Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Day

Today is my mom's birthday! Yay! Happy birthday mum!

At around midnight last night I called her, where she was already at her desk all the way on what is nearly the other side of the world, and sang to her. We always do this for each other.

For the life of me, I can't put a date on this photo. Can you, mom? We're at the Camp, obvs. And you look awesome. And it looks like my braces are off. I want to say... oh gosh. '94? '93?

We are a tight duo. Always have been. My parents divorced when I was quite young, and my brother left for college when I was 8 or so. So from 8 to 18, it was just me and mom. With my brother dropping in from time to time, of course. We were sorta like roommates then. Me, her, and a kitteh.

I do have a date for this one: 1997 - Christmas in Jamaica. I feel like that idea came to us during one of those gray, fall afternoons watching TV together in the living room. A commercial with a beach came on, and it was like, yes.

If I thought being a single mother all those years, or even an Army wife in the Middle East in the 70s, was the bravest thing she'd ever done, well I had something coming. We all did. It just blows my mind the stuff she's done over the past few years. She is constantly reinventing, seeking out the next great adventure. She is changing and learning, still. You better hope you're kicking that much ass in your 60s.

And next birthday will be the best one yet. Mandatory retirement! Well, as mandatory as she wants to make of it. She's never been one to sit still for too long.

XO mumsie.

Friday, August 28, 2009

In case you missed it

Puppies dressed as cats. Genius. Thanks Conan! I'm totally looking forward to more 'Tonight Show Mini-Dose of Joy' segments.

On the computer front, the good news is that Devlin is back and repaired! The bad news is that I have now discovered that the thunderstorm fried my modem too. So on Saturday I gotta go swap it out for a new one. And then to Best Buy to purchase the most expensive, fancy-fangled surge protector I can find. Thanks Mother Nature, you're awesome.

Also, when in doubt, I would advise you to purchase the Apple Care protection for your Apple product. All repairs for my computer were freesies. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, August 24, 2009


It is the nature of North Texas that one will have some wicked storms from time to time. I generally enjoy the excitement of them, although lately they just cause me stress. Like knocking out my power for a day or two, or frying my computer.

At least that's my theory why my laptop Devlin wasn't working Friday evening, because we had this wicked storm Friday morning and I was so startled by one particular bolt of lightning that I got out of bed and went sniffing about for smoke. And poor Dev, he won't even turn on. I'm worried that everything on the hard drive is gone. Oh sigh.

(Taken back in my Astoria apartment.)

So no fun blog posts from me this week, unless I can squeeze it in during work (like I'm doing this one), but that will be highly unlikely. I took him in to the Apple Store and they've shipped him off to some repair facility. It's one thing to be without a computer when you're on a beach for a week or something. I mean, I get that. That's nice. But during an average week, when I'm itching to get some photo editing done.. well that's just a bummer.

But I'm hoping to use my time really wisely this week. I've deemed it "Home Improvement/Clear Off The DVR Week." Also, "Make Peach Cobbler Week." And I'll tell you all about it when I finally get back on the interwebs. How exciting that will be!

And yes, I name my electronics - more specifically, my computer and iPod - after characters from old movies. If you can tell me what film Devlin comes from, I will buy you a cupcake. Trivia!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It was all yellow

Okay, here's that finished baby blanket.

The shower was a lot of fun, with lots of sweets. Like so many sweets, it could make your head explode. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I had a good time catching up with college friends on Saturday, talking about babies and our families and such, and then on Monday night, one of the friends' sister had a baby. And then, you know, the owner of this blanket is still on the way. And my step-sister is pregnant. See what I mean about the babies?? They're everywhere.

This is the Tiramisu blanket, a very popular pattern, except I adapt it so as not to have to weave in the ribbon. I think life is easier if mom can just throw a blanket in the wash (although, delicate cycle please). I don't like pink but my friend is very girly, so I embellished with a happy flower. It looks nice I think.

