30 May 2010

I can't spare a square

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No, I haven't forgotten about my Mario quilt, it has just taken me a really long time to cut all these squares.  Each square is 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches, and I am so glad I finally have them all cut.  The next step will be to lay them all out in the correct order; then, I'll sew them all together.  Talk about fun!  It is hard to imagine this stack of fabric actually turning into a quilt.  Stay tuned!

28 May 2010

Granola Bars

2 remarks
I am a creature of habit.  Ever since I started riding my bike to work, I had been sticking to same the same eating schedule during the day.  I had Spiru-Tein for for breakfast, a Tiger's Milk bar on my morning break, and a some fruit for lunch.  It was the perfect amount of nourishment to get me through the day.  Then, disaster struck, The Sunspot stopped carrying Tiger's Milk! 

It turns out the Tiger's Milk bars were being made with high-fructose corn syrup, which is a no-no for Sunspot standards.  I was sad, but I understood their position.  I had been eating Tiger's Milk bars since I was a kid, and I always bought them at The Sunspot.  Since I didn't have the Tiger's Milk bars anymore, my eating routine was altered as well.  I didn't have that morning snack, and the piece of fruit for lunch wasn't enough to get me through the day.  I needed a solution!

I remembered the Good Eats episode 'Power Trip' where Alton Brown made granola bars from scratch.  I found the recipe and decided to give it a try.  I purchased all the ingredients from The Sunspot and went home to make the granola bars.  The application was quite easy, and I had a fresh batch of granola bars in no time.  For the bars pictured above, I used dried pineapple as my fruit of choice.

Then came the first test.  How did they taste?  Scrumptious!  The bars have a wonderful flavor and a nice crunch without being too hard.  Then came the second, and more important test.  Would it be enough to get me through the day?  Yes!  The bars may be small, but they are quite filling; and with my fruit at lunch, it is plenty of food to get me through the day.  What a relief.

I am so happy with the granola bars.  For one thing, I learned to make something new from scratch, which is a lot of fun.  Secondly, it is always nice to know what exactly goes into the food you're eating.  Third, I get to have pineapple granola bars, which is something I've never seen at the store, and they are delicious.  Fourth, they are a lot cheaper to make from scratch than buying a box at the store, and taste better, too.  They are also nice to carry in a backpack during hikes or long bike rides.  What a treat!

Granola Bars
recipe courtesy Alton Brown

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit


Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

27 May 2010

Winged Samaras

2 remarks

I was delighted to see that our Japanese Maple produces little "helicopters."  We had transplanted the tree to the front yard when we first moved in, and it must have taken it a while to become reenergized enough to produce them because last year was the first time I noticed the little winged samaras.  We even had a little Japanese Maple sprout underneath the tree.  I'm thinking about growing one from seed because they are so beautiful.  I would love to watch one grow.

26 May 2010

Imitation of Life

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charades, pop skill
water hyacinth, named by a poet
imitation of life
like a koi in a frozen pond
like a goldfish in a bowl
I dont want to hear you cry

thats sugarcane that tasted good
thats cinnamon thats hollywood
c'mon c'mon no one can see you try

you want the greatest thing
the greatest thing since bread came sliced.
you've got it all, you've got it sized.
like a friday fashion show teenager
freezing in the corner
trying to look like you dont try

thats sugarcane that tasted good.
thats cinnamon thats hollywood
c'mon c'mon no one can see you try

no one can see you cry
thats sugarcane that tasted good
thats freezing rain thats what you could
c'mon c'mon no one can see you cry

this sugarcane
this lemonade
this hurricane, i'm not afraid.
c'mon c'mon no one can see me cry
this lightning storm
this tidal wave
this avalanche, i'm not afraid.
c'mon c'mon no one can see me cry

thats sugarcane that tasted good
thats who you are, thats what you could
c'mon c'mon no one can see you cry

thats sugarcane that tasted good
thats who you are, thats what you could
c'mon c'mon no one can see you cry
"Imitation of Life" is my favorite song of R.E.M.'s 12th album, Reveal.  It was the first single released from the album in 2001 and I have always liked it.  The song is accompanied by what I believe is R.E.M.'s most underrated video.  What makes the music video unique is that it took only twenty seconds to shoot.

