Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
And check out his two friends, the blue jays, sitting on some garden stuff that never quite got dismantled at the end of fall...
The cardinals in this picture turned out really dark, but I like how I caught the junco (?) in flight!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Looks like they need to get a room!
And this went on for quite awhile....
Awwww - how cute!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Kent State Advisories - Wednesday, Jan. 28:
Due to inclement weather:
- Ashtabula Campus has canceled morning classes (through noon). Staff report.
- East Liverpool has canceled classes all day. Staff report.
- Geauga Campus and Twinsburg Center have canceled classes all day. Staff report.
- Kent Campus has canceled classes beginning at 11 a.m. and the Kent Campus will be closed at noon today. All non-essential employees may depart campus at that time.
- Salem Campus has canceled classes all day. Staff report.
- Stark Campus has canceled afternoon and evening classes. Staff report.
- Trumbull Campus has canceled classes all day. Staff report.
- Tuscarawas Campus has canceled classes all day. Staff report.
A WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON.
SNOW WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THE DAY. THERE ARE INDICATIONS THAT A BAND OF HEAVY SNOW WILL DEVELOP FOR SEVERAL HOURS AND MAY BEGIN AS EARLY AS THE MORNING COMMUTE. THIS BAND OF SNOW LOOKS TO SET UP NEAR OR NORTH OF A MARION TO MEDINA LINE. SNOWFALL RATES OF UP TO 2 INCHES PER HOUR WILL BE POSSIBLE IN THIS BAND.
SOUTH OF THE HEAVIER BAND OF SNOW THERE WILL BE A CHANCE OF A WINTRY MIX OF PRECIPITATION. FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET ARE EXPECTED AT TIMES THROUGH THE MORNING BEFORE CHANGING BACK TO ALL SNOW FOR THE AFTERNOON. SOME LIGHT ICING WILL BE POSSIBLE.
MOST LOCATIONS SHOULD SEE ADDITIONAL SNOW AMOUNTS OF AT LEAST 2 TO 4 INCHES THROUGH THE DAY WITH UP TO 8 INCHES POSSIBLE WHERE THE HEAVY BAND DEVELOPS. THIS WOULD LEAD TO A STORM TOTAL ACCUMULATION OF 6 TO 10 INCHES. HOWEVER AMOUNTS SHOULD BE A BIT LOWER WHERE THE MIXED PRECIPITATION OCCURS.
SOME BLOWING AND DRIFTING OF SNOW WILL BE POSSIBLE WEDNESDAY EVENING AS WINDS INCREASE OUT OF THE NORTHWEST.
A WINTER STORM WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SEVERE WINTER WEATHER IS EXPECTED. HEAVY SNOW AND/OR ICE WILL CAUSE HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS. IF POSSIBLE AVOID TRAVELING IN THE WARNING AREA... OR USE EXTREME CAUTION IF TRAVEL IS UNAVOIDABLE.
So it was time to fix that...
Turns out dog's aren't real fond of baths! Luckily Brett gave him his last two baths, and he's gotten better about it!
See, he's almost smiling!
Brett kept reminding me - DON'T get water in the ears!!
Tucker got a real kick out of this. You know he was thinking "heh heh - screw you dog!!! This is what you get for always chasing me around!"
And now we have a much nicer smelling dog, with nice, clean fur!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CLEVELAND HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 5 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 4 PM EST WEDNESDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.
LOW PRESSURE MOVING NORTHEAST UP THE UPPER OHIO VALLEY WILL SPREAD WIDESPREAD HEAVY SNOW OVER THE AREA THIS EVENING THROUGH MIDDAY WEDNESDAY. BY THE TIME THE SNOW TAPERS OFF WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON MOST OF THE REGION SHOULD SEE 5 TO 8 INCHES OF NEW ACCUMULATION.
SOME UNCERTAINTY STILL REMAINS IN THE EXACT TRACK OF THE LOW. IF THE LOW COMES FURTHER NORTH TEMPERATURES MAY WARM ENOUGH TO ALLOW SOME MIXED PRECIPITATION TO MIX WITH THE SNOW SOUTH OF A LINE FROM MILLERSBURG TO CANTON TO YOUNGSTOWN.
