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Monday, May 30, 2005

Happy White Shoes Day

There always seems to be a lot of debate about the rule: white shoes between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This story brings up the movie Working Girl from 1988. I'm pretty sure 1988 was the last year I even OWNED white shoes.

This one: in particular caught my attention. Not because I would want to buy this shoe but because of the name. It is from a company called Unlimited and the name of the shoe is Make-bail. I guess that's to attract the element of trailer trash with money.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A Bit of Cake In Your Naval

I thought I would share pictures of some cakes I decorated for the parties of graduating Naval Acadamy peeps.

One of the more basic designs in the school colors navy and gold.

This turned out very nice but I was tired when I finished and didn't get a good picture. (This is a Blue Angels plane sky writing with hockey and football figures at the bottom with the grad's player numbers.)

The Naval Academy Seal and lacrosse sticks.

A close-up of my hard work.

What the seal looks like in real life.

Not a bad job, if I do say so myself. I really had to push myself to do the Naval Academy Seal. I was hoping the other decorators would do them all and I wouldn't have to face the challenge, but I did it. Now, of course, I'm glad I did. I will admit it took me around 2 hours just to draw (first I had to "draw" the design with a toothpick) and complete the Seal on this cake. My back was killing me. Don't tell my chiropractor.

Friday, May 27, 2005

For Coof

A quick lesson in types of oats (see comments).

Definition: According to a definition in Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, oats were "a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but which in Scotland supports the people." Since oats are by far the most nutritious of the cereal grasses, it would appear that the Scots were ahead of the rest of us. Today, whole oats are still used as animal fodder. Humans don't usually consume them until after the oats have been cleaned, toasted, hulled and cleaned again, after which time they become oat groats (which still contain most of the original nutrients). Oat groats can be cooked and served as cereal, or prepared in the same manner as rice and used as a side dish or in a dish such as a salad or stuffing. When steamed and flattened with huge rollers, oat groats become regular rolled oats (also called old-fashioned oats). They take about 15 minutes to cook. Quick-cooking rolled oats are groats that have been cut into several pieces before being steamed and rolled into thinner flakes. Though they cook in about 5 minutes, many think the flavor and texture are never quite as satisfying as with regular rolled oats. Old-fashioned oats and quick-cooking oats can usually be interchanged in recipes. Instant oats, however, are not interchangeable because they're made with cut groats that have been precooked and dried before being rolled. This precooking process so softens the oat pieces that, after being combined with a liquid, the mixture can turn baked goods such as muffins or cookies into gooey lumps. Most instant oatmeal is packaged with salt, sugar and other flavorings. Scotch oats or steel-cut oats or Irish oatmeal are all names for groats that have been cut into 2 to 3 pieces and not rolled. They take considerably longer to cook than rolled oats and have a decidedly chewy texture. Oat flour is made from groats that have been ground into powder. It contains no gluten, however, so--for baked goods that need to rise, like yeast breads--must be combined with a flour that does. Oat bran is the outer casing of the oat and is particularly high in soluble fiber, thought to be a leading contender in the fight against high cholesterol. Oat bran, groats, flour and Scotch oats are more likely to be found in health-food stores than supermarkets. Oats are high in vitamin B-1 and contain a good amount of vitamins B-2 and E.

--Copyright (c) 1995 by Barron's Educational Series, from The New Food Lover's Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bright Eyes

Just when you thought you'd get over those memories of the short bus.

No, I mean, strapping on a pair of these is like strapping yourself into one of those big, scary rollercoasters. If you dare... order them here and HANG ON!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What's Yer Sign?

Mostly I think horoscopes are just talking in circles. This site hasn't let me down but it did say a few interesting things.

Mercury in Aquarius
Your mind works in a highly original way. Also you are attracted to unusual, even fantastic, points of view about the world. You enjoy being unconventional and shocking people with your offbeat opinions. No ordinary standards of what is proper will prevent you from thinking a certain way.
[You mean I'm not a NUT after all?? What a relief.]

Mercury Square Neptune
Sometimes your fantasies seem so real that you forget they are just fantasies and that they are not real to anyone else. You will find it difficult to make yourself understood and to understand others, unless you learn to control your mind while you are young.
Another reason you are often misunderstood is that you have difficulty putting your very complex ideas into words. For this reason you should learn to communicate your ideas through some kind of artistic medium
[such as cake decorating!] , if at all possible. In that way your mind can communicate the fullness of your thoughts to others. [Unlike blogging which communicates nothing]

Mercury Square Mars
This aspect can be rather difficult, for it indicates that you are rash and impulsive and tend to lose your temper too easily. And when you are angry, your anger takes over completely, and you become quite unreasonable.

