Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Bash

Well, maybe if I have enough time I'll be able to keep up with this thing more than I have. I know, I know-we're looking at almost a year's hiatus here. Sad. just sad.

I need to preface this post by filling you in a little on my past. When I was a little girl, the absolute BEST birthday party I ever attended was also the ONLY themed party I ever saw. Ironically, it was thrown by my poorest friend. I have no idea how her mom scraped together the money for it, but while we were all having parties at waterparks or pools with lots of grocery store made cakes and loads of presents, she sat down and thought out a way to have an amazing party at home. Everything was homemade. There were halloween themed treats, licorice for straws, and a halloween punch in a cauldron that made its own fog. That party has always stuck with me and it's always been a feeling I've wanted to recreate for my girls.

This was also the friend who came to school with the coolest homemade costumes, while the rest of us had those amazingly crappy storebought ones. Surely you remember those? The plastic pants and shirts that split at the seam with the first step, or shredded in the cold of the typical SD Halloween? The stupid mask with eye holes in the wrong spot and an elastic band to stapled to it to hold in on your head that was broken before your first march around the resource room in the school Halloween parade?

Now I know I sound like a total brat. I should be more grateful for the fact my parents were finacially comfortable enough to be able to shower us with so many expensive things. But I always remember being jealous of my friend and the clever and creative things her mother came up with to make her childhood so fun.

Lizzie's birthday is November 3. Its amazing how difficult a time I have remembering WHEN her birthday is. Disgraceful-I know. But see, the problem lies in the day and the year... I can never seem to remember... was it Nov. 3, 2002 or was it Nov. 2, 2003?!? In any case, this year the closest Saturday is on Halloween. Why pass up the chance for a really fun birthday party?!?

The plan is to have some girls over in the afternoon for crafts, grab some pumpkin shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's and then run out and trick or treat in one big mob. I hope it works out!

It's not always easy to find cool crafts for this season. Sure, there's plenty of artfoam pumpkins you can decorate-but how boring is THAT? We could carve pumpkins-but it seems to me that you need an adult for each little carver at the age of 6 or 7 and we'd be spread too thin. Decorating them with paints would require them to be dry by the time they left, and I don't know too many 7 year olds that are sparing enough with paint to actually have it dry in less than 24 hrs. But I really like this luminaria idea! The jar is substantial enough to mean there's no tipped over bags and it seems like a bit less of a fire hazard. We did a test one tonight and I think the main hurdle will be getting each girl to learn to tear off their strips of tape from the roll.

You can't beat good old Oriental Trading Post for fun and cheap ideas for crafts for any holiday. I hadn't realized initially that they carried so many crafty kits. I always thought they were all about decorations for parties-but nay nay! They are really a one stop shop for loot, crafts, and decor. We're going simple this year. I figure the girls really don't need any loot, considering they'll have the chance to get plenty of candy. Instead, we're going to string a fimo clay bracelet. We picked something with an autumn theme, so they have a longer chance to wear it.

The Cake:
I have been holding on to this idea for at least a year after a friend showed it to my husband just to squick him out-he has spider issues. This has got to be the coolest cupcake idea I've ever seen! I ran a test run of these but alas, ran into trouble. I have this awesome chocolate ganache recipe I love, and topped some chocolate cupcakes with it. I thought we'd go the humble route and just draw our legs on in frosting, but my pathetic test looked quite similar to a pile of crap on a plate that a four year old had then finger painted in. My Pocky legs were a fail too. The package had all the chocolate sticks glued together in a large mass. Breaking one off meant breaking the stick itself-they're surprisingly thin and delicate. Perhaps its easier if you don't live in a cultural backwater where the Pocky has probably sat on the shelf languishing for the last 12 months because no one actually eats anything that hip around here. So, we're resorting to black licorice legs and hoping it works. I don't have any more cupcakes to test it with! I figure I'll quarter the licorice and stick it in the cake for legs and then half a bite size snickers for the head. If the head and body are covered in ganache, it should look uniform enough. (right?!?)

Lizzie is going as a ghostly bride-sort of a non-scary version of Burton's Corpse Bride. It was a compromise. She wanted to a be a bride. I thought a ghost sounded easy. I can't sew and see no reason to buy a big box store costumethat you can't see under your winter coat when you're out trick or treating anyway. So we'll use Marth Stewart's ghost costume sans hood, and add a veil, big ol' ring and some white face paint.

I'm planning on going as a raven-again thanks to inspiration from Martha. Black clothes, and a neat feathered mask should be easy to pull together. Katie has a cute flowered snowsuit, and I think we'll make her a poncho out of fleece in the shape of flower petals and call it good. Josh was initally going to go as a blue jay (feathered masks are easy and his winter coat is blue) but I sense a lack of enthusiasam there.