And easy too - watch... Melt together some chocolate and butter.
Blend together some sugar and eggs.
And, poof! Instant cookies!!
Ok, it was a bit more involved that than - just go check out the recipe. What I WILL say, is these things KICK ASS! They're like eating a brownie in the form of a cookie!
Now I had to bake them a little longer than the recipe called for. It was very specific - you were to cook them 11-12 minutes, and you did NOT want to overcook them! Only by 12 minutes mine still hadn't had the tops crackle, which the recipe says they'll do when they're done. Now my first two pans I had big round blobs of dough flicked out of a mini ice cream scooper (the cookies on the right). So the second round I got a little more handsy with them...meaning I was covered in fudgy goodness as I flattened the blobs with the bottom of a glass (the less attractive cookies, actually, which are on the left), which needed to be dampened to stop the cookies from sticking to it, only it required a lot of re-wetting...and sometimes they still stuck, so I was a mess. But at least I tasted good!!! Like the cookies! Which you should definitely make!
Go on! Go make 'em!
Monday, January 26, 2009
See? That's not so bad.... Granted, Tucker didn't stay out more than a few minutes. Doogie decided it looked like too much fun, and charged back up onto the deck, plus Tucker wasn't really loving the snow all that much anyhow...
And later that same day, Brett had some fun out in the snow as well!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Potato soup - of course!
And what's even better than just potato soup?
Cheesy, bacony potato soup.
Ooooh yeah, that really hit the spot!! And the multigrain bread I pulled from the freezer and toasted up was so good torn up into pieces and added more like croutons!
I fried up some chopped up bacon in the pressure cooker, then removed the crumbly bits to some paper toweling to de-grease. Then I added chopped up onions, celery and carrots, let them saute a brief bit, and then deglazed the pan (remember, it had bacon frying too!) with just a tablespoon or so of white wine. Oh, and some butter! Butter seemed appropriate! Then I added some diced up ham I pulled from the freezer, and the peeled and cubed potatoes. Covered all that with water, tossed in a couple chicken boullion cubes (mom's secret potato soup ingredient!), sealed the pressure cooker, and let it go a short while.
Once the taters were just tender enough, I poured in some heavy cream that needed to be used up, and hit the whole thing briefly with the immersion blender. I didn't want to make it all one big creamy mess - so there were still chunks of potatoes, celery, carrots, ham etc floating around. Those carrots that did get hit by the immersion blender gave the soup a slight rosey color - pretty!
Then it was time to add the bacon, scoop it into bowls, and grate on some cheddar.
That really hit the spot!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
In addition to the vanilla, cinnamon and espresso powder, I also decided to try getting some fancier cocoa (will I notice a difference between this and Hershey's in baked goods!?), citrus oils (a set of lemon, lime and orange - and they smell gooood!), and something I may really regret - sourdough starter plus a crock to keep it in.
Now this sourdough starter says "Feed me please!" with explicit instruction on how to rejuvenate this little TINY sample of dough, and then how to build it up into something you'll be chained to for the rest of your life (or more like IT'S life - if you kill it, you're free!). Only one of the first steps takes 8-12 hours, and I'm sorry, but this stuff arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, and I'm not getting up in the middle of the night just to give it more flour and a stir! A quick call to King Arthur Flour and I was assured it could wait a few days in the fridge... Whew! So this stuff doesn't mind waiting for the weekend...and then I'll give it all the TLC it needs! Hopefully within the next week I'll be whipping up some kick-ass sourdough bread!! And espresso-scented baked goods, probably using some incredible cocoa and vanilla. And then I need to make something citrussy as well!
Ok, maybe I better pace myself! ;-)
Here's what things were looking like the second week of January. More snow falling...
...and it was really piling up everywhere.
And I mean REALLY piling up!!
But now it's the third week in January as I type this, and we haven't had any fresh snow fall in a few days, and the existing snow is starting to melt, or compress, or evaporate, or just overall deflate. It's not as pretty. It's a bit depressing looking.
