Thursday, December 31, 2009

Store Stuff Update: Bing!

Not much going on with the store stuff. Made a few sales, but mostly I've been waiting to do anything with Etsy since I figured out I'm going to try to put together some patterns. I have a rough draft of a sock pattern, and some sweater ideas, so here's hoping I don't procrastinate my way into oblivion.

The secret writing project is still forging ahead. Hubby read a rough draft of the first three chapters and was decently encouraging, to my surprise. He keeps saying the main character is me though, which is exactly the kind of thing I was afraid of, and will make it hard to write love scenes with the main male protagonist later, who is definitely NOTHING like my husband. We shall see.

I want to start putting together some cute jewelry and stitch markers for Valentine's day, but I keep looking for the money fairy to arrive and she's late as usual. Well, not late, just what she does bring has been spoken for through advertising and listing fees. I wonder if there are Bill Gates grants for struggling businesses who use Windows? Heh.

Anyhoo, a Happy New Year to all you folks, and I hope it brings you good things.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Knitting: Moving into the lead...

... is the Sophia cardigan from French Girl Knits. It's the one pictured on the cover. I had three skeins of cream-colored Knit Picks Gloss in heavy worsted-weight left over from the failure that was the Blanket Coat. The three skeins got me through the right half, and a portion of the left half. The unravelled sleeves from the blanket coat ought to get me through the rest of the left half and the twisted trim. I'm working the trim right now. Yep, I'm near completion. Have I done a stitch on my husband's late Christmas socks? Heck no.

I LOOOOVE sock yarn, hate knitting socks. Go figure.

The shawl has also been hibernating, but then that's in my TV watching spot, and the holidays make for bad TV.

Next in the queue is a cute kid's hoodie in blue for my daughter. It should be a fast knit. If I have still not done anything on the socks by the time that's done, I will buckle down and do them. He's constantly complaining that his feet are cold... he needs some good warm socks.

After that, I may do Wrenna from French Girl Knits. I did warn you a few months ago that when it arrived in the mail I wanted to knit every single thing in it. I may do it yet. I certainly have enough yarn.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gaming: One MILLION dollars...

Steam has been having huge sales over the Christmas holidays... sometimes 80% off titles. I'm ashamed to say instead of buying the luxurious yarn of my dreams (Yes, cashmere and Noro are on that list) I bought games. Several games. Some of them I owned already on disk... which seems stupid until you realize that if you can pick up a title for $1.99, it's worth the "upgrade" to disk-less game playing.

One such title I picked up that I already owned was the brilliant masterpiece that nobody played, "Evil Genius". It's a resource/building simulation in which you play an evil Bond-style villain who is setting up his/her evil lair in a mountain on a remote island. You recruit minions, build specialized rooms in your base, commit acts of infamy in the world map, and try to keep the "good" agents from coming in and wreaking havoc by placing ingenious traps around your base. No shark tanks, unfortunately. It's still on sale for $1.99, so if you're into time-management or strategy titles, it'd be a good time to pick it up.

I also finally broke down and got "Torchlight" while it was half-price. After the obsession with Dragon Age, I really didn't want to get into another RPG, but this one is different enough that I don't feel badly about it. It's like a strange cross between "Diablo" and the old arcade game, "Gauntlet". I like it alright, but I'm sort of disappointed that in order to play a female character, I am stuck with ONE class. That just bites.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some missile silos to build into the side of my mountain-island lair.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Food: A Nice Brisket

Christmas dinner went well... mostly because (in my opinion) I didn't have the super-duper extended menu I have every year. I went simple, with a nice pre-seasoned brisket, two kinds of potatoes (sweet and not, mashed) and baby carrots. Yeah, I had two kinds of orange vegetables, and no greens except for the side salad, so it may not have been visually stunning, but it was delicious. It was a sizable cut of beef, and we only left about a third of it.

Leftovers mash-up the following day was a kind of improvised taco/fajita thing with the leftover beef on flour tortillas. Throw in some sauteed onions and salsa and sour cream, and you seriously feel like you're in heaven with the first bite.

Had there been more beef left, I would have gone the orange beef lo mein route, but... it was not to be this year I guess.

Now I have to figure out when I'm making the extra turkey I picked up at Thanksgiving time for super-cheap. It's taking up a lot of freezer real estate, and I'm going to need that space before the Easter ham extravaganza. I'll probably roast it off for New Years, package the extra meat, and maybe can a couple of quarts of turkey stock from the wings and carcass. I like having a pressure canner again... makes for more versatile canning.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blogging: Holidays

Just a reminder for those who might not have occasion to remember, I take time off from the blog on the holiday vacations where the little moppet is home from school. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is the inability to hear myself think. :D Ever tried to compose your thoughts with the Disney "So Random" Check-it-out girls in the background? Oy.

I'll be back. It may not be for two weeks, or it may be in a week, it depends on how much television is blaring in the background, and how far away my sanity ends up. 'Til then, if you are travelling, be safe, and we'll see you when I get back.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Television: White Lie

With the holidays hiatus going on for most of the shows I watch, I have very little to talk about. There is one shining, adorable exception, and that is the mid-season finale of "Lie to Me".

The Lightman Group offices ends up in a kind of "lockdown mode" when a possible bomb threat comes up a few blocks away... sometimes terrorists wait for mass evacuations before setting off devices, thus maximizing casualties.

Unfortunately, a group of third-graders and their teacher played by Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible, Buffy) was taking a tour of the offices at that time.

What results is the most adorable scene I've witnessed on the show yet, the singing of "White Lies", a song written by (according to the plot) Lightman's assistant and a third-grader who overheard them discussing the bomb, and was asked not to tell his classmates what he heard to keep them from being scared. The lyrics go something like this:

I say that I'm ten when I'm nine and a half,
My uncle tells a joke and I try to laugh,
In gym I fake a headache when I want to quit,
I say I love the sweater that my grandma knit,

But that's a white lie (white lie)
That's the kind you want to tell, a white lie (white lie)
So your mom won't have to yell, a white lie (white lie)
Everyone does it cause it feels alright,
and it's more polite, but
A lie's still a lie even when it's white.

I pretend I'm asleep when my dad walks in,
I said I ate my chicken when I just ate the skin,
Your face can say you're lying when your mouth says you're not,
Your pants are on fire but they're not too hot when

It's a white lie (white lie)
That's the kind you want to tell, a white lie (white lie)
So your dad won't have to yell, a white lie (white lie)
Everyone does it cause it feels alright,
and it's more polite, but
A lie's still a lie even when it's white.

While it might be hard to say what's true,
Would you want a white lie told to you?

But that's a white lie (white lie)
That's the kind you want to tell, a white lie (white lie)
So your mom won't have to yell, a white lie (white lie)
Everyone does it cause it feels alright,
and it's more polite, but
A lie's still a lie even when it's white.

Okay, the lyrics go exactly like that, cause I did a pause and play number with my Tivo Desktop software.

Awesome singing all around, although Felicia's harmony on the last two verses stretched the limits of credulity. I mean, supposedly this song was written five minutes ago and she's not the music teacher, so what the hey? But it was very, very cute. A high point in what could have otherwise been a grim episode.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Knitting: You want *what* for Christmas?

Well the socks are not happening. Not unless I turn insanely obsessive and spend the next four days on them. Hubby is getting a WIP for Christmas.

I really haven't worked on my knitting much. I did make a tremendous amount of progress on the beginner's scarf from my daughter's "Learn to Knit" kit (I'm making a pass through it so I know what's going on when she tries it). It's about halfway done. Honestly, this is one butt-ugly scarf. I'm sure the design team thought the alternating squares of stockinette and reverse stockinette divided by a ribbing section in the middle was "funky" or "hip" but to me it just looks like a sloppy mess in very large yarn. I mean, I think I'm going to have to tell people my kid made the thing for me.

Not much in the way of new TV shows, so the shawl has sat untouched.

As far as Secret Project goes (writing) I seem to have hit a wall. I started writing it in First-person perspective, since I've been out of practice for a long time and I didn't want to set myself up for failure, so I was trying to make this endeavor as easy as possible. I write in first-person perspective every day, like now, so I figured that would make things simple.

What I didn't count on was the fact that my main character is NOT omniscient, so every other character remains a mystery. I mean, she's a sharp-eyed, savvy cookie, but she's not going to know what the other guy is thinking. Or feeling.

So now, forty-odd pages into this thing, and I may have to totally start over in third-person omniscient. Blech. I get hives just thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gaming: Finally!

Well I'm off the Dragon Age: Origins obsession. At last. I guess the fourth and fifth playthroughs are not meant to be, eh?

Although I think the dimming of my enthusiasm had more to do with the somehow inexplicable and sudden deterioration of my machine's ability to render the gamplay at any faster than one frame per second.

I have the Steam version of the game, so it's possible that some new patch was invisibly applied, and they somehow broke the game. Or it may be that my video card is dying. I may never know. But waiting five seconds to watch your guy make one sword pass at an enemy is just four seconds too long, you know?

While looking for my next gaming obsession, I have tried once again to introduce Monkeypants to the fun and excitement of the "Back to the Future" movie series. We've been watching one a night. This time, it was no longer boring for her, and it was intensely gratifying to hear her laughing at Doc Brown's antics, and hearing her try to describe the clock tower scene in part one(easily one of the most nail-biting inducing movie sequences of the last fifty years in cinema) is hysterical.

I do like it when I'm right about stuff. :D I think I have to try to hold back my enthusiasm, and wait to show her the stuff I think is neat until she's ready to appreciate it. It's pretty hard though.

