyond offensive. Far beyond that of the women doing the Bible study at ‘s baby shower who just assumed that every little girl dreamed of becoming a mommy.
Perhaps I’m just overly sensitive about it, but I am almost always fully aware that I may or may not be able to have children. It’s a self-preservation technique, really, not getting my hopes up for something that I’d be devastated about if it didn’t happen. Unlike some women with infertility problems, I don’t get sad when other people start talking about babies or long for my own. I sense this… melancholy towards the issue in regards to other women’s responses. I… get angry. Perhaps that’s not healthy, but I get offended when the world assumes that it is my dream to become a stay at home mom to billions of children that’s all I’ve ever really wanted and needed to feel truly fulfilled in life.
At any rate, I’m pretty sure that hopping off the fence on the pro-choice side was not exactly what the planners of Sanctity of Human Life week had planned, but that’s the results of the actions of a few individuals.
Lesson? Be careful what you say on the radio or when lots of people might be listening. You have no idea where they might be coming from, and your words may very well have the opposite effect than you wanted if you’re not thoughtful and considerate.
Feel free to respectfully disagree or otherwise comment, so long as you try to be as least offensive as possible. Does it need to be said that making the blog owner cry will get you banned from further commenting? I didn’t think so.
I’m thankful I found this article after my current cookie obsession. I mean, we don’t need me thinking, craving, and making both cookies and cake all the time. So I’m gonna stick with cookies. They’re much easier to bring to work and let co-workers consume the extras than cake.
I was supposed to make Super-Sized Ginger Chewies on Sunday (from Big Fat Cookies), but never really got around to it. That was alright, since I had Monday off for MLK. Monday was an extremely productive day. I got all of my homework done for the week, and made (or at least attempted) two batches of cookies. I also did some laundry (which still isn’t put away, making for three loads of laundry folded in my hamper sitting in the spare bedroom getting wrinkles and permanently creased), and did some other small cleaning things.
The second batch of cookies, Fudge-Filled Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches (from Big Fat Cookies), turned out horribly. I made them after dinner, and they just didn’t turn out well at all (which makes two attempts at chocolate chip cookies from that book that have gone wrong). They tasted like cake, which is surprisingly not a good thing for a cookie. I baked a dozen, let test them, and then tossed the rest of the dough. Perhaps the fudge for the filling would have been good, but I didn’t get around to making it. I was complaining to and she said that sometimes when cookies spread out too much (which these and the other ones did), it’s the fault of butter, and I should try margarine. I might have to give another one of the book’s chocolate chip cookie recipes a try this weekend with that suggestion. We’ll see how much energy I have for that. Of course, if it’s still friggin’ cold outside (it’s been below zero or in the very low single digits for the past week each morning – this morning it was -12*!), making cookies sounds like a good way to pass the time. That and getting work done on the new (I know, I know) baby blanket for Danny.
Fortunately for Big Fat Cookies, I had already made a successful batch of cookies earlier in the day, and the weekend prior as well. I spent my afternoon on Monday making Super-Sized Ginger Chewies. Think Gingersnaps without the snap – the author of the cookbook clearly states in the introduction that she likes large, chewy cookies, and supposedly that’s what her recipes make (though as previously mentioned I’ve had some difficulties getting the chocolate chip versions to work). Here’s a little illustrated story for you on that….
I got out all my equipment and ingredients,
Sugar and flour
and the rest of the ingredients,
which included getting out the stepstool to reach the flour (great Ikea purchase if anyone needs one - Bekvam, $15).
I’ve found that getting everything out beforehand really helps me follow the recipe better. Plus, it allows for easier clean-up. I just put an ingredient away after I’ve measured it and the kitchen gets cleaner as I go instead of messier.
I got to use my flour sifter again. I'm really enjoying that small little task, even if it is basically non-essential. (To note, however, my cookbook only sometimes tells me to sift the ingredients together, which, to me, lends validity to the idea of following that instruction.)
While the cookie dough left on the batter is usually one of my favorite things, perhaps Ginger Chewies are not the best way to enjoy that particular treat.
A far less fussy recipe, this one just called for all the ingredients to be mixed together and no extra refrigeration or other steps. The one additional step before baking was essential, and therefore not considered "fussy." Balls of dough were rolled up and then coated in sugar. These are pretty big cookies, as you can see from the fact that only 6 fit on a cookie sheet. This, of course, meant that I spent basically the entire afternoon making cookies, and washed my hands about a zillion times, between the 14 minutes of cooking time, 5 minutes of cooling time, and then making another sheet....