I think we need more snow!!!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Well now the news is DC's favorite backwards-spellcaster, Zatanna, will be appearing on Smallville before too long. One thing the Superman from comic books is known for commenting on is how he hates magic. That's because, as tough as Supes is, he's vulnerable to magic. Magic-based villains have a much easier time of taking the man of steel down a peg...and those stories often involve the guest-appearance of some magic-based hero to help him out. I've a feeling that's what'll be happening here...
Here's the blurb:
Swan will appear in this season’s 17th episode, “Hex,” as Zatanna, a magician who grants birthday girl Chloe a wish. Having been through the wringer ever since Brainiac mind-boinked her and Doomsday crashed her wedding day, Chloe expresses a desire to lead the comparatively mild-mannered life of Lois Lane. Voilà! Chloe magically inhabits Lois’ (and thus Erica Durance’s) body for the bulk of the hour.
Clark is also granted a wish. But what could he possibly want for?
I'm including a picture of the actress who's supposed to play Zatanna in the Smallville episode, a comic illustration of her in her most common outfit, plus a picture of an action figure based on her more superhero-styled outfit, designed by super cool George Perez, which she wore for awhile in the 80s. Zee's been an on-and-off member of the Justice League of America over the years, and this was her most-superheroic period. Since then she's gone back to being more of a stage magician that helps out on occasion.
Fanboys will most likely want her in her traditional black tux-like outfit with the fishnets. She's GOTTA have the fishnets (right Peter!?). And, wow, this actress they've got playing Zatanna is STACKED! I'm just curious to see how good she'll be at casting the backwards spells... Oh yeah, I didn't mention that. All of Zatanna's magic is worked by casting her spells backwards. So like "rabbit appear from hat" would be said "tah morf raeppa tibbar". This should be fun! ;-)
Sure! I can do that! Bring it on!
And so begins the little "electrical bonus project" that resulted in what must've been four or five trips to Lowes - which shows you should really be better organized, it helps to make lists and draw diagrams, and you shouldn't get so cocky that you think you can just pick up whatever you need while at the store when you're really there with a list for a different project. 'Cause y'know what? You're gonna get the wrong stuff! Or not enough stuff. Or both!
One must remember that SOME switches are 3-ways (I never get that - there's TWO light switches for one light, so why are we calling it a 3-way?!). One must also remember what items are NOT 3-ways and just need a single-pole switch. And one shouldn't reverse those two while shopping.
Annnnyhow...once I finally had all my shit together, it was time to get started. I'd already removed the screws from the faceplate before deciding I should take pictures - maybe for the blog, and definitely in case I needed help remembering what went where!
You'll notice the pre-existing ceiling fan control, which was the only thing not being changed here, doesn't actually match the color of anything else involved. Alright, no big deal...it's never bothered us before.
And now that the face plates off...I'm thinking there's still time to turn back. I can stop this now and not start fiddling with all the wires I'm sure to find.
Once all the switches were removed I realized there was definitely no going back now. I paid very close attention to what went where. I also realized the builders/electricians were VERY frugal in the spare wire they left behind the switches, which I had to cut from the switches rather than just unscrew, so that shortened everything a bit. Oh well... No biggie, right?
Theeeeere we go - things are looking better. You'll notice I changed the type of the light switches. This was one of the "I'm gonna have to go back to the store" type things because there was no finding a face plate that matched what I was going to need otherwise, and we didn't want one of those piecemeal/Geranimal faceplates, where you stick together each component to meet your needs. I'm finding I actually like this flatter style of light switch!
And, voila! All done! I still need to master getting all my switches to line up perfectly with their slots in the faceplate the first time, rather than having to keep removing the faceplate to adjust, but that's not a major problem.
Now, you'll notice the ceiling fan switch looks out of place still. Different style - not a big deal. Different color (we're talking almond vs ivory) - and we've been fine with it all along. Then I looked over at a different light switch in the foyer - it matches this color. Then I looked down at the outlet beneath the light switch - and it's the same color as the ceiling fan switch here. As was another outlet around the corner. And another across the room. Waaaaitasec! It turns out this light switch panel, and the one in the foyer, are the ONLY "almond" ones!! Everything else is "ivory"! Aw crap!!