Mercury Sextile Saturn
You do everything carefully and thoroughly
[when I'm not being rash and impulsive?], for you hate to overlook any steps. You don't take up new ideas very quickly, but you do learn quite well, and what you learn you remember forever.

Sun Opposition Pluto
Your strong will and stubbornness may get you into conflicts with others, because you are never willing to let anyone else have their way. You should admit to yourself that you enjoy a good battle, because it enables you to experience your own strength, assuming, of course, that you know you can win.
Mercury Sextile Venus
You are very sociable and enjoy having a good time with friends
[when I'm not being stubborn and willful]. You try to avoid anything unpleasant, even if it is a necessary part of life. Also with this aspect you may tend not to do anything very thoroughly. [this explains why I can't finish a thoug]
You do not have as much energy as other people. And you are not a very aggressive person.
Being outdoors gives you a sense of freedom and a good outlet for your abundant physical energy.
[I'll just sit under the tree and let my stars fight it out.]

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Chewie Toast

It's amazing! It just appeared... out of NO WHERE!! (honest and for true). Ebay pick of the day: The mysterious image of Chewbacca of Star Wars appears on a piece of toast.

Not only that, this guy (I assume it's a guy but I could be wrong) seems to have a corner on the weird bread image market as seen in his list of items for sale. This is a limited-time link, so look quick!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Strange Dreams, Indeed

Dreams can tell us a lot about ourselves and the world around us. Things that we wouldn't normally think of like: spaghetti grows on trees, or, that little puddle at the end of my driveway is actually deep enough to swallow my car. I seem to remember a lot of dreams and usually they are quite a source of amusement for me and anyone I tell about them. I don't usually try to interpret my dreams because, although quite enlightening, dream interpretation can be quite time-consuming and frankly, I'd rather spend my time on other, more important things like blogging.

This morning I was dreaming about a friend who currently lives in another state. I dreamt that he had moved to Washington D.C. and was calling to invite Mr G. and me out to dinner at a restaurant. Now, just to clarify, this is a man who I've known on messenger for years and heard him on voice-chat but never spoken to him on the phone. He's originally from Scotland so I doubt he would have the 'midwest' accent I heard in my dream.

Anyway, the friend said the restaurant was "impossible to get into". This is not something I can picture my friend saying in real life, nor being at all interested in. It reminds me of Cary Grant in the movie Bringing Up Baby where he's racing around in Susan's frilly bathrobe, gets caught by Aunt Elizabeth who asks him what he's doing in it, to which he replies, "I just turned GAY all of a sudden!" but I digress. In the dream, our phone conversation turned from directions to the restaurant to his telling me about a house that he was thinking of buying and then the dream turned quite sour and I was glad to wake up. Is it a nightmare if you have it in the morning?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Saturday Bakery

I had another baking spree yesterday. My recipes and tests went from pretty good to not very good as the day progressed.

I started out with Homemade Marshmallows as found on Cooking for Engineers. I followed their recipe and instructions exactly. Here's how it went for me:

I oiled a 9x13 pan and dusted with powdered sugar.

Dissolved 3 envelopes Knox gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water in the Kitchen Aid bowl while I boiled the sugar syrup.

In a small sauce pan I mixed 2 cups sugar, 2/3 cup light corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water and washed down the sides of the pan with a bit of water to keep any sugar crystals from forming in the syrup. I boiled this to a temperature of 260 degrees (the 'hard ball' stage) on a candy thermometer. I did not stir the syrup mixture as it cooked to also keep sugar crystals from forming.

After the syrup reached the 260 degree mark, I turned on the mixer to low speed and carefully poured the sugar syrup into the gelatin and added 1/4 tsp. salt. As the mixture began to increase in volume, I turned up the mixer until it was at high speed. About mid-way to high speed, I turned off the mixer and scraped down the sides of the bowl and added 1 Tablespoon clear vanilla.

I'm not sure why I thought this hot marshmallow mixture would not be sticky, as I've made Rice Krispy treats a billion times, but the stickiness came as a surprise anyway.

I did the best I could to scrape the mixing bowl and pour the sticky mess into the prepared pan, then I used cooking spray to coat a piece of cling wrap and used this to smooth out the marshmallow and get it fairly evenly distributed in the pan. I found that areas of the cling wrap that I missed in spraying stuck really well to the marshmallow and any cooking spray that remained on the top of the marshmallow was noticably yellow. Next time I would simply spray a small amount on my fingers and press it into place.

I ended up with some fairly large bubbles, some of which I was able to pop and gently smooth out.

I let the mixture set overnight as per the directions, but I would think once it's completely cool, it would come out of the pan and remain in form. I removed the mass from the pan onto a board I had sprinkled with powdered sugar, cut it into squares with a new pizza cutter (bought specifically for something like this because I rarely make pizza at home) and lightly dusted each of the cut sides with powdered sugar until the side were no longer sticky.

