Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Did I just read that?

Most of these are funny, but this one is just plain sneaky.

On the side of Colgate toothpastes, you find this:

"Clinically proven, stain protection formula for sparkling, healthy white teeth accompanied by a unique flavor experience"

Now, either they have no concept of what commas really are for, or they're trying to make you think they're making a claim that technically they aren't. After all, companies have to tell the truth--and they generally make the strongest claim they can.

Most people will read this and say, "Ah! The stain protection formula is clinically proven." And if that's what it means, they misused a comma.

If you read what this actually says, it's gobbledygook, with a bunch of clauses strung rather ungrammatically together that don't properly connect to each other or really have any meaning.

It says that something is clinically proven (to what? Be toothpaste? Probably),that there is a stain protection formula (no claim whether it works or not, just that the formula is intended for that purpose), that something (the paste? The formula?) is for healthy, white teeth (so you can't use it if you don't already have sparkling healthy white teeth? or it produces that--"for" has so many meanings!). And what about that "accompanied by a unique flavor experience"? Are the teeth accompanied by that already? It's for teeth that have a unique flavor experience? That sounds kind of gross, actually.

And "unique flavor experience" is a nappy phrase anyway. It can't be unique--they produced millions of tubes of it. "Unique flavor"--like cinnamon? That's not terribly unique even if they hadn't produced millions of tubes of it. And "unique flavor" is something like "real sweet spirit in her own choice way" (BYU slang for "butt ugly"). When something is yummy or tasty or good or appealing, we say so. To say "unique flavor" sounds like you're trying to find something nice to say to a cook who spilled the salt into the eggplant-rutabaga-pineapple-beef stew.

And what on earth is a "flavor experience"? Sounds like a ride at an amusement park. Experiences generally come in two varieties: Good and Bad. And on the continuum between. "flavor" doesn't generally fall on that continuum. Anywhere.

Funny Kids

Dan just walked up to me and said, "My arm hurts." He was cradling his right arm carefully and looked really sad.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Oh, it hurts from all that work."

"What work?"

"You know, that work I just did."

"What work did you just did?" I was curious--I thought he was eating lunch.

"Oh, all that work of moving that cheese to my mouth!"

Did I just read that?

We got a can of tropical fruit salad from the dollar store. On the front:

"Thai Diamond Tropical Fruit Salad".

On the back:

"Product of Vietnam".

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Who says 7 years is too big a difference to be friends?


A Candid shot of my oldest and my youngest, playing together. Without any prompting, coaching, or supervision from any adults.

This made me very happy.

Tryin' to Stay Cool on a Sunday Afternoon

Sunday.

That means we slept 4-6 hours, usually interrupted (I, for one, was wakened by small children around 7 times in the 6 hours we were supposed to be asleep). So everyone is tired and grouchy. Usually hungry, too.

Summer.

In Vegas, that means HOT. Hot like it caresses you. Hot like you're inside the oven. Hot like you can feel it coming up from below as well as down from above. Hot like your skin is hot to the touch when you get inside the house.

Hot like 102 in the shade where the swamp cooler vents onto the porch.

Hot like 83 degrees inside and we can't do much better than that.

So what are we doing to keep cool? FANS everywhere. And sit still or sleep:

Caleb and Anda reading Harry Potter 5 and 4 (respectively) in their room where the fan is blowing on them:


Nathanael napping near the swamp cooler vent:



Scantily clad Daniel playing "sprites" (light bright) right where the cooler blows:


Benji found this large flower pot in the back yard, filled it with water from the hose, stripped off his diaper, and sat in it for 20 minutes:



Tim's sleeping. I'm blogging.

It's Sunday.

And It's HOT.

And we officially have a sitter....as in, one who sits.

Nathanael has had the strength to sit up since he was 12 weeks old. But he couldn't sit up: he lacked the understanding of why we balance (I'm convinced all babies believe they can fly) and also of why we need to sit at all.

Now he gets it.

And he's delighted.

And so are the other kids.

And SO AM I! Life gets so much easier on mom when baby can sit.




Saturday, June 27, 2009

did I just read that?

From the current College of Nevada Non-Credit Class Schedule:

The course title: "How to Decorate Your Home Like a Model and Save Money!"

