Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sporadic!

With the holidays looming, both Christmas and New Years, I find myself with a crunch for leisure time. I've been spending a lot of time with my son, and despite what some people think the "stay-at-home-mom" thing isn't a sit around on your butt and do nothing job. We play, we go out, we talk, he talks more... but still... Some days it's all I can do to log into Facebook and check my silly Zynga games. So blogging has been pushed to the background. I will possibly have more time come the second week of January, when he goes back to school... but on the 18th I start classes of my own. Bright and early morning classes!

Bastian will have to get used to a new schedule on Wednesdays and maybe Fridays. We will have to leave here a bit earlier and he will have to be dropped off at the school for breakfast at 7:30 instead of his usual just playground time of 7:50. It's a fairly big change, so we will practice it in the week leading up to the actual event. I think he will be ok. If we're lucky some of his friends will be at breakfast and he will want to do it every day. Some mornings he's a real bear about eating and I have to hover and nag him to eat half a banana. He's not an early morning eater. I'm not either, but  I am not a growing small child!

I am very excited to start my classes. The Pell Grant from the government pays for the classes themselves, so all I have to worry about is the books and supplies. I had originally signed up for five classes, but have cut one so the grant would cover it all. I will just take an extra class in the summer I guess. Four then instead of three, or something.

Right now the schedule looks like this:

One online class: Intro to PC Applications
Wednesdays: 8am-10am Food Safety and Sanitation
Fridays: 9am- 10:30am Nutrition for the Hospitality Professional
Saturdays: 8:00 am - 2:00pm Intro to Baking

I am most excited for the Saturday class. A neighbor of mine has told me she would watch Bastian on Saturdays for me for $25 a day. This eases some worry I had, since I wasn't sure what I would do for child care. The college child care center isn't open weekends. I think if I absolutely had to I may be able to change to the Monday (8am-2pm) Intro to Baking class, if I were to talk to my professor. Hopefully it won't come to that though. When I went to rearrange my schedule almost all the Culinary classes were booked full and ALL the morning classes were closed, so I'm glad I registered really early. I will have to register at the end of March for Summer term to be sure I get the classes I want there, too. I am trying to get the last of my degree out of the way and the sooner I can churn it out the better.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day After Feast Turkey Stromboli

I found this recipe and LOVE it. It's a quick way to use up those leftovers, and I'm fairly sure you could make it ahead and store it in the fridge or freezer (depending on when you wanted to serve it.) If you had enough leftovers you could make more than one, serve one, freeze a few? Who knows. I only made the one. And I sort of cheated. I didn't have any actual leftovers so I just cooked up some turkey breast and instant stuffing to put in it. After Christmas I'll make one from real leftovers!!

Ok, so it isn't the prettiest... but practice makes perfect. Next one will be better. 

Turkey Leftovers Stromboli

Dough:
1 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 ounce packet active dry yeast
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Filling:
3/4 cup cranberry sauce
1 cup (or more) shredded cooked turkey
1 cup stuffing

Finishing:
Egg wash - 1 large beaten egg and 1 tbsp water mixed well


First make the dough:
Pour water into bowl and stir water in until dissolved.
Sprinkle yeast in and set aside 5 to 10 minutes. Should be foamy.
Add the salt, the oil and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Stir well for about 2 minutes. Should be well mixed.
Add remaining flour slowly until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (Like any other bread recipe.)
Form into a ball for kneading.
On a lightly floured surface knead the bread out until it's smooth and elastic. About 10 minutes.
Place in large oiled bowl and turn it about until evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap, set in warm space and allow to rise until doubled. (Maybe an hour, depending on your "warm space.")

Set oven to 375*

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or parchment paper and set aside.
Punch down the dough.
Re-flour your surface, turn out the dough and roll it out into a 10x14 rectangle. Approximate of course. I didn't whip out a ruler or anything. Just made it a little bigger than the cookie sheet.
Spread the cranberry sauce over the dough neatly, then layer turkey and stuffing generously.
Paint one edge of the long side of the pastry with egg wash.
Roll the pastry beginning with the opposite side (the one you didn't just paint.)
Pinch together at the seam and tuck each end under.
Transfer to sheet, seam down.
Brush with egg wash (sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like them) and bake about 30 minutes. Should be golden brown and delicious!!

Let cool 10 minutes before cutting into it, it'll be prettier if you do....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Time...

Lately it has been hard to find the time to blog. I don't know if it's the holidays approaching or the seemingly new lack of time to do anything, really, but I want everyone to know I'm not keeled over or in hiding... just extremely busy!

I do have a recipe I want to share, but I need to make it first. I don't like recommending recipes that I haven't made. How do I know it's easy? Or quick? *laugh* It's actually very great looking. It's a Turkey Stromboli, made with leftovers from holiday dinner. It has a crust filled with cranberry sauce, stuffing and shredded turkey. It seems pretty amazing to me. Perfect use of leftovers after a huge meal, and I think you may even be able to make it ahead and fridge or freeze it to pop in the oven later. Which is ideal, since I know the last thing I want to do after a huge baking/cooking day is cook again the next morning!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Six Year Old!

I can'r believe Bastian turned six today! It was very exciting for him. He told me he "didn't feel any bigger." He is though, so much bigger than last year.

Made 30 cupcakes for his class... in the fish style I showed in an earlier post. I was a bit more sloppy with these, since I was making so many. I didn't do the white dollop behind the eyes. They still look cute, but not as professional.





I also made him a 4 layer cake, with strawberry and chocolate. The icing I made for the piping came out much softer than I would like. I didn't anticipate the room temperature would affect it so much! That's ok though. He loved it anyway and had a great time overall.



Next cake my personal goal is to do fondant (the pretty flat icing layer) and make it look more smooth overall.



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Fudge

Starting my Barn Hop post a bit early this week. I wanted to make sure I got it all written and didn't forget!! *laugh*

As promised, the recipe for fudge. Completely customizable as you will soon see. I will first post the basic recipe and then explain how to make it any flavor you want, with any add ins you may desire. I once made a delightful white chocolate cranberry walnut fudge, it was very popular.