But it was all worth it, because I had this beautiful result.
See how perfectly they crackled and how the sugar coating did exactly what it was supposed to do? These are perfect cookies! They are slightly crisp around the outside but the inside is chewy. I stored them in Ziploc baggies and now the outsides aren't crisp anymore, which could be good or bad.
I've decided this is my favorite angle from which to photograph cookies.
More of the finished product. They were so good, I almost didn’t let eat one (he didn’t know if he liked ginger cookies or not, and I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good cookie on someone who wouldn’t appreciate it, but in the end he liked it so it’s all good).
I might make up another batch of these over the weekend to bring in for my coworkers, since the fudge-filled ones were supposed to be for them. If I do, I'll make smaller versions, since I don't think anyone will want the really big ones. (Or, rather, they'll complain that I'm trying to make them fat.)
- Pickle-Tini (even though doesn’t read this blog anymore, if he did, he’d get a kick out of this)
- Bacon Vodka (, this one’s for you, though it may very well be composed entirely of forbidden ingredients at this point)
- President :: -ial address
- Stare :: rudely
- Embrace :: Loving
- Movie :: quote
- Everything :: must go!
- Profile :: strong
- Satire :: —
- Erratic :: mischief
- Costume :: -d ball
- Secretary :: of State
When I get home tonight, I’m pouring myself a small glass of Bailley’s. You know why? Because today has been rough. I never do that, but today I’m going to. So there.
How does stay friendly and helpful all the time? I don’t know how she does it. People demand more absurd (and small) things of her, and she is far more important than I am.
Of the new design? I think Heather did an awesome job! I’ve moved some things around, found some new plugins that will hopefully make life easier (or at least make the blog more readable), etc. I’m still plugging away through the archives fixing images and links, and have about 3 years worth still to go (the 3 years that I blogged a lot, unfortunately), but I’ll get there.
I’m curious what you think of the “on this day” plugin below. Hate it? Love it? Could care less? Like the idea but wish it were different somehow? Please let me know.
If you came here looking for more entertainment, I’m sorry I don’t have it for you today. But you could try the “links” page (look over to your right…. see it under pages?) for some blogs I enjoy reading.
Well, it took two emails to my web host (the second of which was not as nice), but my site’s back up! Plus, my new site design is ready! I’m very pleased with how it turned out – I should be updating things over the next few days. I’ve been going through the archives (yes, again) fixing links and updating images (since nearly everything is on Flickr now) and so forth… I was stalled slightly by yesterday’s database errors, but now I’m back and needing an escape from some of the work I’ve been given….
Tonight is date night, and for those of you keeping track, it is also, give or take a day, the anniversary of when . (It depends if you’re going for calendar date or day of the week, because technically it was the 18th, but it was a Thursday night, so… you decide.) Not that we’re celebrating or anything, but I noticed it today and thought I’d share.
I successfully de-stashed some knitting books today. Sold two of them on Ravelry, which was exciting. Well, sold one of them, and traded the other for a discount on some yarn someone else was de-stashing. Still exciting. Two books that I was probably never going to use. I’ve got at least one or two more I could dump as well.
There was a veritable cornucopia of bookmarks just laying around in my browser, muddying up the toolbar. I thought I’d get rid of them, and what better way than by sharing with you all?
Need I say that I haven’t actually tried to make or create any of these things? They’re on my wish list of sorts, in case one day I’m ever really bored or feeling crafty or whatever. Hope you enjoy!
So far today…
- “They’re too pretty to eat”
- “Works of art”
Glad my co-workers are enjoying the cookies, or at least think they’re pretty.
Yesterday was the coldest day in quite some time (6* as I was leaving the house), and while I took the extra time to undress, add Long Johns, and redress, I accidentally left my hat and gloves at home. Oops. Thankfully, my new coat has lots of features which kept me warm, like a hood, and stretchy cuffs inside the sleeves to keep my wrists warm, and pockets, and sleeves that are long enough to cover my wrists with my hands in the pockets, and a really high zip-up neck. So I did alright. My feet were totally numb by the end of the day, but they mostly thawed while I dawdled in Michaels (waiting for them to thaw, really, because I just couldn’t handle the idea of going back out to my cold car and letting them get colder), and then I sat on the couch at home with my new heating pad under my feet. They warmed up nicely.