On reading that, I instantly got a picture in mind of a supermodel pushing my old, kid-stained couch across our awful elephant-tone living room.

The next line, in light of that image, had a hilarious typo:
"Wouldn't you love to have your hoe look like
a model home without overspending your budget?"

Friday, June 26, 2009

Did I Just Read That?

When I started blogging "Did I just read that" segments, I thought they'd be few and far between. I had no idea so many people were printing laughable material!

Some background that makes this have even more impact: Recently, many companies raised product prices just slightly (less than 10c) but also decreased the size of the packages considerably. For example, twin pops popsicles used to come in 18-ct packages. Now, most commonly, they are found in 12-ct packages, and each popsicle is, in fact, smaller.

Ice cream switched over, too. The same price now buys you a 1.75 L box that used to buy you a 2 or 2.1 L box. I think the ice cream companies figured nobody would notice that the product is missing 1/8th.

Tonight at WalMart I found Blue Bunny Ice Cream had stuck stickers on all their 1.75 L boxes. The stickers were dark blue with a large yellow starburst in the middle with the words "More Scoops" really big and "per package!" moderately large. The tiny print at the bottom says, "over 15% more ice cream than 1.5 qts".

I love it. Nobody even sells ice cream in 1.5 qt packages!

So they made the package significantly smaller, and then tried to make it look good with a sticker bragging that--what, they could have made it even smaller? That 1.75 is bigger than 1.5?

Wow.

Do they really think I'm that dumb?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Folklorists versus Viral Videos

A proposal, not a link:

It occurred to me tonight that folklore (not folk tales, but real "My friend's sister's friend's aunt said...." folklore--the "FOFA" or "Friend of a friend" transmission that is absolutely characteristic of the subject matter of professional folklorists) is the original viral content, like viral videos are today.

Before, information was spread verbally. Now it's forwarded to people. But the choice to transmit or not transmit (verbally or electronically) comes down to the same insticts and choices in the receivers--does it have value culturally and personally, and is it memorable enough to stick until it gets moved on.

So I'm wondering (and will probably search google scholar about this) if professional academic folklorists have studied what makes something "folklore" (casually transmitted knowledge) and then applied those findings to creating viral video campaigns. We have hundreds of years worth of data about what has been passed on from person to person in the past...it seems we ought to be mining that data for clues about what people will continue to pass on. I know marketers study this, and so do sociologists--but neither of their disciplines is so specifically tied up in information that is transmitted from person to person in a viral way.

But folklorists entire point of existence is to study cultural viruses (be they songs, recipes, ways of farming, stories, or urban legends). The information they have amassed ought not to be marginalized, but embraced and mined!

Especially since so many things--videos, music, art--with the advent of electronic everythings, have gone back to being folk disciplines, owned and promoted by the people rather than by some official entity that is the arbiter of taste.

I know it seems weird to look at "Star Wars Tribute to John Williams" as a folk song, but if you take the strict academic definitions, there is reason to consider it that way.....

Can Anyone Help Identify This Bug?





I counted twenty of these on my back door tonight. They appear to be moths (furry bodies/feathery antennae), but they rest with their wings spread wide (Anda insists this is a characteristic of butterflies). They look bluish in the pictures because of the flash, but in real life they are a dusty-looking matte black with no markings, fringes, spots, or variance--almost like they are made, body and wings, from expensive black velvet. They are about an inch long and about an inch wide at rest, and appeared tonight.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Did I Just Read That?

Found this on google News:

"Nevada implementing strict child prostitution law
Las Vegas Sun - ‎1 hour ago"

I believe we should be implementing anti-child prostitution laws? This sounds like we are now enforcing Child Prostitution strictly.

And how much more strict can a law be than "This is Absolutely Forbidden."? Perhaps they mean the law has changed to create more strict punishment to offenders?

Did I Just Read That?

Sent by my sister, Beth--a news headline: "Fed strives for balance between action, spurring inflation".

First of all, a comma doesn't generally replace "and" successfully. Secondly, this is so so easily misread to say that they are balancing between actions, and the balancing in spurring inflation.

I knew it was the fed's fault all along!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Did I Just Read That?