I want to mention that you should have everything out and measured and ready before you start. Trying to tear open a bag of chocolate chips while the mixture is bubbling over = not good fudge. My first year (years and years back) was a complete mess.

This is pretty much the recipe on the jars of marshmallow cream in the stores, with a few tweaks. And of course in a bunch of flavors and styles.

Basic Fudge

Greased or foil lined pan. 9x9 for thicker squares, 9x13 for thinner.

3 cups sugar
2/3 cups or 1 small can evaporated milk
1 and 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups) butter

1 bag chocolate chips (12 oz.)
1 and 1/2 cups marshmallow cream or 3 cups marshmallows
1/2 cup nuts (any kind), chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Ok, so you take the first 3 ingredients and put them in a saucepan over -medium- heat. Don't try to speed it up by using high, that didn't work my first year either...

Mix, mix, mix constantly. It will melt down very nice, smell heavenly and bubble well. You need to do this about 5 minutes. I used to time 5 minutes exactly until I got a candy thermometer. The temp should be soft ball stage, 238*.

Remove from the heat and add the cream and chocolate chips (nuts, if doing nuts...). Stir like crazy, when almost blended add the extract and mix quickly. It will start to set up fast so pour it into your pan.

Allow to cool and cut into squares.

Now for the first three years I made this fudge, this way only. Then I decided it was boring and tried white chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. I was very pleased. So to make any flavor you want just use any flavor chip you like. I made butterscotch this year, as well as a white chocolate with mint pieces. For the add ins just substitute your desire for the nuts, up to one cup. I wouldn't go over one cup because then you get crumbly fudge. So half a cup nuts and half a cup dried cherries = one cup add ins. You can also change the extract. One year  made a great chocolate orange fudge just by using orange extract instead of vanilla. Looked like chocolate fudge but tasted fabulously orange-y. Like those break apart chocolate oranges do. So you can see how this can be very versatile and super personalized to your family.

For my pictured fudge I used one cup of starlight mint candies, but once they were crushed it was only 1/2 cup. I used white chocolate chips in place of chocolate and I also substituted mint extract for vanilla. Once poured into the pan I sprinkled with a bit more crushed mint and lightly pressed them in so it would grip. I also used a 9x9 pan, which is why they are so fat.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Fudge

I am planning a few batches of fudge for this weekend. A plain, a mint chocolate and maybe I will try a chocolate coconut this year. I usually do 6 or 7 flavors, but the budget this year demands smaller batches and less, less, less. Still.. can't go through the season without making at least one batch. I will share my recipe on Monday for the Barnhop. It's very easy and I am sure anyone could make it. I love the fact that it's also VERY customizable. I use the same base recipe and just add flavorings or tints. As long as they have a "chip" in the flavor you want you can make fudge out of it. Peanut butter chips, mint chips, white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips... you name it you can fudge it! *grin* Not to mention if you just make regular milk chocolate you can add extracts to flavor them. Raspberry, cinnamon, rum, banana (if you wanted I guess) ... they have all sorts of stuff. I want to make Monday's post super Christmas-y because they are having a Christmas themed contest and the winning blog gets a prize. So I'll have to plate the fudge up really pretty and make it extra special. Oh, I bet I could do a peppermint bark type fudge... *ponder* Excited!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pantry!

My neighbor Sandy gave us a pantry cabinet yesterday. It's empty now, but I plan to do some kitchen rearranging very soon.Perhaps I can make more counter space with this here. It isn't huge or anything, about the size of a regular bookshelf, only a little deeper. I want to put all my baking goods and supplies in there... cake pans, casserole dishes, flour, sugar, etc. Then maybe some canned goods. Also Bastian's after school snacks, so he has easier access to them and won't have to come to me for them.

This may also free up some space in the closet pantry so we can stock up on dry and canned goods. In case there's ever an emergency. I doubt there will be... I have been here three years and we have yet to get a serious snow or storm. I don't remember even losing power more than once for maybe 10 minutes... and that was a scheduled maintenance on base! Still... better to be prepared than to be one of those crazy people buying $40 worth of toilet paper when it looks like a storm 'might' be coming!! *laugh*

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just About...

The house is almost done. All the rooms are nice and rearranged. Everything is in place, except about four baskets full of laundry which are hiding out in my bedroom. I can't figure out where to put them. I'm out of dresser space and the closet isn't exactly making much space either. I will figure something out... Maybe move some stuff to the storage closet to make room.

Most of the Christmas shopping is complete. Santa has gathered all his gifts and they are ready for delivery. Toys R' Us was a madhouse, but they had the dinosaur toys Bastian wanted on sale buy one get one 50% off. Couldn't pass that up. I also got him some Legos for un-wrappable presents. As well as a WiiMote for his birthday that is made for younger kids. It has Lightning McQueen on it and the buttons are easier to manipulate. So the one he currently has in his room can be moved to the living room and his Cars WiiMote will match his room theme. The Wii in his bedroom only plays Netflix for Kids, but the one in the living room has games and such. Having his bedroom WiiMote in the living room will make multiplayer games easier.

Monday I have to make 30 cupcakes for Bastian's birthday so he can take them to his class. I am going to make those fish cupcakes I featured Monday. They are easy to decorate and kid friendly. I had to buy a muffin tin, but it was on sale at Target for $9 so I did pretty well there. They also had cake pans on sale for 96 cents!! I bought 6. Now I can make layer cakes!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa

Well... braved the mall today for the sake of my little one. Santa Clause has been informed of the gifts he is to bring and Bastian is rather pleased with himself. We also purchased some pictures, as this Santa Stop wasn't at all like the one a few years back at the mall in Texas where you could bring your own camera if you wanted to. $20 for 2 5x7's and four Wallets. *shakes head* I don't remember memories being this expensive in the past...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fishies

These were so cute that when I saw them I knew I had to make them. Especially since it's such an easy decorating design. Just M&M and frosting. No special fancy tips or piping bags needed.


