Sunday, November 30, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 30th

Warning:  This week's post is all about food.  If you don't want to read about food, then I suggest reading about how to make knots, or maybe just stare at pretty colors.



Edit: It snowed!  And now the snow has partially melted, and turned into ice!  Yay, ice skating!
(Yay, right?  ...Right?)



We survived Thanksgiving, yay!  The husband had a short week at work, which was absolutely marvelous.

The Dinner was pretty simple this year; turkey, cornbread stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and gravy (of course).  Dessert was Kentucky Pegasus pie and pumpkin pie.

We did some minor shopping on Black Friday, mostly online.  I grabbed Saffron an inexpensive winter coat from Goodwill -- it's bright, shiny purple and she loves it.  Also bought two more turkeys from Target, because the price per pound was unbeatable.  No more space in the freezer now, and we'll be eating turkey for a month... oops, I guess? :P

Kentucky Pegasus Pie via Food.com

I've made this pie before, but it's been quite a while.  It's akin to eating a cookie that is also a pie, and it is delicious.  Because it'd been about a year since I last baked it, I followed the recipe closely, only adding a bit of salt.  Next time, I think I'm going to use half brown sugar and half granulated sugar, and add more pecans... a lot more pecans.

(The history of the Pegasus pie is also pretty interesting, if you're into reading about food history).

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Usually, I follow The Pioneer Woman's cranberry sauce recipe, which is good, but a bit too fluid.  Wanting a thicker sauce, I used this recipe from the Food Network, and adjusted it so:

Ingredients:
  • 1 - 12oz package cranberries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Pinch of salt
Put all ingredients into a large pot (larger than you think you'll need --my cranberry sauce always splatters).  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and let cook for about 10 minutes.  Let cool, and enjoy.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Art Thursday -- November 27th

"Space"
This is one of Corwin's.  He actually asked me how to spell the names of the planets here, which is pretty unusual.  Normally he just does whatever he wants. :P
 
Happy Thanksgiving! <3

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 23rd

Let's do this newspaper style, shall we?

Cheers: It's been warm enough that we could take a layer of blankets off the bed.

Jeers: The baby has gotten used to getting up with me at 6am to work.  Sleeping in on the weekends is but a dream now.

Cheers:  The husband is getting a week and a half off work for the holidays.

Jeers:  Only three days of that time off are paid holidays.  The other 7 days are coming our of his paid time off, or are unpaid.

There you have it, folks.

Cooking:  Cranberry Upside-Down Cake via Martha Stewart

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
I actually cooked something new!  I haven't done a lot of interesting cooking lately because using my kitchen makes me angry.  It is so small, there's no where to put things.  I can't get out my stand mixer.  If I bake something, I have to put the pan on the stove while I mix the ingredients, and if there's something already cooking there, then I have to juggle.  The whole thing just makes me sad.

But I bought a two pound sack of cranberries from the store last week on an impulse.  Two pounds is a lot more than I need to make cranberry sauce, so I had to find other things to make.  I ran into this cake recipe, saw the brilliant red topping, and just had to make it.  I did substitute oil for the butter, because at the time, even room temperature butter was too cold to be beaten with sugar (yes, that's how cold it was in the house).

The cake turned out brilliant.  I didn't quite grease my pan well enough, so the topping was a bit messed up, but it still tasted great.  This was very good with vanilla ice cream next to it.  Some of the reviewers remarked that there wasn't enough batter to properly cover the cake, but I didn't have this problem.  I wouldn't recommend increasing the amount of batter much at all, because then I think it just wouldn't have a good cake to topping ratio.

I've also done a cranberry/pecan version of this dutch baby from Smitten Kitchen, which also turned out beautifully. :)

(img via marthastewart.com)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Art Thursday -- November 20th

I goofed.
All the photos I took of the kids' pictures are on the husband's phone... which is with him at work.  Instead, here is a pic of Ozzie reading a book. <3

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 16th

It's cold here.  Yesterday, there was a little stream of water in the parking lot that never thawed.  It was frozen the entire day.  What is this magic?!  It is terrible.  I found a pair of gloves the other day, and I'm probably going to start wearing them.

News:  Benefits of Redefining Full-time Enrollment to 15 Credits a Semester Examined via Diverse

This article examines the idea of increasing the definition of fulltime enrollment to 15 units a semester, and why this is possibly a good idea.  The main reason for doing so is that it is simply impossible to graduate with a bachelor's in four years if a student only completes 12 units a semester.  This reflects the issues that many states have with students starting on a degree, but never finishing it.

The other reason I take issue with; the fact that students who take 15 units a semester are more likely to complete their education, rather than drop out.  This is a chicken or the egg conundrum; are those students taking 15 units more likely to finish their degree because of the units they take, or because they  have other factors that make it easier to take so many units?  Do those students taking 15 units a semester have to work, or have family responsibilities?  Are they professionals working towards their degree in the evenings?  My experience with this is that it is the student, not their class schedule -- I purposefully took the minimum required to hit fulltime enrollment because, while I wanted to qualify for grants and scholarships, I had small children to care for.  Similarly, one fellow business major I knew quit his job so he could take more units in order to graduate on time... but only after he checked with his parents to make sure they could foot the bill.