I was walking through the 99c store with my boys, looking for birthday presents for my daughter (what do you get a girl who is emotionally and socially six, but intellectually about 10? She holds her stuffed kitty while riding her broomstick around because she recently read 3 Harry Potter books to herself....), we started noticing some pretty silly stuff there.

For example, there was a shelf full of boxes of cookies, labeled nicely with pictures. And right in the middle of the set was one that said, "Glass." Seriously. Not "Glass Cookies" or anything like that. If I had a cell phone, I'da taken a picture!

A little further down the same aisle was a package of cookies labeled "Okayo". Not great, not good, not tasty. Nope. Just "okay." That's what I want on my product!

And on the same aisle was a box of "Happy-o" cereal. I don't know why this struck me as funny, but it did.

Then, in the spice section, we saw Ground Cumin, Whole Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Chef's Essence....Chef's Essence? It was blood red.....

Oh, and we did find presents for Anda. A Dragon Tales video--which she loved. A magnifying glass to assist her with her scientific research--which she loved. Jewelry. Soap paint soap stuff. Stickers. Nail polish. A Harry Potter Trivia game. Chocolate, like she requested. "Sheet cheese." You know--stuff. She loved it all, so I guess we win, despite the fact that we couldn't find any cotton candy OR tigers, both of which she requested.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Birds Milk Cake

This is our absolute favorite cake recipe ever. I planned to make it for Tim's birthday in Utah, figuring I could just look up the recipe online (since ALL my favorite recipes can be found easily online).

To my surprise, this recipe is NOT online. There are several "birds milk cake" recipes there, but none look like this cake when it's finished, and all included either gelatin or agar-agar, neither of which are in my recipe. And most included baking a traditional batter cake and slicing it, which this cake doesn't do.

So I'm putting the recipe (with my modifications, naturally) here online so I can find it when I travel in the future, and because every good recipe ought to be found in more than one place. The original recipe, which is surprisingly vague on a few key points, is found on page 99 of "Lion House International Recipes", published by Deseret Book in 1997 (I got it as a wedding gift from Brother and Sister Blood in 1999).

The thing that makes this recipe special is the boiled cream, which is fussy. After several years of making this cake, I think I've figured out the cream--at least it comes out good. I've no idea if it comes out "right", having never met anyone else who makes this cake. The cream is a little fussy and I've had it refuse to set up with a half hour of beating one day and then set up in 3 minutes the next. Also, the cake doesn't taste as good without the chocolate icing ("gonush" in the book).

BIRDS MILK CAKE (from Russia, supposedly)

Cake:
1/2 c butter or margarine (butter tastes better)
1 c sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda

In a large saucepan on medium to low heat, stir together first 5 ingredients until the sugar is melted. Remove from heat and add flour and soda. Stir until well mixed and thick. Divide dough into five equal parts. Cut five 9-inch circles (or, I suppose, any simple shape) from wax paper. Working with one at a time, place a circle on a cookie sheet and put a ball of dough in the center. Roll or pat to fit the circle perfectly (all the way to the edge)--it will be quite thin, and works nicer if you roll it out. Bake 5 minutes (or until lightly browned) at 350. Remove from the cookie sheet and cool on a baking rack while you make the other cake rounds. They come out looking like giant sugar cookies.

Boiled Cream:

2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 c butter (works with margarine, but tastes better with butter)
1 c sugar

Combine flour, 2 tbsp sugar, milk, and vanilla in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 2 minutes. Stir. Repeat until cream is quite thick--like soft pudding. It should boil. You can do this on the stove, but the microwave is easier and has better results. Put plastic wrap right down on the surface of the hot cream, pressing it right to the edges like you do with hot custard, and let it cool (the original recipe just says that--but I've found cooler is better, so get it cool to the touch). Beat (don't whip) the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and the sugar is mostly-to-completely dissolved. Put this in the fridge for 15-30 min, until it has stiffened up and is cold. Pour in cooled liquid and beat well until it looks like whipped cream. I have written into my cookbook "Whip, don't beat" and "Beat, Don't Whip" so I guess it didn't set up one way once, and didn't the other way once, too. I think I usually use both methods, switching part-way through when whichever I started with isn't working. Beating this into cream can take a long time, and often I give up when it's still slightly separated--this affects the look of the cake slightly but doesn't affect the flavor or texture really. If you chill the creamed sugar/butter mixture before you add the cooled milk, you can put the milk in lukewarm and still only have to beat it for 3 minutes or less.