Make your cupcakes (whatever kind you want or are best at) and then make a base frosting. My favorite is the buttercream I have posted here before. Portion your buttercream into the number of bowls per color you plan to use.. in this case 3, but you can use more or less. Be sure to reserve a small amount for the eyes, which needs to stay white. This step with the eye background can be omitted, they will still look plenty cute with just a brown M&M. Add a few drops of food coloring or icing color to your bowls until you have the desired shade. Frost your cooled cupcakes. Now add your M&M's for scales, eye and lips. Using a small dollop of whit behind the eye if you want for detail. You could also do rainbow scales or contrasting scales... it's up to you and your imagination!

On relaxing...

Today will be a do nothing day. I spent the week working and cleaning and yesterday with a wonderful visit from family and today I am too tired to do anything. I'm even going to leave those toys on the floor over there... maybe....

I am also contemplating another crochet project, but I'm not sure. I haven't decided which pattern I want to tackle yet.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Time Flies

Another week has gone by. Where does the time go? It seems that it alternately speeds up and slows down this time of year. It speeds up when I have cleaning and shopping to do, but slows down when I think about Christmas day or New Years. Maybe I should think of Christmas while I clean... would that even it out? *laugh*

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dusting

We have a light dusting of snow this morning. Bastian was very excited to wear his new boots, even though he technically didn't need them. I made sure to put his regular shoes in his backpack just in case the teacher wants him to switch while inside. It wasn't any colder than yesterday morning... until the wind hit you. Then it was COLD! It is supposed to get steadily colder throughout the day. Then mild tomorrow and another blast of chill Saturday. At least we don't have to walk to school then.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pine

I salvaged a few pine boughs from my neighbors live tree the other day and brought them inside. This may seem strange, but it's kind of a test. You see, a few years ago when Bastian was very small we went to my parents for Christmas. He was sick the whole time with a wheezy cough and nose thing that cleared up, amazingly enough, on the drive home. Not just a little but completely. We attributed it, at the time, to him being allergic to the live Christmas tree that they had. We had not yet exposed him to this at the time, he had just turned 1 I believe. So we banned live trees from the house. Now he will be six this Christmas, so I have to look back on it and wonder if that is what it really was. We never had him tested, we just assumed.

So I brought in the pine. So far, he's fine! *laugh* I'm not rushing out to buy a live tree anytime soon, but perhaps next year's tree can be. This year we have a tree, assuming the cats don't kill it! *grin*

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hop-less

No Barnhop today. To be honest I'm just too tired. The weekend was long, but I am proud to report I got that desk torn down and replaced with the much smaller and, to be honest, better looking one. Sandy (my neighbor friend) also gave me a large bulletin board to place behind it and it really looks great. Will likely only look great until I manage to clutter it all up, but still! *laugh*

Anyway. Much to do today. Have to get milk from the market, do the dishes, clean a cluttered bookcase and likely fix the tree again. All before 11 am. Plus, Bastian's back to school today, so I have to pick him up at 2:25. He was up late last night and will likely be a big cranky-pants all afternoon. How thrilling for me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cats and Christmas... trees, that is...

So we put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. It's just a little fake one we've had a couple years and none too fancy. In need of a good replacing, to be honest, but I think it may keep one more year. Unless, of course, the cats slaughter it early. Which it seems they are trying to do regularly.

We placed all the crochet ornaments and a few leftover ornaments from past years on it and left it lit the first night. It looked so pretty... Until yesterday when it became the cats new favorite toy. The game now is to dash at the tree and attempt to snag a crochet ornament and make off with it. The round ones are the best. It's my fault for making them cat toy sized. I think they probably have even developed a point system. *laugh* At any rate they've knocked the tree over quite a few times in the last two days. I figure this will peter out a bit. I've made a few quick cat toys out of scrap yarn for them and added catnip to them so they would be more tempting. Putting them under the tree seems to distract them from the dangling ornaments.. at least, a little. Silly kitties.


If you can't tell... we like reindeer here. *laugh* Bastian helped with the decorating so some of the balls are clumped, but he was very happy with it. Amazingly enough I found a "leftover" gift from last year up in the top of the closet. It was all wrapped and everything, so it will be a surprise on Christmas to find out what it is.  It's in Bastian's wrapping paper, it must be a DVD or game. 

We have color coded wrapping paper here. I am not sure if it's an OCD thing, or just a quirk.... makes passing out the presents easier. At least, the presents from each other.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mail

I mailed four Christmas cards this morning. My parents, my brother in college, my Grandma Carol and my birth father. I could only do close family this year, but I am happy I sent out those. I also sent pictures of Bastian in two of the cards so Grandma and my father can see how big he's getting. Mom and Dad already have a large copy and my brother lives in the dorms, so I put something different in his card. Nothing special or expensive, but I hope he likes it anyway.

I have the gifts all wrapped and ready for shipping. I have to find out how much that's going to be. If I'm lucky I can get them all inside one of those $8 boxes. They still have those, right? Then maybe I can ask Mom to give my father and Grandma Carol their gifts. They all live in the same area now.

I do miss Missouri... Sometimes I think, well, I know I want to move back there. But I need to do it on my terms. I want to move there when I can afford a place, even if it doesn't have land. On my own two feet, with money in my pocket. Who knows when that will be, it certainly seems a long way away now. Still, it's like the dream of the farm. I know I can't have it all now, but I can move towards it inch by inch and one day I'll be there. Land and bees and chickens and all.... *laugh*

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday....

So Bastian asked me this morning if we could go to the store and get doughnuts. I tried to explain to him that we couldn't go out because it's the day after Thanksgiving.
"Sorry, Bastian, we can't go out. We never go out the day after Thanksgiving, it's too scary."
"Scary? Why is it scary?"
"Because the crazy people come out to shop and you don't want to get in their way."
"Oh... like Zombies?"
"..."