Here is Michael Stipe's explaination of how the video was made.

"The entire video took twenty seconds to shoot. What you're watching is a loop that goes forwards for twenty seconds, backwards for twenty seconds, forwards for twenty seconds, backwards for twenty seconds, with one camera, static, and then using a technique called 'pan and scan', which is a technical thing that is used when they go from a widescreen format and reformat to fit your television or DVD, moving in on certain parts of the entire picture. And you'll see that we do that picking up various people within the frame."

Pretty cool.

24 May 2010

Feeling squirrelly

1 remarks
I seems our nutty squirrel has become a parent. I was walking in our backyard the other day and heard a rustling in the tree. I looked over and saw two tiny squirrels climbing down the trunk. The were quite timid and curious, so I wondered it was one of the first times they ventured away from home.

I went inside to grab my camera and they just stayed on the trunk exploring their surroundings.  They let me get pretty close and then ran back up the tree after eating some corn.  I am so pleased that our nutty squirrel family is growing.

22 May 2010

Garden update

1 remarks
I've learned a lot about gardening in the last year.  The most important lesson I have learned is to not get anxious.  Two days after transplanting my plants outside we had a frost advisory.  The night of the advisory I covered the garden with two bed sheets and hoped for the best.  The next morning there was frost on the ground and I feared the worst.  Before work, I checked under the sheet and my plants seemed no worse for the wear.  My initial relief was short lived because of the next couple of days, some the plants withered and died. 

I was upset with myself.  I couldn't believe what had happened.  We had one of the warmest springs ever, and two days after I moved my plants outside, we had frost.  My garden was ruined and I had no one to blame but myself.  But, as the days went by, the plants that didn't die right away started to show signs of improvement.  They were growing, and they started to look healthier and healthier.  I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and give those tough little plants the support they needed.

About half the garden was damaged by the frost, so we decided to buy some starter plants to fill the void.  We bought a cherry tomato plant, a basil plant, and pepper plant at a local farmer's market and Valerie's mom gave us a couple of tomato plants she had started from seed.  We added these plants to the garden and it looks really nice.  I feel so much better about our garden, and all the plants are looking strong and healthy now.  Here's a look at the progress so far.

This little tomato plant has had the toughest time surviving the frost.  It couldn't stand up straight, so I tied it to a little stick I out in the ground to help support it.  Hopefully, this will give it the strength it needs.  It's doing pretty good so far.

All the carrots I planted survived the frost.  I planted some more seeds because I don't think this is going to be enough carrots.

All the lettuce I planted survived the frost, too, which surprised me.  It has done remarkably well, and we even used some in our salads last night.  Delicious!
This is our humble garden. 

20 May 2010

"Theater Lobby Number" from Up In Arms

1 remarks

This is my favorite scene from a Danny Kaye movie, and I've seen just about all of them.  Enjoy! 

19 May 2010

Why to Roll Over

4 remarks

One of the biggest rifts in my marriage is caused by an unassuming household item, toilet paper. Whenever I replace the toilet paper roll, I make sure the outside edge rolls over the top of the roll. To me, it is just more practical. I can get a better feel for how much toilet paper I am using, it is easier to tear across the perforation, and it is more pleasing to the eye. Valerie, on the other hand, pays no attention to how she applies the roll. But somehow, whenever she puts a new roll on, the edge inevitably rolls under. I cry conspiracy!