Today, instead of grabbing breakfast from the fridge, I didn’t look and grabbed a Coke Zero instead. While the liquid breakfast was not exactly going to be the most filling thing in the world (220 calories only goes so far), the Coke Zero will do nothing for me. Bummer. So I’ve eaten my granola bar, and supplemented it with a cookie (I brought the rest of the gingerbread cookies in to work today, and figured I should test one before setting them out for co-workers), and the rest of a bag of mustard pretzels from yesterday. Not exactly the morning I had planned. Oh well. Did I mention it’s -4* today? Yeah.
I didn’t make cookies last night, but I did make dinner, which turned out delicious. And we went to the gym. And I cleaned up all the piles of paper downstairs. And I got a load and a half of laundry done. Small victories.
Considering how much time lately I spend thinking about food. My most recent idea? I think that I need a list of 10? foods that I should try in 2008. I tried this a while ago when I became a vegetarian – I went through a list in the beginning of Vegetarian Planet that gave me for my birthday (which is an excellent book if anyone is looking for an extensive vegetarian cookbook but doesn’t need pictures, because it has a lot of sidebars and explanations of things) of vegetables A-Z and just started trying them. Of course, I didn’t get very far before losing interest, but in the process I tried asparagus (which was awful, and it took me another 5 years to try them again, love them, and then learn how to cook them for real) and artichokes (which I loved) and avocados (also something I love). All I can remember from B is Brussels sprouts, which were awful and I’ll never try again.
In many ways, being a vegetarian expanded my food repertoire. I had to go outside of what I was familiar with or die of boredom. But living on my own for many years also aided in some… finicky-ness that I still have. Don’t get me wrong – I was always a picky eater, from the time I was a baby (what baby doesn’t eat applesauce? me, apparently). But cooking solely for myself for so many years meant that I could cook everything without onions and tomatoes and so forth. Of course, I no longer have this luxury (likewise when I was a vegetarian, I knew it wouldn’t be a lifetime decision because some day I might get married and have kids and that just wouldn’t work, or at least not with a lot of effort behind it), seeing as how likes his food with onions and tomatoes and he likes to eat a lot of foods that I would prefer didn’t exist (Manwich?). To be fair, he probably has to eat foods he wouldn’t were he single.
At any rate, I think it might be time for a new list, and I’m asking you for help. I’m thinking along the lines of ingredients, not specific recipes. I have to say that I don’t particularly care for fruits, but you can always suggest them anyways. I’m not going to list the foods I have tried, but I will try to respond in the comments to your suggestions.
[Note: there are 37 minutes until 9:00, when I shall leave to go get coffee, or else my day will be screwed, yet again. Especially since today I do not get a lunch break, but instead leave at 12:30 for class. So I need to remember to get hot water for Ramen at 11 or 11:30, because any later than that will not allow sufficient time for the Ramen to cool, and I will burn my tongue. Lesson learned. I'd get "real" lunch, but since I don't get a break it makes it difficult. I need to be on the 12:40 bus to get to class on time, preferably earlier, and last week when I left at 12:10 to get lunch and coffee and catch the bus, I ended up without time to eat the food I'd gotten. So what was the point in that?]
As was my goal, I finished the gingerbread cookies this weekend and learned how to use Royal Icing. What is the big deal about Royal Icing? Well, it dries hard, so it’s much sturdier than Buttercream. It doesn’t taste as good (though you can add some flavoring extracts to help with that), but looks so much better. Also, if you’re making cut-out cookies that tend to break, it’s great for gluing them back together. It’s often used as the glue for gingerbread houses.
Anyways, Friday night I outlined the cookies. All my recipes said to use a parchment paper cone instead of a plastic bag (the kind you can buy at the store just for the purpose of decorating with icing), so I tried that and it totally didn’t work for me. I used a bag. The only problem I had there was that my icing turned out a little more rectangular and ribbon-like than rounded, but in the end it didn’t matter. You’re not supposed to use tips because they can get clogged or something, but next time I’m going to try using one anyways. As you’ll see later in the story, I made other modifications as well.
Maybe you can tell from this photo, but I couldn't until later: none of the 3D cookies actually fit together. Not a one. So when I bring them in to work tomorrow, instead of being impressed with my mad baking skills, my co-workers will be rather confused as to what shapes they are exactly eating, and why.
I almost forgot to snap pictures of the outlined cookies before filling them in on Saturday.
Here's the finished version of the decorated cookies.
