Friday, January 31, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week

1. Organized the linen closet and pantry. There's something satisfying about seeing things neatly folded and items stacked in straight rows.

2. was chosen as an Art of Science Learning Innovation Fellow for the Worcester incubator project.

3. Himself found a furniture repair shop to fix the broken arm of one of the dining room chairs.

4. Had tea and a gab fest with my friend, Red.

5. The chair is fixed and ready to pick up.

How was your week?

Thursday, January 30, 2014


This is my new pet, Francisco. He's pretty low maintenance. Every day for the next few days, Francisco needs to be fed with flour and water and kept in warm place. He's busy growing and fermenting. In a few days, he will mature to become sourdough starter and can be used to make delicious sourdough bread.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Second Loaf

turned out well.  The recipe called for the bread to be removed from the loaf pan after 20 minutes of baking. I was worried that the loaf would fall apart at this step as it did the first time around. (My own fault since I left out a key ingredient) I don't own a silicone bread pan just lined a regular loaf pan with parchment paper, a suggestion in the some of the comments. I also completed the baking on a second sheet of parchment paper on top of the oven rack just to prevent anything falling through.

The bread is very dense like a banana bread. Since there is no leavening, the bread does not rise and crown. The texture is earthy and because of all the nuts and seeds very crunchy. The taste is not overly sweet though the bread needs some sort of topping (jam, Nutella, tomato, etc.) to give it zip. Is it as life changing as its title? I'll let you decide.

The bread is a nice change of pace. The recipe can be adapted using different nuts and seeds depending on taste and what you may have on hand. Personally, I think it could use some dried fruit. The one ingredient that can not be left out or substituted is the psyllium. This acts like gluten in wheat flours and holds everything together.

Himself and The Eldest said the bread tasted okay and have dubbed it Birdseed Bread.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Half A Cup

Himself had stopped at Whole Foods to pick up psyllium husk powder, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds so I could give The Life Changing Bread recipe a second attempt. He complained that he dropped 40 bucks on bird seed though I noticed on the receipt a charge for a chocolate fudge brownie and wintergreen mints which I never made it into the house.

I gathered all the ingredients and started mixing them up. I had done some reading on using flax feeds and found the seeds must be ground. The whole seeds will go through you like grease through a goose. The seeds are tiny. Teeny tiny. Readings suggested using a coffee grinder to grind the seeds. Good. I have a coffee grinder or rather, The Eldest has a coffee grinder. (She's the only one in the household that drinks coffee and while in college went on a fresh bean grinding kick). I dug out the coffee grinder, opened the box, and found the lid to the grinder was missing. The lid also contained the on/off switch so holding a plastic lid over the grinder wasn't going to work. Now what?

A few years back, Himself had gifted me with a mortar and pestle which had never been used in the laboratory and was taking up space. It took up space in my kitchen. A half cup doesn't seem like a huge amount until you have to grind microscopically small seeds by hand using a mortar an pestle. Holy Mary on the Prairie this bread better be worth the effort.

What did I learn? Get another coffee grinder, use flax meal, or buy a loaf of paleo bread.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Kitchen Experiments

I love to bake bread. The house smells wonderful, and the end product is delicious. I was intrigued when I came across a recipe entitled The Life-Changing Loaf. The recipe didn't call for leavening. Just oats, seeds, and nuts baked up to golden deliciousness. More of a quick bread than what is normally thought of as bread.

While out running errands, I decided to pick up the ingredients I didn't have. Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil. What I couldn't find I'd leave out or substitute. Found chia seeds in a granola mix. Couldn't find the psyllium so I'd just skip that.The recipe was very simple. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a loaf pan. Whisk the melted coconut oil, maple syrup (I used honey) and water. Pour the wet over the dry. Mix the dough. Let the dough sit for a couple of hours to absorb all the water. Bake and voilà.

Only when I turned the loaf out of the pan, I got a pile of birdseed, not a nice loaf. It tasted ok if a little bland, but the presentation definitely lacked voilà.

What did I learn? I should have read some of the comments. Seems the psyllium seed husks was the one ingredient that couldn't be left out or substituted. Apparently, when the seeds gets wet they form a colloidal suspension and act as the binder for the other ingredients.

Himself goes by a Whole Foods store on his way home from the dojo. He said he'd stop in and look for the psyllium seed husks or powder and chia seeds. Yeah, he's good like that.

And Timex, if he's not sleeping in a hole some place, and the birds, and other animals that forage will get a treat when I put my bird seed out at the feeder.

"I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work" - Thomas Edison

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. We had dinner at The Brother's. Chicken and Sausage Cacciatore, salad, bread, cannoli, and Italian cookies.

2. Skyped a call with The Young One. At least we tried to. Her interweb connection sux so we kept losing the call. At least I got to see her smiling face for a minute.

