Monday, October 30, 2006

Pink Lady

Grease is the word. Except on October 31.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

Don't Look Ethel!

Did I mention I found The Book?

The Golden Poet stopped by over the weekend and I handed her the zippie of leftover sugar cookies for her boys. She and I speak a similiar language. "Ethel's?" she asked.

"Of course."

"They're the best," she answered.

I agreed.

Ethel's Sugar Cookies

3/4 c. shortening (part butter or margarine)
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 t. lemon flavoring or 1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt

Sift flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Mix shortening (I usually make this 1 stick of butter and 1/4 c. of shortening), sugar, eggs, and flavoring thoroughly. Add flour mixture and blend well. Cover the dough and chill for at least one hour (overnight is better).

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on lightly sugared board (I like using sugar instead of flour when rolling out cookies). Cut with cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment papered tray. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until cookies are a delicate golden color.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Just Follow The Happy Feet

Critter's school is having Spirit Week. Today is Wild Sock Day.

The Butterfly Strumpet

For those who don't know me, I work for a large non-profit that has ministries in a variety of areas. Suffice it to say, our campus computer users range from the misinformed to the tech savy. The latter does not usually apply to the residents of said organization who are, shall we say, a bit removed from the world due to the lifelong values they uphold. Yes, I think that's vague enough... :-)

Late last week we had a frantic e-mail from the lady who runs the Residence that her computer would not let her onto the Internet--it kept booting up to a pornographic website. I stopped by, changed her home page, and explained that somewhere along the way, she had probably clicked on something that had changed the page to that. No worries, though, it was an easy fix.

Over the weekend, however, there was another note from her that the Front Desk computer was infected. Suspecting it was the same issue as before, I made a point to swing by there first thing Monday morning. The receptionist had not yet arrived so I was greeted by Resident #1 who said the Internet was not working.

"Well, I think it is. I think someone just accidentally changed their home page to an innapropriate site. Do you know who it was that noticed the problem?" I logged in and pulled up the Internet; Google's website flashed into place. I nodded to myself--it was not computer-wide, it was just that one user.

"Well, I don't know. I'll page." She sent out two pages over the intercom and received no reply.

I began sifting through user accounts on the computer, looking for anything unusual. I logged into the computer as one common user and found that the home page took a long time to load--this was probably the user. I quickly closed the program as Resident #2 entered. "The computer has a virus," she informed me.

"No, no. Not really. Someone just clicked on something that changed their home page to a pornographic site." I clicked a few more times in Internet Explorer's tools, and changed the home page to something they were more likely to use.

"Well, can you check mine?" Resident #2 asked.

"Are you getting an inappropriate site? Do you see pornography?"

She adjusted her glasses, "What's pornography?"

I chuckled. "Well, um, you'd know it if you saw it." She gave me her credentials and I logged into the computer as her. A few mouse clicks and I had opened up Internet Explorer to a familiar blue website with a butterfly logo. "You've got MSN."

"Is that pornography?"

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pike's Pumpkin Paradise

Since being in Seattle last May, I've been craving pumpkin cookies like we found in Pike Street Market. Huge monster-sized treats of spicey goodness. This weekend, I found a recipe that comes close. Make them extra big so you don't have to go back for seconds so quickly!

Pike's Pumpkin Paradise

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon *
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 t. vanilla

Icing (if you want, but in no way necessary!)
2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. milk
1 T. butter, melted
1 t. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl (or your stand mixer!), cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the butter mixture. Beat until creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients.

Drop onto a cookie sheet by large spoonfuls (the bigger the better, in my opinion!). I was able to get six to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Keep the mounds a bit thick--the dough will spread some but it will end up a cake-like cookie after baking. If you flaten it slightly (which I did), it will hold the icing a bit better.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (I baked it for 15 and they turned out yummy).

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, milk, 1 Tablespoon of melted butter, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Add milk as needed to achieve drizzling consistency.

Our cookies didn't really last long enough to ice... I think next time I may have to do a double batch.

