Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How Many Cookie Cutters Do I Have?

I am not sure how I amassed such a large amount of cookie cutters.
I must be a collector at heart.
I seem to have one for just about any occasion. I have quite a few of these nesting ones. If I ever need a star, I will have just the right size. I actually used these to make cookie Christmas tree ornaments. I have the entire alphabet as well as special words, like this "LOVE" set.left

Here's a bunch of mini cutters. They are especially nice for garnishing things. You could take sliced cheese and cut it into little tulips to top a spring salad. Have I ever done that?
Not in the past ten years.
But you never know when I may want to again.

See the little clear things in the unopened package? That is a set of mini sandwich cutters. As you can see, I use them a lot. (grin)

This cutter represents the worst type possible. Have you ever tried to remove cookie dough from one of these? I am not likely to make a cat on a fence cookie anytime soon.
Do you think I will throw it away?
Not on your life!

These Wilton Comfort Grip cutters are my favorite. They are not too detailed, are easy to cut, and give a nice clean release. They are large and at least 1.5 inches thick, which makes them good for cutting all sorts of things. I have used them to cut sheet cake and brownies. They can also be used to make fancy sandwiches.

I store all the cutters in plastic bags or in these big jars so they don't collect dust. I have one big deep cupboard that all of this fits nicely into.

I wonder just how many cookie cutters I have...
Who wants to take a guess?
I will pull them all back out and count them this weekend when I use them to make cookies.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's Monday

And I had a pretty busy work day.
Mondays are always busy, but today was especially so.

I booked over 90 sports rooms (4 different contracts). They take a bit of time to complete. First I talk to the person wanting to block the rooms. After I get all the details and have told them everything they need to know, I have to do a contract. Then I fax the contract to them. Then I put a copy of the contract in the Guest Service Manager’s mailbox so he can put the room block in the system. Then I file the contract by month.

Hopefully I do it all before I get another call so that I don’t forget anything. Because if that group arrives and one of their members decides to streak down the hallway and then claims they didn’t know it was against the rules, it will be my fault for not telling them running naked down the hallways is frowned upon in our hotel.

Today I had call after call….people booking Christmas parties (every party requires a contract), people calling in their menus (send a revised contract), people changing their counts (run around the hotel to 4 different areas to change the count on each function sheet), lady at the front desk complaining because she did not get a call back about a direct billing, fix Sunday’s labor because of daylight savings time, the home office calling about reports they need, a waitress comes in and quits (call hostess to get another server for tomorrow. Should I call Food & Beverage Manager? No, I decide to let her enjoy her two days off and just leave her a note),….you get the idea…..very busy day.

I’m actually pretty good at multi-tasking and I got all the contracts out quickly. Everything was filed away and then one of the coaches calls me back and cancels two of them. ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGG….

Before I realize it, it’s 10:30 a.m., and the male banquet server arrives looking all spiffy in his new uniform vest and logo tie. It’s the first time I’ve seen the new uniforms and I am duly impressed until I look down and see black fingernail polish on his nails.

Yes, all ten digits tipped in satin black enamel.

I don’t know if the man has Goth aspirations or what, but I suggest that the local Rotarians may not be too enthusiastic to have stubby black-nailed fingers hovering over their luncheon plates.

When I started this job twenty three years ago, I never would have believed that one day I would be searching through my desk drawers looking for nail polish remover for a male co-worker.

The times they are a-changin’…………..

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sultress of Her Kingdom

So, what do you all think of my little kitties?
Hee hee.
I am always seeing pics of everyone and their cats.
I thought I would show you me and mine.
Kerri, we thought Murphy had big paws....LOL.

It's too early in the morning. I think I need more coffee.

My Thanksgiving catcus started blooming about two weeks ago.

Do you think maybe it's Canadian?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Smile Pretty Little Critters

I have put out a camera to see if a skunk is indeed living under my deck. It is aimed

right at the skunk hole, so if it comes out, the camera will capture it.

It's been out for two nights and so far I have only captured a squirrel, a cat and this possum at 3:33 this morning.

It's so much fun to see what's happening in your yard while you are asleep!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Zoey Says........................