More gifts are wrapped and placed in the pile. Almost everything has arrived, with a few exceptions, but it looks like they'll be here later in the week, so Christmas is in the bag. So to speak. A full accounting of the gifts for MP and Barronius will be forthcoming after the "shredding". I'd call it the "opening of the gifts" but I'm trying for honesty, here. :P

Monday, December 14, 2009

Food: New Traditions

Last Christmas, I tried something new. Living in Texas, we are now exposed to a lot more Mexican-American culture, just as we were exposed to a lot of traditions in New Orleans when we lived there. Ingredients being cheap and abundantly available, I made tamales last Christmas, and despite the fact that I had to use foil instead of corn husks (one "ingredient" that was hard to find last year) they were a big hit with the family. Done right, it's the kind of food people can munch on all day while waiting for the big meal to finish cooking.

So yesterday I simmered a huge pork roast for the filling. This was a true beast of a roast... there was still skin on this sucker, and it was quite disgusting to remove. Had that side been visible in the packaging, I think I would have skipped the whole idea. Let me put it this way... in the back of my mind I worried some concientious trash collector would find this piece of... hide... and call the cops, thinking a murder had been committed. Yeah. It was that gross.

However, I roasted it, then simmered it in water with spices, and added a can of red chiles in adobo sauce for the last half hour. I now have the whole works in my dutch oven sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to skim the fat off the top, shred it, and package it for the freezer. That's the red filling. I'm thinking poultry and green jalepenos for the green filling, but I may not bother.

I already have new masa flour, and a package of husks... whether I've purchased enough is beyond me, but there's always foil for the extra.

Normally, we have our "Christmas" on the first day of school vacation for monkeypants. The reason we've done this for the last three or four years is two-fold. One, Christmas usually really falls at the end of the vacation, so I end up having to fend off skillfully pleading comments of "I'm bo-o-o-ored" for a week, get one day of pleasantness, and then she's back in school. Two, my husband gets off from work only two of those days she's home. By opening the presents at the beginning of vacation, everyone in the family gets to spend their entire time off enjoying the gifts, instead of waiting.

Since the son of the Big Guy was actually born sometime in the early fall (I'll have a post on my sources on that sometime... but that's a whole post unto itself), and my early gift opening program is all about promoting peace and harmony during the holiday, I'm pretty sure he doesn't mind.

However, this year our normal Christmas is being delayed because of snow. In Texas. Last week my daughter was supposed to perform in a Christmas band concert/Chili dinner (don't ask me, I don't make this stuff up... maybe the audience is supposed to join in with the wind section). The Saturday this was supposed to take place, though, it was snowing. I kid you not. So the event was postponed. Now this Friday MP gets early dismissal at one, but we have to take her back in the evening for one performance, then the chili dinner performance is Saturday. So most likely we will be having our Christmas on Sunday, hubby will work a few days, and then we have the four-day weekend where the "real" Christmas falls.

I don't know... that sounds complex doesn't it? I may just chuck our "tradition" out the window and join the rest of the world in celebrating on the 24th and 25th. Just as well, a few gifts might not arrive in time from Santa's workshop in the Amazon warehouse. :D

Friday, December 11, 2009

Television: Yummy Brits, Hiatus, and ARG!

Fringe this week was amazing, thanks in part to the yummy new addition of Sebastian Roche (Oddysey 5) as an evil scientist. Poor baby... it's typecasting.

The Dollhouse double-feature was amazing, also. Damn FOX and their squeamish, skittish ways. Only two more episodes and it's all over.

Stargate: Universe is trying to be the new "Battlestar Galactica" and in a way, that kind of ticks me off. The rest of the Stargate sagas were... well, like a half-way step towards Trek utopia. You know, the universe where everyone works toward the good of the planet, because we find out we're not alone? SG:U feels more like we're moving towards the corporate space travel in ALIEN... grim, gray and bleak. I don't like it. I get that no matter if they're here on Earth, or working in space, people are going to act human no matter what. There's going to be fights, and jealousy, and betrayal. But damn... no matter how much someone acts like a dick, you don't maroon him on an alien planet two billion miles from Earth.

It's just not done. Plus, with a guy too smart for his own good, it's gonna come back and bite you in the ass.

Enough cryptic for this week?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Store Stuff Update: Thoughts But No Action

While I've been inspired to do plenty of jewelry and other items in the metal areas of craftiness, I haven't acted on many of them. Mostly, a lot of planning... I can see cutting the metal, soldering it, rearranging pieces and making them fit, all in my head.

A jewelry hobby is an expensive mistress, though. Whether I need to buy materials, or already have the materials, it still makes you want to wince when you cut into a tiny piece of silver sheet that costs over $20 at today's prices. Even materials that can be rescued if it gets screwed up, like crystal beads, are not cheap at initial purchase.

A recent issue of "Jewelry Artist" arrived in the mail, and it has some wonderful articles about soldering and other types of joins. While I didn't care for the endless articles about Jasper (it's not my favorite stone), the construction of the pieces were interesting and informative. It made me think about cutting apart some soda cans just to play with the techniques.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Knitting: I'm at it again...

I can't seem to focus on one thing, lately. Well, besides Dragon Age: Origins.

I'm still working on the shawl from the Knit Picks lace sampler pattern that I started as a smokescreen for my husbands silk socks. However, the socks themselves have only seen one or two rounds of progress. He may be getting a wrapped WIP for Christmas at this rate.

I also cast on the Red version of KP's "Learn to Knit a Hat and Scarf" kit, mostly so when I give the kit in blue to my daughter I'll know what the heck is going on. For a learner's pattern, the instructions are really convoluted and drawn out.

Otherwise there is not much going on in the knitting department. I still have the free-form, simple shawl on the needles made from the one-ply bulky I originally spun up for a sweater coat. Have not done one stitch on that, at all.

Besides the game, and all these knitting projects I have going, I started a super-secret non-crafty project. All very hush-hush. Why? Because it's the one thing I've always been very sensitive about doing right... writing. In game-parlance, I took a crippling blow twenty years ago with my first husband's reaction to my writing, and it's taken this long for it to heal properly. Now I'm scribbling my way through a stack of (100% recycled) legal pads again, and the sudden resurgence has me a little stunned.

And it may turn out to be crap, but it will be MY crap and I will love it all the same.

The television hiatus during the holidays for most of the shows I watch certainly didn't help my knitting progress. There have only been a few times where I have been able to just sit and knit without the television, and both of them involved power outages during hurricanes.

Anyway, this long, drawn-out post is basically my excuses for not having any knitting progress worth mentioning. See you next week. :D

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gaming: Variety Doesn't Live Here Today

Okay, as far as gaming goes, I am still stuck on Dragon Age: Origins. I'm on my third play-through, and I show no signs of stopping. And even though most of the really cool advertising (right click and "Save As...")and videos are using rendered footage instead of gameplay footage, I still downloaded one or two and stream them to my TiVo for a quick bit of fun.

I did get the new expansion pack to The Sims 3: World Adventures, and believe it or not I did play it for several hours. It's a cute addition. Basements, underground crypts, and other added elements make for an Indiana Jones feel whenever your Sim goes on vacation. It's quite charming, and had I not gotten side-tracked in Fereldin with my Mabari war hound, I would have a lot more to say about it.

If there's a Simmer on your list this holiday season, get them the expansion. They'll love it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Food: More Holiday Leftover Usage

There's another use for holiday leftovers I forgot to mention... pizza. Last week I pushed it to the envelope on the last day the food would still be good and made a ham, mushroom and onion pizza. It was divine.

A turkey pizza would be just as awesome, although I did not make one this go-around.

Here is my recipe for pizza crust (from memory, so if there are any glaring errors or omissions, speak up... I'll try to correct it). Directions should work for bowl, stand mixer, or automatic bread machine (ABM) set on the dough cycle.

My Pizza Crust

1 1/2 C Water, no warmer than 110 degrees
2 t sugar
1 Tbs. garlic salt
1 Tbs. instant yeast
4 C flour
2 t italian seasoning (optional)

Place ingredients into bowl (mixer bowl, or ABM) in the order listed. With a heavy wooden spoon, dough hook, or dough cycle on the ABM, mix until a soft dough forms and comes away from the side of the vessel cleanly. Knead (or leave in ABM dough cycle) for five minutes.

Cover, and let rise for one hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

After one hour, remove from bowl and press out into pizza pan or on cookie sheet to desired size. (You can also freeze it at this point by wrapping in plastic and placing the bundle in a gallon freezer bag. To use, thaw in refrigerator overnight and proceed as follows)

Top the crust with 4 oz. plain tomato sauce and one cup cheese. Then add your favorite toppings. Place pizza in oven and cook for 12-15 minutes.

Remove from oven, and let stand for two minutes. Cut and serve.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Television: Giving up on Blu

I was cautious about entering the HD disk wars until the battle between HD disks and Blu Ray was settled, but once it was I was fully prepared to embrace it whole-heartedly. Last Christmas my gift to the whole family was a Blu-ray player that also streamed Netflix play-it-now titles. I was sure it would improve our TV enjoyment. Two months later, I bought a blu-ray drive for my computer to play titles on while the main TV was occupied. I thought our future Christmasses would be filled with lovely (if slightly expensive) blu-ray disks, purchased because the format is so crisp and clear that any other format would be unthinkable for our favorite movies and tv shows.

Here it is, the following Christmas season, and ther is not a Blu-ray title anywhere on anyone's gift list. Why? Because BOTH blu-ray players died. I even purchased a replacement for the Netflix streamer back in APRIL (when it died) and that one is ALSO dead. They just stop reading disks. First, on the Netflix unit (made by LG, and quite the piece of crap, I might add) it stopped reading regular disks, but still read Blu-ray just fine, and was still streaming Netflix, so I thought "Hey, so what, I can still play normal disks on my Xbox 360. I really wanted it for Blu-ray." Then it stopped reading Blu-ray about a month later. Since by that time I could stream Netflix (the only function left on the LG unit) on the Xbox 360, the LG unit got retired behind the couch. A few months later, the blu-ray disk drive in my PC died (ALSO an LG product). The replacement Blu-ray player for the living room (NOT made by LG) didn't even last two months.