Assemble the cake:

Carefully peel the wax paper from the bottom of the cake rounds. Place one layer on a large plate and spread cream over it right to the edge. Top with another cake round, spread with cream, and repeat. DO NOT spread cream on the top layer (so 5 layers of cake, four of cream). Put in the fridge to stiffen while you make the gonush.

Gonush:
5 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp milk
5 tsp cocoa
1/4 c butter (margarine works, too, but doesn't taste as good)

Combine sugar, milk, and cocoa in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil until smooth and dark brown and slightly thickened--like hot syrup. Remove from heat and stir in butter until it's melted. Pour over top of cake, letting it drizzle down the sides and collect around the bottom of the cake. If you cook it long enough, it should mostly stay on top like a thick glaze. If you didn't, it will be a thin topcoat with lots of liquidy chocolate around the bottom (which tastes just as good, but isn't quite as pretty).

Keep the cake in the fridge until you're ready for it (even overnight if you want), and refrigerate any leftovers.

This cake sounds involved, but it's not hard. The only tricky part is the cream, which can be fussy if you don't boil the cream long enough, or if you don't cool it sufficiently (it just takes longer to set up), or if your kitchen is too hot or too cool, etc. But it's worth it.

My family

I spent a whole week with my family and was struck with what fascinating people they are.

Not only are they all among the smartest people I know (and I know some brilliant people), they are also interesting, well-rounded people:

I have three brothers. One is a talented, sought-after computer programmer who also happens to be an incredible poet, a gigging puppeteer, and moonlights as both a novelist and lyricist. One brother is an entomologist (a wasp expert, actually) who is winning awards for his research all the time, and he also happens to be a fantastic, cutting-edge T-shirt designer and on the side he studies old maps and ice ages and scriptural as well as genetic history. The third brother is a medical student who also happens to be an incredible songwriter and performer (who writes not only singer-songwriter stuff but also amazing ska and "oldies" style rock songs that make you want to dance and sing along). All three are amazing dancers.

I also have three sisters who are equally amazing. One sister is a professional photographer AND a professional CNA who happens to enjoy studying ancient religion and languages on the side. My second sister is fluent in Russian and good at Belorussian, skilled in English literature, and sought after by the CIA. And did I mention that she's an incredible dancer, ultimate frisbee player, hiker, editor, and character actress? And my youngest sister is a fantastic writer, smart as the others, and the person you go to if you need something done. If she wasn't so busy being an amazing mother, she'd be a top-notch investigative journalist (and probably will be some day). And she's a talented decorator. All three are also amazing dancers, compassionate and thoughtful, and fun. Oh, and they happen to be physically as well as intellectually stunning. All three of them. (Not that it matters).

And then there's me: writer and art quilter. But I also read science and medicine books (narrative nonfiction, textbooks) and journals for fun, and I'm fascinated with abnormal psychology, historical clothing, and historical uses of plants. And I collect antique books and folk cookbooks. And, as time passes, I'm learning more and more about music as a business.

Oh, and my parents are a political scientist/Instructional designer and a lawyer/Social Psychologist/writer for a judge--and he enjoys french cooking (doing it, not just consuming it). They both also dance AND sing AND write AND read science. My Dad studies Shakespeare and Calculus with equal abandon. My mom can read a half-dozen books and write a complete online reading course (for adults, struggling teens, or kindergartners) in about a week. Name any subject and give her ten minutes and she'll have an unbelievably perfect lesson plan ready, with a dozen extras on the side just in case your class (of any age) needs it.

Add the inlaws, and we have a fantastically diverse, opinionated group. We have musicians (many of them), a bicyclist, a belly dancer, naturalists, animal scientists, businessmen/women, computer geeks (more than one), medical students (more than one), linguists (and over 10 languages with varying degrees of skill), artists, dreamers and do-ers. Name a subject and I suspect someone in the family knows quite a lot about it. Typical family parties involve lots of talk, lots of incredible food, a measure of dancing, a great deal of music (hand drums, guitars, percussive stuff, voices--anything you can clank, bang, jingle, or strum), and never a shortage of things to learn and do.