The gel dye for icing is so much nicer than the liquid stuff. Look at those bright colors! The box of 8 colors was somewhere between $5 and 10 at Michaels, and I highly recommend it, since it will last forever. You add the dye to the icing with a toothpick, that’s how little you use. Nice that with the Royal Icing you don’t really use that much anyways.
I did the Christmas trees first and am most proud of them. I wish they fit together, because they’d be so cute! Here’s how I did the flood-filling. My instructions said I should water down the icing to the proper consistency (which was described various ways in my multiple cookbooks and online), put it in a parchment cone ( actually figured out how it was supposed to be done, so I tried it this way), and fill in the outline, using a small brush to get it out to the edges and into the corners. Well, the “proper consistency” as described in the book I was using was way too thick, and my icing didn’t spread at all. I removed it from the cookie, ditched the cone, and tried again. I thinned the icing down more, and just used a spoon to carefully drop the icing into the outline, and then used a toothpick to move it to the edges. It worked really well.
It was time consuming, but I'm guessing that the other way would have been as well.
I'm a little disappointed in my edible glitter, which was supposed to look like snow but was clear and so didn't stand out that much. Maybe I was supposed to get white? Maybe I did and it's just no good? I'm not sure, and I'll have to look into that. It looked good on the snowmen, but on the sled (the large red pieces, and the green ones that look like T-shirts), it just gets lost on the color.
The snowmen were also super-cute, though I'm not sure you can tell in this photo. Boring, perhaps, but I had 9 sets, and only three were all white. (Or maybe I had 12, and 6 were all white. I can't remember.)
I tried to follow the instructions in one of my decorating books for swirling two colors together. It didn't exactly turn out right, and the red "skirt" looks like it's flaming up into the shirt, but whatever. Still a cool effect.
One of my favorite shots of the icing drying. It takes a long time for Royal Icing to dry.
I left these out overnight, and they were totally done by morning. It probably wouldn't have taken that long, but I didn't really want to get up at 3 am to check on them. The cookies were hard then, but I put them back into the plastic container and they softened up.
So here's what my co-workers are getting tomorrow (today I had to bring schoolwork etc in my bag, and didn't really feel like carrying anything additional with me).
I also tried decorating the little angels (no pictures) with white chocolate, as described in one of my books. Totally didn’t turn out cute at all. Tasty, but flawed technique. I’ll have to try again some other time. Plus, the problem with using melted chocolate is that you essentially have to refrigerate the cookies then, at least for a while until the chocolate hardens.
Saturday was my immensely productive day, as you can see. I got up, put on workout clothes, drove to the bank to change my name, was turned away because I forgot the stupid marriage license (probably the only time I’ll ever refer to it that way), signed up for a library card, drove home, searched the whole house for said marriage license (it took nearly half an hour to find it), drove back to the bank, changed my name, drove to the gym, worked the machines, came home, took a shower, and ate lunch. Whew! Then I did the rest of my homework. After dinner I iced the cookies. There was also time to play Super Mario Galaxy. No time for knitting. I hope to get back on that soon.
Sunday I did almost nothing. I almost cleaned up the paperwork in the kitchen (and by that I mean I organized it into two stacks and moved it off the counter to the table). I did vacuum and Swiffer Vac (since the vacuum doesn’t work on the hardwood floors and the Swiffer Vac doesn’t do carpets). The kitchen is clean (joint effort there). I put away my shoes and a few other things.
Tonight I need to do laundry. Today I am wearing pants that, well, I really shouldn’t be – they’re too tight (my butt looks awesome though), and are too short, which really irks me – but it was either that or black dress pants which meant having to wear my black dress shoes and I just didn’t want to. So instead I’m wearing my brown clogs. With a charcoal sweater. Yeah. If I numerated the color/fashion faux-pas I made last week, well, we just don’t have time for that. Let’s just say there was a lot of black with brown, as well as other color combinations that probably shouldn’t have happened.
I also need to do some homework, work on that stack of paperwork, and go to the gym. And I’m making dinner, which should be easy, since the chicken has been marinading since last night in the fridge (Tandoori Chicken, from The Newlywed Cookbook). I could swear there’s something else I need to do too, but I can’t remember what it is at the moment. Oh, that’s right. and I picked out three more types of cookies to make this week and bought the ingredients, so I should attempt to make up some of those tonight. We’ll see. I did get up and out of bed before he did this morning, so that bodes well for my future productivity. Hopefully class won’t sap that out of me.
[Note: there are now 4 minutes until 9. I could actually do this right today!]