Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday

Like Fairies, Bogeymen and a margarine that actually tastes like butter I have troubles believing in Cyber Monday.

Back in the early exploration days of the web perhaps there were a handful of the super nerds living inside their giant jars with electrodes hooked to their brains navigating the five online shops to purchase gifts after coming up empty on the Black Friday weekend.

But now stores start their on-line madness the week of Thanksgiving. Who hasn't been watching the Amazon scroll, particularly when you grow tired of your relatives and need something, anything to keep you away from the knives.

In the spirit of Cyber Monday and its little cyber week I decided to put aside my doubt and spend the week or so highlighting some of the neat small business stuff on the web that I'll happily vouch for. Parking is such a bitch on-line.

To begin I decided to show off the billions of things I have stashed around the internet for sale in various forms or another:

First there's my paintings, okay there are very few of my paintings actually. They've become a bit rarer over the year as I've been busy with other things keeping me far from brush.
You can spot more at my Etsy store here.

If; however, you had an eye on one of my old paintings but would like a fancy print you can find some here of some of my more favorite trees and things:
I have all manner of bits, bobbles, t-shirts, mugs, mousepads, and bric-a-brac candy for sale in my zazzle store. It's having one of those if you click here you can get 50% off ipad case type sales going on all week:

If you dig through a bit there are a bunch of Rifftrax inspired things towards the back and speaking of Rifftrax, my husband and I have some shorts for sale as well. (I told you this was going to take a while).

I suppose it's best to end on that book thingie I spent last year struggling through. You can get it in Kindle, Nook, Paperback, and scrawled across your bedroom walls.
Well I think that's pretty much it, you know for the sake of this post let's say it is it (shoves three headed barter monster back into the closet).

Happy Clicking!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Green Bean Casserole not from a can

Happy almost Thanksgiving everyone!

So far thing are looking okay, and I don't believe we shall see a repeat of last year where due to illness on the other end my husband and I had 3 hours to prepare a Thanksgiving feast on our own.

Boy that was a lot of fun, shopping at 7:30 on Thanksgiving to pick up what for everyone else would be last minute things and for us was well everything. Fast brining turkey bits, whipping up two sides in the same oven, keeping them warm and then roasting the turkey. Yup, grand ol' time.

But sometimes I like to enjoy the festive holiday season for as long as I can and occasionally one just wants green bean casserole. Except I'm not crazy about the traditional get a frozen bag of beans, a can of soup and the always necessary fried onion strips. It's sort of well quintessential 1950's fair with the flavors muddied under heavy amounts of sodium.

So I was extra excited to find a from scratch green bean casserole recipe, I did alter it a bit because I have a terrible habit of doing that.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • About 1/4 cup of dried onions
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry,(or in my case the cooking wine)
  • As many fresh green beans I could rescue from the rotting bag
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
First thing I did was prep the fresh green beans. Frozen's always a good option to, it's just our local grocery store always has a bag of fresh that I like to get. So I slice and dice a lot and plop they go into the water.

To a pan add the oil and onions. You can be a normal person and actually slice up an onion or be me and despise the thing aside from a handful of forms. Let those get flavorful and then add the mushrooms and spices. Cook them for about 5-7 minutes to escape the tasty juices and mix together flavors.

I should warn you since we are using thyme it will smell like Thanksgiving in your pan, so use caution and try to avoid any turkeys with a grudge. Once those are looking nice and dessicated sprinkle the flour over the veggies and add the milk and sherry. Bring that to a simmer for a few minutes to thicken up (and oh will it). This is a good time to taste and adjust your flavors accordingly (I probably added more thyme here).

Now plop in the green beans and the sour cream. Stir and stir until you have this ooey gooeyness:
Now here is where I go completely off the recipe, because half the point of making green bean casserole is the french's fried onions. It's really a vehicle for eating them without having to do it huddled over the kitchen sink at 4 AM.

So instead of making their fancy topping I tossed a few of the pre-bought stuff (oh the horrors) into the pan and then added the entire green bean goo into a dish and topped with more fried onions:
Into the 400 oven for 15 minutes to come out looking like this:
And how does it taste? Both warm and familiar but with a bit more pop, you can really get a good feel for the mushrooms instead of the vague idea a mushroom was near it from a can. Its also a lot more filling than the usual can stuff. I was a bit low on the beans so I came nowhere close to filling my dish but there's still quite a bit for leftovers.

It's a lot more work but I say it's worth it for the homemade green bean casserole.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Doggie wardrobe

I'm still doing that chasing butterflies thing but I thought we could all use a picture of a dog in pajamas.
Silly Essie is built like a supermodel, tiny chest and insanely long so either her clothes are super baggy and sometimes catch her back feet or well look like that.