Well I'll be damned if I'm returning all this stuff and changing it now! Maybe later... Seriously - I don't think you'd notice it if you came over! (I hope!)
In addition to this bonus project, we came up with some other home improvement stuff. The recent low temps is helping us realize where our home could maybe have some improved seals - around windows, wall outlets, etc. Sure, it's a new house (built about 3 years ago), but it could still have some minor improvements. Some of our big windows do get a slight chilly breeze around them when it's super cold outside, so Brett's rocked out with his caulk out, and been sealing some of those minor seam gaps. Trust me - during nicer weather, you wouldn't even know! (And unfortunately, there was a ban placed on me taking pictures of him doing this project)
Meanwhile, I'd read an article about stopping any air leakage around exterior wall outlets, so for just $2 I picked up a six-pack of these little guys...
You just pop out the perforated parts, and put them behind the faceplates of outlets and light switches where you notice a breeze. It's not like we're feeling any breezes coming from our outlets, but for such an inexpensive investment, it certainly can't hurt to make this minor home improvement.
We've only done six outlets so far, and are going to see if we notice a difference. I think I couldn't sixteen total outlets and switches on exterior walls, so I'm sure we'll be completing the rest of them shortly...
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Ok, I can do that! At least after seeing the pictures of the final product - YUMMMMM!
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when the recipe started of with doing this:
That's one cup of prunes boiled for 8 minutes. But y'know what? I've had some REALLY good desserts with dates - they have a natural sweetness that is soooo good in this sort of thing, so I went with it!
Once boiled, the prunes get mashed. Here you also see the eggs, oil, sugar and buttermilk for the recipe.
All of the wet ingredients and then prunes get added to the dry ingredients (looks like oatmeal at this point).
Poor it into a fancy dish - something to distract people from asking something like "hey, what's the main ingredient in this cake?!"
And just as it's about done baking, cook up the icing/frosting/glaze, which also include some buttermilk. Oh, and here's a hint - make it in a bigger pot that you expect you'd need to make it in! Pioneer Woman says a "medium" pot - I'd say go a bit bigger! What you see here is the icing cooking up in the SECOND pot I poured it into, after it about overflowed the first, smaller pot. And it's about to reach the top of this one!
NOT the most flattering picture here - this is the prune cake (oops! I said it!) after the icing has been poured on. And, sorry, I don't have any pictures of it sliced, so you'll just have to go back to Ree's site for that...
What I have to say about this cake is....it tasted DAMN GOOOOOOD!!!! People LOVED it at work!! It might've helped that, at first, I was advertising it as "buttermilk plum" cake. Heh heh.... I got one or two "uh oh - what did I just eat?!" looks after I told people it was a prune cake, but everyone loved it. DEFINITELY a keeper recipe - and you should try it too!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I'm ordering from different companies this year. I decide to let The Garden Watchdog over at Dave's Garden, or rather the review of hundreds of other shoppers, influence my ordering this year. Sure, Territorial SEEMED like it might be a bit more expensive than some of the other companies I've ordered from before, but sometimes you just don't get as good a germination from cheaper seeds and less reliable companies...and Territorial got RAVE reviews. So here's what's coming from Territorial... The two garlics won't ship til fall.