Edited 11-21-2006

* During our annual November Craft Party I inadvertently grabbed the Costco-sized container of nutmeg instead of cinnamon. Still delicious!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Blog By Any Other Name

After work I trudged up to the attic to find The Book. I was certain it was up there somewhere and it was getting imperative I find it soon as I need to make cookies. Need. I've got a beautiful new kitchen and I can't recall how to make my famous maple cookies. Nor Ethel's Sugar Cookies. And I hadn't laughed at the recipe for Trix cereal balls in several months.

After several boxes of antiques and Christmas decorations I did find an old plastic tub with items from Eugene. One of them had old t-shirts, a music box with plastic hair ties, a collection of calligraphy pen nibs, and a paper-clipped bundle of papers from high school.

I climbed back down the ladder with the papers and joined CrafterKat and Critter at the dinner table. "Guess what? I had a Blog in the ninth grade!"

CrafterKat laughed. "That would be called a Log..."

I only vaguely remember writing in a journal in the ninth grade--we were given a topic each day and had to write for the first ten minutes of class. The more of a page you filled, the higher points you received. And somewhere in there we were to use the journal to craft a short story that took place on a river. Mine had an Indiana Jones feel to it and the only bit I recall vividly was the exotic Asian dinner I made up consisting of a large water snake from said river.

CrafterKat and I reviewed them after dinner, chuckling at my precise cursive scrawl and comments that were written in the margins. This one takes me back (the links are all 21st century--remember we couldn't do this on paper back then...):

September 12

Video Games

Video games seem to be the "in" thing right now.

I enjoy playing video games but probably not as much as most people my age.

I have an Atari at home and I have the cartridges Pitfall, Asteroids, Circus, Super Breakout, Space Invaders, and a couple others.

My favorite is Pitfall. You are the man named Pitfall Harry and you're looking for treasures, gold, silver, a diamond ring, or money bags. But you have to watch out for alligators, snakes, fire, lakes, scorpions, rolling logs, and of course pits. My highest score is around 75,000 points.

My favorite arcade games are Centipede, Galaxian, and Donkey Kong. The game I despise the most is Pac-Man.

What's the use of a little yellow sphere gobbling up tiny white specs? Ghosts are chasing you. So what? That is one game you really waste quarters on.

~ Jewel Geek

If memory serves, I really only liked Galaxian because it was a) like space invaders and b) Duran Duran played it when on tour. Pac-Man was stupid because 1) I didn't get it free with my Atari console like other people did which bummed me out and 2) I always got eaten by the little ghostie things. Circus was the cheap version of Super Breakout. Since my parents didn't want to shell out $45 for Breakout, I got this rather lame game where you had two circus clowns jump up from a see-saw and punch out colored blocks, er, balloons. I did eventually get Super Breakout but only after much gnashing of braced teeth.


Journal 4

My favorite television station is MTV!

I think its great to "see" songs by your favorite artists. Mine are Duran Duran, Men at Work, INXS, and others.

When you get too see your favorite groups move to words it can do wonders for you!

The VJ's (video jocks) all have there own personalities.

Alan Hunter--my favorite likes mooses (he has moose and mini moose to talk too), fruits (he is one), and the uncensored version of Girls on Film.

Martha Quinn--she looks like a mini mouse with make-up.

Nina Blackwood--considering she was a Playboy Centerfold at one point in her career, I don't really like. Simon LeBon does though!

Mark Goodman--he's okay. When he came back from Calif. he played two D.D. songs in one hour. I was happy.


J.J. Jackson--No he's not related to Michael but he was the first to premier "Thriller." My friends and I call him Whopper.

~Jewel Geek

Friday, October 13, 2006

Four Bucks of Hometown Goodness

I only ever recall going to one high school football game growing up. At that time, our high school didn't have a football field on the campus--all games were held at Autzen Stadium. And it was usually cold and wet. I don't really recall anything about the game except that Leech drove (she was a year older than I) and that we huddled under a too-thin blanket, trying to stay warm in the Eugene drizzle.