It is not wise to eat chips and dip while 'putin'.

Still Have Halloween on my Mind

Inspired by Giddy's post a few days ago, I thought I would share a couple of my Halloween costumes. Please forgive the poor quality. I had to take a photo of my scrapbook page.

I've only worn a Halloween costume a few times in the past 30 years.

This was by far my favorite.

I wore it to work one year. It was such fun, though a bit tough to type with those nails.

The green face paint was making me pretty itchy by the day's end.

This clown was OK, but not nearly as much fun as the witch.

This picture is actually more scary than the witch costume. You will never guess why.
See those BIG bright red glasses?

They were my real glasses! LOL

If you want to see the home of someone who must really LOVE Halloween, check out this guy's place. He's decorated inside and outside.

Is Anyone Else Compost Challenged?

I love a good load of black gold as much as any other gardener, but I am almost at the point of giving up on it. I just don't have any place that is sunny enough to be productive.

Since I have to throw the stuff someplace, I've been dumping everything at the edge of the wooded lot for the past two summers. It's about the only spot I have that is at least in a bit of an opening. It's way to far away from a hose, so if it does not rain, I'm out of luck on the watering part.

I also don't put any food waste in it.
Oh, and I don't turn it either.

I just throw plant debris and grass clippings in a big heap and let nature take its course. I figure that at some point it will disintegrate.
Nature is not working any harder than I to get the job done. It's been a full year and so far I have no usable compost.

Has anyone been successful composting in the shade? How long does it take? Do the seeds remain viable because it's not hot enough to kill them? I ask this because my last attempt to use the compost resulted in feverfew growing rampant in every area I put the compost.

Just to the left of the compost heap is this path that leads to the rockwall garden. Can you see the white arbor at the end? All the way down the path on each side are more heaps of compost- wanna -be piles.

If all this stuff ever ripens, I will be rich in gardener's gold!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Yummy Mummy Cheese Spread

I found this in my Oct/Nov issue of Taste of Home. I wish I was having a Halloween party so I could make him! Maybe one of you will make him and let me know what you think. The only difficult part might be piping the bandages on him.

The creator won $100 in the Taste of Home 'Frightfully Fun Foods' contest.

Here is what she says about her recipe:
"My annual Halloween bash wouldn't be the same without the now famous Mummy Man," says Rebecca Eremich of Barberton, Ohio. "When kids first see Mummy Man, they wonder if they can actually eat him. I assure them they can, and we hack off a foot or an arm with some crackers."


2 port wine cheese logs (12 ounces each)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs milk
2 whole peppercorns
1 pimiento strip

Cut cheese logs into pieces for mummy's head, body, arms and legs; arrange on a serving plate.

In small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and milk.

Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert basket weave tip #47.

Pipe rows across the mummy, creating bandages.

Add peppercorns for eyes and pimiento strip for mouth.

Chill until serving.

Yield: 1 cheese log. Servings: 24
Ready in: 30 minutes
Recipe Source: Taste of Home

Care for some Finger Food?

Yum, yum. Don't these just make your mouth water?
No, I did not make these. I doubt that I would be able to eat them -- you know how I am about germs under the fingernails-- (grin)
In case anyone is brave enough here is the recipe:
Frightful Finger Cookies
If you've ever had suspicions about folks who do dental work, this recipe from the American Association of Orthodontists should confirm them.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tube green food coloring
1 tube red decorating gel
1/4 cup almond slices
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Slowly beat in the flour, baking powder and salt. Add drops of green food coloring to dough until you achieve a nice deep green color.

Divide the dough into four equal parts, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Take one quarter of the dough at a time from the refrigerator. Break off one heaping teaspoonful and roll it into a finger shape. Squeeze in around the middle of the finger to create a knuckle shape. Then, using a butter knife, make indents in several places to resemble a finger. Repeat with rest of dough.
Place cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool. Then, squeeze red decorating gel onto the tip of each finger and gently press an almond sliver on top so the gel oozes out from underneath.

Remove cookies from baking sheets and let them cool on wire racks.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I had a little extra time over the weekend

So I built a gazebo

with my computer landscaping program that I've had for years and never use.
I've always planned to put a roofed structure here. I want a place to sit in the rain.