I'm sure he will come to learn in the future. I went on to explain that they weren't zombies, they just were people who buy all the things you want to buy and make long lines at the store. He said it was unfair, he just wanted doughnuts. I told him they had probably bought all the doughnuts already... I promised him we would go tomorrow. Much less dangerous, though not by much.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. Hope your day is as blessed as mine. It may not be perfect, but there is always something to be thankful for. *hugs to all*

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slow!

I can't believe it's only Tuesday. It feels like this week is seriously dragging it's feet.

Maybe it's just because I'm so excited for Thanksgiving to be over so we can put up the tree and delve into Christmas specials and sing carols. I pulled out the box of Christmas leftovers from last year and spent an hour attempting to untangle the light strands. I managed a few, though they look pretty battered. Next year will be a throw them away and buy new ones year. I was surprised at how many ornaments we had leftover. We had a "theme tree" last year and all the little brown sparkly reindeer were salvaged. Most the balls had been killed by the cat while on the tree, but a few remained. I went ahead and set them aside for use. I know they won't survive this season. Kephri is a real killer when it comes to things that dangle and sparkle. *laugh*

The rest of the agenda today calls for a thorough cleaning of the kitchen and taking out the trash. I don't really like taking the trash out because the bin is pretty far from our apartment. That was always my ex's job. Also plan to clean off my desk and tear it down to finally replace with the little one. (I know I keep mentioning this and it never happens... it wasn't really a priority)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fluffy Cake

As promised the cake recipe and the icing as well. This cake is very odd, no butter, no eggs, no milk.... Good if you are running short on any of those items, or if you just don't have them at all. It comes out much fluffier than you would think. It's been a huge hit here. I have been told it tastes like those Little Debbie or Hostess Cupcakes.

Super Fluffy Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cold water

Directions

Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together into a 9 x 13 inch ungreased cake pan. Make three wells. Pour oil into one well, vinegar into second, and vanilla into third well. Pour cold water over all, and stir well with fork.
     (This is how the recipe says to do it, but I just mixed all the wet in one bowl and all the dry in another and then combined like I would any other cake, later pouring it into the cake pan. It came out fine. Word of warning: there will be fizzing with the soda/vinegar reaction but your cake will not explode, I promise. *laugh*)

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Frost with your favorite icing.
Buttercream Icing 

Ingredients

2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)

Directions

Cream sugar, butter and vanilla. Add a small amount of milk (1 to 2 tablespoons). Add cocoa if desired and beat until fluffy. If frosting is too sweet add a little more milk. 
 I often fiddle with this to get the desired consistency. Once you have the base finished you can add more milk to make it more of a glaze, or add more powdered sugar to stiffen it up. I use this on everything from cake to sugar cookies. I bet it would even glaze doughnuts. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Loud

It has been very loud here for the past two days. Bastian is very excited about not having school for a week and has been celebrating by running around singing, cheering, and playing rather loudly. Often at the top of his lungs. I chastise or reprimand and he will turn it down for about half an hour and then the level ramps up again to full blown. I've told him he can be as loud as he wants... in his room. But if he's out here he has to be shusheded! *laugh*

Tomorrow I'm going to post my recipe for this crazy chocolate cake. It has no eggs, no milk and no butter in it! I was certain it would come out all nasty, but it was amazingly fluffy and tasted great. I also want to post my very adjustable buttercream recipe. I promised some followers I would. I like it because you can make it very thin for drizzling or much thicker for icing or piping. All by adding either more milk or more powdered sugar to the finished recipe.

When I made the two together last week and iced the crazy cake with the stiffer buttercream I found it tasted a LOT like the Hostess Cupcakes. I think it I make them again I may do a cupcake batch and fill the centers with the icing, just to see.

As for Thanksgiving, I think we may just end up having cranberry pancakes and calling it good this year. I know next year this will all have passed and life will be better. We can do a turkey then. I am still a bit depressed about it, but I know it isn't the end of the world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Whole Week!

Today is the last day of school for Bastian for a whole week. The school district he attends has two furlough days and then three holiday days next week... so I should be quite tired by this time next Friday! *laugh*

Plans had been made to drive to Missouri and visit my family, but with the truck in the state it's in and the serious lack of money for purposes such as traveling I am fairly sure that isn't going to happen. I have no way to afford the gas, dog boarding, food along the way, etc. Even were we to fly there I can't afford the tickets, dog boarding, cab to the airport, cab back to the house, etc. *sigh* I told myself it was ok, that there will be other holidays, there will be other trips. I was really looking forward to this one though. It's been three years since I've seen my family and I miss them. I've had this trip planned since August. I was even saving up for it. Darn you life, for getting in the way like this! *shakes fist at the world*

Anyhow, I suppose now the plan is for a nice and quiet week at home. I think we have stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, gravy and green beans. No turkey, though. I wasn't anticipating needing one. Maybe I can get one the day after Thanksgiving when they go on sale and our Turkeyday can just be one day off.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Early Days

Seems like I get up earlier and earlier lately. *yawn* Next week I'll be able to sleep in a bit though. Bastian's school is out for Thanksgiving all week. Have lots to do today, again. I wanted to post a picture of my newest crochet creation. I can't until I get a new battery for the camera, though. AA's but there don't seem to be any in the house. *sigh* Never when you need it, right....

Two mile walk today, followed by picking up a package at the office and a few other errands. Walking for all of them of course, stupid truck. The battery is completely dead. I tried restarting it yesterday on a whim. It won't even try turning over, just makes a sad clicking noise. Thank goodness (and I will not say this often) that we live in the center of town and the shopping center is right there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall Reorganizing

Have been rearranging the house the last week or so, as I've written a post or two about. I think Falcore really likes all the space in the living room now. He can sprawl easier. I like that I have my entire sectional couch back together and an area to workout in. Now if I can just finish up the last of the tidying I will be good to go. It's been like Spring cleaning in the worng season around here. The whirlwind of moving crud from one room to another stirred up even more debris. I'm making serious inroads though. I have thrown out so much stuff! (Which is very hard for me, I am a pack rat!) The last thing I have to do is clear off this huge desk and get it out to the trash. I know I mentioned this Sunday, but I still haven't gotten to it. I was too sore yesterday from Monday's workout. Today is much better, I think that two miles really stretched out some kinks.