No wonder going home is so fun!

Did I just Read That?

I got a sample of Huggies Pull-Ups Training Pants in the mail. The insert had one (and only one) complete sentence, written in English, French, and Spanish:

"Pull-Ups with Learning Designs have patterns that fade when wet to help them learn to stay dry!"

Did you spot both problems with the sentence?

First, there's that pronoun, "them" in there--its only possible antecedents are "patterns"(which is the nearest and therefore assumed antecedent) or "pull-ups", neither of which can learn anything!

The other problem is a conceptual problem with the product. Assuming that we understand that it is the child wearing the pull-up who is doing the learning, what kid spends all day staring at their diaper so they can get the feedback that they peed from the visual cue? It seems like they'd feel it first. The person who is most likely to get the "fade when wet" feedback is the MOTHER (or father or other caretaker), who is the only one who #1) looks at the diaper all day and #2) has the memory capabilities to realize that the diaper has changed from several hours ago.

So they are parent-training pants, not child training pants.

I'd rather train the child, personally. And regular old cloth underwear does that fine--they FEEL it when they pee (because it runs down their leg).

Friday, June 12, 2009

OTC emailed me.....

I corrected my last post--my info came from the newspapers in Vegas, and apparently was outdated by 8 YEARS, according to the Oriental Trading Company representative who emailed me in fear and trembling that I might be presenting their company poorly.

This is not the first concerned email from a company I've received after posting a "Did I just Read That?" blog post.

I am always torn when responding to the emails. Torn between saying, "Um, very few people read my blog--there have been about 6200 views, to be sure, but spread out over about 500 posts in about 3 1/2 YEARS--and that's counting all the times I look at my own blog to make sure the layout is okay, read the posts for typos, etc, and all my family who read--and I have a sizeable family." and saying "If you're concerned with how your company is appearing in the public media, GET AN EDITOR and don't make the typos and 'misspeaks' in the first place!"

But I did want to make it clear that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Oriental Trading Company. Their catalogs are fun reading, and I always spend much time reading and drooling and planning when I have extra cash what products I want and how many gross I could actually use ("With 5 kids, and each going to want equal numbers of porcupine ring painters combined with equal numbers of watercolor crayons...."). If you want fun stuff, look there first. Seriously, when Tim wanted to get a very large blow-up dinosaur for a show, OTC is the place that had them. And had good prices, too. If you're putting on a party, festival, parade, or (like we do) show for kids, Oriental Trading Company is a definite go-to place. And now it's a must-look spot for teachers (and parents of many children) too. It's the only place I've seen where you can get a box of 800 crayons! (And "primary" colored stamp pads that include these colors: purple, orange, black, yellow, red, green).

And no, they didn't put me up to this. I really do like that company. Or at least their catalogs.

Advertising Writing! ! ! !

I found an Oriental Trading Co catalog and my mom's house and started reading.

Apparently they shifted their focus from "summer party stuff" to "teacher supplies". Who would have guessed? They look like great teacher products, too. (And, the company assures me, you can get the summer cool stuff catalog if you request it--it's not discontinued. What a relief!)

Anyway, the "watercolor crayons" on page 87 caught my eye and I started really reading. Unless otherwise noted, all these exciting quotes are from pages 82-89.

I've never seen so many exclamation points!

And I learned a few things. For example, the opposites of "bright" are not "dull/Dim" but "Tropical/Jeweltone"

And this: "50 Jumbo Duck Quills. These extra-long feathers would make a beautiful turkey tail".

How 'bout this magnificent claim: "400 Marvelous Mirror Tiles" which are described as "Exclusive! Each tile reflects light and colors!" Now, if you found a mirror that reflects only light but not colors, THAT might be worth the exclamation point!

In a big green oval on Page 87, it declares, "WOW! You get 12 boxes!" Amazing, considering the items are all sold by the dozen in that section. I believe 12 boxes does constitute a dozen still.

