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Green Dragons

27 Oct

Every year my dragon boat team has a season end party, it is always a potluck and I always take a dessert because, well, that is what I know how to make lol Last year I took a cupcake cake shaped like a dragon and felt like I should take something this year also dragon themed. But what to take? I did some internet snooping to look for inspiration and came up with this…

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Green Dragons!

Ok yes, admittedly he is a bit ghetto looking, but he was the first one made and there was a bit of a learning curve for how to move them around once they were frosted lol In the end I resorted to using an offset spatula to scoop them up and move them to their carrying container, and even then some of them lost frosting on their torsos. *rolls eyes* Looking back I realize I should have frosted and decorated them a couple hours prior to when I had to package them up, give the frosting time to set a bit, instead of packing them as soon as they were decorated. My impatience was showing. πŸ˜‰

They are super easy to make, and would probably be a fun adult and kid project. Especially since you don’t have to decorate them to make them look like a dragon.

The base is Rice Krispie squares, only cut in to rectangles to give more of a “body” impression vs just a head. Cause ya know, totally normal to eat the entire body of an animal, but it’d be weird if it was just a decorated head…

Start with a tray of Rice Krispie treats, made exactly as the box says. Let them cool completely before cutting.

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While the treats are cooling you can whip up some buttercream frosting, dye it any colour you want, and prep your decorations.

I bought the eyes ready made because it is halloween and candy eyes are everywhere, so why not take advantage? All the other decorations are candies that I manipulated. I cut a Fruit By The Foot in to triangles for the ears. I pulled apart a pull apart Twizzler and then cut the strips short to make spiky hair. I found this white malleable candy at the dollar store to make the fangs. Lastly, I used Smarties for the nostrils.

Originally I wanted to make them all uniform, so if the frosting was going to be green than I wanted green spiky hair and ears. However, candy companies are not thinking of my baking decoration needs so I couldn’t find things that would work all in green, or all of any colour so I changed my mind and decided to go rainbow themed. After all, just because a dragon has a green body, who says he can’t show his individuality by dying his spiky hair? And who says genetics would make his ears green? Maybe dragons thrive on showing their personality by having multi-coloured hair. Or maybe they are a mix of colours to better blend in with the unicorns and rainbows.

The point is, there are no rules when it comes to stuff like this, so I purposefully went colourful. Having said that, I opened the bag of Smarties and they were all muted colours. When did Smarties stop being vibrant and instead become pastel and blah looking? That was kind of a let down, sigh.

Here is the candy prepped and ready for use. I had no idea how much I would need so I guessed…and definitely over estimated on the amount of hair I would need lol

Once your candy is prepped, your frosting is made, and your Rice Krispies are cooled all you do is cut the Rice Krispies, eat one for quality control, frost and decorate to your hearts content.

I would frost and decorate then move on to the next one instead of frost them all and then move on to the decorating part. You need the frosting to be soft enough it will accept you sticking candy in to it so if you wait to decorate until all of them are frosted it might be harder.

There was also going to be a line drawn in black gel frosting between the fangs to create a mouth but I thought that was too risky. Frosting Rice Krispie treats is not easy, well, not easy in the sense they are bumpy and will never look good, and that mouth was just going to end up wobbly and unattractive, so I left their mouth area as just having fangs. I think that part looked ok though so no biggy.

Voila! Green Dragons!

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Definitely not my best work, and I’m sorry I didn’t test them out the week prior to discover I wasn’t going to like how they turned out so I could make something else, but oh well. They are cute in a kid type of way, which is why I think its a great idea as an adult and kid project. Just maybe not quite right for an adult’s dragon boat season end party.

I’m already plotting for next year though, just you wait, it is gonna be great!…hopefully lol πŸ˜‰

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

18 Oct

I’m a bad food blogger. You’ll understand why I wrote that once you see the one, sad, pathetic, picture I took of the pumpkin cake. *rolls eyes*

The baking part I’m good at, just not the documenting part…oops?

The recipe was originally called Pumpkin Cake Bars, which led me to believe the cake would come out firm and, oh I don’t know, bar like? Oh how wrong I was. The cake came out super moist and very cake like, not at all like a bar. Which kinda messed with my plan for the final product.