The flavor was awesome. The texture was a little more dense than store-bought marshmallows and after some research, I would reduce the gelatin from 3 packets to 2 packets and I think it would be closer to that lighter, more familiar marshmallow texture. The next time I plan to make Rice Krispy treats, I'll definitely use these homemade marshmallows. It's a bit more work but I'm guessing the end result will take Rice Krispy Treats to the next level.

Ingredient recap:
3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin (2 env. for lighter texture)
1/2 Cup cold water

2 Cups granulated sugar
2/3 Cup light corn syrup
1/4 Cup water

1/4 tsp. salt
1 TB clear vanilla

Powdered sugar for dusting

The next recipe I made was Paula Deen's Loaded Oatmeal Cookies (with minor alterations).

1/2 Cup salted butter, softened
1/2 Cup veg. shortening
1-1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 Cup buttermilk (I used a scant half cup 2% milk with a few drops of white vinegar mixed in, which works the same)
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
2-1/2 Cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 Cup raisins (I used 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup dried apricots but would use all cranberries next time as the apricots were unimpressive)
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts (I used toasted blanched hazelnuts and the flavor was nice but not worth the extra price of blanched hazelnuts)
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease (or use cooking spray) cookie sheets.
In electric mixer: cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until mixture is light in color. Add buttermilk. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and spices; stir into creamed mixture. Fold in oatmeal, raisins, nuts and vanilla, blending well. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheets and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

I'm not a big fan of cloves but there was only a small amount of them in this recipe but they were still pretty powerful. I also felt there was not enough cinnamon in this recipe, however I tried half of this recipe again with more changes: I took out some of the brown sugar and added honey (attempting to get a chewier cookie), took out the cloves, added more cinnamon and vanilla and used toasted slivered almonds but no fruit. This last recipe was very bland, not at all chewy, and I don't recommend it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Season is Passed

Next week I'll need to find a new hobby since all of my TV Serii had their season finales this week: Gilmore Girls, Smallville, the piece-of-crap mini-series: Revelations, Survivor and The Apprentice. Last week saw the end of Amazing Race and something else which I forget already. This coming Monday is the season finale of Medium. That should be good but I've been having trouble staying up to watch it. NBC need to put it in a better time slot next season. If someone can set that up for me, that'd be great, thanks.

I won't do any spoilers on any of the shows, simply because I'm too lazy to research the facts, even though I watched every minute. I will say this, Survivor is a show I had never watched before this season. People I work with watch it and roped me into it, now I CAN'T WAIT for Survivor: Guatemala. I'm such a lemming.

I'll miss Coby.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Local News

Here's what's new in town and the reason the traffic is already ridiculous AGAIN:

The 130th Preakness Stakes in Pimlico, MD.

Mr.G will be braving the infield, bad back and all to hang out with his buddies and try to dodge stray punches and puke streams. Mmmmm... sounds like a fun thing to watch on TV, if you ask me.

This is what I'll be enjoying on the sofa as I watch all the crazies:

The Blue Angels will be doing a couple of demonstrations this week.

One Wednesday May 25, 1-3p.m. The other, Thursday May 26, 11-3:30p.m. You can take a cruise on the Severn River and watch them dive and swoop directly over your head... that'd be fun. I think I'll stay at work and listen to them flying over. I saw them in Annapolis practicing one time and it was quite an awesome and LOUD thing.

Then there is the Naval Academy Graduation on Friday May 27, 10a.m.

Congratulations, Grads, and I hope you like the cakes I (and the others at work) decorated (I haven't yet, but I've seen the orders pouring in already) for you so nicely.

How many weeks til winter so I can drive to work in a reasonable amount of time again?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What a Stange World We Live In, Master Jack

eBay is always a source of amusement to me. Today's crazy item (though no longer available to bid on) is a stack of pancakes!

I believe I will make my eBay findings a regular post subject since there are so many crazy people out there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Cheese, Quiz

I'm originally from Wisconsin, now living in the Baltimore area. I'm very proud of being a Cheesehead even if I wouldn't want to live there again. This summer I'll be traveling back to my hometown for a family reunion and a visit with friends. I was talking to an aquaintence about this and as you might imagine, we began talking about cheese. He wondered if my love of baking came from making all those "Wisconsin Cheesecakes". I hadn't been particulary aware that there was a large cheesecake market in Wisconsin, as I figured Philadelphia would be the largest area for that cheese product. However, after some research, I find he was indeed correct, and there is not only a Wisconsin Cheesecake Company, but a festival in Eastern Wisconsin (not near where I'm from) that features what looks to be a large cheesecake contest.

I will however be 'back home' just in time for this, which should make getting cheese curds and visiting the Creamery next to impossible.