Ironically, the HD drive attached to my Xbox 360 has been working for years and is still our default disk player for normal disks. I wish I could go back and say "Hey, studio executives... I don't think Blu-ray really won, after all. Could you make HD again please?"

Nobody wants to adopt a format where you're going to have to buy a new player every year. If I wanted to rent, I'd go to Rent-A-Center.

So be careful this holiday season. Be wary of cheap deals on Blu-ray players... there may be a reason.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Knitting: 'Tis The Season

... for rushed knitting. There are always projects started with good intentions on Dec 1st, saying to yourself "I swear I will devote time to this every day so it will be done on time!" and then the obligation seems more like an annoyance.

Surely my husband doesn't need a pair of hand-knit socks this year? He didn't ask for them, and I didn't tell him I was making them, so it doesn't count, right?

I am working on some brown, part-silk socks for him in brown, since he always complains of cold feet. I am also working on the lace-sampler shawl from Knit-picks, not because I want to but because if I wasn't knitting something in front of him it would look suspicious. So I cast it on one evening while we were watching V. However I must like the pattern, since I frogged and re-started it because I didn't like how it looked with the size needles suggested. I went down two sizes and it looks much better.

Tis also the season for drinking hot coffee in the morning instead of soda for my caffeine. The winds coming off the (praries?) empty lot across the street are mighty cold. If I wasn't sitting on concrete steps waiting with my daughter for the school bus across from a gas station, I'd swear I was a pioneer woman waiting for her man to bring home a deer for stew.

Last night I ordered some Ghirardelli chocolates and hot chocolate mix to appease the little moppet, since she has been told she does not get to drink coffee till she's much older.

"But I'm cold too!" she says. And goodness knows I never have any cocoa powder left in the house to make my own mix like I'd prefer. So I ordered some seasonal chocolates for Christmas morning and some of their cocoa mix.

Oh! And to get back on schedule, I also have some shop news... new jewelry items in the shop! I got a wild yen to do a chainmaille bracelet with sparklies embedded. My pictures, of course, look like crap again. I have ordered a new battery pack for my camera, so perhaps once it's installed I'll have time to fiddle with all the proper settings when I take a picture. There is also a two-needle stitched necklace of the crackle beads I used for the stitch markers for a knitter's retreat earlier this year. More sparkly goodness. It makes for a decently weighty necklace.

There probably won't be a TV post tomorrow, since the holidays have thinned out the new episodes of most shows. Just FYI. :D

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gaming: Dragon Age Addendum

(Knitting post will be tomorrow... if at all.)

Holy macaroni! Had I known the big names on this voice actor's list, I would have made sure to find it yesterday before my post... it reads like a sci-fi/fantasy who's-who.

Duncan - Peter Renaday
Alistair - Steve Valentine
Morrigan - Claudia Black
Loghain - Simon Templeman
Flemeth - Kate Mulgrew
Uldred - Barry Dennen
Howe - Tim Curry
Sten - Mark Hildreth
Wynne - Susan Boyd Joyce
Oghren/Gorim - Steve Blum
Leliana - Corinne Kempa
Daveth - Gillon Stephenson

Tim Russ (Tuvok, Star Trek: Voyager) is also the voice of one of the elves.

I feel really stupid that I didn't recognize Kate Mulgrew's voice. Her work in this is just marvellous.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gaming: Red Matter

As an early Christmas present, my husband got me a copy of "Dragon Age: Origins" on Steam over the holiday weekend while they were having a black Friday sale. This means I got the collector's edition for a little less than the normal price of the standard edition.

You may have seen the ads for this single-player RPG while watching TV over the Thanksgiving weekend. Some of them are quite moving, and honestly the game is just as exciting as the ads make it out. It's also one of those games that create a huge sucking time vortex while you play... I swear, yesterday I was getting myself lunch at 11 o' clock, the next thing I knew it was 4 pm and time to watch for monkeypants to get off the bus. As my Bioware profile will attest.

I also think I have a crush on one of my party members, Alistair, the bastard prince of Ferelden. He's just so... cheeky. His voice is also terribly familiar in a British way.

I have been desperately searching for credits on the voice acting in the game... I would swear that Morrigan, a female mage you pick up for your party somewhere along the way, is played by Claudia Black (Farscape, Stargate SG-1). Since Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver, Stargate SG-1)did some voice acting in Fallout 2, this would not surprise me in the least.

Speaking of great sucking time vortices, I also got myself an early present of the new Star Trek movie while Amazon was having a black Friday deal... I won't tell you the price, because you'll be kicking yourself at how cheaply I got it. Lets just say Quinto as Spock would have been worth every penny at the SMRP anyway, and leave it at that. It's every bit as exciting and moving on the small screen as it was on the large screen. I actually teared up when James Kirk was born... again. This time on the privacy of my own couch.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Food: Leftover Purgatory

With a large amount of leftover turkey, ham, and dressing, and a small amount of potatoes, cranberry, and other sides, there are only so many plates of leftovers you can make before things start looking sad. Then comes sandwiches... you can use an entire loaf of bread in one weekend if you do sandwiches. Especially if you start doing club sandwiches with three slices of bread... the middle slice is especially good on a warm sandwich if it's been soaked in gravy.

Then when everyone is sick of sandwiches, it's time to break out the recipes.

I am particularily fond of two recipes after Thanksgiving, as it uses up the main meat leftovers but still leaves enough to stash in the freezer.

Turkey Chow Mein

2 C. Chopped cooked turkey
1 whole onion
2 Tb. Soy sauce
1 Tb. Sherry (optional)
2 Tb. Oil
1 C turkey or chicken broth
3 Tb. corn starch
1 Tb. molasses
1-15 oz can Chop Suey vegetables (more variety than chow mein veggies and the bonus of crunchy water chestnuts)

Saute onion and turkey in a mixture of the oil, sherry and soy sauce until onion is tender. Mix together cold broth, molasses, and cornstarch, set aside. Add chop suey vegetables. Push pan contents to the edges of the pan, leaving a well in the middle. Give the broth mixture a stir, then add all at once to the pan, making sure to get it all in there. Stir constantly and heat over high heat until cornstarch thickens and is bubbly. Stir the ingredients pushed to the edge back into the middle. Let bubble over medium heat for another minute or two. Serve over hot rice or chow mein noodles.

You may want to create some extra rice so you can make the following:

Ham and Egg Fried rice

2 C chopped cooked ham
2 eggs
3 C cooked rice
2-3 green onions with tops, chopped
2 Tb. soy sauce
2-4 Tb. oil

Heat oil in a deep skillet. Beat the eggs, and add to the pan. Cook until set, but do not let them brown. Remove from pan and break them apart in a small bowl. Set them aside.

Add ham and soy sauce to the oil left in the pan, adding more oil if needed. Cook and stir for a minute, then add the rice. When the rice is warmed through, add the eggs back to the pan, then add the green onion. In a few minutes, everything should be heated through and fragrant. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blogging: Kids are work

With the peanut home for the week, I'm going to be taking some time off from the blog. If something whaps me upside the head, I'll probably mouth off about it, but otherwise it's a lot of planning and running around, and entertaining my audience of one.

So far I've had five requests for jewelry items, three requests for knitting lessons, a cooking lesson... and it's only Monday. I'll let you know if I'm alive later in the week.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Miscellaneous: More bitching about healthcare

If you've ever owned your own business as an adult, you should know why you charge the prices that you do for services or goods. First of all, in the case of goods, you have to pay for raw materials. A little extra for your time spent making the goods, a little extra for unseen expenses like products that get lost in the mail or damaged in transit. Plus maybe a little more extra to buy new tools and equipment, pay the electric used in the process, etc.

This is why I'm beginning to see medical professionals as the greediest bastards on the planet.

Don't get me wrong, my new dentist is a nice guy. I wasn't too sure at first (he must have been having a bad day) but now he's grown on me.

Recent medical costs have made me start to wonder though... exactly what are they charging me so much money for? Or my insurance company?

When I had to go to the emergency room while on vacation, I walked into the building under my own power, so no ambulance. I sat waiting on a gurney in the emergency room for a half-hour, the doctor came, talked to me for five minutes, took a blood test, gave me a prescription, and sent me on my way. For this they charged a total of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

My insurance company paid 60% of this, that's not the point. The point is does the doctor actually think he's worth $2000 an hour? I don't give a flying f*ck if it's Saturday, nobody is worth that much. Even if the blood work was $500 of that total, that's still pretty arrogant.

Yeah, I'm probably paying to cover a lot of people who go in there whom they can't turn down who can't pay their bills. But even accounting for that, the two ladies in reception who are being paid to be there, the doctor, the pharmacist in-house, the immense amount of electricity being used, that much money for five minutes of personal attention is pretty fucking steep.

I have a feeling that I was also paying for the big, fancy atrium they had put in last year with the big greenhouse glass ceiling and a fountain. A FOUNTAIN. It's a clinic in a town of less than 20, 000 people, and they put in a fountain the size of a swimming pool. Are you fucking kidding me?

And guess what's attached to this clinic? That's right, the same care facility where they have my grandfather housed, which is charging over $6K a month for him to stay there.

Greedy fuckers.

I didn't start out intending to talk about that clinic, I was more flabbergasted by the $200 charge for teeth cleaning I had recently (ten minutes of a lady poking around in my mouth with a metal stick... $200 really?) but you know the more I think about it, it's all the same animal.

I just don't see why it's so expensive. Especially since the assistant that helped with my last procedure admitted to me that she'd never gone to school for dental assistance, and was getting her training on-the-job. I *know* that chick is probably only making $10 bucks an hour. All the equipment in the office is falling apart, and it's the same equipment that's been there for at least three years. You know they don't even have sinks except in the one bathroom? It's like they took over an office building, and didn't go to the expense of a plumber.

I suppose they thought $50 an hour was too expensive. :/

Friday, November 20, 2009

Books: Under the Dome

I will just say this regarding my earlier post today:

Much in the way of Joss Whedon, Mr. King, I didn't get what I wanted, but I certainly got what I *needed*. Thank you for an excellent book.