Also, have to head across the street to the Office Max and fax a financial aide form. So much to do, never enough hours in the day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Walking

I took some time to just enjoy the day today. I walked Bastian to school as usual, but instead of coming back home I took the "scenic route." Down through the neighborhood, which is very nice and then up and around the long way to get back. I Map-quested the route when I got home. It was 1.95 miles. I rounded up to 2.I felt very accomplished. I will say I am glad I didn't know ahead of time it was 2 miles or I may not have done it. Self doubt can be a very powerful thing.

On the agenda today is a general tidying. Followed by some rigorous vacuuming. Finished up by a scrubbing of the bathroom. Overall a busy day, but one I can be proud of. I like my days to be that way. Relaxation is nice, but hard work is rewarding as well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

JackApple Cake

I made this last week and posted a picture of the finished cake. I thought I'd post the recipe now, and the cake again, for those who wanted to try it. It came out thick and sticky for me, very dense but good. If I were to make it again I would add much more apple,maybe in bigger chunks as well. I diced them pretty small.

Jackapple cake
(from Jenna at ColdAntler Farm)

3 large farm eggs
2 ¾ cup flour
3 large apples (Not Red Delicious!)
¼ cup fresh press cider
2 cups sugar
¼ cup honey, heated
1 stick butter (half melted)
Cinnamon
1 ¾ cup vegetable oil
Tablespoon vanilla extract
Tablespoon baking powder

Peel and dice apples and place in a large bowl with 1 ½ cups sugar (set aside other half cup for topping), sprinkle over them a light coating of cinnamon, and mix into a cobbler, then dribble warm honey over and mix that in as well. Set in fridge for 2 hours to let cure. (Do not skip this step.)

When apples are cured, add all wet ingredients (half melted stick off butter, eggs, oil, extract) and mix with large wooden spoon.

Add in tablespoon baking powder.

Add flour half a cup at a time and stir in batter more than you think you need too. Batter will seem wet and yellow. Good.

Pour into greased cake pan.

Now melt other half stick of butter, add to it the sugar and some cinnamon and mix them into a wet paste. Drizzle over the batter, spreading it if you can, making a sugar crust to bake into the cake.

Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes. Check after 27, when knife comes out clean it’s done.

I made a basic buttercream icing to go on top. It was very sweet as well, but I think it paired nicely overall.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kitchen Overhaul

The last few days have been spent rearranging my living room and Bastian's room. Those two rooms look great now, but my kitchen suffered from neglect while the "renovations" happened. So today will be a kitchen day. I'm dragging my heels a bit over it, because I dislike dishes so much... which anyone who has read even a handful of posts here probably knows! I'm not shy about it!! *laugh*

After the kitchen shapes up I also plan to re organize my desk area. I need to remove the current huge desk I have and plan to replace it with a much smaller one my neighbor is looking to get rid of. She needs the space and I need it to make a smaller space. It's a win win! She is so kind to give it to me. It's no secret things are tight around here. She is also giving me a medium sized cabinet they were going to throw out, which I plan to use as a pantry. There isn't a lot of shelf space around here and it will be good to have. Will free up some other spaces in the kitchen. With the removal of this huge desk the little desk and the pantry will fit just perfectly. So I guess I'm not really making any space, but in a way I am. The pantry unit will allow for more space in other areas and won't stick out as far as the desk, so there will be a more open walkway into the living area. *sigh*

I figure by Wednesday there will be time to just breath, when all of this is completed. Until then I guess I should get back to scrubbing something.... *oh joy*

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Unrelated

On an unrelated to farming, homesteading or crafting subject: I received my financial aide award letter for the Spring and Summer 2012 season. I will officially receive $2,770 per semester and that will cover all my school costs. So I am essentially attending college for free! I am very excited. I have some college under my belt, but I'm tired of checking the "Some College" box on applications and forms. I want my degree! Any degree! *laugh* The current plan is to attend Pikes Peak Community College in the Spring and though it's a far cry from my plans when I was 20 (hey, ten years changes a person!) I want to pursue a degree in Baking and Pastry.

The last year I've been doing a lot more home baking and I want to learn more. I really want to learn cake decorating. I've always been interested but never took that step. Except for some clumsily iced birthday cakes. I want to learn to use fondant and make pretty things. If I have a talent maybe I can even do wedding cakes. I think wedding cakes from organic produce using farm fresh eggs and real cow or goat milk and butter and cream would be amazing. And there is a market for these things now with the sustainability movement and the rush for organic and locally produced items.

See, I managed to tie it back in to the future farm. *grin*


I'm a Pikes Peak Aardvark!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Barnheart

"Barnheart is that sudden overcast feeling that hits you while at work or in the middle of the grocery store checkout line. It’s unequivocally knowing you want to be a farmer—and for whatever personal circumstances—cannot be one just yet. So there you are, heartsick and confused in the passing lane, wondering why you cannot stop thinking about heritage livestock and electric fences. Do not be afraid. You have what I have. You are not alone.

You are suffering from Barnheart
." - Jenna Woginrich

*huge sigh*

Crochet Pony

I have been working on this all week. Not very diligently, usually just in the evening while I watch television. It came out very well and I'm proud of it. It's the first large crochet critter project I have ever done. The size of a regular stuffed animal. Most my other work is smaller. So I was a bit leery of the size, but it turned out ok. I think it's super cute. I don't particularly care for the button eyes. They make it look very Raggedy Ann and Andy. If I do another I will probably embroider instead, or buy actual stuffed animal eyes to sew on.




Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Visuals!