I tried it out in a few different seasons just to see if I liked it.

I like it. Even DH liked it.

I also tried it out down at the end of the main gardens. I like that, too. Maybe I can get two built? Fat chance of that since we don't really know how to build a plant trellis let alone a real structure.

This one is too far away anyway. I am actually thinking of a covered swing down here. That silly landscape did not even have a swing!

Rainy Day Food TV Musings

It's a rainy, cold day today. I can't do anything outside. I made a big pot of chili this morning and did some cleaning. I've cleaned about all I'm going to for this weekend.

I also went to Walmart and loaded up on all the necessities I was out of.
Joy, I was looking for that "Root Boost" you mentioned, but could not find anything in a dark blue aerosol can. Could you tell me what company makes it and where you buy it ?

Now I am watching FoodTV while I'm blogging. It just happens that Nigella Feasts is on. I have never seen Nigella Lawson before, though I have read about her. I understand she is very well known and highly acclaimed in foodie circles.

I have been watching about 10 minutes and already I've found one thing I don't like. It's the same irksome habit I see in most TV chefs. They are always playing in the food with their hands.

She's put the salad dressing on a big bowl of salad and then begins tossing it with nice tossing utensils. Way to go, Nigella. I like that.

Then she says, "Oh, who am I kidding? It's much easier to use my hands."

And she sticks both hands into the salad which is already full of sticky salad dressing. It turns my stomach. Does she not know the crud that lives under fingernails?

As long as I'm airing my peeves, here's another one. These same chefs are always tasting their creations and not getting a clean spoon for each taste. Paula Deen is one of the worst. I once watched her tasting hot soup. It was so hot it made her jump back and some of the soup fell from her mouth right back into the pot!

I kid you not.

I almost had to turn the channel after that one.

I am tempted to send a case of sanitary latex food gloves to FoodTV.

The Smell of Apples is Oozing Through My House

I wanted to use up those apples I bought at the Apple Farm last weekend.

In my files I found this apple muffin recipe and decided to try it.

The apples were shredded. I had long sheds like this:
The crumb topping had no flour in it, so it was not very crumby. (It was not like the apple crisp topping we are all accustomed to.)
Mine looked like this:
I decided to spray the tops of my muffin tins. I thought that topping might melt onto the pan.

And it did. Just a little.

The muffins removed easily from the paper liners. They were very light and moist and did not fall apart like so many muffins do. I enjoyed the sweet nutty topping. It's a recipe I would make again, so I will share it in case someone else has apples to use up.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Just mix it all together with a fork and set aside.

Batter (Dry Ingredients)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

(Wet Ingredients)
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk ( I used whole milk with a tsp. of lemon juice. Let the milk sit about 5 minutes to thicken)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 apples, grated (a bit less than one cup of apple)

Line the muffin tins with paper. Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl.
Mix all the wet ingredients together in another large bowl.
Dump the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients. Mix very gently just until moistened. I used a spatula and made only about a dozen light stirs. (this is the secret to tender muffins--no heavy mixing!)
Drop the batter into the lined tins, filling about 3/4 full. I easily got 12 muffins.

Drop bits of topping over each muffin.

Bake 20 minutes, or until a tester(I used a metal skewer, but a toothpick will work, too) comes out clean.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I've Had a VERY Productive Day Today

This morning I did my usual weekend inside work (scrub floors, etc.). I also spent over 1/2 hour up on a ladder cleaning the kitchen chandelier. It was sticky and greasy and took way too long to clean because I let it go too long. Lesson learned.

In the early afternoon I went outside and decided to cut down most of the flower foliage in the front part of this bed. I almost always leave it until spring. But I am getting overloaded during the spring, so I decided to do as much as I can get done this fall.

I left the Sedum Autumn Joy because it's still looking pretty good. Here I go raving about it again, but it's been going strong since the end of August. What other flower gives so much for so long?

After I got tired of cutting down foliage, I went behind my garden to see what was happening back there. This is an old railroad track behind my rockwall.

I found some milkweed growing next to the tracks.