Either way yes I know I have a dog that loves clothes, it's downright disturbing how excited she gets when I pull out a sweater or set of pajamas. We mostly indulge her because it keeps her sleeping longer and we'll do anything to get a break from the psychopath in black fur.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Awareness Aware Month

My brain's still churning out indecipherable words at about 3,000 or so a day but every now and then it needs a nice break.

Writing a first draft is like trying to catch butterflies in a hurricane. You lopsidedly pin down what you can before the other words flee.

So I needed a little creativity change of pace and created my first Post Secret:
On the other side of someone said something and then for made me do it, my husband in talking about how October is pink boobies month wondered if there was a Death Awareness month. Thus was this poster conceived, gestated and born in my head (I have no idea how Zeus did it, I'm still craving pickled cauliflower).
Now back to the text mines.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Finished! Well, kinda

Perhaps the most addictive part of NaNoWriMo for me are the stats. I can get rather competitive but only with myself (or against computer controlled shoes that try to screw you over during Monopoly).

Just look at all this tasty tasty data:
There's a line chart, tracking how much you accomplished in a day, how far you have to go, and more than likely when you will finish.

As you can see I passed the 50,000 mark sometime yesterday. Alas it wasn't as exciting as the first time when Neil Gaiman responded to one of my little brain goo tweet as I was limping across the finish line. (Though I still jump up and down in little circles whenever I remember that he actually liked those posters I whipped up *bounce* *bounce* *bounce*).

But my point, right right, the point is that way back on day one or two as I'd upload my daily gains the little you will be finished on box intoned I would be done by November 17th. Sure, I laughed and angels will fly out of my dog's butt (in retrospect that is a bit more likely considering the weird crap she eats).

And yet, there I clickity clacked away and looked up to find 50,000 words (and a good 1/3 of the story left to go) ruminating on my hard drive on yes the seventeenth. It's rather eerie really, I wonder what else the magical line chart/bar graph can predict.

*When will I die?* *When will I eat a Reuben sandwich?* *Will the Reuben kill me?*

Ask later? The 8 ball got to you didn't it?


Obligatory celebration graphic and now I'm off to keep writing, this thing will get finished even if I have to drag wild horses to a bar and make them be the designated drivers!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hungarian Beef Goulash (Kinda)

Hi all!

You may have noticed that little box up there in the corner. Or maybe you didn't in which case please ignore the following couple of sentences, they weren't that good anyway.

End communication.

I'm nearing the end of the NaNoWRiMo word count, not that it means much as I still have perhaps double that to go in spinning the yarn I'm trying to weave into a comfy wool sweater for rest of metaphor not found.

This means that my brain shall have to remain bubbling at half burner for at least another month or so and because of that my dinner plans have gotten a bit more "Oh god just let me throw something into something else for a few hours so I can spend unquality time with my laptop."

Enter the Hungarian Beef Goulash - I snagged the recipe from Roots & Zest.

It calls for stew meat which isn't to be used in stew - a welcoming proposition as I hate stew. Make up your damn mind, are you going to be a soup or a chowder? You can't be both! Oh and I love paprika, it's a downright sickness at this point.

Don't mind the two kinds of pasta, that happens a lot in this house. Its like a sampler platter.


Ingredients - I cut it all in half for the two of us and because I only had 1 pound of stew meat. Oh and the green alien on my shoulder told me to.
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, (such as chuck), trimmed and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2-2 tablespoons sweet or hot paprika,
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Obviously I left out the peppers - blech, and I added some vindaloo for a little spicy kick.Oh and the caraway seeds were one of those things we thought we had but never materialized. I shouldn't have put my spice rack so close to a black hole.

Preparation

  1. Place beef in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Crush caraway seeds with the bottom of a saucepan. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in paprika, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the beef with the spice mixture and toss to coat well. Top with onion and bell pepper.
  2. Combine tomatoes, broth, Worcestershire sauce and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer. Pour over the beef and vegetables. Place bay leaves on top. Cover and cook until the beef is very tender, 4 to 4 1/2 hours on high or 7 to 7 1/2 hours on low.
  3. Discard the bay leaves; skim or blot any visible fat from the surface of the stew. Add the cornstarch mixture to the stew and cook on high, stirring 2 or 3 times, until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

The cornstarch mixture didn't really thicken it well but luckily the pasta sucked up tasty juices. It was a nice warm ooey gooey tomatoey meal for crisp days that was gobbled up without any leftover. Next time I might try to make the full recipe because it'll be a good I have another 2,000 words to get out pick something from the fridge dinner.