We'll see how much of a fail all of this is. Sadly, I lack the talent of my friend's crafty mother-just look at past attempts at costumes and cakes!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

EEEWWWW! Great present!

Look what I got!


Guess what it is yet? Its a Shiitake Mushroom growing kit. You're looking at the product of 6-18 months worth of spore incubation all waiting to burst forth in mushroomy goodness. Its currently resting in my fridge, going through a "cold shock" to make it ready for production. I should have at least a pound of fresh shiitakes two weeks from Friday. Are ya a little squicked out?

Paul and Dusty's Ultimate Shiitake Recipe (courtesy of
1/8 cup Olive oil
1/8 cup sesame oil
4-5 tablespoons tamari
2 glugs and 1 splash of white wine

Stir vigorously. place 1 lb of whole fresh shrooms gills up. Pour sauce on shrooms and stir. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or barbecue on an open grill for a smoky flavor. Serve hot with seafood, rice, past or whatever.

Jealous yet? I'm so freaking excited I could pee my pants! Josh -the fungus hater... is totally revolted! He's probably not impressed with it currently residing next to his Pepsi either. I'm having visions of grabbing a couple more kits, miraculously manifesting a garage, and selling them to the local health food store and some of the more upscale resturants in town and I haven't even grown my first mushroom yet. Shrooms! Wonderful shrooms- every two weeks for the next six months. WOOT!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Recently, Lizzie brought a piece of artwork home from school. Josh gasped at the sight of this:
He wanted to know What the Hell they were teaching those little kids at school?!? I patiently explained that the head of the paper bag puppet she had made had fallen off. After it was replaced, it looked like this:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Winter's Ghost Story

I got inspired by the weather out there today, and told this story to Lizzie. This story has a disclaimer-its written for a six year old, so how scary can it be? I'm no writer..... Usually my stories are horrible tripe, involving rainbow farting unicorns who befriend little girls and live in flower strewn meadows. They are reserved for long car rides and never written down. But last night a blizzard blew in, my friend spent the night without power.. and what can I say?


Once upon a time on in a land far away, a little family slept on a cold winter's eve. And, as they slept, The Spirit of Winter's Past looked down upon them. He hated the cozy warmth of their fires and the glow from their windows. And so, as the little family slept snug in their beds, the Spirit of Winter's Past stole down upon them.

He stretched out his hand and wrapped them in the depths of winter's cold. He flexed his fingers and made frost rime the window frames and steal across the glass. He laughed, and a nasty sound like the cracking of ice could have been heard. But the little family was not listening, and they slept on, oblivious, their breath now making white plumes in the air.

Finally the little girl woke, shivering... the tip of her nose red. Why was it so cold? In her warm flannel nightgown she tiptoed to her parents' room and tugged at the bedclothes. Her mother's sleepy voice greeted her, and she climbed into a warm toasty bed beside her little baby brother. But soon she was cold again, and her shivering woke her father. He blinked the sleep from his eyes, to find the power out, the house cold, and the kitties curled in little balls upon the bed.

Outside the wind howled and the cold beat down upon the little house. The Spirit of Winter's Past had blanketed the house in a terrible cold. There was no sound save that of the wind in the trees, and the snow skittering across the drifts. The light was gray, the sun seemed very far away. But Mother knew what to do, and she laughed as she dressed the children in their warmest woolens, speaking of days of old. For awhile, the blizzard seemed an adventure and they lit candles to play by.

The Spirit of Winter's Past sneered to himself, and tightened his grip on the little house. Time wore on and the cold increased. The light never grew, but stayed a forbidding gray. Outside, the trees popped and cracked, as ice crept into the wood. The little house seemed all alone, on a plain of snow and ice. The family felt very small. Doubt crept into the mother's voice and the children whimpered and huddled against her, shivering. Father glanced out the windows uneasily, wishing for the chance to glimpse something, even the mailbox at the end of the drive. But there was nothing, nothing but the unceasing white of the driven snow. It seemed to move out there, whirling like packs of hungry wolves, snapping at the little beam of light his candle flame cast and the snow drifted higher 'round the door.

Mother stamped her feet, and tried to encourage the children to sing a song with her. Their voices died away miserably amid the verses. The little girl had long since stopped feeling her fingers and toes and now she could hardly feel her face. Through the gloom beside her she could see her little brother was almost asleep. Darkness was falling. Soon The Spirit of Winter's Past would have his way, and they would all fall asleep... never to wake again. They were terribly and desperately alone in a sea of snow and cold. Soon, they knew, the whole world would grow still and silent, and they would be gray statues, their tears frozen on their cheeks.

Father could see the terrible cold creeping into their bones, and a desperate panic overtook him. He shook them each in turn and pulled his family out the door, into the teeth of the storm. He bid them pile wood into a mighty pile and began to throw anything that might burn into it. Soon it stood taller than any of them. Then he fell to his knees in the snow to light it. But The Spirit of Winter's Past shrieked with laughter, and breathed an icy breath, snuffing his match out. Mother stared at Father in horror and in that silent terrible moment they shared something extraordinary happened.