See, I had intended to bake the bars and use them for two separate events, oh, did I mention this all happened two weekends ago, for Thanksgiving? Yet one more example of how I don’t rock at this whole food blogging thing…but let’s ignore that shall we? πŸ˜‰

I was going to a small get together on the Sunday and then a Thanksgiving dinner on the Monday. The plan was to make these bars and take half to each event. Since they were supposed to be bars it made sense they would be plated as an already cut item, like if I’d taken Nanaimo Bars. You wouldn’t bring Nanaimo Bars to a party and not already have them cut and plated right? I’m going to pretend you’re nodding your head in agreement right now and not googling “Nanaimo Bar”.Β  So if these bars were cut and plated when I took them to each event it wouldn’t be obvious that I didn’t bring the entire quantity. Not like I cut a cake in half and you can see the inside of the cake along the cut edge!

Except that these bars came out as cake, not bars, which meant the cut that exposed the inside of the cake was super obvious…

For the Sunday event I tried cutting half the cake as bars but it didn’t work very well. It just looked like I was bringing cut pieces of cake, which I was if we want to get technical about it. Also, the top of the cake was tacky to the touch, which I also wasn’t expecting. Seriously, it is a very moist cake! This wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d had time to do a crumb coat with the frosting but I didn’t, so I ended up with crumbs in the frosting. A personal pet peeve of mine.

Now, to be fair, I seem to be the only one with an issue with this cake. The people at both events really liked it and didn’t seem to care at all about the crumbs in the frosting or that it was supposed to be a bar recipe and it came out a proper cake instead. So perhaps I am too focused on the look of the food when other people are more concerned about the taste?

The Ingredients:

4 large eggs

1 2/3 C white sugar

1 C vegetable oil

1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree

2 C all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

6 ounces cream cheese

6 Tbl butter, softened

3 C confectioners sugar

The Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Grease and flour a 9×13 pan

In a large mixing bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin.

In a different bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix thoroughly.

Pour in to the prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, allow to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

Beat cream cheese, softened butter, and confectioners sugar together. Evenly spread over the bars after they are cooled.

Ok, so that is the original recipe, here is how I changed it!

I added 1/2 tsp nutmeg and a 1/2 tsp cloves to the dry ingredients at the same time I added the cinnamon. Next time I would bump up the quantity of all three seasonings as I found the flavour to be quite subtle, but that could just be me because everyone else seemed to love it as-is.

The frosting makes a huge amount, way more than you need. I would say you could easily make half the quantity and still have plenty to frost the cake, because this really is a cake.

Oh, and I never “grease and flour” a pan, I just spray with baking spray, or sometimes I soften some butter and spread that on the pan, but I don’t do the flour bit. The cake came out of the pan no problem, so I say grease the pan in whatever way your normal style is, it should be fine.

And here, the one, lone, sad, picture of a piece of the cake…go ahead, laugh, I deserve it…*big epic sigh*

 

pumpkin cake 2

crumbs in the frosting, I don’t even want to look at it πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Cat Tales: Flight Instinct

16 Oct

The poor cat.

Yesterday I was in the bathroom and I heard a noise from the kitchen. It sounded like a glass or cup fell, but didn’t break. Thing is, I only had two mugs out, both were sitting on top of the stove and from what I remembered, neither was near the edge.

So what fell…and how?

When I step in to the kitchen I see the cat’s water bowl on the opposite side of the kitchen from where it normally is, the water that is usually in the bowl is all over the floor, and the cat is nowhere to be found.

What. The. Heck.

I’m more worried about the cat than the water so I step over the little pond that is now on my kitchen floor and call out for Striker. I noticed him hiding in the living room, behind the ottoman, looking so worried. I step towards him, softly ask what happened, and the poor little guy comes running over, jumps in to my arms and clings to me.

I don’t know what happened, but whatever it was scared the bejeezus out of the poor guy.

The only thing to be done at that point was hold him, reassure him, for a couple minutes I basically stood there, with his head tucked under my chin, his claws gripping my sweater, while I rocked back and forth…imagine how you instinctively move when trying to soothe a baby, that was me, with the cat.

He kept looking over at where his water bowl usually is, like he was making sure things were ok. I kept looking over wondering if whatever scared him was going to reappear. I’m imagining a massive spider scaring him while he was drinking, and I’m just waiting for it to pop back out from wherever it is hiding so I can scream like a ninny and then kill it.

Both the cat and I are afraid of spiders but only one of us kills them, the other one hides behind the one killing the spiders…sigh…

You know how there is that whole “fight or flight” thing we all have? He only has flight.

At least he knows he can jump in to my arms and I’ll make things better. Soooo, a smart scaredey cat?

striker 1

Must be exhausting being so cute.