3. Got iCal to sync on the iPad.

4. A mid-week snow day

5. Some of the books I bring to class to show examples of illuminated initials are wearing out and falling apart. Happily, I found Dover Publications was offering some of the books as ebooks. Instead of lugging a ton of books, which sometimes don't get looked at, I can take the iPad.

What happened to you this week?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

US Postal Rates

for first class letters will increase from 46 cents to 49 cents starting Monday, 27. January 2014. Drop in to your local post office and purchase Forever stamps at the lower rate before Monday.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The First Rule of Programming

Over the past couple of days, iCloud Caldender and Contacts weren't updating to my iPad. Data was available on my iPhone and in iCloud online, but not on the iPad. WTH?

So, I fell back on my computer programmer training. The first thing I did was turned the iPad off. Waited a minute and turned it back on.  Ta-da!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Little Books

Need to get rid of some of your small paper bits? Want a fun way to procrastinate? Make these cute, tiny books. They are called origami books, but the instructions call for glue stick. Origami is strictly folded paper so these technically don't fall under origami. No matter.

The instructions use a sheet of 6 inch origami paper, but any size paper will do. Glue a small loop of thread or ribbon to the inside cover, and you'll have a cute book ornament.

Instructions for the Mini Modular Origami Book

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Secret Life of Walter Mitty

When Himself asked me what movie I wanted to go see I said The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I thought the movie would be closely based on the classic James Thurber short story. Hen-pecked Walter Mitty who escapes his shrewish wife in the secret world of his imagination. Instead, director/actor, Ben Stiller, dusted the story off, and gave it a modern twist. He also turned the story into a sweet romantic comedy.Sweet romantic comedy is not usually our movie fare.

Surprisingly, the movie was enjoyable. If Mitty were a color, he'd be beige. Functional, but dull. At least, that's the world's perception of him. Mitty's secret? He is boldly colorful if he chooses to be, and only a handful of people know it.

This is a perfect date movie. Sweetly entertaining with enough action to keep action and adventure lovers from squirming in their seats.

If you have never read Thurber's short story, you can read it here

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Gift Card Holder

Today, is the annual after Christmas, Christmas Get Together with The Brother and his family. I needed a gift card holder.  Found a very cute gift card envelope here. The envelope flap even tucks into a diamond shaped latch. Very clever.

I'm not really good at origami, as I sometimes have trouble with left and right. The instructions were so simple even I could follow along and have a successful outcome.

The instructions call for a 6 inch square sheet of origami paper. I cut a 6 inch square from a scrap of wrapping paper. Ta-da!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week:

1. The flusher on the toilet broke. So we had to flush the toilet with buckets of water. Holy Mary on the Prairie.! Himself took the tank apart (because fishing in the toilet tank is definitely not a Little Princess job) and replaced the innards. We can flush like normal people again! It really is the little things that give meaning to life.

2. I lost two bags of sugar

3. Since the new microwave arrived damaged and couldn't be installed, Himself and I went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

4. I can almost fit into a pair of The Young One's jeans. They are a little tight. I can't put things in the pockets, but I can pull up the zipper without lying across the bed.

5. A new, undamaged microwave was finally installed. I missed having a second microwave. Spoiled much? This one has a power saving feature. Supposedly, it will save electricity when its not running.

How was your week?

Thursday, January 16, 2014


The other day, I was wandering through Target. Was surprised to see the store was still stocking items for Valentine's Day considering Christmas items were out at Halloween.

I turn down one of the aisles, and I see these empty,shoe-sized boxes with a slit in the top. Boxes for children to decorate as valentine mailboxes. Seriously? The kids have to have special boxes to decorate for Valentine's Day? What a grand, waste of money.

What's wrong with recycling or up-cycling or plain, old-fashioned decorating a tissue box? or shoe box? or decorating a brown paper, lunch bag?

I must be getting old.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Hope Chest Lock Replacement Kit

There was a very, tragic story Sunday about two children who died when they were locked inside a hope chest while apparently playing hide and seek. The problem was the hope chest locked when the lid was closed. The lock couldn't be opened from the inside and the brother and sister suffocated.

In 1996, Lane, a company that manufactures hope chests had a recall for the locks for hope chests that were made between 1912 and 1987. I never heard about the recall, but I have Ma's hope chest which my father gave to her during the early 1940s, and Himself's nana's hope chest from the 19-teens or 1920s.

Lane has an online form to fill out to receive a free lock replacement kit.

Even though, there are no small children in my home, I don't know where this hope chest will end up. Will one of my girlies take it to their home? Will it end up in a second hand store to be purchased by a couple with small children? I'd hate to think of another child being locked in the chest with no way to get out.