I used to be able to walk down the tracks for miles, but they are too overgrown now to walk very far. Huge trees grow right up the middle of them. In fact, the majority of the tracks have been removed.
It was pretty interesting, though, since I have not been back there in a couple of years.

I cooked a nice beef roast dinner. As soon as I clean up the kitchen, I am going to relax for the remainder of the evening.

Hope you are all having a good weekend.

The Ultimate Compliment

I've been feeling good all week because of this anonymous comment left on my post about 1000 posts:

I have probably read all 1,000 of your posts, too. In some ways you remind me of Celestine Sibley (journalist/author) who saw living as art and wrote about it so well. I thought of you yesterday, when I had the back hatch full of violas, gourds and pumpkins from the Farmer's Market...you would have taken a picture.

And indeed I would have taken a picture of that as well as the display I made with all of it. LOL.

I have learned that a post can be made out of just about any little daily activity. I like to blog about my real life, just the mundane things that happen every day. I don't think I'm much different than the majority of you out there. It's all those little seemingly dull moments that make up the whole of our life. I like to celebrate them. If I waited to blog about the "big" events, I'd make a post every five years or so.

It makes me very pleased if there are a few people in this vast world who enjoy reading about my piddly little adventures.

I had not heard of Celestine Sibley. Of course, I looked her up on the net and found tons of information. I am planning a trip to the library to get one of her books. Of course, I'll likely post about it after I read it!

Thank you, anonymous for making my day............make that my week! I really hope that by stopping by here, I add a bit of pleasure to your day.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Small Town America Musing

I live in a rural small town. It’s actually the largest town for a hundred miles in any direction, so I don’t often think of it as all that small. The population is about 11,000.

Every now and then I hear a phrase that suddenly jolts me into realizing how far removed from the mainstream we really are.

Like this one.

“The 4 lanes.”

I have not heard it in a while. I used to hear it all the time.

It’s a stretch of road about a mile long and has two lanes in each direction. The speed limit is 50 mph. The 4 lanes have been here as long as I can remember and used to provide the axis for almost all of the directions given in this town. Nobody ever called the road by its proper name.

“Which park?”

“The one off the 4 lanes.”

“Where is that church?”

“Turn right at the light on the 4 lanes.”

“Where is that gas station?”

“Where the 4 lanes turn back into two lanes.”

With the nearest freeway 100 miles away, the 4 lanes were quite significant to this small town when they were built way back in the mid 60's. You could now pass people going in the same direction that you were going! Prior to the mass travel era, the 4 Lanes were as close to expressway driving as some from this area ever experienced.

As the older townspeople give way to a younger, more travel savvy generation, the term "4 Lanes" is used less often. When I heard it used today, it brought back a flood of old memories.

Here's rush hour on the 4 Lanes on Wednesday night.

Here's rush hour on an expressway.

Yes, the 4 Lanes represent small town life at its finest.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Putting Canna Rhizomes to Rest

It's not a very nice day here today. Even so, I went outside after work and finally got my cannas put to bed. I wanted to get them in before it rains again.

These are the cannas I dug out of my 1/2 whiskey barrels last week. I used the hose to remove the soil.

Then I put them in the garage for a week to thoroughly dry. If the weather had cooperated, I would have just let them sunbathe for a day.

They were nice and dry today, so I put them in a labeled grocery bag.

This is the first year I have gone to so much trouble to store cannas. I had to dig them out because the whiskey barrels are too heavy to store in my crawl space. It will be interesting if they survive.

What I usually do is so much easier!
I just cut the foliage back and stick the entire container in the crawl space.

Here they are in their winter home. This is the crawl space I keep talking about. It's huge (you are only seeing about half of it here. The other side is full of containers).

It feels good to be done putting all the canna, callas, and dahlias to bed.

Every Wonder Which is The Smartest City in America?

I must admit, I never have either.

But in my net surfing today, I came across just that information. Don't ask how. I can't even remember what I was searching for, when I came across this page and it immediately peaked my interest enough to continue reading and then to post for all of you to read.

Any guesses as to which city it is?

Seattle, WA.