Under 6-colors-in-one-stick crayons, we get this gem, "Lets kids be creative anytime, anyplace." This must not be geared toward mothers. Anytime? Like during dinner? At midnight? And any place? Like the walls? Bathtub? Their clothes? And a rainbow marker is kind of anti-creative. What can you draw with it but rainbows?

Of course, you could buy this absolute necessity: '"What's the Answer?" Dry Erase Paddles'. Yes, ping pong paddles made from white boards. The text says, "Exclusive! Great for oral quizzes and games!" Yeah! We use white boards for talking with! "Pairs of Students can quiz each other for tests!" !!!!!!! Since they can't test each other on multiplication tables using, oh, pencil and paper? Or their voices?

Did it not occur to anyone that if you give a bunch of kids a bunch of wooden paddles, they will hit each other?

And every mother's dream product: "Window Chalk Marker Set". Why is this so great? "Easy to apply and remove from glass windows....chalk cannot be removed from non-glass surfaces." How many kids can really just keep it on the glass?

And there is an honest to goodness error in this sentence on page 64: "Specially designed to prevent spilling, these sturdy pots have tapered bases."

I think maybe they meant "flared"?

This is one of my favorite bits of advertising copy ever:

"12 Exciting White Board Erasers
Exclusive!"

People find all kinds of thing exciting, but I doubt anyone really gets that worked up over dry erase board erasers.

To be fair, I read a bunch of the rest of the catalog and most of it didn't have any gaffs like these--although there is a photo of a product--a picture frame craft kit with a camping theme-- where the crafter puts a foam fire on a frame for decoration--but the placement of the fire makes it look like you are burning the subjects of the photo in a roaring bonfire.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Did I just read that?

The entire content of an ad on foxnews.com was a picture of a car, a web address, and the words, "Certified pre-owned by BMW".

You know that advertisers make the strongest claim they can legally make, right? So that's it? That they can certify that they have owned that car before? I mean, it came out of their factory, right? So all they're saying is that the car that says BMW on it is actually a BMW? No...not even that. They're just saying it has a certificate that says it is--not that it actually is.

Even if the ad didn't include the small print (the "by bmw" part was significantly smaller than the rest of the text), it's only saying they guarantee the car isn't new!

Great.

A quote brought to my attention by my mother

Someone should send this to Obama. If there were a way to do it, I'd say let's flood his email box with this quote from every person in America, rich and poor.

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves."
Abraham Lincoln

Monday, June 08, 2009

Did I just read that?

Both from the Dec 20, 2008 edition of the magazine "Science News":

"Some hybrid striped bass exposed to Prozac stopped eating and began hanging vertically in the water."

(There's nothing linguistically wrong with that--but the whole concept is amazing and funny.)

and also, less linguistically pristine:

"Slightly more than half of the live fish tested alone followed healthy-looking replicas of fish."

I wonder what the dead fish did?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

On the Road Again

Yesterday my angel sister in law picked us up in Vegas and drove us back to Lehi, UT, for a surprise party for my mother. It was a decent trip--except we left late because Benji slipped away and managed to fall into a cactus while we were packing the car. I spent a long time with a screaming toddler and a pair of tweezers. I finally balanced him in that little space of counter in front of the bathroom sink so he would stop wiggling so much (he would've fallen and he knew it!). Two things I learned about removing tiny hairlike cactus spines--experience plucking eyebrows helps, and a flashlight is vital for seeing the spines. Also, after tweezing the big ones, duct tape is useful for pulling the miniscule ones.

It was a good trip--only one kid threw up, only one had a diaper leak all over his clothes, we only had to stop to nurse twice, and we only nearly lost Benjamin (avoiding potentially disastrous results) twice!

I was pretty peeved when the audio book cut off right at the most interesting part--right before we got to Grandma's. Fortunately, the audio book my sister-in-law picked out happened to be the same book I had picked to read the kids at the library--so I had a copy in my box and pulled it out!