The Purse Is Innocent

13 Oct

I yelled at my purse today. You read that right, I yelled…at my purse, cause ya know, apparently I’m a psycho. *rolls eyes*

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Pretty sure I don’t look this impressive when yelling…

I’m not usually that person who catches every cold bug that floats around. Not saying I don’t get sick, just that when I do it usually hits hard, lasts three days or so, then goes away, and it doesn’t happen frequently.

Except for this fall, it would seem my immune system has chosen a new life path, that doesn’t involve defending my body from germs, and now I am getting sick far more often than normal while my immune system is doing who knows what! Maybe taking a nap on a beach without me? Hibernating? Reading a book? Wherever those little white blood cells are they better be happy because if I ever see them again I’m…I was about to threaten them but who are we kidding? If they come back and start working again I’ll be super grateful for two days then I’ll forget about them and go about my regular routine. sigh.

The end of September I caught a cold that had me off work for a day, and feeling like crap for a bit over a week. Just when I thought I was better it had a resurgence (which I really feel shouldn’t be allowed), and I was sick for another week or so. Eventually I was able to breath through my nose again, not feel like I needed to nap every hour, and my body stopped alternating between being feverish and chilled, basically, I got better. Yay!

Last night I went to bed with a sore throat and a freezing body and a just in general feeling of ick, I was hopeful I would sleep off whatever it was and wake up fine.

Obviously I am delusional.

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The cat woke me up around 8am because he decided puking up a hairball on my bed was a good life choice, the sound had me springing in to action, carting him as fast as possible to a room with linoleum floors so he can be sick there. Lovely way to wake up. Just lovely.

When the cat was on the floor and I was waiting for him to finish so I could clean up after him, (I lead such a glamorous life lol), I realized my throat was still killing me, talking was not a thing that I was going to attempt, and I felt like crap. Again. I texted a co-worker who covers shifts and arranged for her to work for me and crawled back in to bed, so I could be unconscious while I felt like crap.

Alternating between sleeping and sort-of sleeping is how I (and the cat) spent most of Saturday. When I (and the cat) eventually got out of bed it was to sit in the living room, still in pj’s, and cuddle under a blanket while mindlessly watching YouTube and wishing for the energy to make a cup of tea.

I really like living alone but would definitely appreciate someone being around when I am too sick to want to function…when will personal robots finally be a thing? I need a robot…

Hibernating all day, while tempting, wasn’t a thing I could do because I had to go buy cat food. The world of pet care doesn’t stop just because I don’t feel well after all, so to the store I went!

If I was going out I was going to run more than one errand so I stopped at two shops for various things as well as returned some books to the library…during all this was when my patience snapped and I yelled at my purse, like a loon.

It was so stupid, I was just back in my car after being in shop number one, feeling frustrated because I’m tired and having trouble staying focused on what I’m doing (so a super safe driver obviously πŸ˜‰ ) not getting all the items I needed from that store because they don’t carry everything advertised in their flyer (it is a small location) and I was trying to put my phone back in the little pocket in my purse, where it lives, in the dark while not looking. Something, fyi, I can normally do. Well, tonight I couldn’t. For some reason it didn’t matter how much I tried I couldn’t find the pocket and instead of just looking, or turning on a light, or doing any of the number of things that would make this task easy, I yelled at the purse. Not like a full on screaming match at it or anything, just a couple words yelled in frustration.

Frustration that isn’t actually aimed at the purse, it was just a handy target, but frustration that is aimed at me, and being sick again, and not functioning as well as I normally do, and thinking of how being sick yet again is going to impact my coming days. There goes some social plans I had, won’t be going to the gym, or for any hikes in the last of our nice weather, my brain is foggy so my focus is sucky which makes everything seem harder, my energy levels today were barely existent so all my daily tasks (like dishes) will tire me out more than normal leaving less energy for fun stuff, I’m missing two shifts at work so my pay cheque is going to suffer, a lot.

I know its petty, and such a whiny first world problem kind of thing to be complaining about. Oh woe is me, I’m sick again so I won’t be going on a hike. Life could be so much worse, and I know that. Right now however, in this moment, in my little section of the world, my being sick is what is affecting me the most, and that it is happening again, so close to the last time I was sick, is really pissing me off.

And apparently I’m taking out that anger on my purse, by yelling at it. Good thing the purse doesn’t have feelings or I’d be feeling sick as well as contrite for taking my anger out another.