Television: Space-age Technology, books, and dentistry

V is grabbing my attention, for sure. Not only is Elizabeth Mitchell doing her usual excellent job, but Alan Tudyk (Wash from "Firefly") is kicking ass!

The introduction of V technology that renders a small patch of fabric on a Visitor uniform into a camera is spooky and unsettling. Is it a commentary on Big Brother, or just there for the creepiness factor?

I did not watch Supernatural last night, as I have been knee-deep in the new Stephen King novel and enjoying it immensely. It's a huge tome, over 1075 pages, but I'm about 90% of the way through it. I figure I will finish it later today, what with my permanent crowns being installed. I figure on a minimum wait of half an hour at least, then more waiting in the chair. I then plan to reward myself with a nice view of the Winchester boys when I get home.

Back to the subject of S. King... my husband and I have been less than pleased with Mr. King's work of the past ten years or so. I'm sure coming back from being hit by a car was a harrowing ordeal, and it's bound to affect anybody.

Reading "Under the Dome" however, I'm convinced that the beast is back... you know, the one who wrote "The Stand"? My final judgement is reserved for when I finish it, however. A lot of his work is truly excellent right up until the last few pages, and then it all goes to hell (and not in a good way). Kind of like the adaptation of his short story (my all-time favorite) "The Mist". The adaptation was great, and did the story justice... until the last MINUTE or so, when I threw things at the screen and yelled at the craptacularness of it.

He's not responsible for that, though. I blame Hollywood.

But it serves as an illustration. A story can be an excellent piece of work all the way through, but if the ending sucks, the ending sucks and you will hate the whole thing as a result... even if there are a thousand pages before it that were truly amazing.


Here's what I'm hoping for the end of "Dome": I want Dale Barbara to come out alive. I want Julia and Col. Cox to end up together... you know, happily. I want Rose to end up meeting her favorite CNN correspondent and preening and flirting with him. It would be cool if Alice and Aide end up being aliens in disguise, but that's not a deal-breaker. And I want Big Rennie to die... horribly. Under the tight, hot beam of a magnifying glass in the sun, if possible. Chef and Andy should only be able to blow themselves up, out of pure stupid.

And somehow, Joe figures out how to shut down the dome... through cleverness, not some kind of "interference".

I mean, Jeeze man... horror doesn't have to end horribly for it to work, does it? DOES it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Knitting: Insanity Halted

Well as much as I love the look of the Autumn Rose Pullover, and love the idea of knitting such a cozy thing, I think I'm scrapping my two inches of progress later today. I'm not even going to frog it, just save the needles and toss it. Why? Because when I started getting into the color changes, I really hated the way the colors combined. My yarn people may think their colors are decent substitutes, but I assure you when it comes to the "original" color scheme, they do not.

That, and the chart for this thing is set up in an insane manner. The light color yarn is indicated by shaded boxes, and the dark color yarn is indicated by white boxes on the chart. WTF? The chart is hard enough without having to have to think about which color is which at every color change... and there are a LOT of them.

I'm still thinking of charting my own pattern though... without the insane number of striping changes.

I'm pretty much finished with the blanket coat. It's wearable now, with the sleeves set in, but I think instead of stopping there as I originally thought, I'm going to go ahead and pick up and knit the facing for the borders.

Another change in my plans is regarding the pound of natural Oatmeal Blue-Faced Leicester I spun up, hoping to use it for the coat on the cover of the Fall 2009 Interweave Knits magazine. I've already knit one coat, I don't want to do two. So I've started a very simple shawl with it. They're Aran to Bulky weight one-ply singles... so the project is going quite fast. I've got about two feet done on a garter-stitch border, triangular shawl, and I've just started insetting a garter stitch in the center, using appropriate increases and decreases to keep the border and middle stockinette as an even stripe. It's kind of a chevron look, but the stripes are four inches or so wide.

So far I've used about three ounces of what I had spun up... that leaves a heck of a lot left, including a huge bag of the fiber that hasn't been spun yet. However, this is soft, incredibly fuzzy warm stuff. It will make excellent winter garments.

I will most likely have enough left for a very chunky-knit sweater. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gaming: LoTRO over 50

I don't know what strange whimsy came over me, but I've switched back to LoTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) for the time being. I think hubby asked me to invite one of his characters to our guild, or something, and it grew from there. Before I knew it, my two-year-old character finally levelled to 50. And with it came access to the Mines of Moria content I paid for a year ago.

I have to tell you, the Legendary weapons really change the feel of the game.

Legendary weapons gain experience points the same way (but more slowly) as your character does, improving stats as it goes. Before I knew what was going on, I had three Minstrel-class weapons in my inventory, each one more interesting than the last.

I may actually max out a character... which I've never done before. Fortunately, the Mirkwood content is coming out in December, with two new character slots and a raise in the level cap. I'm a little disappointed that the better Legendary weapons will never be available to me, as you need a six-person raid team to get the tokens necessary. Unless I get lucky on a drop from a random mob (which I doubt) I'm stuck with the lesser items from "The Third Age" instead of the better second and first age items.

And they say MMORPG's don't encourage socialization. :P I might have to make some friends.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Food: Eating from the stash

Just as I have a knitting stash of yarn, so too I consider my freezer food a stash for later. Like a squirrel, I guess. This past week has been mostly about eating from the stash to make room for make-ahead Thanksgiving goodies.

I still have more than half a case of canned organic pumpkin from last year (bought on sale), so that's where the pumpkin pies are coming from. I have a bunch of apples (from my first batch this fall) frozen as pie filling, so apple is taken care of as well. I still have that load of hot dog buns Barronius bought in the freezer, so what isn't made into crumbs for later will be cubed for stuffing and dressing.

So the big purchases are going to be cranberries, turkey (possibly just a breast), and ham. I ended up tossing what was left of our ham from Christmas last year just recently... it wasn't the nice pretty slices anyway, it was the unsliced heel and the bone, mostly, and I never did get around to making bean soup from it. We're not big soup people.

I never feel well-fed after soup, no matter how much bread I dunk in it.

So anyway, starting this week would be a good time to keep an eye on your store flyers for turkey and ham on sale. Also, if you've been dying to get one of those Nesco roaster/slow cooker appliances, those usually go on sale this time of year too. Watch places like hardware stores , W-mart, and even electronics stores if they carry appliances.

The roasters are good for doing more than cooking turkeys... I've heard people mention baking cookies in them, and other oven chores when they don't want to heat up a whole oven or their kitchen is being remodeled. They are also good for slow-cooking fruit butters. ;)

That's my advice for this pre-Thanksgiving season... watch for the sales. Stock up if you can. Pre-cooked turkey in the freezer is just as good as and can be substituted for cooked chicken, and at sale prices of around $.49 a pound, a real bargain.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Television: Convention

This week we saw a few shows get axed, but there are still some strong old favorites left, as well as some new surprises.

"Supernatural" took their love for their fans to the next level with the episode "The Real Ghostbusters". Set at a fan convention for the book series based on Sam and Dean's lives, things get dicey when a real ghost shows up and starts to participate. There are plenty of geeky in-jokes, ribbing, and tender-hearted moments of observation about the brothers' relationship. The episode also brought up a fact previously ignored in the series... that the modern-day prophet who writes the books knows more about the brothers' situations than they themselves do. As someone in the Ravelry fan group for the show said, Sammy needs to pull an all-nighter and go through those books.

V (2009) was good again, accurately capturing the paranoia, manipulative forces, and general... well... accurate slice of humanity present in the original mini-series. Still waiting for a visitor to swallow a live rodent. If there's one visual I remember from the original, THAT was it.

CSI kinda ticked me off this week, with their triple-crossover event. I didn't want to watch them separately, so I saved them all for after the third installment was recorded. I'll watch them this weekend, and maybe next week I'll have some thoughts.

As far as older shows, I recently started watching a new set on DVD called "Saving Grace". I've always loved Holly Hunter, and I've been spotting some other familiar actors along the way including Lemonhead from "The Shield". The one that truly bothered me was Earl, Grace's guardian/last chance before hell angel. I knew I'd seen him before, speaking exactly the same way. Sadly, I had to look it up, and discovered he played a character role on "Star Trek: TNG" as Sonny Clemmons, a 20th century country singer awakened by the crew from a cryogenic freezer. I was tickled pink.

I have finally caught up to where I stopped watching "Stargate: Atlantis" in the fifth season. When I hear of a show's demise, I kind of stop having the heart to watch it anymore, and this was no exception. I was pleased to see Jonathan Frakes with a directing credit on one of the episodes. There were probably more, but I don't often watch the credits as I'm too busy knitting.

Hubby's all-time favorite show, "Legend of the Seeker", started its new season this week, and I swear he's impossible to live with for a day or two afterward. :P The effects and general production value on that show are just stunning. Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia on Buffy and Angel) had a largish role in the season premiere. She looks good in red leather. But then we knew that. :D

As far as the title of this post goes, there is a *real* convention for "Supernatural" this weekend. I don't have any details, but one of the Ravelry group members will be attending. I'm kind of looking forward to hearing her account, and the reaction to her amigurumi versions of Sam, Dean, and Castiel. They're cute.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Television Supplemental: Damn you, FOX! Again! Times 3!

It's all but officially announced that "Dollhouse", the latest Joss Whedon effort, is cancelled.

Boo on FOX, but as I previously stated, there are very few roles Eliza Dushku can carry off as lead in a series... Tru Calling being the only one I've personally witnessed. As Echo in Dollhouse, not so much.

Also getting the axe this week was "Eastwick" (which I was just getting into, dammit). It was nice to see Ms. Romaine in something where she's not blue and covered in spikes. And the actor playing Daryl Van Horn was yummy in a creepy way. Bleah.