Grandma was actually surprised by her surprise party, and all her 7 kids were there (although we were missing two spouses), and all her grandkids were there. Julie, my sister, had amazingly beautiful tables, food arrangements, and decor, and she had somehow managed to procure one of those giant blow-up slides. And this time even the grown ups got to slide--plus all the kids got to go as many times as they wanted with no waiting to speak of (there are a dozen or so kids, not all of whom are old enough to slide, all under 8 years old). It was fun to see everyone. AND I managed to unplug the toilet before it overflowed!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Did I just read that?

From the back cover of a book published by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

"including infant CPR and choking instructions"

Seriously? The American Academy of Pediatrics wants to TEACH you how to choke your infant? Is that so you can practice the infant CPR?

Recipe: Whatever You Have Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie is very forgiving and flexible.

My recipe:

1-2 lbs beef (burger, leftover roast, canned beef chunks, or whatever you have--we love half burger half beef chunks)

1 celery stalk, sliced (optional)

1/2 green pepper, diced (optional)

1 can chili OR 1-3 c home made leftover chili OR 1 can other beans (small red, pinto, kidney, pork-and-, or whatever) plus 1 tsp-1 tbsp chili powder OR 1 can tomato sauce PLUS 1 tsp-1 tbsp chili powder

1-2 cans tomato stuff (tomatoes--undrained and cut up small, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato soup, salsa, etc.) OR a couple of fresh or frozen tomatoes, diced

1 can diced green chilis (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

couple of shakes of garlic powder

1 tbsp minced dried onion (opt) OR 1/2 fresh onion, minced (opt)

1-3 c shredded cheese (any kind you can shred)

1 recipe cornbread batter OR this one:
1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
a handful of sugar
4 tsp baking soda
1 can creamed corn OR 1 can regular corn, blended
1 egg (or I used 3 egg yolks tonight...whatever you have on hand)
1/2 c milk or 2 tbsp powdered milk powder stirred into the flour plus 1/2 c water

Mix it all together.

Cook the meat and veggies until they're done (no longer pink, or heated through, or tender, depending on what you used). Drain off the grease. Add everything else except the cheese and cornbread batter. Stir. Heat to boiling and simmer gently for 10 minutes to let the flavors blend. Meanwhile, mix up the cornbread batter if you haven't yet. Add 1/2-1 c cheese to the meat sauce and stir it in. Spread 2/3 cornbread batter in large greased baking dish (9x13 works fine). Sprinkle rest of cheese over the batter. Spoon meat mixture on top. Spoon rest of the cornbread batter around the edge to make a border, or "draw" a lattice, or put dots on wherever to make "islands". Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until cornbread is done (knife inserted in border comes out clean).

The variations do change the flavor some, but all taste good.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lolliglass

We used the lollipops recipe in that Exploratorium link I post yesterday. It worked great. We skipped the cream of tartar, though. Not necessary. And we don't have lollipop molds or sticks, and I'm not patient enough to pour little circles, especially of hot hot sugar with anxious toddlers standing on chairs all around me. So we just poured all the hot sugar into a nice big sheet on a piece of greased wax paper sitting in a cookie sheet--we made a sheet of lolliglass, and then broke it to eat it.

Here's the modification we made to the main recipe that's really fun and makes for great lollies:

We used koolaid powder to both flavor and color it.

See, the recipe called for citric acid and flavorings. I didn't have citric acid or desire to buy some, but I knew that is the main ingredient in koolaid. So I grabbed one of those "single serve" packets (except it has 2-3 servings in it!) that I bought to keep in the car to fill babas of traumatized and/or carsick travellers. I poured it right into the hot sugar mix (which I took to hard crack stage but not 300 degrees--I hate that burned flavor most home made pops get--I'd rather them be a little soft than a little yucky) with a teaspoon of vanilla and stirred like crazy. And then I poured it into the prepared cookie sheet.

It ended up tasting like commercial candy (and home made lollies almost never do) --complete with artificial colorings!

Wolfram Alpha

I love this new information-getter, Wolfram Alpha. Where else could I find out that 2 cups of hard wheat has most of the protein, fiber, and carbs you need for a day, plus a bunch of b-vitamins, iron, and other good stuff?

I was trying to find out where my natural sleep schedule would match with the rest of society, and I typed in, "Where is it 11:00 pm right now?"

The answer came back, "$8.79 (US dollars)".

Now I'm wondering what it thought I asked?