Cottonelle has been running an ad campaign recently conducting a 'Roll Poll' to settle the debate. According to Cottonelle's website, 72% of consumers prefer the toilet paper to roll over and 28% prefer under. I saw a Cottonelle advertisement (pictured above) showing the benefits of rolling over in one of Valerie's magazines, and I took a liking to the diagram. I felt it made a lot of compelling arguments in favor of rolling over, so I posted it in the bathroom right above the roll of toilet paper. I thought it could serve as a friendly reminder on how to install the new roll of toilet paper when the time comes. Valerie was not amused. It is no longer on the wall.  I think it may have been flushed.

18 May 2010

Breaded Pork Tenderloin

2 remarks

Breaded is the loin. The breaded pork tenderloin is one of my favorite sandwiches. The crispy, golden, delicious breading enclosing the moist, tender, delicious pork is a match made in heaven. Put it on a bun with all the fixins and you've got yourself one heck of a tasty sandwich.

As I was looking for a recipe on the internet, I found that the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich (tenderloin) is a Midwestern specialty; and it is especially popular in Indiana. In fact, a search for the sandwich yields no results on foodnetwork.com. So, unbeknownst to me at the time, the tenderloin really is an Indiana tradition. I'm so glad to be a Hoosier!

There were so many tenderloin recipes on other sites like cooks.com and allrecipes.com, it was a little overwhelming. I ended up reading through many recipes and came up with my own variation on how to make it. In my opinion, simple is better, so I just kept it basic, and the results did not disappoint.

When making the sandwich, I start by cutting a pork tenderloin (not pork loin) into four pieces and pounding each piece very thin. Then, I dip the meat in a milk and egg mixture, then in flour, and then in panko breadcrumbs. Preferring pan frying instead of deep frying, I season the breaded meat with salt and pepper, and place it in a cast iron skillet with about ¼ inch of hot oil. Fry on each side until golden brown and delicious, place on a bun with your favorite toppings and consume. It's a nice little taste of Indiana.

16 May 2010

Whenever you need to smile...

3 remarks

it always helps to make your own rainbow.

14 May 2010

Bike to Work Week!

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Ready for Bike to Work Week?  I know I am!  This year, Bike to Work Week is from May 17th through May 21st. Though, some people have to work weekends, so I why not make it May 16th through May 22nd?  If you're thinking about doing it, I would highly recommend it!  I absolutely love riding my bike to work, and it is such a nice way to start the day.  Once you start riding to work, I bet you won't want to stop!

11 May 2010

Omelet Wars

1 remarks
Upon browsing the Eva + Daniel blog today, I saw that Eva posted a segment of Julia Child making an omelette.  It turns out that Eva learned how to make omelettes by watching Julia Child.  She then visited Latent Chestnut and read the description of Alton Brown's new book.  The description mentions how Alton Brown explains how to make a perfect omelet.  Eva then wondered if Alton Brown's technique differed from that of Julia Child's.  Eva posted a video of Julia Child making an omelette on her blog to show her technique, so I figured I should post a video of Alton Brown's.  Here is an excerpt from "The Egg Files VI: French Flop, Zen and the Art of Omelet Maintenance"

For all intents and purposes, it looks like both Julia Child and Alton Brown use the same technique to make omelets.  One difference is the way they spell 'omelet'.  In true Alton Brown fashion, he breaks the technique down to the simplest steps, but I think the spirit of the omelet and what it is supposed to be remains the same to both chefs.  Check out the Julia Child video on Eva's blog to see if you agree with be or not.  I learned from Alton Brown how to make them, and make omelets quite frequently, actually.  I have perfected the 'one egg' omelet, as it is just the right amount of egg for the kids. 

10 May 2010

Good Eats 2: The Middle Years (Coming Soon!)

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Even though I knew it was coming, it doesn't waver my excitement in the least.  In fact, now having owned Good Eats: The Early Years for about 8 months only heightens my expectations for Alton Brown's newest book offering.  Here's the official description:

Good Eats 2: The Middle Years picks up where the bestselling Good Eats: The Early Years left off. Showcasing everything Alton Brown fans (and they are legion!) have ever wanted to know about his award-winning television show, The Middle Years is chock-full of behind-the-scenes photographs and trivia, science-of-food information, cooking tips, and—of course—recipes.