And now, to yellow deserts! I made this banana pudding a couple weeks ago and it was so huge and I just couldn't figure out how I'd eat it all. I brought some to work, I sent visitors home with plastic containers of it, I tried to give some to my neighbor. In the end, not a drop was wasted, but I think my waistline suffered the most for that.

We made banana pudding a lot when I was growing up. Although I think most of the time we cheated and bought a box of instant pudding and then slapped all the pieces together. It really doesn't take long when you do it that way, and obviously still tastes good. But really, making the pudding from scratch just takes a jiff, despite involving a few more ingredients. And it's even better - like, lick-the-pot good.

So last summer I had some banana pudding from a restaurant, but I can't remember the name. They brought in a huge tray to the magazine I was working for, and it was probably better than any other banana pudding I'd had, and it was clear the reason I enjoyed it so much was the liberal use of whipped cream. So when I was hunting for a recipe to make this from scratch, I chose this one because it involves folding that whipped cream right into the pudding before putting everything together. You just gained a pound reading that sentence, didn't you.

Banana Pudding
adapted from recipe found here, which was adapted from recipe found here

For whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I always use Mexican vanilla)
2 teaspoons sugar

For pudding:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot milk
3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (yup, Mexican)

1 (12-ounce) box Nilla wafers
5 medium size ripe bananas, peeled and thinly sliced

Mix sugar, flour, and salt in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in the hot milk with a whisk. Cook the mixture over moderate heat while stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Slowly stir approximately 1/4 cup of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks to bring them up to temp. Next add the yolks to the hot mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is fully thickened to a custard-like consistency and coats a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

While you let pudding cool to room temp, whip all ingredients for whipped cream to stiff peaks. Then fold 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the pudding (oops, in re-reading this, just discovered I folded in 1/2 the whipped cream, rather than 1/2 cup! So just do whatever you like). Line a glass bowl or casserole dish with Nilla wafers, doing your best to get them up the sides. Alternately layer banana slices, pudding, and vanilla wafers, and end up with pudding on top, then spread remaining whipped cream over the top of all of it. Chill as long as you can stand it, then serve.

Share it with friends.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Busy fingers

I'm so close to finishing a gift for a baby shower I'm attending down in Houston this weekend. Just when I think I might be baby-free, another dear friend or loved one gets pregnant. And it's so easy (if a bit time-consuming) to craft something handmade, and it means ever so much to the recipient. At least, we makers of handmade things hope that it does.

I'm making a variation on this blanket for the shower this weekend.

Blankets are easy for these Texas babies, because they can be used nearly year round. Spread it on the floor and set them on top of it in the summer, or tuck it 'round them in the winter while they sleep. Alternatives being hats, booties, sweaters, etc., and no Texas baby is going to get a whole lot of use out of that.

So when a New York friend had a baby this spring, I was all set and determined to make it a little sweater. The winters go on forever there (or at least, it feels that way), so I know it will see some good use.

Its owner is named Luca and he's beautiful and cute as a button. I hope I get to meet him when I go visit my former city this fall. I'd never made anything with this many seams before - it did fry my brain a little. I dragged my feet and even more so when it came to simply sewing on the buttons - the last step. It seems I'd rather have yarn between my fingers than thread.

Although, if that's the case, I may not like my next endeavor as much: embroidery. I've been reading through this book lately, in preparation for starting my first projects.

I really think I'll love it though. It's a new way to make gifts or prettify things around my house. I want to have a whole stash of pillow cases like Alicia (geeze, I link to her blog a lot, don't I? Really though, that is one of my top five Alicia blog posts ever). I also want to make a set of days-of-the-week dishtowels (yeah, probably these) and swap them out for my raggedy, mismatched set. I'm finding that having pretty dishtowels makes kitchen time that much more fun.

Okay, must go watch SYTYCD now. I'm not going to say who I'm rooting for because frankly, I'm a bit torn. But they're all good eggs I think, so am hoping either way I'll be happy with the result.