Blushed Butter Cos Lettuce, Organic - 1/2 gram Organic
Cajun Delight Okra - 1 gram
California Wonder 300 Pepper - 1/4 gram
Chinese Pink Garlic - 8 oz
Dragon Tongue Bean - 2 oz
Flashy Butter Oak Lettuce, Organic - 1/2 gram Organic
Garden Combo Inoculant - treats 8 lbs
Giant Musselburgh Leek - 1/2 gram
Golden Star Pepper - 1/4 gram
Golden Sunshine Bean - 1 oz
Jade Bean - 1/2 lb
Japanese Trifele Black Tomato - 1/8 gram
Knuckle Head Pumpkin - 15 seeds
Maxibel Bean - 1/2 lb
Millionaire Eggplant - 1/8 gram
Nasturtium-Night And Day - 14 grams
Nasturtium-Tall Trailing Mix - 14 grams
Nero Di Toscana Kale - 1 gram
Northstar Pepper - 25 seeds
Painted Lady Bean - 1 oz
Poppy-Apricot Chiffon - 1/8 gram
Poppy-California Mission Bells - 1/2 gram
Red Burgundy Okra - 1 gram
Renegade Bean - 2 oz
Spanish Roja Garlic - 8 oz
Summertime Lettuce - 1/2 gram
Tenderheart Chinese Cabbage - 1/2 gram
(You'll notice I've provided links to some of the items, just to pique your curiousity...)
And then from Nourse Farms (which also got rave reviews), I've ordered:
Asparagus Jersey Knight - 25 plants
Raspberry Heritage (red everbearing) - 5 plants
Raspberry Anne (yellow everbearing) - 5 plants
I figure I'll still be putting in an order for some annual seeds with Thompson and Morgan. While they don't get the best reviews, I don't think I've ever had any problems, plus I love some of their variety, like the nemesia I loved last year...
I think it's about time to start planting some seeds! I should be able to get lettuce going in the basement anytime now...
This past summer Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond had a post where she and her friend cooked up a massive batch of cinnamon rolls. I have to admit, the frosting (more of a maple than cream cheese frosting) wasn't a real turn on for me, plus her batches all looked like little mini cinnamon rolls in those shallow disposable cake pans. Now I am NOT knocking Pioneer Woman - the girl knows her stuff! But there was just enough going on in this recipe that I guess I wasn't tempted to make it right away.
And then recently her buddy, the tattooed, pierced and hot Pastor Ryan, made up a batch with some of his church buddies... Ok, what's going on? I'm started to get tempted to make up a batch myself!
And less than a month later, Finny was posting about making the same stuff! And her's looked goooooood! Sure, still smaller than I like my cinnamon rolls, but she got all crazy and ditched the frosting part of the recipe, and used her ONLY secret topping - aka what I call "tub o' frosting"!!!
Ok, time for me to jump on board!!
I found this recipe to be very interesting for a yeast-risen dough. Like you start with yeast, but after a period of rising, you add MORE flour (not too crazy), PLUS baking soda AND baking powder (ok, now that's just nutso!). What's the purpose for this? I honestly have no idea, but I followed through...
What I'm ESPECIALLY grateful for is Finny's posting of a couple (ha!), um, "mishaps" (ha ha!) that she experienced when making the dough. Like it makes A LOT of dough... And that made me a bit paranoid! Luckily I've recently been using these massive tubs we bought awhile back for kitchen stuff... Even so, I was worried. Would this big tub be big enough for what could possibly turn into a yeast-monster!??! (Again, see what happened to Finny)
Ok, now I feel better.
Hm, after the initial rising time, I was almost disappointed!!! Not only did my dough not flow all over the place, it didn't even pop the top! Oh well - better safe than sorry! (And, man, check out them air bubbles!)
So it was finally time to pat out the dough...
...and then cover it in melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. And trust me, there was no measuring going on here!
What, you think I made up the entire batch of cinnamon rolls? Ha ha!!! Look what went into the freezer!
Yup, we've got more goodness in our future!
Anyhow, once the dough was slathered with goodness, it was rolled up, sliced about at about 1 inch intervals (nothing too small!!!), tucked into the pans, and allowed to rise...
Unfortunately there's no pictures of the completed product. I forgot. I was distracted. I was making myself sick on sticky sweet cinnamony goodness covered in...well, let's be honest, shall we? (Whatever you do, DON'T read the ingredients!)
I polished off one pan here over a week, and the other pan went into work and was gone by noon. All I know is Julie came into my office screaming "they're all gone and I didn't get any!" before slamming the empty pan on my desk! LOL Hey - she knew they were there! I took her one from the pan I had at home, but by then it was a few days old and didn't have that "just baked fresh" feeling to it. Better luck next time!