Another thing to take into consideration is that a class unit is equal to 3 hours of time per week outside of class.  Twelve units equals 48 hours total -- 12 in the classroom, and another 36 doing homework, reports, readings, and so on.  At 15 units, this work load becomes a total of 60 hours per week.  For some majors, I'm sure this would be fine -- not all of them have heavy homework loads or complicated projects.  However, for STEM majors, who tend to have more concentration-intensive classes, spending 45 hours a week doing homework and readings would be overwhelming at best.  That many hours makes burnout a real risk.

In my opinion, enacting 15 units a semester as fulltime enrollment would have a lot of effect on those who are already at a disadvantage to complete a degree.  Though I realize that I was relatively advantaged, I still sometimes had trouble fitting just 12 units into my schedule -- I can't imagine doing so while also having to manage a changing job schedule (like those who work in retail), or without such a supportive family as I had.  Add another class to that mess, and I think people some people will simply drop out entirely.


Oh, yeah... and the husband reading to the kids:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Art Thursday -- November 13th

"Show Offs"
The top shows two kids singing and dancing, while the bottom shows a mom insisting that her daughter have a laptop ("Are you sure about this?" "Positive.  I bought you the laptop, Molly.").

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 9th

This week has been good and bad.  The husband got a raise, but I spent the middle of the week terribly sick.  It was only a cold, but what a cold it was. D:

My job is going well.  The cool thing about my job is getting to look at bits and pieces of other peoples' interests.  I have now seen a lot more boutique clothes, sports equipment, shoes (lots and lots of shoes!), and obscure parts, like turntable platter mats.

Music:  Chopsticks... on a Tuba?

I ran into this piece of music through work.  It is variations on Chopsticks (the classic piano piece) as done by a tuba quartet.  A tuba quartet!  How awesome is that?!  It sounds like it should be in a cartoon of some sort.  Something with Bugs Bunny.  The piece is only 3 and a half minutes long, so give it a listen. :)

Lowe's Build and Grow: November's Science Lab


This month's Lowe's project was a science set, complete with project ideas, a beaker, and a flask.  It was a bit of a disaster at the store, because I had all three children with me by myself.  Luckily, this project doesn't have a lot of pieces to manage, and the big kids got through it.

That afternoon, the husband and kids did one of the experiments -- make a volcano.  This is pretty classic stuff, with vinegar and baking soda.  The kids used strawberry Jell-O to make the foam red... smelled good, too (better than straight vinegar, anyway).  All three of the kids enjoyed watching the foam explode out the top of their flasks, and watching to see how long it would foam for.  Corwin's flask went on for quite a while -- ten minutes, at least.  Later today we'll do another experiment.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Art Thursday -- November 6th

"Girl in the Magic Garden"
I like the fairy sticking out of the tree.  I think she's holding a cloud?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 2nd

So, this week's post is just going to be pictures, pretty much.

Wednesday was Saffron's birthday, and was pretty good.  I made her a spice cake with cream cheese frosting, decorated with white chocolate snowflakes to stay in the Disney Frozen theme.  The frosting color matches the streamers I used to decorate almost exactly.
This is the only view where the cake looks misshapen... I swear. >.>
Candles!  Seven of 'em!
She got a pretty good assortment of toys, books, and art things.  The second picture here is a bit blurry, but that's because she was really happy about her The Last Unicorn movie.


Two days later, it was time for Halloween!  I was painting costumes up until the night before. D:  Ozzy's Buzz Lightyear costume is pretty simple, but he loved it anyway.

The kids really had a blast this Halloween -- especially Ozzy, who is now old enough to understand what's going on.  Last week, I explained to him what trick or treating involved, and when he came to understand that people were going to give him candy, his world opened up.  He asked about eating candy everyday.  He would bring it up a random times.  While we were out trick or treating, he was ready to run down the street and kick in doors.  There were vast amounts of toddler enthusiasm.
Halloween itself was rainy and quite cold.  I bundled the kids up in layers underneath their costumes to keep them warm, and we grabbed our umbrellas (umbrellas from when we lived in California... which we'd never used before.).  One of the husband's coworkers had suggested a particular neighborhood, so we headed up there.  It was a good call, because the kids got tons of really great candy, and we just did both side of one street (one block).  By the time we walked back around to the car, the kids' buckets were half-full, and we were all starting to feel a bit too cold, so we headed home.

...But they still got lots of candy.  The husband and I had to dry off their candies, because the buckets had been collecting water (!!!).



Lots of full size candy bars.  And lollipops in Ozzy's.  That kid is obsessed with "wallypops", and kept grabbing them any time there was an option.

Despite the rain and cold, this was probably one of the best Halloweens I've had with my kids.  I'm looking forward to next year, for sure. :)