Demented Ramblings life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar


“free” time

Last week, for the release of the MAC Venomous Villains collection, Mimi and I took the afternoon off work to go play in makeup. Then, we did a bit of halloween shopping. This is the time of year when I find most of the decor for my house.

While we were at Michael's, I saw some cute clip on bats and ravens. I thought about how awesome it would be when I'm an old lady to clip bats onto my old lady hat. Then I saw this silly vulture. I squeed at how it made me think of Neville's grandmama and how I so needed a hat with a vulture sitting on top of my head looming at everyone.

Thus, an obsession was born. I spent friday and saturday thinking and replaying all of the various stores we'd been in and products I've seen. The teeny bat dingleballs at JoAnn Fabric, all the hats at Halloween Express. On saturday, I made a few quick stops and picked up supplies. Sparks helped me pick out the hat.

Later that afternoon, Blizzard seemed to know that I had a very important project to work on. It flat refused to let me into World of Warcraft. That's my latest time suck. So, while I was denied entrance, I worked on my hat. Once it was complete and resting on my head, I logged in with no problem at all.

I started with the hat, added purple sparkly marabou around the crown. Then I attached one bat dingleball to the tip. Next I attached the vulture to the hat and secured him to it.

I wore that hat all evening saturday and most of sunday. This made this boyfriend laugh every time he looked my way.

I posted this picture on the facespace and someone said "I wish I had that kind of free time." I really like another friend's response to that - "Time spent in creative pursuit is not 'Free time.' It is just as constructive as time spent on technology, non-creative production and analysis." Wow, yes, exactly! Thanks for the beautiful words, Mark!

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another post already? are you ok?

We went to a bbq this weekend with lots of Sparks' old (and my not so old) friends. We took a bean salad as a side dish – it got rave reviews from the darling Robin. This is just something I made up once upon a time and it's always a work in progress or as Sparks calls it “a moving target” but I've got the basics down.

It all started because I needed a side dish for a Cinco de Mayo bbq. Plus I was looking for something with no mayo so it would be safe to sit outdoors all day if need be. I like pasta salads, but the pasta seems to get too mushy after sitting in the dressing for a while. I was all - “hey, I have these canned beans, wonder what I can do with them....”

I'm throwing this recipe together off the top of my head and all amounts are of course to be changed for number of people and your personal taste. This recipe makes a good sized bowl, enough for a group. Or change up the kinds of beans to fit your tastes. Someone said that garbonzo beans have a weird texture – leave them out if you don't like them, or add more if you love them. I like the contrast of texture

3 cans of black beans, rinsed
1 can garbonzo beans, rinsed
2 large jalapenos, minced
1 small red onion, minced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped

That's it for the salad. Then you dress it. Sometimes I just throw on some lime juice and salt. This last time I made a honey lime vinagrette to try to counter some of the heat since the jalapenos were setting my lips on fire.

2 tbls honey
juice of 2 limes
olive oil (I dunno, enough. I put enough in to just about double the volume in the jar I was using to mix in)
salt, a couple of healthy pinches – you rinsed all the salt off the beans

shake to combine and pour some over the salad. Stir and taste, keep adding the dressing until it's enough. I used almost all of it.

A big plus to this – other than the olive oil you really don't have any fat. Or not much, there's not much in canned beans. And olive oil is supposed to be a healthy fat. So yay! It's got to be a healthy alternative to the sugar/bacon laden baked beans of my youth. (I'm not knocking those, I like those too, I just like these better.)


A completed project, complete with pictures!

I'd been meaning to post pictures of this project for quite some time - it is finally finished. Me being me, I jumped right in and didn't take a before photo. Luckily, the lamp I "upgraded" was one of a pair - Dad has the other. So I was able to pop by his place last night and get a photo of the mate for a pseudo before and after.

I needed one more lamp for my living room. I had a pair of these at dad's house.

They were inherited from my nana, some sort of milkglass lamps with brass trimmings. I decided that it needed a bit more pizazz to punch it up. I started out fiddling around gallery glass. I filled in the dots with red and played around with the idea of putting some black swirlies on it. However, I just couldn't get those to turn out as I wanted. Luckily, gallery glass is very forgiving - a couple of seconds with a fingernail or razorblade and PRESTO back to start. I added a line or two of instant leading (peel and stick). Then I took the whole thing apart and hit the brass parts with a hammered black spray paint. The brass was rather beat up anyway.