But this isn't Eugene. And the high school has it's own quaint football field with covered bleachers. Cars lined both sides of the street and a very full parking lot. CrafterKat and I were amazed at the turn out. I whispered, "Welcome to our future."

CrafterKat found a place to park, handed off a cell phone to Critter, and got in line to pay our football admission. Four dollars a person. I had to blink. That's it? Teens and pre-teens milled around the track oblivious to the game but extremely excited to be 1) away from their parents, 2) outside at night, and 3) socializing.

We found an empty bleacher and spread out blankets. The stands were filled with young families and proud fathers. Boys with saber-long Pixie Sticks poked their siblings. Young girls wore Gladiator shirts and smeared mascara under their eyes to imitate NFL players. Moms sold fresh corn on the cobb to raise money for the graduation party. It felt like the whole small town had turned out for this event--it was quite obvious that people who didn't have high school kids were attending the game just to have a family excursion.

Within two minutes our Gladiators had intercepted the ball and scored a touchdown. The crowd went wild and I admit I was a little misty-eyed. We bought a flashing football pin and a licorice rope, clapped for the thick-legged cheerleaders, and cheered on the team.

The night was warm for October and stunningly clear. There was a small hometown feel to this event that I've never experienced. Perhaps it was the high school band playing renditions of Ease on Down The Road and the Magnum P.I. theme. Or the announcer thanking the small businesses like Uncle Al's car mechanic shop, a family dentistry, and a concrete cutter for their financial donations. Or the local Harley motorcycle club dropping off the Senior Gladettes for the half-time dance.

No drizzle. No wind. CrafterKat and I huddled under the blanket and soaked in small town warmth.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Car Names

I don't know about you, but I like to name my cars. My first car was a little white, 2-door Toyota Corolla. I called it the "Washing Machine" because it was always dirty. My next car was a 4-door, white Mazda 323. It was my grandmother's car (don't ask...) with intermittent wipers and air conditioning. After 20 years, the air conditioning has gone out... I just call it the 323 or Maz.

So while putting the cute Tinker Bell stickers on my new Sienna, and the fancy new Tinker Bell mats under my feet, I was thinking about nicknames for this car. Tigger. Green Machine. (Nah - that's Mr. GoGoGo's truck.) Tinker. Tink.

Tink Tank.

Hee hee hee.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Flashback Weekend

My mother, the Social Butterfly, called early Friday morning and rasped, "I don tink I'm cummin' ub tis weekend. I'm all stubbed ub." We shared a brief exchange of sniffles and I wished her well. I was finally coming off of my week-long cold stint and was hoping that CrafterKat wasn't coming down with it.

Saturday morning CrafterKat woke especially early and painted the final two walls from our remodel. We had the archway by the stairs and the little half wall that needed to be painted creamy beige, also known as peach. It was a bit of deja vu--we had painted part of the wall by Critter's bathroom and done touch-ups down the stairway a few weeks earlier. Her measurements from February are now gone. In fact, she actually shrunk a bit, as the floor was higher in the kitchen last winter when we began the remodel.

That afternoon we enjoyed fabulous pot stickers and hot and sour soup at Hong Kong 97 before heading out to see Sweet Charity, starring Molly Ringwald. I sort of knew the story--I had seen a few clips of the movie with Shirley MacLaine--but hadn't ever watched it all the way through. We had several good laughs, especially with Charity and her beau in the elevator. At one point, a man dressed as Andy Warhol strolled across the 1966 stage to the delight of the audience.

"Why is everyone laughing?" Critter asked.

"That man with the white hair? He's supposed to be Andy Warhol, a famous artist from the sixties. Do you know him?" She shook her head. "He painted a huge Campbells soup can?" Another blank look. "Um, Marilyn Monroe? He painted her in blues and greens and such?"

"Who's Marilyn Monroe?"

For the rest of intermission CrafterKat and I tried to explain, pulling out current comparisons (Madonna's Material Girl video) and movies Critter might have seen. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? No. Some Like It Hot? Nuh-uh. How to Marry a Millionaire? Negatory.