Oddball: Reason #1

Why Rick Springfield is better than Bruce Springsteen:

Bruce at age 60:

Rick at age 60:

As a side note, I recently checked my stats on, and I find it hard to believe I listen to Rick 29% of the time... I was thinking 75% at the very least, but I suppose all those stupid podcasts eat into the totals. :P

Knitting: Stop the Insanity!

I don't know whether I mentioned it, but I ended up turning my "No-name" scarf into a headband instead by binding it off after only seven or so repeats and stitching the ends together. I felt like I needed something warm over my ears and bad-hair-days more than something lacy and pretty around my neck. Since my pictures look crappy unless I set them up with proper lighting and such, I don't have them at this moment. I stopped being a perfectionist with my blog, remember? That way lies procrastination.

I am nearly finished with my Blanket Coat. The body was bound off yesterday and set to block while I started on the sleeves. I'm a repeat and a half into them. I decided to do both sleeves at once on my circular needles so I don't get second-sock syndrome... (for non-knitters, that means procrastinating on starting the second item once the first is done). By doing both at once, I also ensure that any mistakes made will be symmetrical, and look like they belong. Kind of like Ray Romano's joke about checking to see if you have the same oddity on the other side of your body... if there are two weird lumps, they must be intentional and part of a set.

This week I also started the "Autumn Rose Pullover" I've wanted to do for two years. Knit Picks had their translations of the colorways into their own yarns up waaaaay before the book even became available to the general public, and I had been on the waiting list. What I did NOT REALIZE was that this is a knit-in-the-round intarsia sweater on SIZE 2 NEEDLES. Yes. Size TWO. I must be insane. Even on socks I will try to stretch the limits of proper guage to do them on size 3 or even size 4 needles.

So after a couple of days (which, granted, has been interrupted by the Blanket Coat knitting) I have a grand total of ONE INCH of the sweater done. It's ribbing, in two colors, but quite striking. This will be an heirloom sweater, for sure, but man... I have got to be crazy.

Of course, now I have these running dreams in my head of making up my own intarsia patterns and cranking out a billion of them, even as I curse my slow progress. It's so slow, but oh, OH so pretty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gaming: Whata-sphere?

Big Fish Games has a new cash cow... Faunasphere. A web-based, basic free-to-play RPG where you run around a futuristic biodome, saving it from pollution as a cuddly furry creature. Upgrading to a pay account will net you extra character slots (aka "fauna") and currency tokens only available to premium accounts. They have three pay tiers, and "bux" (the premium currency) can be purchased seperately.

Guess what my daughter's new passion is? :/ And finding it was my own darn fault.

It's a fun little game, with some basic quest lines and thin story. What's captured my imagination is the breeding and genetics of the fauna. As time progresses, your fauna (whether horse, turtle, or whatever) gets closer and closer to laying an egg. The egg takes on characteristics of both the one who lays the egg, and the one who nests with it.

Genetics was always my favorite part of The Sims, too.

Whatever gives you the urge to keep playing, Faunasphere is worth a look or two. It might even be worth the lowest "pay to play" tier at $2.99. But $9.99 a month? I'm thinking that's a little steep, and only for the hard-core, must have 30 fauna in my stable types. Or people with more money than bills.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Food: Freezer Avalanche

Well, I've been using down my freezer stash for some time now, and today it finally got to *that* point... the point where there's enough stuff in it to be pretty full, but not quite enough stuff to keep it all wedged in there tightly when you open the door. At that point, there's nothing to do but empty it out, clean, and reorganize.

Get a cooler, and turn off the freezer. And wear shoes with sensible toes, because it WILL hit you in the feet and shins if it starts sliding.

Check the dates on everything. If you still have ham from last Christmas, consider tossing it. It probably won't kill you, but it's possibly going to be like jerky at this point, depending on how well you packaged it.

This is definitely the time to thaw/defrost and get those little green broccoli flecks off of everything. Then all you need to do is play a little freezer Tetris and you should be good to go... all set for the food madness coming up in a few short weeks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Television: V is for...

... whoa, step out of the wayback machine.

This week on Tuesday was the mid-season premiere of "V", the souped-up remake of the '80s miniseries. I remember it being quite popular when I was in highschool, and the DVD viewing I had a couple of Christmasses ago revealed it to be a show that did not age well. The ideas were good, but it still came up looking dated. So I was really excited to see what they were going to do with it.

It's clear from the pilot that while some story elements are updated (single-mom FBI agents, viral web media) they're still sticking with the basics of the original plot. Can I give spoilers for a show that was partially written 25 years ago? Let's mention what's new and different.

I liked the implication that the underground anti-V movement has been around for years... however if they try to work in that the original mini-series was the first visit, I will be disappointed. I don't think they can though, with the rehash of some of the plotlines.

Just so I don't spoil anything for those who haven't seen the original, let's talk about cast members. Since I like to spot familiar faces, I had a grand time with this pilot. Of course everyone who has my taste in shows immediately recognized Allen Tudyk and Morena Baccarin from "Firefly" from the commercials before the show even aired. It's a shame Allen's characters all seem to die right away. We also have notable members from "Lost" (Elizabeth Mitchell), "The 4400" (Joel Gretsch), and "Smallville" (Laura Vandervoort).

It's interesting to me that they're trying to make a series out of this instead of a mini-series. Do they really think they can carry on with it for a number of seasons, or are they expecting to wrap it up after only one season? The one-season idea smacks of planned obsolescence and doesn't sit well with me, especially when there are shows with original plotlines out there which are or have been in danger of cancellation and no one wanted to see them go.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Knitting: I Can't Get No...

... Satisfaction. Even at the ancient age of 40 (and something), I know I'm a little young for that particular Rolling Stones tune. Still it fits. Go, Mick.

I'm not technically done with the Blue Log Cabin yet. I bound off the last segment, but I haven't picked up the stitches for the new segment. It's about the size of a very large and bizarre shawl, but I think I'm done with it for a while. I can only do *so much* garter stitch.

I think the Purple Moderne Log Cabin blanket is felted into my couch, I haven't touched it in so long. Even in Knit Picks Palette, it's frikken expensive.

So late last night I started a fairly simple scarf (Scarf with No Name... pattern designer's words, not mine) with some Twisted Fiber Arts Circle sock yarn... I want to say it's her Arial yarn base, but who knows? I don't have a memory for these things, and I wound it into a ball months ago, thinking I was going to start some socks. Hah. I suck at socks. When I complete a pair, they're great, but dang it takes me a while. My point being, the label is long gone.

I've hit the point in the "Some Coat" project where I split for the sleeves. I've done the left front and the back segments, and am about a third of the way through the right front. Soon I'll be reconnecting for the long haul to the bottom, then the sleeves, finishing, and it's done. A quick look with my tape measure, and it appears it will be as long as the photo implies. I guess the model is a full-heighth woman after all. Those numbers looked really, really small though.

So I'm excited about knitting again, which is nice. The scarf is a quick knit, but it's lace, so it's not recommended for bedtime knitting when you want to relax. The blanket coat is not as boring as the name implies with its alternating squares of stockinette and reverse stockinette. However I want to finish it faster than the small amount of late-night knitting I do allows. So I'll probably be trading off the two projects during the day, and doing "just a few more rows" on the coat at night for the relaxy factor.

Meanwhile, another dentist appointment today. New insurance, so he wants to do a full workup again since the last one is three years old. Normally I would say this smacks of fraud, but there have been enough changes that I believe he's right. He was even kind enough to schedule a bit of extra time in case any work needed to be done. I'm hoping not, but you know how that goes. By the time *you* know you need dental work, it's already almost too late, really. I know it's a pain, but keep up with your checkups, people. It makes a HUGE difference in your health.

And it's no fun not being able to chew. :D

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gaming: Takophenes is DOWN!

I managed, through a little schmoozing and a little bit of Google usage, to complete ALL the event badges for the Champions Online Blood Moon event. I could handle rescuing zombie heroes, I could handle teaming up for the hero crypts, especially on the Downtown heroes, but the real sticky part was going to be tracking down the Kingpin of the undead... Takophenes.

His spawn timer is 6 hours, 6 minutes, and (one assumes) 6 seconds long. In real time. On each different server. Thank god for the internet and geeks who love tracking statistics (and then sharing them).

Once I found a list of expected spawn times for each "shard" or server, and a player-constructed chat channel, the rest was easy. Listen on the chat channel for whichever server was up next, and wait. I managed to take five of my characters through this frenzy of ice blasts and fireballs, getting the Perk for downing him. I will not bother with my level 6 character, as there's just no way she'd make it through without being stomped into a sticky paste. As it was, two of my level 22 characters died RIGHT at the moment of the Lich's downfall. I got credit, but it was a pain to limp all the way back to the field of battle for my (meager) share of the loot.

I even managed to get this for my new Celestial powerset character, a tiny level 14, but with some healing powers to offset her tiny stature. She was started on Friday, I believe, after I finished the "In Memorium" perk with Ice Princess.

All in all, Cryptic has delivered in my opionion. While the PvP elements of the event were annoying, they were not as grief-ridden as in other MMORPGs I've played. The only time I was truly annoyed was when I found out I'd have to start all over on the "Kill 100" quests because the tokens for being a Werewolf or a Were-hunter were on a timer. I mean, really? I'm supposed to do this in one sitting? What if no-one is playing?

Other than that, it was a satisfying event.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Food: Candybar Overload

There are uses for leftover Halloween candy. If you have piles of Twizzlers, gummy bears, or Skittles, I can't help you unless you're asking me to eat them. :P BUT if you have chocolate candy in the mini-snickers or other famous bars arena, consider using them in place of chocolate chips in your favorite cookie recipe.

Take about two and a half cups of mini chocolate bars, run a knife through the pile in a rough chop, and measure. If you have approximately two cups, you're golden. This works with toffee bars, snickers, almond-coconut... I don't think I've had a candy it doesn't work with. Substitute this for the two cups of chips in THAT famous recipe... you know the one. It's on the back of the yellow bag of chips.