The study used the US census to analyze the educational levels of adults in nearly 16,000 cities to come up with the city holding the most brainpower in the US.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ann Arbor, MI tops the small cities of America. It makes sense that college towns dominate the rankings of the small communities. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan.

Wondering what the brainiest middle-sized city is?
Arlington, Va.

You can read the whole study for yourself here.

All this made me wonder, which is the dumbest city in America? (I bet you are wondering that, too, aren't you?)

Well, after a little searching of the site, I found that, too.

Miami, Florida holds this dubious distinction.

Here's what they had to say about Miami:
The population of the Miami metropolitan area is growing rapidly, and its economy is cooking along. But there's a warning sign in the region's core.

The city of Miami has the lowest brainpower rating of any large community in America. Two-thirds of its adults never went to college. Nearly half -- 47 percent -- didn't even graduate from high school.

Two California communities -- Santa Ana and East Los Angeles -- have the worst scores among medium and small places, respectively.

You can find the bottom five of each level here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Got My Bulbs Planted This Afternoon

and couldn't resist a few more pictures. DH cut the grass while I planted bulbs. I went to get the camera to take pics of where I planted everything. If I don't take pictures, I will forget by tomorrow. While photographing the planted areas, I realized that I still had some nice scenery. With a little stragetic camera positioning, I came up with these:

The butterfly bush is still putting out blooms (though quite small blooms).

I took this through the wagon wheel in the opposite direction of how I took the summer pictures.
This is way down at the far end of the rockwall.

I liked the vibrant red of the burning bush with the orange of the maple trees. By now you all know how I love red and orange together!

And this one I took just 10 minutes ago when I walked in from the garage and noticed what a beautiful view I had right out the kitchen window.

Morning Ritual

Brush. Comb. Curling Iron. Gel. Hairspray. Big Mirror.

I cannot tell you how sick I am of using these items Every. Single. Day.

First I must curl every piece of my hair...yes, EVERY. SINGLE .PIECE. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

(Have you ever tried to take a picture of yourself in a mirror with a HOT curling iron affixed to your head? Not an easy task. I am not left handed, but I had to switch hands to get the picture)

Once I get every single piece curled, I bend over and run the brush through all the hair once--only once. I must be bent over at the waist. It simply does not work if I am standing upright.
From here on I use only my fingers to style. I rub gel lightly into both hands and run my fingers through the entire head of hair, sort of pulling and separating as I go along. I stop often to reload the gel.

Then I flip upright and begin the tedious task of pulling tiny little sections of hair through my gel- moistened fingertips. If it's a good day, I won't have to do this very long. If it's a bad day, forget it. I'm doomed to go to work with old lady hair. The stuff that looks like it's been teased into big fat rolls of curl. I'm going for the slightly messed up look.

You know the look that says you spent no time at all on your hair. You just jump out of bed, toss your head a bit and it magically falls into a tidy disarray looking all sexy and gorgeous.

Yeah. Right. I think it probably helps if you are under 30 years old to get that look.

I rarely have more than 15 minutes to devote to my hair so I go to work looking a little less sexily disarrayed than I'd like. :)

I am complaining to myself throughout the entire ritual -- oh, woe is me having to do this day after day.....yadda, yadda, yadda. I even complain to DH as he passes through. "How would you like to do this every day?", I feel like he is not exactly commiserating with my sorry lot in life. "All you have to do is dry that little bit of hair and out the door you go." What a sharp, evil tongue I have so early in the morning. The poor guy rushes past to get out the door.

Hey, what do you know? Today was one of the good days. I like how it turned out this morning.

Now I give it a very light spray of a wonderful freezing spray called Volumax. I can't live without it. It holds well and does not give a stiff feeling to the hair.

Once DH is gone and I separate the last tiny little piece into place, it hits me.

How dare I complain about having to do my hair every mornining when there are so many women who would give anything just to have hair. I feel humbled and ashamed as I vow not to complain ever again about styling my hair.

I was planning to show you a full head shot of the finished product. Unfortunately I looked too much like what I am....a 50-yr old woman on the verge of developing a double chin....needless to say, there will be no full head shot today!

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