For now though, the cat and I are going to crawl back in to bed, and try to sleep our way through my being sick…well, I’m going to try to sleep my way through being sick, he is just going to enjoy having an inert body around more than normal that he can lay on.

striker on back

He is laying on my back.Β  As long as he’s comfy, right?

Book Review: Jar of Hearts

4 Oct

You know what I should never ever do? Start a book at 11:30pm. Why should I not do this? Because if it is a good book I will keep reading and next thing I know it is 3:30am and I should be in bed. Oops?

I have zero regrets though, I like reading, it was a good book, I had nowhere to be the next day, and the entire time I was reading the cat was lightly snoring on my legs, so we were both happy. πŸ™‚ And really, isn’t it about making the cat happy?

The book Jar Of Hearts is by Jennifer Hillier and is definitely worth your time. πŸ™‚

jar of hearts

I don’t want to give anything away so let’s see if I can figure out a way to talk about the story while keeping all the good stuff secret…

The story’s point of view alternates between Geo and Kaiser – can I just say, on a random note, I don’t care for the name Kaiser, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the story so I’ll move on from that.

They knew each other in high school, along with their friend Angela. Back when they were all still in high school Angela went missing and things were never the same. Kaiser and Geo stopped being friends, the mystery of Angela went unsolved, eventually people moved on. Now, fourteen years after the disappearance, Angela’s remains have been found and the book starts at a trial where Geo is testifying about what happened to Angela all those years ago and Kaiser is a detective involved in solving the case.

The story jumps back and forth between current time and fourteen years prior, both from Geo’s pov and Kaisers. It is interesting to see how each perceived things back when they were teenagers and how they handle things now.

Five years after the trial Geo and Kaiser are brought back together when new remains are discovered that have a strong resemblance to how Angela’s were when found.

There are twists in the book that were very well written, and yes some things I figured out before they were revealed, but I didn’t figure out everything, and some things got resolved in a way I didn’t see coming. It was a nice mixture of curiosity, suspense, surprise, and general enjoyment while reading.

Oh, and according to an author note left at the back of the book she uses the same fictional town in other books she has written so if you have read her other books you will have recognized past characters popping up. I love when authors do that! Gives a sense of familiarity and comfort, and for me anyways, it makes it seem like those characters are still out there, doing their thing, not just forgotten by their creator…but that’s probably just me being a tad crazy, shrug.

I liked this book enough I’m going to go hunt up more by her, I’ll just have to make sure to not start them at 11:30pm if I have anywhere to be the next day!

Fruit Fly Invasion Update

5 Sep

In case you don’t know the first part of this story I’ll put a linkΒ hereΒ so you can read about the fruit fly invasion I was dealing with.

I say “dealing” like it is all in the past but it isn’t. sigh.

I thought I won the war, but I got smug and complacent and that was the fruit flies opening to re-invade my apartment. Wiley little things!

As I mentioned in my original post I had a battle plan and I did my best to not only kill the fruit flies that were hanging around but remove anything that would entice them to stay, or entice new ones to move in. This meant I did everything I could to remove their food sources, down to the last crumb, I laid traps, I squashed as many of them as I could. Whatever I could think of I did.

The combination of doing almost no food prep or cooking for days, taking compost items out immediately instead of having a little compost container in my kitchen, scrubbing everything down way more often, and good eye hand co-ordination got the fruit fly numbers way down. Then I went out of town and that was what put me on the winning side of the war, or so I thought! With me out of town for two and a half days there was no new production of crumbs, no new food brought in to the apartment, basically the kitchen became way less hospitable and by the time I got back from my weekend away I couldn’t find any fruit flies.

It was my little summer miracle.

I didn’t trust it though so I kept looking around for them, waiting for one to fly in front of my face and mock me for thinking they had all left.

But that didn’t happen.

So I got complacent in my battle plan and started keeping compost items in the little compost bowl I have instead of immediately taking them out to the larger compost. And that my friends was all it took for the little brats to return.

There isn’t even good stuff in my compost! It still is comprised of tea bags, banana peels and egg shells. You’d think they’d at least set up their home base in the kitchen of someone who has more variety in their compost. *rolls eyes*

The compost got cleared out, my eye hand co-ordination was tested again, and their numbers did not decrease. Crap.

I decided to lay traps early this time, mostly because I was eating a banana and a bit of it fell and when I picked it up I realized I could smoosh it and use it as bait. I put the smooshed banana in the bottom of a glass, put saran wrap on top, used a toothpick to poke about 6 holes, and went to work. I didn’t really expect it to work since my other traps failed miserably, but I felt better for at least trying.