It will still go straight to your hips, but at least you'll feel better knowing you got some other food group candidates in with the eating.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gaming: Free Champions Online Weekend

Hey! My current favorite MMO, Champions Online, is having a free trial weekend! Download the client, hop on-board, and help us blast some zombies and werewolves in this Blood Moon Halloween event.

If you've ever longed to design your own comic book superhero, now's your chance!

Television: Supplemental Alert

Thanks to my mother, I was alerted to a Rick Springfield appearance today on Ellen. Rick is starting a story arc on Showtime's "Californication" as a twisted version of himself (his words). Word on the street is there's humorous nudity involved.

I am on hold with the cable company as I type....

(Hubby, I'm kidding... sort of)

Television: Spooky Specials

It's that time of year where it not only becomes acceptable to scare your kids, it's expected. So what happens to TV shows that are already scary? They get funnier. Or they should.

"The Vampire Diaries", "the forgotten" and "Flash Forward" pretended like it was just another week at the office, which is sad, but expected, from shows in their first season. Whereas established shows had a little fun with the spooky theme expected at this time of year, ala "The Mentalist" and its ghostly tie-in.

"Castle" this week featured an appearance of Nathan Fillion dressed for Halloween as the beloved Captain Reynolds from "Firefly". In a 40-second gag, this show reminded me why I love this new show. It was clever, self-deprecating, and quite charming. And since the plot of the entire episode involved the investigation of a guy dressed as a vampire being murdered in a cemetary by a stake through his heart, it was also funny... but not in an over-the-top or disrespectful way. "Castle" laughs in the face of death, (sometimes literally) but always in a tasteful way.

It's too bad that shows like "Supernatural" took a week off (or more) for a brief hiatus before sweeps week. I would have liked to have seen what funny tricks they pulled out of the pumpkin.

**Ugh, my TiVo was slow on the uptake, and there *was* a new Supernatural this week. My bad.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Store Stuff Update: I'm writing about the Store, so it must be Thursday

Sales picked up this last couple weeks, but I'm still not in "OMG it's the holidays and everyone's shopping" mode. The "True Blood" series of rovings has been quite popular, between the second season of the show ending, and Halloween being around the corner.

I don't mean to capitalize on someone else's success, I just have a really, really hard time naming things. It helps to come up with a theme for a series, that way there's less worry and stress.

I'm really bad at writing slogans for my ads, too... too bad I can't come up with a solution for that problem! Well, actually there is... it involves just the name of the shop and pictures, but it's hard to be satisfied with pictures that are only 98 pixels tall.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Knitting: I swear, it's a coat!

Well I decided to (metaphorically) get off my hiney and start a new project, even though I am still working on my Dixon Knitters blankets (for the new people, I started a log cabin blanket and a moderne log cabin blanket at the same time... I know, I know). They are mostly stockinette or garter stitch, so they were kind of boring to do, even watching TV, and I spent less time knitting as a result.

Then I started (literally) grinding my teeth over my dental bills, so I knew stress-reduction was needed. Spinning and knitting are the two best stress reducers I know of. Since I'd ordered more spinning fiber for *that* project (the Clasica coat on the cover of the Fall 2009 Interweave knits) on Oct 8th and it still hadn't arrived due to a backorder on the buttons, I had to find another project fast.

I ordered a bunch of Knit Picks Gloss in heavyweight worsted (not fucking cheap, let me tell you), and started the Winter Wonderland coat. And re-started. And ripped back five times. There is something seriously wrong with that chart! The pictures show a lacey leaf shape flanked by lacey diamonds. At the top of those diamonds, the last row of them (at the edge of the repeat, no less) is a left-slanting decrease, then two yarn-overs in a row, followed by a right-slanting decrease. The next row was straight stockinette. Huh?

There had been previous rows with double yarn-overs. That wasn't what was boggling me. The problem is the row above it... how to resolve that last double yarn-over wasn't addressed. I ended up with a huge ladder above the diamond, no matter what. And since that wasn't what the finished coat in the picture looked like, I was at a loss. I tried looking up the erratta on the Interweave site, but they must have been having problems because every page I went to resolved into a 404 error or a database error page. Finally, I gave up. I mean, this was supposed to be stress *reducing* right?

So I switched to a coat I'd started and frogged in another yarn and color, the Blanket Coat from Knitter's Magazine Winter 2006. It is a basic blanket shape, with sleeves added at a strategic point allowing it to be worn as either a duster, or a cardigan with a very large cowl collar. At least this is what the pattern claims.

In any case, I'm now knitting yet another blanket. But in squares of stockinette and reverse stockinette, so it's slightly less boring. I even have pictures:

Okay, I have *one* picture of my progress. But that is two-days-worth of knitting, so it's proceeding quite quickly.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gaming: Set Phasers to "Pick Me!"

Now that I've already signed up... uh, now that Tuesday is here, I thought it'd be a good time to let y'all know that the new Star Trek Online MMO has gone into closed Beta. If pretending to captain a starship or going on away missions is your "thang", then you might want to type as fast as your little fingers can and sign up. Go to and you'll see the graphic for signing up. Twice. If you miss it, I don't think I can help you. :D

There are already reviews up from people who got to see it at recent conventions, but honestly some of them have very poor writing skills. Even once you get past the poor grammar, it's hard to tell what they actually thought about the experience. It looks more like an "I was there!" post than an actual review.

Still, I'm excited. "Champions Online" is another MMO by Cryptic, and I'm fairly satisfied with the ability they've shown in that game to create a fun and varied experience. Now excuse me while I hit the refresh button on my email account while chanting "Pick Me!" over and over.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Food: Uses for freezer meatballs

While frozen meatballs can certainly be used for Spaghetti and Meatballs, there are so many more uses for them... and they don't necessarily need to be dinner entrees.

Swedish Meatballs (appetizer)
Italian Meatball heroes
Salisbury Meatballs
Sauerbraten Meatballs

These are just a few options. I've even seen an appetizer recipe that involves a bottle of chili sauce and grape jelly... and it's not as gross as it sounds. It turns into an interesting barbecue sauce once combined and cooked.

While I wasn't able to find that exact recipe (I think I saw it in one of those church fund-raising cookbooks my grandmother has) this one is darn close:

Buffet Meatballs

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Food: Supplemental on Canning

Spent the past week making and trying new things. What seemed like a huge bag of apples made a quart and a half of apple butter. Same with the pears. The grapes made two and a half quarts of what appears to be chunky grape juice (I clearly did not cook it long enough, or add enough sure-jell pectin). I can easily open the jars and re-cook the grape jam, but I will need to refrigerate it as I cannot can it again using the same lids. And like an idiot, I did not pick up spares.

I'd never had apple or pear butter before, and it is quite tasty. It's a great spread on toast, and tonight I'm looking forward to putting it on pancakes. The fruit's true flavor really shines through.

I decided against canning the yellow squash, as I've used it in meals all week and will not have enough left to can. Plus the family doesn't really seem to care for it. However I am currently pressure-canning my carrots. I'm a little nervous, because I didn't pay much attention when my grandmother was pressure canning in my youth, and the equipment is slightly different.

Well, the timer just went off, and I have to wait for the pressure to release naturally (they say in the instructions that it's important to do this so that the residual heat finishes the germ-killing process) so we'll know tomorrow whether the jars sealed themselves properly.

In a yahoo group I belong to, I've heard women talking about canning *whole chickens* (completely deboned, of course) in quart jars in a pressure canner. I don't know if I'll ever be confident enough in my skills to try that, but I must say it sounds intriguing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Television: FOX is at it again.

FOX network is planning on setting Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" aside during sweeps week, reports Entertainment Weekly. While this is not a good sign, I have to say I'm not surprised. I'm just not feeling "it" for Dollhouse the same way I did with "Firefly". Whether this is due to the intense drool-able appeal of Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) or my vague distaste of Eliza Dushku (Buffy, Angel, Bring it On) or a combination of the two, I'm not going to be sad to see Dollhouse go. Considering the intense postcard-writing binge I went on when "Firefly" was in danger, that's really tragic.

I haven't hidden my irritation at certain plot-serving devices that make no sense (see last week's TV post) but these are minor things that can be overlooked if the rest of the show is stellar. But despite Joss' original statements that he wanted "Dollhouse" to be a showcase for the other facets of Dushku's acting talent, showing that she could play something besides a kick-ass bitch, Dushku comes off as wooden and silly in most cases, like a kid playing dress-up in big sister's clothes. Perhaps it's time to retire Echo to the attic and focus on the phenomenal talents of Enver Gjokaj or Dichen Lachman.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Knitting: When Monogamy is Bad

I have very picky criteria for picking an online vendor, whether it's for personal use or for raw supplies for my store. I insist on clear, easy-to-use shopping cart systems. An "account" area, so I can go back and check on previous orders. A flexible catalog system, so I can find what I'm looking for whether it's by weight, fiber content, or other search criteria. I think it's a given that it must work properly, and accurately. They should have decent prices, and their shipping charge must be reasonable.

Oh yeah, and they need to have something *in stock* for me to buy.

I'm not going to name names, but for the past year and a half I have been growing increasingly irritated with the yarn supplier I use. They run out of colors frequently. Apparently they've never heard of creating an "order point", i.e. if your stock drops to a certain number, you order more. I see inSANEly ridiculous back-order dates for FEBRUARY, right now. WTF? Are they shearing the sheep themselves? If I want to make a black sweater, I really have to wait till February? For BLACK?

Yes, I'm in the position where I could dye it up myself. My point is, I shouldn't have to. If they're counting on their consistently low prices to retain their customers, they're really kidding themselves. Right now, one of my raw wool suppliers also carries yarn. I don't buy from them, because they carry "luxury" yarn brands, and the prices reflect that. Their free shipping option is insanely slow, and their paid options are expensive. But if I have to, I will switch. Because I've never seen them run out of Cascade 220. In ANY color.