If you have one of these old hope chests, fill out the form for the free lock replacement kit. This is a simple measure to prevent a tragedy.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Brought to You By The Letter B

I was given the letter "B"

Something I hate: bugs especially of the spider variety

Something I like: bagels. I'm partial to cinnamon-raisin bagels with honey walnut cream cheese if someone wants to buy me breakfast, sometime. "-:

A place I have been:  Boston, Massachusetts (like duh!)

Someone I like: I can't think of anyone with a letter B. There's Humphrey Bogart, and I know that Andy will shake his head in disgust when I say, I'm not a Bogart fan. I liked Bogart well enough in Casablanca. Really liked him in The Caine Mutiny and We're No Angels, but Bogart was never one of my favorites. Does Bob Redford count? He's going to be in the next Captain America movie coming out in April.

A place I'd like to go: Bavaria. Yeah, kind of a cheat. I visited there a long time ago. Would like to go back to see Munich, Füssen, and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. What do you say, Frau, will you be taking your kids next year?

And a favorite movie: Broken Lance starring Spencer Tracy, Richard Widmark, and a baby Robert Wagner

If you like this post and want to play, I will give you a letter!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

An Amazing Adventure

The Young One and 3 of her classmates were chosen to travel to Silicon Valley for their MQP (Major Qualifying Project- the big project necessary to graduate) There are actually 20 students selected for a Silicon Valley Project. The students will be interning for various companies. A huge opportunity for all.

The Young One and her buddies will be interning for Disney Interactive, the computer game and entertainment side of the company.  They will spend 2 weeks of their winter break plus the 7 weeks of C term, working under a Disney mentor. Their job is to pitch and develop two casual computer games. (Casual games are games like Tetris, Angry Birds, Candy Crush) Disney may or may not produce what the students come up with.

The students were to arrive on Sunday. They would be housed in an executive apartment complex near a CalTrain rail station so they could commute to their workplaces. Their work week would begin on Tuesday.

The Young One worked two jobs to pay for the trip herself  She was all packed and ready to go last Sunday when JetBlue cancelled her flight due to the storm on the East Coast, storm in the midWest, and poor planning about new FAA regulations concerning turn around time for pilots and flight crew.  Her buddy and two other students going to two other companies were on  the same flight. An hour on hold later and the earliest JetBlue could get her to the West Coast was Friday. At the beginning of the week, other airlines weren't moving and then tickets for a one way flight were between $1000 and $2000. Coach! Way out of The Young One's budget.

Fortunately, the Disney mentor was understanding and gave the Young One and her buddy their assignment. They were able to telecommute and didn't miss out too much.

Friday's flight though ungawdly early (had to be at the airport by 5:30 am.) went off without a hitch. They arrived by noon at the apartment complex and were able to catch a train and report to work to begin their amazing adventure.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

One Bag to Pack Them All

The Young One needed to pack for a 9 week trip (more about that later). With all the regulations about how many bags and weight of the bags, packing had to be efficient. I was taught to roll clothes to pack in a suitcase. I thought that was a good way to go until I saw a post written by my WAM colleague, Veronica Fish.

Veronica packed last year for a month long trip to Japan. In a carry-on bag! Is that efficient, or what? Fortunately, Veronica detailed the how she did it on her blog. I thought she would be rolling up her things, too, but her method was to stack and fold.

So, The Young One and I followed Veronica's method. The clothes chosen were a mix of casual and business casual tops, a couple of sweaters, a pair of jeans,chinos, plain black slacks, and one dressy outfit, as well as undies and a pair of sneakers. She also packed a pair of pajama pants and tee (a hang out in the apartment outfit or for sleeping), a beloved Minecraft zippered hoodie which will do multi-duty as a robe, light jacket, and bathing suit cover-up. There were enough items to get through a whole week. The Young One has access to laundry facilities.

Stacking 3 or 4 tops and folding them into an envelope shape seems to me much neater than rolling. All the clothes chosen were easy care and required no ironing. We didn't pack the clothes in a carry-on, but one bag to pack them all was the rule. The total weight of the suitcase plus the clothes was only 25 lbs. Half the weight allowance!

The Young One was bringing her laptop and a pen tablet so was going to use her laptop back pack as her carry on. Then we got to thinking that a back pack might be a red flag going through security so I gave the Young One a brief case type computer bag to use.

Besides the laptop, she packed her purse, gum, a journal and assorted pens and pencils, a bag with clean undies and socks, deo, toothbrush, and a travel toothpaste (Just in case the luggage went on a different trip for awhile as happened to me on a trip to Minnesota). She'll buy regular sized toiletries at her destination. For the flight, The Young One wore jeans, a favorite tee, fleece jacket, and a pair of slip on shoes which can also double as dressy shoes.

So, if you're planning a trip and don't want to take more than you need, follow Veronica's packing method.  Or save it for future reference which is what I did.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week:

1. After picking up my artwork from the show, Light, Himself and I stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Sturbridge for lunch. I had the BLT on sourdough bread.