We are the generation bridge, we determined, as familiar with our parent's era as our own.

Sunday we visited Bridgeport Village, a new shopping mall in Tualatin. It's an outdoor mall and instantly reminded us of Downtown Disney--wide pedestrian areas with elite shops and a variety of restaurants.

We passed a gelato restaurant and a candy kiosk with a variety of sugary delights. Critter pointed to one giant glob of sugar the size of a tennis ball. "I once had a jawbreaker that big. I had to pound it into pieces with a sledgehammer."

CrafterKat laughed. "Are you old enough to remember Farrell's?" Critter shook her head. "Well, it was an ice cream parlour in Eugene and when you left the restaurant, you passed this huge selection of candy like that." She chuckled a moment and continued. "Renaissance Man bought a jawbreaker like that and worked on it for several weeks and then decided that he'd take a sledge hammer to it. I didn't know it at the time, mind you, I just heard the loud whack from the garage. He came inside and admitted that he had missed the candy and left a huge dent in the concrete. 'I'll give you half if you promise not to tell.' And I never did..."

We picked up Critter's copy of the Black Stallion and Satan (not Satine, as she insisted) and then perused the shopping directory for a place to eat. Pastini's won. I laughed as we opened the door and whispered to CrafterKat, "I always think Pastini is something the Sand People would say... 'Pasteeeneeee!' as they go charging down a sand dune..."

She shook her head at me. "You're weird."

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll through Crate and Barrell and tried out various couches and chairs that might fit in our living room...until we glanced at the price tags. Most every chair that might fit cost more than two car payments. We'd take turns saying, "How good is my taste?" and flip over the price tag. I think CrafterKat won with a deliciously soft, coffee leather chair (ottoman not included) for $2000.

For that price, the chair had better come with a built-in sound system and brew its own coffee!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Little Brain Dead

And now, a few words from Critter:

So yesterday on the 7th JewelGeek and I were out getting a book to replace the one that I had misplaced for school. She had not been feeling very well the past few days so she was a bit brain dead. It was about 7:30 pm and we were trying to get into our new van, JewelGeek pushed the button like three times and we finally got into the car. As she sat down she said, "Did you see what was happening???"

And I said, "No what???"

"Well every time I hit our button to get in the car the other guy’s car lights go off," she said.

Then I was like, "Whoa!!! Do it again." And she did. "Jewelgeek those are our lights. They go off when you push the lock and unlock button."

"Oh!!! Sorry I’m a little tired...."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Banana Splits and Strawberry Shortcake

Evil PXE (pronounced Pixie) and I made a Costco run at lunch today. I treated him to a hotdog and soda (CrafterKat and I call this a Cheap Date after the many hotdogs we ate there one summer) and discussed the Intel lay-offs, car mat accessories, and our kids.

Yesterday was Critter's first volleyball game, I told him. I dragged myself out of bed--I've been sick on and off (mostly 'on' CrafterKat would say) with sniffles, sneezes and coughs--and went to her first Intramural game. I found the gaggle of yellow t-shirt clad kids and cheered her on. She was the first to serve for her team and scored early on. Despite early successes, The Banana Splits lost both of their games. It didn't seem to phase Critter much--she encouraged her teammates with a hearty "Way to go!" and "Go Splits!"

Evil PXE shared stories of playing whiffle ball with his four-year old daughter and the challenges facing them as she approaches Kindergarten. "My kids are so different!" he repeated several times and recounted how when his daughter was his son's age (he is two), she was already figuring out the whole potty training routine.

"He just doesn't get it. Doesn't even know it's happening, you know?" He sighed and ate another bite of his hot dog. "I think I'm going to have to buy some cool panties or something."

I laughed. "You might be careful how you say that! You mean underwear for him, right? Girls wear panties, boys wear underwear."

He nodded and laughed good-naturedly.

"Underoos, right?" I asked.

He nodded again and pretended to hold up a pair of small undergarments, raising his voice an octave. "Yes! I need to buy cool panties! Maybe with Strawberry Shortcake on them..?"