The little boy looked up into the sky and then seemed to notice the white snowflakes collecting in his sister's eyelashes. He gave a gay little laugh and warmth bloomed in Mother's heart. She grabbed the hand of her daughter and gave a gentle squeeze. The little family locked hands around Father, and sheilded him with their bodies from the worst of the wind, and in doing so, from the wrath of The Spirit of Winter's Past.

A light bloomed in the darkness and the fire caught. Light and warmth blazed up, beating back the gloom. They stood, bathed in the light of the fire, drinking in it's warmth. Mother buried chestnuts in the embers, and as they ate them, it seemed as if their bodies were awakening from a long slumber. They danced and sang songs in the darkness, and gradually the wind died. The cold abated to that of a natural winter's night and gradually the skies cleared until the stars twinkled down on them from a winter's sky.

The End

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is why I never post

With one notable exception, I have spent the last couple of weeks waking with a baby at least every two hours each night. Once particularly horrific night it was eight times between midnight and 4 am. Each time she wakes, she must be rocked back to sleep. By four am each night, I exhibit the tantrums of a petulant 5 year old and the mental capacity of my dog. Babies have much shorter and faster sleep cycles than adults. Whereas an adult takes approximately 4 hours to cycle thru light and deep sleep, an infant only takes 30 minutes. I suspect that what happens is that for some reason, she is unable to stay in that light sleep as she cycles in and out. So there's not much sleep going on around here for the adults in the family. Each morning I wake absolutely PISSED off at the world and cruise at that emotional level all day long. Oddly, I notice that it really makes me depressed. The one night she only woke twice, I woke to what seemed like an incredibly beautiful day, full of promise and hope and happiness. LOL!

Last night I put a very tired little girl to bed just after we tucked her sister in at 9pm. We put in a movie, and she slept for half an hour and woke. I picked her up and rocked her back to sleep. We repeated this process two more times about 15 minutes apart each time. The final time I realized


I am not physically capable. My mind is hanging on by a thread.

All the books in the world today say that letting a baby Cry It Out before 6 months is cruel. They simply don't have the reasoning capacity to understand what is going on. Most agree that only very limited crying it out should be allowed once the baby reaches 6 months-such as for five minutes at a time. So we are at an impasse. Katie is 6.5 months old. Letting her cry for five minutes in hopes she'll just give up and go to sleep is ludicrous. I've seen this kid cry for 3 hours solid at a time.

I've resisted just putting her down and letting her figure things out herself this long because I've felt like I'd be a horrible mother. It seems cruel to just dump a kid in her crib and walk away when she's never had to put hserself to sleep before in her life. She's really never developed much in the way of self soothing skills.

Last night I really didn't see how I had a choice. We rocked her to sleep again around 10:45 and then settled ourselves to wait for her next crying session. She woke 15 minutes later and the screaming began. She held out for an hour of crying. It wasn't quite as awful as I'd imagined. It was more of an on and off thing, punctuated by periods of extreme frustration. We sat with her the whole time. After another 15 minutes of sobbing and sniffling as she calmed down and she was finally asleep. For another two hours. By then it was 2 am, and it was time for her usual nursing session. At four, I just didn't have another hours worth of screaming tolerance in me, so I picked her up again. But I think we're getting somewhere. It's progress.

Anyway, all of this is written as an explanation of sorts. If you find me trying to insert a carrot into the steering column to start my van, or if asking a simple question elicits a tirade in which half my face falls off and flames shoot from my eyes-I'm sure you'll understand why.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

indigenous yums!

I had once heard that yucca blossoms were edible, and that in fancy schmancy resturants out in California, you paid good money to eat them in salads. I even Googled them, but didn't really find much information to satisfy my curiosity-some long gone trendy diner menus, and some Indian dude touting the cool factor of the Plains Indian diet. That was about it. What I did find told me to be sure not to eat anything but the blossom itself, as yucca contains saponins (which I understand to be a form of soap, and as such, quite bitter and narsty.) Indeed, an Indian acquaintence of mine once swore up and down the very best shampoo in the whole world came from washing with the root of yucca. But I digress.

In June, the whole area around Spearfish burst into blossom and the yucca was everywhere. So I stopped and picked a spike. If you decide to try this next year, please don't be the ass I was, bring yourself some gardening shears to sever the spike from the plant. It's very very tough when using your car keys to cut it.

One spike will provide an ample amount of blossoms for about 6 people. I found that my favorite part was the bud, or the pistil and area fo the flower where the little embryonic seeds rest -it's quite sweet. I would liken the taste to that of a snow pea. We ate our salad with a lemon, basil and garlic dressing that was really outstanding.

Isn't it purty?