The crowning glory, I think, was the black and white stitched lampshade I found via Black & White Delight. I was a little unsure when I put it on there, that it might be too small. But I love it when the light is on.

It's been completely finished for a few weeks, I just finally got the pictures last night. Yeah, I'm a slackass.

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introducing… the scrap scarf!

Looky, looky! A finished project! There haven't been many of those around here for a while. Moving really threw my crafting into a standstill, then working too many hours made getting the house together take even longer. But now the house is together enough to live with and I can get back to making things. I missed it something fierce.

The first thing on my list was to finish the neverending scrap scarf. More than a year ago, I got the idea to knit a scarf from leftover bits of yarn. I had a few small balls, but no major amounts. My auntie though, she had tons of leftover yarn. She and my nana had saved every scrap of yarn down to pieces that were only 6 inches long. I decided to knit this longways on circular needles. I cast on (by my mom's old, tail free, cast on method) until I couldn't cram any more stitches on the needles. It would take an hour or two to do a single row. On each end I did a full row of black, but otherwise I just randomly grabbed a color from the bag. If they were short, I used them until they ran out. If they were long, I used them until I got bored of the color.

I don't knit fast, I don't knit daily. But I did knit enough to be sick of this project. I was bored to death with it. So, once it got to be about 5 inches wide long, I finished it. I expected it to be maybe 8 feet long, it's well over 16. It is triple my height, which is 5'6". I decided to mostly leave the ends poking out, just because, though I'd sometimes wrap them up in the next row once I got there.

And here we have it - the scrap scarf!

I don't know if I'll keep it or not. Most likely it'll go in the giveaway bag. Crazily enough, I have enough yarn bits leftover to do a couple more.

As I was finishing this one up, I was already plotting out the next scarf. I started it last night too. I like to knit while watching tv, it keeps my hands busy.

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you put WHAT in the soup?

I am probably the only person I know who will make soup with filet mignon.

Several months ago, I bought a whole beef tenderloin. I trimmed the chain off and cut it into small bits and put it into a baggie in the freezer. I also cut several small steaks and put them in the freezer.

Flash forward to last week. Mum and I went to Malone's for lunch and I had their steak and potato soup. I feared that it might be a cream of potato soup with steak bits in it. Nope, it was just what I was hoping for - a beef base with steak pieces and cubes of potato. Yummy, but I can do better.

Today, I called and asked the boyfriend to dig out that baggie of steak bits for me - not thinking that when frozen, gobs of meat all look rather similar. He put down the bits and a couple of small steaks too. That's ok, it'll all go in the pot!

I called pop and asked him if he'd come over and help me install a peephole in my front door, I bribed him with promises of dinner. Luckily, it turned out well. As usual, my cooking is all method and no recipe. I'll make a great grandma someday. ("I dunno, honey, a little of this and a little of that.")

I cut the meat into bite sized pieces and dropped it into a hot soup pot with a little olive oil. While it was browning a bit I chopped 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic and added them. Then I cubed 2 baking potatoes into small pieces and added that. Dumped in a 32 oz carton of beef broth and then decided that wasn't enough liquid. I dropped in two beef bouillion cubes and two cups of water, whatever worchestershire was left in the fridge (maybe a tablespoon) a little merlot steak sauce (maybe another tablespoon), a couple healthy pinches of salt and a palmful of montreal steak seasoning. Then I cranked the heat and put a lid on it, letting it boil happily while dad and I worked on the door. A half hour or so later it was done - the steak was tender and so were the potatoes. We dished it up and had a little toast with garlic butter on the side.


And plenty left for lunch tomorrow! Super yay!


If I’d known you were coming…

For the last few weeks, Tastespotting has been filled with Rainbow Cakes (google them, you'll find a lot of images with great explanations). The colors call to me. I wanted to make my own, especially when I saw someone else make them into cupcakes. Besides, I needed to test out my oven, y'know.

I mixed up an ordinary cake mix. As someone else said, Betty Crocker's been doing it for many more years than me, she knows what she's doing. In this case it was Pillsbury, because they were cheapest. Just a plain white cake mix, done up per package directions.