Get your acts together people. Folks are eyeing their purchases a little more closely these days. Billing errors are not going to be overlooked. Shortages and frequent out-of-stocks are just going to send them somewhere else. You could have the finest "Dollar Store" around, but if a person walks in ready to spend, and all they find is one lonely plastic bowl on the shelf, they'll turn around and shop somewhere else.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Miscellaneous: Mouths on your fingertips

**Maybe this is the pain of today's dental appointment talking, but I am really angry right now. Swearing follows.

I belong to a Yahoo! email group for a special category of cooking. I get a lot of interesting ideas and support for my foodie endeavors, but every two or three years or so, I find myself needing to take a break from the group.

Not to sound condescending, but sometimes people are *really fucking stupid*. I'm getting that feeling again that I need to take a break from the group or I'm going to go off on somebody.

Imagine, if you will, someone asking the following question: "I want to make bread, but I don't have a bread machine... is it possible?" They honestly asked this question.

My reply, if I didn't have any regard for anyone's feelings, would go something like this:

"Of course it's not possible! When the pilgrims first came to this country, you know, bread machines were built of beechwood and powered by a combination of steam and combustion. Why, to lay your bare hands on raw dough would be unthinkable!"

I'm so glad I have the capability for self-censure. Otherwise I think there'd be a tiny 22 year old housewife (I'm assuming) in the city crying right now. I KNOW she's not from farm country, or she'd know better.

Sarcasm aside, do people even listen to what they write anymore? Don't they run it through their heads first? I remember seeing someone in (typed) chat on an MMORPG swearing a LOT when he got jumped by enemies. When someone called him on it, he typed, "When I get surprised like that, I can't help it, I just blurt it out."

Is that what it's come to... blurting through typing? Are our fingers turning into extensions of our mouths, and by the same token, our brains? Is all our communication just turning into one big stream of consciousness?

Or is it just that people don't care anymore... care about their appearance to the outside world when they communicate? They don't care about what they say, they don't care about how well they spell it, and they don't care if they offend anyone?

Even just going back to the cooking mailing list, I am mostly irritated because people don't even care if they're asking the *right* question to get an answer to what they really want to know.

The question shouldn't be "Can you freeze celery?" because of course you CAN. You can freeze ANYTHING. The question should be "Should I freeze celery if I want it to still be crunchy when it thaws?" or "Should I freeze celery if I don't want it to be a mushy pile of cellulose in a puddle of celery juice?" If your aim is to make a crudite platter, then no, you should NOT freeze celery. If you want to preserve celery to put in soups, stocks, or make a veggie smoothie (gack) then yeah, go right ahead.

We can't read minds, people.

Television Supplemental: Damn you, FOX!

If you are like me, and you time-shift your shows via DVR, be aware that "House" and "Lie to Me" last night were severely SCREWED due to baseball. I don't know if it was regional, or nationwide, but you may want to check your recordings.

I did manage to see all of "House" ONLY because I also record "Lie to Me". Half the episode was on one recording, the other half on the one for the other show.

I think Amazon "Video on Demand" and iTunes are going to see an upswing in purchased episodes this week. :/

Gaming: Blood Moon

So last Friday, Cryptic offered a testing/preview of their first free add-on content, "Blood Moon". Due for live release on October 27th, it features instances and PvP with an Undead/Werewolf theme.

I only got a chance to try the PvP. Normally, I frikken HATE PvP, but this managed to be entertaining, fun, and griefer-free, for the most part. There were a couple incidents of respawn camping, but all in all not bad since the respawn points change.

You start out in a cabin in the woods, if you start as a hero, or in a cave if you're the unlucky soul who starts as an undead. You try to survive as long as possible. If you fall against the undead, you respawn as undead. The game continues as long as there is one living hero left.

I'm actually looking forward to the chaos on the 27th. :D

Monday, October 19, 2009

Food: Preserving the cornucopia

Fall is known as harvest time for a reason. And with all the crops coming in, it's a good time for loading up on preservable produce. I say bring it on!

So far, of the groceries purchased on Saturday are pretty much still as they were. Five pounds of ground chuck (80/20) has been boiled up and frozen, but otherwise I'm in a holding pattern. The pears need to ripen further, the apples aren't going anywhere, and lo and behold, I still have a decent number of grapes left.

Plans this week include the apple and pear butter as I've already mentioned. Not only am I waiting for them to ripen, but I need to buy pint sized canning jars. And believe me, they stopped carrying them at the grocery a month ago in my neck of the woods. So I'll have to order online. Fortunately, the apple and pear butter recipes are high acid (mostly because of the lemon juice used to prevent browning) so hot water bath canning is perfectly safe. I'm getting this straight from the Blue Book of canning.

I'm a little... nervous? about the yellow squash. I'm sure pressure canning is perfectly safe, but I think I'm going to be more comfortable freezing them. Plus, the pressure canner I have my eye on is $70 bucks... and that is NOT somewhere you want to skimp on quality.

The grapes will be turned into jelly or jam... the difference being whether I leave the skins in or not. The skins have natural pectin in them (the usual thickener for jelly and jam) so I may opt to cook it as jam for the natural pectin and then strain it. They are the tastiest, sweetest red grapes I've ever eaten, so I know anything made of them will be marvelous. Plus, the skins will lend a very pretty color to the whole thing.

So that's the plan over the next week. I do NOT plan on grocery shopping for a while now. We are pretty much covered in the veggie, meat, and starches categories. Mostly just topping off the staples like eggs, milk and maybe bread, although I have about twelve pounds of flour left, so I'm covered there too.

Now hopefully, after my dentist appointment on Tuesday I will still feel like eating. :P

Oh, and at some point I plan on making freezer taquitos from the rest of the ground chuck and the tortillas I picked up. They require less cooking than usual because they can be baked or fried directly from frozen and they don't need anything to hold them together.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Food: Supplemental edition

Madcap grocery expedition today. Kroger is apparently really hot on this 10/10$ thing they've got going. Some of the deals are good, some not so much, so you really have to keep an eye on it. I picked up:

10 lbs. Red Delicious Apples
10 lbs. Pears
some corn and flour tortilla packs for a dollar each
10 Pasta-Roni
10 lbs. Ground Chuck
10 lbs. red grapes
10 lbs. long grain rice (in two pound packs)
5 lbs yellow squash

Everything was a dollar each, except the Chuck, which was $1.50 per pound. Since I have a freezer full of apple pie filling, this time I'm going to make apple butter, and pear butter, and can it. I *might* try to make pear mincemeat for pies and can it, instead, but since I haven't eaten many mincemeat pies, I'm not sure about that one.

The ground chuck will get boiled, bagged and frozen. The grapes could be gone by Monday (by which I mean my family eats them like fiends), but if they're not, I'll possibly can those in a light syrup. I have no idea what to do with canned grapes, but hey, if I can preserve them I will. Maybe Jam would be a better idea.

I have a dentist's appointment on Tuesday, finally, to get my two crowns done. Once I know how much that will set me back (we found out hubby's insurance provider DID change back in January, so everything's up in the air again), I'm planning on getting a pressure canner, some more jars/lids, and probably a food mill. That will make canning the squash a little safer, lol. The fruits are all high-acid foods, so they can be safely canned in a hot water bath, which I'm already set up for.

I'm already looking forward to seeing my pantry full of jars of fruit and veggies. :D

Friday, October 16, 2009

Television: The Universe and You

Every "universe", whether it's the real one we're living in, or one made up for fiction, has its own set of rules. You can comfortably sink into a story and let it sweep you away, because you know how it's supposed to work and you don't need to spend brain power trying to determine how it's possible. This is why, especially in television shows where the universe is a little bit different, it's important to establish those rules right away, and STICK to them.

Joss Whedon, I may be talking to YOU here.

An interesting point was brought up this past week, while discussing the latest episode of Dollhouse called "Belle Chose". As fans, we can take the concept of vampires, esteemed geishas, people with programmed personalities and run with them. But screw with something like a GPS locator, and we flip.

I think it comes down to the established rules in the show's mythos, established “rules” in the real world, and where they clash… with a bit of liberty thrown in for expedience of telling a story.

If the rules for raising a demon, or whatever made-up procedure, are already established, and then the show breaks those rules simply to provide a plot point, people are going to cry BS. I think the problem with the tech in Dollhouse is that there are viewers who KNOW how GPS works, know how computers work, know how data streaming over wireless networks works, etc. The main objective of all this tech, wiping people’s brains, may be made up… but they’re wrapping it in familiar technology and trying to treat the familiar with the same cavalier attitude they used with the “mystical technology” of Joss’ previous shows.

Unfortunately, people are too familiar with real-world tech to be able to get away with it. And if I’m able to spot little holes like these, I can’t imagine how crazy it must make, say, someone who went to MIT.

Can we send Joss to ITT tech? I mean, seriously.

I remember an episode of Angel (maybe) where someone spilled a cup of coffee on a computer keyboard. This somehow magically caused sparks to fly from the CPU, and if I'm remembering correctly, tripped the breaker, plunging the hotel into darkness.

No. Just... no.

I think that it's extremely telling that while I can remember that incident with clarity, I can't remember what the episode was about. I can't even say for sure it was Angel, it may have been Buffy, although I doubt it. The reason I remember it so clearly? It totally slammed me out of the story. I couldn't think of anything after that but the gaffe.

I was reminded of all this quite vividly with this crap about a missing GPS strip from Victor. I realize this was all a setup so that Topher would have a reason to attempt something as potentially dangerous as a remote mind-wipe. I realize that attempting this is one step on the road that leads us to the events of the unaired episode, "Epitaph One" (viewable on the DVD set or for a fee from Amazon Unbox) I really get that.