I took pictures of my cookies and of that cake I told you about yesterday. The cake actually came out very dense, more like a pumpkin bread would be. It is very tasty but super sweet and heavy. Which means it will go farther since you can really only have a small piece at a time before getting a sugar shock. I think it has to do with how much honey is in it. Maybe. I don't know. I may fool around with it in the coming months to try to get it lighter. I want more of a fluff to the cake. I thought the batter was rather heavy when I made it and it tasted more like muffin batter than cake, but since it was a first time recipe I wasn't really sure what to expect. Anyway, it still came out very yummy.

After and Before

Leaf Pile!

Cake! With delicious icing...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cake... and cookies...

Last night I made a small batch of sugar cookies and today I plan to ice them prettily. I made them because I got this nifty cookie cutter that looks like a maple leaf. So I can do fall colored cookies. I'm very happy with the shape and will post pictures as soon as I get them all nice and pretty.

I am also making a Jackapple Cake. Using a recipe from Jenna at ColdAntler Farm. I have never made this cake before so I am excited to see it finished. The apples are currently marinating in a honey, sugar and cinnamon mix. In a few hours I'll be able to make the rest of the batter and bake up some golden goodness.

I have a feeling any man who gets with me is likely to fatten up very quickly unless they are crazy about fitness. Or have a metabolism I will be terribly jealous of! Ah, well... considering the size of the universe and how spectacularly little we matter in the "grand scheme of things" I don't imagine putting on half a pound from cake or cookies will matter too very much.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pretzel Rolls

I love pretzels. I love mall pretzels, stick pretzels, mini pretzels, sourdough pretzels, pretty much any pretzel you can think of except the jalapeno kind. I can't have those and wouldn't want to anyway. I have shared my mall pretzel recipe in the past, but I'm always on the hunt for new deliciousness. Therefore, when I stumbled onto Bob Vivant's page the other day I knew I would have to make and then share this recipe for pretzel rolls. She whipped hers up for a party her friend was throwing to use for burgers, but I made mine smaller. A little larger than doughnut holes, for easy snacking and dipping. Bob has an amazing blog page with some amazing recipes. All sorts of cakes and desserts and ... general yumminesses!

Since it is Barn Hop day I will share the recipe. Mondays are the best!

Add caption

 Mini Pretzel Rolls

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (or one 0.25oz packet)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 quarts water
1/2 cup baking soda
coarse sea salt

Preparation

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a small bowl stir together the warm water, milk, and melted butter.
  2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes once the ingredients have come together in a ball. The dough should be soft and pliable and not sticky. Add more flour or water as needed. (You can make the dough without a mixer. Once the dough comes together, transfer it to a floured board and knead for 5-7 minutes, until smooth and elastic.)
  3. Using a scale, portion the dough into even pieces and set them on a floured board. A 2.5 ounce portion works for a traditional burger bun. For sliders you’ll want 1.25-1.5 ounce dough ball. Cover dough with oiled plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. ( I didn't do this weighing thing, I just eyeballed and portioned. I would do this, though if I were trying to make uniform sized rolls.)
  4. Shape the dough balls into rolls. Arrange them on a lightly floured surface 1-inch apart and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
  6. In a large stockpot, bring the cold water and baking soda to a rolling boil.
  7. Drop the rolls into the boiling water 2 at a time. Boil for 20 seconds total, turning once. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with the coarse salt. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
  8. Make a ½-inch deep slash across the top of each roll with a small, sharp knife. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are the color of dark caramel (or, uhm, until they look like pretzels). Shift pans from top to bottom and back to front halfway through for even baking.
  9. Let rolls cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Doldrums

Very tired today. I'm not sure why. I have spent the last few days cleaning and rearranging things, so perhaps that could be part of it. I put up a few decorations and fancy things on the the walls in the bedroom. It's pretty much finished. I'd like to get a different floor rug, but other than that it's as good as it's likely to get in this tiny apartment. Next is Bastian's room and the living room, which have to be done at the same time, since Bastian has a piece of the sectional couch in his room and I want to move it to the living area. Have to rearrange both rooms at the same time to make that happen.

Tomorrow is soon enough for that, I suppose. It is also likely to snow tomorrow night. Which I would look forward to, except for the fact that the truck doesn't work and we have to walk to school! Ah, well.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cookies... and Egg Nog!

It's egg nog season! Hooray. I bought some at the grocery yesterday and made some very yummy crispy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to dunk in it. They go very well together and are super scrumptious. Other than that I'm taking it relatively easy. Tomorrow is the weekend and one day closer to Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.

I have been slowly crocheting more ornaments. Sometimes I have to do two versions because the original patterns are too big. Then I alter the pattern or use a smaller hook to get it ornament sized. Tricky with some things, but worth it.

The truck is still dead.. in fact it may be deader than it was. I am almost 100% sure it's the alternator. The car won't hold a charge at all now. Lucky we have such nice weather so I can walk to drop off and pick up Bastian from school. I saw on the weather we are due for more nastiness next week though. *sigh* I love the winter weather, but I don't love having to be out in it!! I prefer it through the window with a blanket and hot cocoa!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Truck...

Well, yesterday my truck died a little. I say a little because she started running again after recharging her battery, but there's still an issue. We've been told by many people and a few mechanics so many different things. One said it was just the cold, one said it was the alternator, one said maybe just a wire on the alternator, one said it was just a loose grounding wire. We fixed the grounding wire and it seemed to be running fine. Until this morning when my ex-husband borrowed it to go to work. Then it apparently died again and again had to be jumped. Now it is again running ok, which leads me to believe the alternator is not completely dead and maybe it is just the charging wire.... I don't exactly have the who knows how many hundreds of dollars it will take to get it looked at and fixed. I think it will come down to just waiting. Waiting until I get a job (close by) or my husband sends the first few alimony/child support checks. It's frustrating, but so is life in general most the time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Delay!