In case the previous bit wasn't far enough from the norm, I figured I could balance it out with the results of the Religion Quiz I took:
You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View?
created with

Interesting, but I have no idea what it means.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Results of my baking frenzy the other day:

Checkerboard cake. I tried using one boxed cake mix for this and the layers turned out a bit flat. Next time I'll use a full mix (or recipe) for each color.

This is how the slices looked packaged in plastic clamshell containers.

The Weather Map Cake. I hadn't intended for it to look like a weather map, but once I realized it did, I went with it. Inside, the cake is chocolate and the filling is black raspberry.

The Sunface Cake. Inside, the cake is yellow with lemon curd filling.

Drive Time

Traffic is the bane of my existence. My family rarely takes road trips simply because the traffic in this area is insane. It's still spring and I'm not looking forward to fighting the summer tourist traffic to get to my new job.

I normally have a lot of patience until I am stopped in traffic. 10 seconds lasts an eternity when the cars in the next lane are blissfully whizzing past. The joy of speed is relative to how long one has been stopped in traffic. I came to this conclusion after having crept along at a mostly stopped pace, then the way was nearly cleared for me to drive a whopping 30 mph and I felt like cheering a triumphant "in your face cursed Yellow Lines... lookit me go!" It was then I realized I was nearing a pedestrian area.

I did have two bright spots in that 80 minute drive (just a touch longer than my usual 15 minutes). One was getting a lingering look at the field of buttercups near the WWII memorial. The other was the phone call to my boss so he wouldn't wonder why I was late. When he answered his phone, I announced my name (as most people do on a business call), to which he replied, "I'm sorry, who?"

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I am a Pastry Chef and my main function at work is as a cake decorator. I'm a better cake decorator at work than at home. I guess I must get nervous about making everything perfect when I make a cake for someone I know, whereas making a cake for a faceless customer seems slightly less stressful.

I have volunteered to help out with the Spring fund raiser at my daughter's school this weekend, including donating cakes for the cake walk and bake sale. I thought ahead and tried to accomodate the procrastinator in me and ordered 3 cakes from work and planned to make at least 2 cakes at home. When I told the committee that I would be bringing 5 or 6 cakes (which doesn't sound like all that much to someone who decorates cakes every day) they gushed like the winner of a new car on The Price is Right.

I'm not sure how this has happened, but I have already baked the cakes and made the fruit fillings: lemon curd and black raspberry. I'll try to make the icing tonight. I got the recipe from a guy at work and haven't tried it out yet. I'm crossing my fingers that it's as easy as he says it is. Then I'll only need to throw the cakes together Friday night and make room in the fridge for them until early Saturday morning. I'm hoping for minimal kitchen disaster, but I'll take some pictures if anything blows up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


WARNINIG: I do not recommend eating while reading the following.

I was happily reading along on one blog and came to this entry. If you don't feel like reading it (or I messed up and the link doesn't work) here is the jist of it: some hack company, namely the Journal of the American Medical Association has decided that episiotomies are bad. The owner of the previous blog agrees. I heartily disagree due to complications from my own birthing experience and I commented publicly on the bookofjoe site to that effect.

Here's the rub: he deleted my comments. Now, what I said simply disagreed with his view. I gave my reasons for disagreeing and they were poignant but concise. There was nothing particularly gory in my comments nor anything resembling spam. I know that his blog is his and he can post or not post anything he wants I just felt it was a little rude for him to simply delete it. I would have understood if he had emailed me and said, "look, what you said was too graphic for my site" or "your spelling was atrocious and I simply can't stand to look at it" or "my finger slipped". Nothing of the sort occured.

My only recourse: say it on my own blog.

I disagree with your view and you can't stop me.

You may now resume your breakfasting.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mommy Day

Sometimes it's really cool to be a Mom especially if you can see past all the annoying things kids do like being sassy when you have PMS, asking for ridiculous things like breakfast and asserting their independence before they are 18.

I have been raising my kid to think it's okay to have an imagination even though her First Grade teacher would rather she be quiet and not try to take her job already. Seeing her imagination at work is at once a wondrous and scary thing. My husband keeps telling me that she's happier with an imagination and that's the way it should be even if it makes me miserable when she can outthink me. I hope at some point my doctor will give me a shot that lets me keep up with her.

MrG (hubby) has reminded me on many occasions about the days before she spoke when I longed to hear some words from her. At the time, he comforted me and said I shouldn't rush her and that once the words started to flow, the kid logic would soon kick in and I would wonder how in the world she could come up with such stuff. When he told me these things, I believed him since he already had older children and I figured he must know what he's talking about. What I didn't realize was that it would be a regular occurance.

As said during her afternoon snack: "I bet Heaven smells like peanut butter and lilacs."

How can one possibly argue?