2. We bought a new over the range microwave.

3. I took 7,016 steps between walking on the treadmill and at the mall.

4. The Christmas tree got taken down before Valentine's Day

5. I got a prezzie in the mail! A reversible print, polartec, cowboy Heath blankie and a fuzzy, bandana print pillow. Thank you, Sunflower! Perfect gift for the polar weather. Ink thanks you for the box.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Guest Artist - Jack Frost

Working in below freezing temperatures, nature artist, Jack Frost coaxes water molecules to freeze into delicate, pine branch crystals.

When Jack was asked about the ephemeral nature of his work, he responded, "Sometimes it's hard to think of being an artist when one degree above freezing can cause the structure to run into puddles. And it's only seasonal work. Here for a short time and then gone. Like life, I suppose. Everything has its season."

Jack's exhibit, Ice on Glass, is currently on The Sun Room. The show will run through the weekend when temperatures are expected to rise well above freezing, and the exhibition will melt.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Word For The Year Is

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That's how I feel about resolutions for the new year. Rather than make a list, I'll focus on one thing. The word for this year is Declutter. After the past three years of absorbing another household's worth of stuff, dealing with endless paperwork from the court, plus having too much stuff of my own, I'm buried under chaos.Time to dig myself out. Out with the old and no more new.

What's your word or resolutions for this year?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Auld Lang Syne

I found Ma's zeppole recipe. Though, I really think the recipe came from my Auntie Emma. Many times Ma would ask her mother for a recipe, but Grandma never measured anything out. Her measurements were a little flour, a little water, a little this, a little of that. If it doesn't look right, and is too dry, add a little more water. If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour.

What are zeppole? They are golden pillows of heaven. Okay, they're an Italian doughnut type treat. A silky, yeast batter is dropped into hot oil and deep fried to deliciousness They are golden brown on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside.

I remember Grandma frying up batches of goodness for us more than Ma. My cousins, The Brother and I would practically grab the zeppole right out of the hot oil before Grandma had a chance to drain them on brown paper bags and let them cool.  My cousin Denise taught me to dip the zeppole in Grandma's sugar bowl which would get Grandma to yell at us in Italian.

So with a bit of nostalgia as the last, elder woman from my mother's side of the family,  I made a batch as our New Year's Day breakfast. Besides rolling the zeppole in granulated sugar, I suppose you can also roll them in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug

Part two of The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug, is too long and drawn out. The book wasn't that long so doesn't merit a trilogy. It's been eons since I read the book. I read it as an adult so wasn't overly thrilled with the story to begin with because it was written for children. The story didn't capture me in the same way that's its brother, The Lord of the Rings did. (I was in college when I first read LOTR and have read it two or three times through since then).
There were a few characters that crossed over from LOTR that I don't remember being in The Hobbit. I don't remember Legolas getting more than a mere mention in the book, but he had a whole epic story line of his own. Other than a bit of heart throb, special effects and stunts, his appearance in the movie did nothing to further the story. Ditto, the brown wizard, Radagast. And who the hell was Tauriel in the book?

A lot of time was spent on giant arachnids. Too much time, and I confess as an arachnophobe I watched that part of the movie through closed eyes. In 3D, the gruesome images were too intense for me to take.

Music enhances a movie and the score for the most set the mood. However, let's lose the boy band through the credit roll for a haunting ballad instead of a teeny bopper beat.

There were epic moments when the movie tried to soar. The dragon, Smaug, whether CGI, puppet, or a combination, was stunning. It just took too long to get to Smaug's scenes only to be let down with the realization of having to wait for another movie to finish the story. Let's just kill the *$$^#@! dragon, grab the gold, and go home.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week

1. I found just the kind of diary I was looking for at Staples to use as The Good Things Journal.

2. I got my hair cut.

3. Went to the movies with Himself and the girlies. Saw The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug. in 3D

4. Found Ma's Zeppole recipe (Italian doughnuts) and made a batch for New Year's Day breakfast.

5. Wicked stahm swirling around us, but I don't care. No one has to go into work or school today, so all my chickies are home safe and sound.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Resolution: Learn Something New

Did you make a resolution to learn something new this year? Good for you! There is still plenty of time to sign up for classes at the Worcester Art Museum. Class begin the week of 13. January 2014.

Many of you have told me, 10 weeks is a long time to commit to a class. So, this term, instead of teaching one 10 week session. I'll be teaching two 5 week sessions. The class will also be offered on Monday afternoons or Thursday evenings. Sign up for 5 weeks to get A Taste of Calligraphy. Sign up for the second session to continue your studies or hone your skills. Spaces are still available.

Calligraphy not your cup of tea? No worries. Lots of great classes available. Check out the online class catalog or call 508.793.4333 or 4334 to register for classes. Tell  My Favorite Elaine, CJ sent you.