Brown’s particular genius lies in teaching the chemistry of cooking with levity and exuberance. In episodes such as “Fit to Be Tied” (meat roulades), “Crustacean Nation” (crab), and “Ill-Gotten Grains” (wheat products), Brown explains everything from how to make the perfect omelet to how to stuff your own sausages. With hundreds of entertaining photographs, along with Brown’s inimitable line drawings and signature witty writing, this comprehensive companion book conveys the same wildly creative spirit as the show itself.

First of all, I don't think I've ever been described as 'legion' before.  Secondly, I know this book will not disappoint.  Some of the highlights of Good Eats: The Early Years include the elusive pastry cream recipe, and having all the recipes given to us with weight measurements, especially The Chewy.  I can only imagine what I will discover or rediscover in this edition.

Some episodes I am most looking forward to reading more about are "Q" (pulled pork), "The Muffin Method Man" (English muffins), "The Man Food Show" (corn dogs), and "Curious Yet Tasty Avocado Experiment" (avocado ice cream).

I have made the featured foods in all these shows, except for the English muffins, which I am eager to try.  I am hoping to learn something more about the others to increase my success rate.  For instance, I never seem to get the breading right on the corn dog, and my avocado ice cream always turns out really hard.  I am hoping AB doles out some additional pearls of wisdom for these applications so the light bulb comes on in my head.

The book is scheduled for release this fall, and it includes a bonus DVD, too!

07 May 2010

Calvin and Hobbes painting

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Check out this 24"x20" Acrylic on wood board painting I stumbled upon on the internet.  It was painted by Jim, who goes by StrangelyDrawn on the website artbreak.com.  I encourage you to check out his work as he has done a lot of paintings of other pop culture icons from my childhood.  I was excited to see paintings of Super Grover and Fraggle Rock among his work.  But it was his painting of a 'real' Calvin and Hobbes that really grabbed me.

I've seen other drawings and renditions of 'real' Calvin and Hobbes, but this one captures the essence and spirit of the comic strip like no other.  The way Calvin is portrayed is done exceptionally well.  He is truly a six-year-old boy playing with a real tiger without a care in the world; and there is nothing else he would rather be doing.  I am enamored by the tenderness and love portrayed in such an otherwise dangerous situation.  This is Calvin's world.  I know the word is overused, but this painting really is awesome.

06 May 2010

Fun Swung

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Notice anything different about Ari in the above picture?  If you said there is no one behind him pushing him on the swing, you're right!  Ari has learned to swing all by himself!  He is quite pleased with himself, and I am very proud of him, too.  Though, pretty much as soon as he learned to swing, he also discovered he could jump out of the swing; much to Valerie's chagrin.  He loves it.

03 May 2010


2 remarks

Vile weed! No, seriously, how did these little flowers get such a bad reputation? Eva posed the question on facebook about a week ago that I had been asking myself; "dandelions: little yellow signs of lazy lawn care...or...kinda pretty?"

To me, the presence of dandelions is a double edge sword. I don't really mind seeing little specks of yellow scattered intermittently throughout my lawn. Besides, it's nice to have a hint of color. It's not even all that bad to see the plumes of fluffy seeds extending from the grass, as long as there aren't too many. But that's where the tolerance ends for me; once those parachutes evacuate the stem, those empty stalks are an eyesore.

Luckily, once the dandelions get to that point, it's usually time for me to mow the lawn anyway. If not, it's not that big of a deal to just go out and pick the stems out of the ground. Plus, the kids really love to pick the dandelions and blow off the seeds; just as I did when I was little. In a way, they are like free toys for the kids!

Overall, I don't mind the dandelions in my yard, as long as they are sparse. They provide joy for the kids, and add a beautiful yellow color to yard when they bloom. Plus, they are edible, though I haven't been brave enough to toss some of their greens in a salad.  The picture posted above came from a dandelion in my yard, and I think it is actually quite beautiful.


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