PAPRIKA FOOTBALL RULES!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Wanna Be a Dragon

Sometimes (what do I mean, sometimes) strange topics arise when I am conversing with individuals of a random nature. While twitter appears to exacerbate this, it has been happening for as long as I figured out the mouth could make sounds approaching words (somewhere around age 13 when I finally got my voice).

On Friday I was conversing with someone about Fairy Tales which then wandered off to Sleeping Beauty and then to how I preferred Maleficent to the princess du jour. And for some reason my little colloquialism stuck with me so I had to try and piece together a graphic.
After making it a bit more PG-13 I decided, you know what, why not put that on a T-shirt for sale:
I can't decide if it's funnier on a babydoll or if it'd still look better on a gray. Oh zazzle, always feeding my terrible habit of putting things onto other things.

In other less shiny news got Skyrim this weekend so I expect my productivity at putting words into my magical box to plummet like an angel who's sick of the big guy telling him what to do. Just 11,000 more to go before it reaches that magical "okay you can call it a novel now" level.

But Dragons to slay and dungeons to crawl and ten minutes getting a horrible cramp sneaking as I wait for a bandit to step back into the torchlight. Hm, how much is it to clone myself?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Easy Cheesy Enchiladas

First Happy Oh look the date's doing that thing again. Only one or two more years until we can stop doing this crap.

Ooh! We should all play the lottery and get married and prepare for the alien invasion.

All done? Okay good, now we can get to the meat of the matter. Red peppers (as well as Green and Yellow - I don't discriminate) are pure evil. They do things to my internal organs that would be outlawed by even the spider people on Rigel 7. If I consume even a tiny bit part of me hurt that I didn't think could feel pain or existed.

So I am cautious around a lot of wrapped foods, or anything that has those bright shiny chunks of evil crunchy death. (This is also true of relish and 1000 Island dressing, a Reuben is a Weapon of Mass Destruction around me) but damnit sometimes one just wants an enchilada. Luckily I found a fairly easy and okay not that quick way to make my own that is super flavorful without any death peppers.

It starts easily enough by cutting up some chicken breasts into edible pieces that fit nicely inside things like mail slots. Add those, a couple teaspoons of oil and some onions if you like to a skillet to depinkify.

About a minute before the chicken is done toss in 2-3 teaspoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, some Tabasco and anything else to bring the heat if you want.
Drain that because no one wants soggy enchiladas (if you do there is something seriously wrong with you, go sit in the corner until you figure out what it is).

Fold, stir and gooify in 3/4 cup of sour cream and cheese (I used a Mexican mix but I imagine just about anything other than velveeta would work. If you want to use velveeta you know where to go sit)
Now's a good time for another taste test. A dash of salt or pepper to brighten the flavor or even a dash of vinegar.

Take your ooey gooey chicken stuff and plop some down into a tortilla:
No, that's way too much. What? Is your spatula bigger than your eyes? Start over and try again.
Much better. Roll them up into adorable little bundles and place in OCD rows inside of a pre-greased dish:
Now to bloody this thing up. Drench them in Enchilada sauce. I tried to make my own once, I had a tub of the thing sitting around after an hour of slicing, dicing and purifying so I just use a can now.
Cover with tin foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Or 300 50 degree ovens for 1 minute. Or shoot it into the sun and hope it doesn't have a Superman hair mixed in.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas:
Oooey gooey with nary an evil pepper or chile in sight (but you can add them if you like, I guess weirdo).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holy Shit, what's this?

After sitting on it, not literally unless I needed to find something in my what was once a painting room but has quickly turned into a junk pile of epic proportions, for almost a month I have finally listed my first new painting for sale in almost a half a year.

It's my Four Seasons scattered across Four canvases. Four!


As you can see it is difficult to keep them all from posing at a jaunty angle and acting like they're too cool for straight edges.

The edges are painted in a mock frame fashion because I thought the idea of a painting of trees surrounded by fake wood was kind of funny. Or I had some leftover brown, 6 of one half dozen of another.

If anyone's at all curious I have it for sale in my long neglected and unloved Etsy store - where dreams go to die.

There is another painting sitting in my room that hasn't been photographed or listed but I need to keep one back to cover any menacing skulls coming through the wall. It happens every winter when the graves get too cold and all the skeletons start scrambling to get in the house.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week 2- Why did it have to be week 2

God I hate the second week of NaNoWriMo.

I know, this is only my second annual attempt at writing a novel in month, but I'm noticing a few patterns from my brain.

One is to never ever feed it after midnight. I'd like to take the time now to apologize to that nice farm couple from Wisconsin, I have no idea how I wound up in your garden wearing just a pointy hat and some lederhosen.