But unfortunately, if you use real-world tech, you have to abide by real-world rules. If you have giga-quads of data LIVE streaming from an active in the form of heartrate, respiration, and brainwave patterns, then these actives have some form of tech still in their bodies. You can't tell me that someone, somehow, FORGOT to add the GPS locator, but added back all the other tech. And if it was removed for dermal reconstruction of Victor's face (which is doubtful in itself) then the rest would have needed to be removed also. Which it obviously wasn't. And you can't tell me that it's not possible to somehow stream all that biological information without being able to tell where it's coming from.

If the cops in '95 can track a cell phone making a call to within one city block on "Without a Trace", then Topher and his magical mystery machines can track down an active, with or without a damn "GPS strip" as long as they're still receiving data.

That's my TV gripe of the week.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Store Stuff Update: Zilch

Not a lot going on with the store at present, so no real post today. Halloween is just around the corner, but other than running a really LAME ad on Ravelry (I am NOT suited for writing ad copy. I'm really not.) there's nothing exciting happening.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Knitting: Not quite in gear

I am STILL on my blankets... I'm just not in a knitting mood right now. Didn't start my halloween socks (I've resigned myself to the fact that they will not be finished)and fortunately found a way around having to KNIT my daughter's halloween costume, as she's caught the Harry Potter bug and was wanting me to knit the wizard's robe from Charmed Knits. I mean, please. I'll be happy to do it when I don't have a deadline, but not with less than a month to go, and little money for yarn. Hellooo!

I DID manage to finally mail off my uncle's test socks. They've been hanging out on the back of the couch for two weeks, mocking me.

I've been far more interested in reading, which isn't so odd... hubby decided that I MUST read some Sidney Sheldon, which is fine, and bought a stack of used paperbacks from a store near his work. Mr. Sheldon is a fine writer, but I found some of his characterizations of women slightly naive, and quite frankly, sometimes insulting. I had to check the publish date on a few of them. One was from '69, which, okay, I get the caveman-like attitude about women, but the one from '95 made me feel like sending him a feminist book. Something from the Friedan ouvre.

Once I finished those, I was back into the Sookie Stackhouse books (snort... after a rant about feminism) to remind myself about the plotlines from the book, since we'd just finished watching season two of True Blood. They took liberties. I haven't decided whether or not they are good or bad ones. They ARE hitting all the high points (like sneaky Eric Northman) but the blending of the plots of books two and three was a little odd, and I would have preferred that they not have changed the incident near the end of season two to a bomb instead of a shooting. I can see why they did it, especially if they're trying to step up the "use" of the plotlines, but I was looking forward to more of Barry the telepathic bellboy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gaming: Feeling like it's the '80s

This week in gaming was very interesting. I got all my characters on Champions Online up to level 21, so they could access the next crafting tier. I re-installed King's Bounty: The Legend since I wiped my operating system drive after my credit cards were compromised, and thus lost all my games.

I also received Ghostbusters: The Game (360) from Gamefly. I cannot tell you how fun it is to strap on the proton pack! Figuratively speaking, of course.

The game pretty much takes you on a tour of all the characters and sites from the movies, with just enough of a little added information to make it interesting. The grey lady librarian? Yes, you find out what her deal was. Slimer, of course, makes an appearance, along with the Stay-Puft marshmallow man, the mayor, and various other people and ghosts.

Two things I don't like... one, you are playing as a guy. There is no way around that. I would have liked to have had the option to play as a woman, but them's the breaks. Two, it is fairly easy to lose track of your teammates, especially in dark environments. There's supposed to be a key to press that brings up a directional indicator, but it's not listed in your electronic organizer, or in the keybind options. It's nice that your teammates will often lead the way to the next area, in case you get stuck, but it doesn't help much if you've gone down the wrong hallway.

The only other nitpick I can think of is my daughter gets irritated that the loading screen cuts off the song right before she can shout "Ghostbusters!"

I can already tell it will offer many hours of entertainment trying to go back to get all the achievements. It's a great nostalgic callback, and worth the purchase or rental.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Food: This week in bargain shopping...

So I sent my intrepid husband, Barronius, to the stores armed with printed lists (one for each of the two stores), handwritten lists denoting amounts of items to purchase from the printed lists plus extra items, and a stack of coupons.

There was a coupon for three packages of hot dogs at a very reasonable price, and a coupon for 10/$10 on hot dog buns. I wrote on the list VERY CLEARLY to only buy three... and explained verbally before he left that it is NOT necessary to buy all ten to get the savings from the coupon. There was also a great deal on tart apples, red grapes, and some tender beef cuts. Also, a very cheap price on boneless/skinless chicken breasts and breast tenders (strips)

As you can guess, he came home with TEN packages of hot dog buns. I barely have room in the freezer for one, let alone ten. But he did spot another cut of meat that was at the same sale price for the roasts and picked some up, so I quickly forgave him. I packed half the buns (still in their original packaging) inside a couple of huge 2.5 gallon freezer bags and left them out on the shelf. They won't stay there long. I stashed a couple in the fridge too, and we had hotdogs for a quick meal on shopping day, so that was almost one package down... woo hoo!

Monday was spent clearing space in the freezer, dealing with a 10 pound bag of potatoes, and processing a couple of the roasts. First I washed all the potatoes and oiled and salted six of the best baking shapes in the oven to roast. While those were cooking for an hour, I peeled and washed the rest of the bag, dunking each in a bowl of salted water as I finished.

(PS. Don't try to put an entire bag's worth of potato peelings down your garbage disposal. Let's just say I had to make a small plumbing pit-stop in the middle of all this... the entire PVC pipe leading from the disposal to the drain was PACKED with unground peels.)

I then chunked up the potatoes, and packed a few cup's worth of chunks into each quart freezer bag, added a teaspoon of salt to each bag, and covered with water. I then pressed all the air out and laid them flat in the freezer on a cookie sheet. I'll remove them from the sheet on Tuesday and place them in the freezer as I normally would. The salted water method was outlined in my "Ball Blue Book of Canning" as being good (there's a section in the back about freezing), but I'm still worried about discoloration. We'll see how it goes. I saved one bag of chunks for dinner, but I kind of lost track of where I stashed it in the fridge (who can see with a bazillion bags of hot dog buns in the way?). Hopefully it won't turn up later some place that's unrefrigerated... that'd be my luck.

The roasting potatoes still had some time to go, so I took out one package of the steaks and chunked those up as well. I divided this into four parts, packing and freezing three parts, and tossing the fourth in a bowl with flour, garlic salt, and pepper. My dutch oven got called into service, and I browned it up. I added some onion, and baby carrots. Once this had had a bit of time, I added a cup of beef stock and a half a bag of the red sauce I had left from our last spaghetti adventure that needed to be used up. I set this to simmer, covered, while I cast about for a way to use up some of those buns without grinding them all up into soft, but less nutritious than I liked, bread crumbs.

Since I had a LARGE bag of apples and all that bread, I decided that Apple Bread pudding would be the way to go. Unfortunately it only takes half a package of buns to make four cups of bread cubes, so I may be making this twice. It turns out hubby liked it a LOT, so that will be okay.

By the time I'd chosen a recipe for the bread, the roasting potatoes were done. After letting them cool for ten minutes, I halved them, scooped out the flesh, and set the shells aside. I then mashed the middles with sour cream, garlic salt and pepper, and shredded sharp cheddar. I then packed this mixture back into the shells, topped this with more cheddar, smooshed it down into the potato a bit so it would stick, and put three each into quart freezer bags which I then labelled and froze. Since they are mostly fully cooked (not counting the cheese) they only need to be heated through to be enjoyed.

I assembled the Apple Bread Pudding, and set it to bake. By this time it was time to add the potatoes to the stew (I add them late in the game because I don't like them to break apart too much from stirring). Since I couldn't find the reserved bag of potato chunks (please don't let them turn up in a cupboard somewhere) I pulled one of the bags from the freezer which was well-chilled, but not yet frozen. I drained those and added them instead.

Dinner was a success. Hubby claimed he wasn't all that hungry, but still put away two bowls full and had dessert as well. Little MP ate all her stew, but wanted ice cream instead of the pudding. I tried to push for ice cream on top of the pudding, but since it was cookie dough, I understood the reluctance.

So... a good day of preserving grocery deals. I still have the chicken tenders and breasts to deal with, along with another package of beef. But I don't want this to get too long, so I'll cut it off now. I plan on making chicken strips out of the tenders, and repackaging the breasts into meal-sized portions. The beef will be cooked and shredded, then packed and frozen. Not bad for half price on everything... except the ice cream, lol.

Added later: I ended up making a triple batch of chicken curry out of the chicken tenders instead of breaded strips for later baking (like chicken nuggets). I just did NOT have the energy in me to batter, crumb-coat, and par-bake two whole packages. I did cook and shred one roast, and packaged the other roast for the freezer. It is stuffed quite full now, but this is good, since it means I won't be *forced* to go shopping for quite some time.

Someone asked for the Chicken Curry recipe, so I'm adding it to the post.

There are a couple of recipes for chicken curry that I use... the best one for the freezer is as follows. You can add things to it at the night you're serving it like peppers, cashews, etc. but those items don't freeze well, so I leave them out. This is tailored for a "Food Club" size tray of chicken, but you can buy the regular size to get the 6 lbs. needed, or scale the rest of the recipe. This is a mild curry... I typically add more powder to heat it up a bit.

Freezer Chicken Curry

1 tray (6 Lbs.) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup curry powder
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups water
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 1-gallon freezer bags

1. Rinse and trim chicken as desired. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Divide cooled chicken evenly among freezer bags.

2. While chicken cools, melt butter in a separate large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, ginger, garlic, sugar, bouillon and salt; cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes longer. Mixture will be like a paste. Gradually add the water and milk; cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened. Whisk to make a smooth sauce. Add lemon juice only after the sauce has thickened. Cool sauce.

3. Divide cooled sauce evenly over the chicken.

4. Seal and Freeze.

To use later, thaw overnight in the fridge, then cook over medium heat in a skillet till hot and bubbly. Serve over rice, or with warm flatbread.