Snow again today... and a two hour delay for the schools. Which means arguing with Bastian about leaving now as opposed to waiting until there are actually people at the school. *sigh* He doesn't understand weather days, delays and cancellations yet. He will come to appreciate and look forward to them someday though!

Thought I would post a few crochet ornaments I've done this week. Had to get a jump start on them now to make enough for the tree this year. I'm hoping to only have to buy lights and maybe a topper. Though I may crochet a star for the top, I haven't decided.

A Jalepeno.

A Heart.

A Sombrero... goes with the jalapeno!

A Key.

   














































































A slightly ugly frog. His back is bumpy but you can't really tell in the picture.
The jalapeno was not intended to be a jalapeno at first. It was supposed to be a trial Christmas bulb, but the pattern was hard to read and it came out a little wonky. So I bent the tip a bit and called it a pepper. *laugh* Then of course I found the sombrero online, it was originally intended to be a bottle topper, but add a hanger and it makes a great ornament!  The others I found on a website for refrigerator magnet patterns. They were the perfect size to become ornaments.

I didn't want to just do the standard red, green and white ornaments with stars or candy canes. I will do those as well, but I wanted a variety. My family tree growing up always had such interesting ornaments. Yes, many were x-mas related, but some were odd and out of place. So I want that kind of feel for my tree this year. I do plan to do reindeer and snowmen and Santas and the little ball ornaments as well... I have the patterns, just need to whip them up. This will be a good holiday season, I can tell.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bavarian Cream

My favorite doughnuts are the ones with the yellowed cream inside. Not the nasty white icing or the chocolate fluff... but the golden yellowed yumminess that is also known as Bavarian cream. I wanted to share this recipe for quick and easy Bavarian cream, which is actually kind of a cheating recipe, since you use pudding mix and such. The best part about it though is you can use any pudding mix you want and have flavored cream. So if you like chocolate cream, use chocolate pudding, same goes for butterscotch, pistachio, or just plain old vanilla... it's your choice!

Ingredients:
Mix together cream cheese and dry pudding mix.
Slowly beat in milk.
Fold in Cool Whip.
Done.



Keep it refrigerated when not using, of course, since it has milk in it. Use it to fill cakes, puff pastry, doughnuts, anything really... You could probably even serve it straight in a cup or bowl with some fruit garnish and call it fancy pudding! *laugh*


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Resting

Well, apartment inspection yesterday was a joke. They came in, replaced the smoke alarm batteries and left. Not even a two minute job. BUT, the house is clean  anyway. The kitchen is certainly cleaner than it's ever been since we moved in. I don't scrub the side of the refrigerator for just anyone! *laugh* Even though I know there will be more dishes by Monday and more vacuuming by Tuesday and more tidying by the days beyond that, it is nonetheless nice to have one day of downtime to relax and do nothing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Pics!

Pumpkin carving last night went well. Lots of fun. Took pictures!

















After the carving I made pumpkin bread with the chunks we removed. Also, roasted up the seeds! 


Overall it was a good evening. Now to work on a bat costume and settle in for a nice weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Plans

Planned pumpkin carving this evening after the finishing of the kitchen cleaning. Tomorrow is apartment inspection and then I have to put together Bastian's costume. He has decided on a bat. For certain this time. He's had at least seven different changes, but I told him once the costume is made that's it. No changes after that.

I figure a black sweatshirt and pants with cut wings and a drawn on muzzle should do it. It's fairly cheap and easy. Thank goodness, as things are rather tight this year.

Pictures tomorrow of the pumpkin carving. Pictures Tuesday of the costume. I know it seems like I've waited until late to carve pumpkins, considering everyone else has had theirs out on the front porch for weeks, but I find if I do it just a few days prior then I can butcher the pumpkin the day after Halloween for pie. If you wait too long the pumpkin is all mooshie. Even if it isn't mooshie, too much time will leech out (break down?) the sugars and then it's just not nearly as yummy. Look at that, I do know something about cooking! *laugh*

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cleaning Again

Another day of cleaning. This time I don't have a choice over it though. Apparently there will be an apartment inspection Friday. This is actually the first time they have done this in the two years we've lived here. Last year they just gave us batteries for the smoke detector. This year the note on the door said they also wanted to check the plumbing. I think it's a ploy to enter the apartments and check up on residents. I'm not worried about us, the place stays clean and we aren't violating our lease any, but I do know the neighbors across the way may be in for some trouble. They have a pet, but no pet sticker on their door. Not to mention that it always reeks of pot smoke in the hallway. To be honest I hope they do get in trouble for it. I don't really need that sort of thing going on with Bastian getting old enough to understand it!

In other news... It snowed today! *little happy dance* There was a good 2 or 3 inches when I took Bastian to school this morning and it was still coming down lightly when I walked the dog. I plan to settle into a good quilt and savor a mug of hot chocolate right after the house is done. Open all the blinds so I can watch the snow fall on the sidewalk. The only thing I could wish for today ... well, I could wish for a few things, but what I really wish for is a nice screened in porch overlooking a large pasture and a strong, sweet  man to cuddle up with. Then the scene would be complete. I can settle for hot chocolate for now though! *grin*



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Things I One Day Wish To Have - Ep. 03

A Meat Grinder! Yes, I know, for some it isn't practical. For most, buying ground at the store is great. For me... well, I plan on processing a lot of my own meat (rabbit, goat, chicken, game, etc.) and making sausage. So a meat grinder is essential.

My featured meat grinder comes, of course, from the Lehman's catalog. The Chop Rite Clamp-down Grinder.This grinder is ideal for home use on a regular basis. So it can take a bit of a beating and still come out on top. Lehman's also has a bolt down version, but I don't know that I would have the space to put one in permanently, so clamp is good enough for me. Plus a good $100 cheaper. Overall a good grinder will likely run anywhere from $100 to $300 depending. This one is $109 as of today in the catalog online. They do have a stainless steel version for $79 for those on a budget, but I prefer to spend the extra to get the cast iron model.