I, unlike all of my normal contemporaries, seem to require breaks in between writing sessions. Rather long ones, with a meal or two separating them. It seems my brain goo can only come squirting out in fits that get pounded into a keyboard for so long before smoke pours from my ears and I call time.

But perhaps the greatest lesson I've learned is if I just keep slogging through week 2 I'll see a light at the end of the tunnel and remember to dodge out of the way of the train unlike all the coyote carcasses  lining the tracks.

Week one is a strange high, as neural receptors shoot off endorphins each time my fingers hit keys and something approaching a word spills out. I can reach my daily quota no problem, once the dog's been trapped inside her containment bubble.

Come the seventh of November a dark cloud settles upon my little laptop. The words sit stubbornly hidden behind walls, in trash cans or neck deep in mud laced with razor blade refusing to budge. My eye wanders more and more away from the page to shiny things mother magpie keeps bringing me. Apparently she thought I was some kind of disney film and I could really use a dress made of scraps of newspaper and old cups to the ball.

It's a battle between the one side of my brain that says "No, you need to write because if you skip your pattern now, you'll skip it again and this thing will never get done." with the other side that says, "BUT I DON'T WANNA!"

If you can't tell I am firmly embroiled in the middle of week 2, banging my face against the keyboard in the hopes something coherent will come out and I can add that to my stagnant word count.

But if I just stick it out, keep struggling like a man who enjoys wearing large sea birds as accessories once week three hits the words will dig themselves out of the muck, shake some of the dirt off and without apologizing get in line while I stand to the sides a bit jaded knowing that I can never truly trust them again.

And now one more coloring page for any out there who want to color nice things: rainbows, kittens, undead zombie ponies:
Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Geeks Come A' Coloring

One of my guilty pleasures as the weather turns nippy and people get a lot of stressed out trying to pretend they're jolly all the god damned time is turning on QVC and marveling at the random crap they're trying to hoist on an unsuspecting public with access to a credit card number.

I cannot explain why it entertains me so, but there are hours of entertainment to be had watching 40 year old men try to work a small helicopter or people pretend that what is clearly a studio set is a magical winter wonderland because someone wrapped a string of lights around a watering can.

Last night one of the hot pick/deals/just buy this crap was a camera that had a ton of photoshop macros hidden with in. One of which was something that turned your pictures into coloring book pages. The image shown on screen was barely visible but it gave me a crazy idea as well as a possible christmas present.

So I pulled out my own trusty photoshop and got to work.

For you my fellow nerds/geeklings/people who keep crayons on them at all times here's some coloring pages just for you based around my earlier nerd images.

Madame Pompadour and the Tardis can be whatever color you like. I suggest purple.
 This is my Tardis in the Water Lillies, apparently impressionist and coloring books don't go so well together.
Or there's always the fun of coloring a soul eater maybe a pretty fuchsia.

The son of Servo?
 Or perhaps you've wanted to reach graduate level coloring and want to take on the SOL.

If for some reason you're not a geek yet you're still reading this here's a chance to color my dog, she's being her usual "happy go lucky my life is so awesome unless you don't throw that ball then I'm in a spiral of despair" self.
I'd explain how I go about making my images but even I only have a vague idea. Now pull out those crayons or colored pencils or markers and get to work.

You're supposed to be jolly, damn it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo Take 2

November is the month to look forward to doing really weird stuff.

There's that Movember where one spends the month growing a mustache because it's more fun having a fire hazard on your top lip when dealing with flaming balls of fried turkey guts.

Or if you're even crazier you could spend 30 days coming up with 2,000 words a day so you can call yourself a novelist.

The less said about the tradition of plucking and covering poultry carcases in saline water to consume enough to feed small villages before crashing in front of the television programs the better.

Being female and technically always doing movember if you think about it I decided to try that middle one again. My first attempt lead to well that book over there in the upper corner so I'm at it once again.

I don't want to give much away but I will say that it is technically a prequel to the first, yes you may all hit me with wiffle bats now. But I sort of prefer the Pratchett take of jump around a world in location and time and see what happens.

Not certain if it's a good sign or not but I came into it with a title already in mind. Apparently these can be best called the T series.
So wish me luck or at least throw the penny candy with a bit less gusto if you wish. For the two of you curious I figured I'd prove my cred by posting my first chapter/prologue/whatever you want to call it below. You can try to steal it if you wish but it'll turn into lead in the morning sun.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Recap 2011 Style

Happy All Saints Day for those three people who actually know what Al Saints Day is.

For the rest it's time for Halloween Night Recap!
Because there are about a billion pictures I'm hiding them behind the break but trust me, they're good.