I split the batter into six ramekins and played around with the food coloring a bit. I went too dark with my purple, it wound up more brown, but it was rather grey and adding more red just made it more brown. I gave up.

You can see there that I haven't even finished taking all the tools out of the kitchen, there's a level on the counter still!

I spooned a little of each batter into paper lined muffin cups, only making 12. I know, this mix should make 24, but I wanted big cupcakes and I only have one muffin pan. If you have more patience than me, you would carefully add the batter to the center and let it spread outward or whatever. I am more slapdash than that. I just randomly blooped it in.

Baked them (at the top end of the baking time since they're super sized) and they came out like this:

You know I couldn't wait for them to cool off before slicing into one.

*squeee* I'll top them with just some cool whip later, because that's what I wanted on them.

It's a plain white cake, it tastes like a plain white cake. It's just more fun.


Chicken a la boom

They say you should learn something every single day. For the most part I do. Today's lesson was, just because it looks like Pyrex, does not mean that it necessarily IS Pyrex.

Earlier today, I had a few minutes to kill and cruised Tastespotting looking for a little inspiration. I haven't cooked anything beyond a fried egg since I moved and I am sick of fast food. I was craving something home cooked and yummy. I saw this recipe and could not stop staring at those beautiful chicken drummies. Plus, it sounded super easy, that's definitely what I'm after on a work night.

I work until 8 pm, so if I want to get home, cook AND eat before 10, it has to be pretty simple.

I prefer white meat over drumsticks, so I picked up a package of breast strips and the makings of a salad. While the chicken was in the oven, I sliced some strawberries for my salad and made a quick strawberry balsamic dressing. When the chicken came out of the oven, I removed them from the baking dish and put it on a burner for the sauce to thicken. The sauce thickened and I poured it over the strips, no problem.

I sat the now empty vessel to the side to cool and turned around to fluff my couscous. And...

BOOM! Glass everywhere!

All of the glass seemed to stay in the area of the stove/floor, so we swept it up and went ahead with dinner. Fairly tasty, but I think next time I should let the chicken marinate in the sauce for a while so it'll soak up some of the flavors.

On a positive note, at least I didn't have to wash that pan.

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When I purchased The Asylum, I declared that it was absolutely perfect as it was, there was no need to change a thing. Um, except this one little thing and that one little thing.

Do you know what happens when you casually mention to my father that you (ok, only if YOU are me, his most precious favorite and only child) would like to have undercabinet lighting "someday"?


Tour d’Asylum

I'd forgotten that the day I came over to take pictures, I got so wound up with talking projects with Dad and giving tours to my friends that I completely forgot to take pictures of the OUTSIDE. Dur! I'll admit to not being super pleased with these pictures, but pictures of empty houses aren't terribly exciting.


Bread pudding for Daddy

My poppakins, he lurves the bread pudding. I lurves to experiment in the kitchen. I had a half loaf of challah and a desire to be nice to the daddoo, so it was time to embark upon an adventure. Paula Dean would have spit it out with a patoo, not enough butter or sugar. I thought it was PERFECT. Both the pudding and the sauce were combinations of various recipes I found online.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Rip leftover bread into small pieces, it should be enough bread to fill an 8x8 dish.

In a saucepan over medium low heat, warm 2 cups of whole milk (with a little cream mixed in, I ran out of milk) with a half stick of salted butter. Just warm it until the butter melts.

In a bowl, whisk 3 eggs with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Slowly temper in the milk/butter mixture. Then stir in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon. Pour the mixture over the bread and mix it together. Then let it sit for 5 minutes to soak in. Stir it again and smooth it off. Place this pan into a larger one and fill halfway with hotwater. Bake for 45-50 minutes. It shouldn't be too dry, but shouldn't be jiggly either. My oven runs a bit slow, you might want to cut the time a bit.

When the pudding comes out of the oven, start the sauce. Over medium heat, melt 2 T butter and stir in 1/4 cup dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup light corn syrup. Let it boil for 1 minute then stir in 1/4 cup bourbon. Most folks will tell you to remove it from the heat before putting in the bourbon, but I never do and thusfar have not set myself on fire. Let's just say "do as I say, not as I do" like my mama would. Let it bubble for a minute or so, and remove from heat. Dish up the pudding and drizzle the sauce over the top. How much is up to you.

Way tasty - and this probably made 8 big servings. Or 4 for Dad.