Isn't it pretty! Now this one only comes with one grinding plate, but you can order 3 others in varying sizes, as well as a sausage stuffing horn and (for those who are interested) a pulley belt attachment for automation purposes. It also comes in a mini model. The mini model processes 1 lb at a time, whereas the small model will handle 3 lbs.




Monday, October 24, 2011

Manic Mondays

It's Barnhop day! Despite the fact that I knew Monday was looming I still completely forgot to prepare for it. I actually didn't make anything interesting this weekend. I was extremely lazy kitchen wise. I did manage to make a bunch of other things though. Which I can share with you now instead of a recipe.

My son wanted me to make a heart:















I also made him a dinosaur as a  surprise last Friday:
It looks kind of more like the Loch Ness Monster, because of how long the neck came out. I really liked his head and how it shaped up though..



If I were to do him again I would alter the neck part of the pattern to be shorter and thicker. I might also position the legs differently. Possibly make them shorter and thicker too.







 Also, I'm working on a horse, which is bigger than my others have been. I only have the hooves done. I hope to finish it by Friday, but we'll see. I may have it done sooner if I can get the house all clean today and not have to worry about it the rest of the week.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Is It Monday, Yet?

Next weekend is a four day weekend for Bastian's school. I am and yet, I am not, looking forward to it. I like the idea that I won't have to be up at 6:45... but I am not looking forward to dealing with his newest "stage." Wherein he fake cries every time he doesn't get the least little thing. Which leads to me yelling and him fake crying louder. I'm sure the neighbors think I beat him regularly.

I know that this is mostly his reaction to the divorce and all the changes. Scott (the soon to be ex) is moving to North Dakota and even though he's not gone yet is never home to give him any attention, so he feels he needs to act out to get mine. *sigh*

Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Almost Octopus...

Made this little guy two days ago. He was supposed to be an octopus, but I could only fit six legs around. If I do him again for any reason I would make all eight legs first, position them, then sew them. I think he would make a cute rattle if you put a ball rattle in it.

The Hexapus:


My stitching is getting tighter and neater I think. Considering this is only my fourth little crochet toy. I finished a dinosaur last night. Pics soon. I really like the way his eyes turned out. I was going to embroider over the little yellow spots, but I felt they came out looking like pupils, so I didn't. Eventually I will progress to using beads or sew on eyes, but for now embroidering works.

In other life news: my soon to be ex husband got a job at an oil company repairing satellite dishes. He will be moving to North Dakota soon. I have mixed feelings. I'm happy he got the job, it pays very well. However I'm not happy he won't be able to spend more time with Bastian. Part of the reason I chose to stay here and not move was so he could be close to Bastian. That and he threw such a fit when I mentioned moving, threatening to have me arrested for kidnapping if I took my son out of state. It's been a crazy few months. I just want this part to be past and be able to move on more freely. The good part in all this: the ex will be making more than enough money to pay child support. So no excuses there.

Finally: moving on to crochet my Christmas stuff. I figure it will take quite some time to get all the decorations I want to put on the tree. And have some to position around the house as well. (Christmas items done in between toy requests, of course. I believe the next he wants is a heart -no questioning the mind of a five year old- and then a bee and a bird.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Odds and Ends

I had some extra photos laying around of things and happenings here that I never got around to posting from last week and that week I was without internet. I want to get them off my memory card thing so I can fill it with new pictures to share!



 The finished evil blanket, finally resting in it's new place. Happy me. Now if I can just crank out a couple of matching throw pillows I'll be good to go.


Made this soap cozy the other day. Used a small moss stitch for texture. I use a glycerin based soap and it doesn't lather very well. This has really helped. I could also cut a floofy sponge and insert it instead of the soap for a loofah type thing.



Dinner last week. Something fairly tasty, but I used too many peas. I love peas, everyone else in the house... not as thrilled. I think there was rice on the bottom. Hard to see for all the green stuff. *laugh*


A bruise on my shin. I have no idea where I got it. Maybe kicking something. I had thought barking it against the coffee table, but it's awful round and very large for that. It's mostly faded now. This was almost two weeks back? I can't remember why I took this photo, but I must have had a reason!




There. That's all the baubles and leftovers on my camera. I pry could have stretched each one out into a single entry and had four days worth of posts, but it's all older news. I like to reserve my daily posts for current goings on.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Little Early

I made these cookies the other day. They are very Christmas-y. Nothing too fancy. It was a box mix I had gotten on impulse at the store. It just looked so tasty on the box. Which lied to me, by the way. Not about the tasty... they are very yummy... about the amount. Clearly reads on the box "Makes 3 Dozen." However if you make the size of cookie pictured on the box you can really only make half that. I had to make tiny quater sized cookies to get anywhere close to 3 dozen. Needless to dsay I remembered right quick why I prefer making my own cookies from scratch!

Chocolate Fudge with Peppermint Crushed Candy. I think I may try to work out a recipe from scratch and maybe post it in December. There has to be a better way than the box gives you. They are good, but not great.

Also... here's the ghost I made Bastian yesterday. I dislike it. The proportions are funky. It's just a toy for him though and he loves it, so I guess I did an ok job. Will be trying to find a different pattern for any future ghosties though. His eyes are pink because that's what the five year old wanted. I don't question anymore!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Worm!

Another commission for my five year old. It's kind of cute. An inch worm.

 His smile is a little crooked, but that's just something that I have to practice. I've never embroidered on crochet work before. The hardest part of this guy were the three bends to shape his body. The most frustrating part was having to stuff him with cotton balls because I didn't have any polyfil! Just means he can never get dirty and never get wet....

I love how I can start out with string and end up with something like this. While it is forming it never looks like much, but then -tadaaa- it shapes up into something horribly cute. Now if only I could afford more yarn... Ah, well. I'll settle for using the last of what I have here for now. I may have some in the storage closet too, from last year.

I think this year, since we have no Christmas items.. we lost them two years ago... I will crochet ornaments and decorations. That is, if Bastian will quit asking for witches, ghosts and worms!