To my happy surprise when I got home that night there were 4 fruit flies trapped in the glass!

There were still other ones flying around, and they didn’t seem inclined to go in the glass so I made a second trap, following the same steps, and placed it in the same area.

New problem though, all these posts online about how to make the trap, none say how to get the fruit flies and the banana out without the flies getting loose. So I left them in there. But they were quite determinedly trying to find a way out and I worried one of them would eventually figure out the holes in the saran wrap work both ways. Not knowing what to do, only knowing I really really don’t want any of them to escape, I put another layer of saran wrap over top. So called experts say suffocating is kind of like going to sleep, and is painless, and I thought if I block the holes they will suffocate and not feel pain while they die.

Listen, I know its weird but I feel bad about this whole prolonged death thing. If I kill a bug I kill it quickly, I don’t draw out the process, give them a chance to feel fear and pain. I’m not cruel. Well…except for the whole deciding to kill them part…but I mean the actual death isn’t done in a cruel way…does that make sense? So having this glass with fruit flies on my counter where I am basically just waiting for them to die, it’s not going over so well with me.

I figured by the next morning they would be dead and then I could just put them and the smooshed banana in the compost. Turns out fruit flies need very little oxygen. As in, teeny tiny amounts of oxygen, because they have been trapped in there for days and none of them are dead. In fact, there were originally four of them in there and now there are five! So not only are they not dead, they are procreating. I don’t know if I’m impressed with their determination to live life to the fullest, or pissed I’m still dealing with them.

On top of that, the ones that are flying about have not taken the bait of the second trap. I’m worried this means the ones that didn’t go in the trap are the smart fruit flies, and if only the smart fruit flies are left flying around than that means smart fruit flies are mating with smart fruit flies and what if this results in the next generation being super smart and having special skills, like flying faster, or even better eye sight? I’ll never be able to kill them then!

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Stupid freakin super smart fruit flies. Some days I hate survival of the fittest. Grr. πŸ˜‰

Yesterday I took things up a notch, I still have the trap out and I did a full apartment cleaning, walls, ceiling, floors, and everything in between. Hopefully the combination of every surface being cleaned, me still managing to squish some of them, traps being out, and no compost to hang out in, will have me back on the winning side of this war soon.

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#truth

 

 

Oatmeal Squares

2 Sep

Do you have a recipe that you have always wanted to try but are sure it is too complicated and too much effort to be worth it? My mom’s Oatmeal Square recipe is that recipe to me. I have asked her for it I don’t know how many times, and each time she has emailed it to me, and then I don’t print it out, I lose it in the dark void that is my Inbox, and I never attempt to make the squares. Which is ridiculous because I love them, but there ya have it.

Every Sunday evening I talk with my parents on the phone, it is a habit we got in to when I moved a province over and it has stuck.Β My parents are currently in Europe, lucky so-and-so’s (I can’t call them lucky bastards, they are my parents! lol), so no Sunday evening phone call tonight, or for a couple more weeks to come. I was thinking about them this evening, hoping they are having a kick ass time, and for some reason my neurons fired and boom! Oatmeal Squares are forefront of my mind.

oatmeal squares 4

Figuring it was a sign I braved the dark void of my Inbox with a well worded search and found the recipe. I then wanted to hit my head against the wall because oh man is it an easy one.

I can’t believe I haven’t made them all this time because I thought they were hard when they have only 4 ingredients and a child could make them. smh.

The ingredients are:

1/2 Cup butter or margarine

1 Cup brown sugar

2 Cups oats

1 tsp vanilla extract

Ready for the directions? Brace yourself!

(1) melt the butter in a sauce pan

(2) once butter is melted take it off the heat, mix in the brown sugar, oats, and vanilla extract

(3) put mixture in to an 8×8 baking pan

(4) put in oven for 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees

(5) cool for 5 minutes before cutting

That’s it.

That is all there is to it. I can’t believe I put off for years making these! Note to self, and all of you, before deciding a recipe is too hard maybe take a couple minutes to ya know, read it. *rolls eyes*

Mom’s notes did mention that sometimes the mix stays cohesive, sometimes not. That is something I remember, that they are crumbly and messy, but also delicious and worth cleaning up every crumb you make.

I put them in a circle cake pan because my square pan is 9×9 and I worried the extra space would make the mixture too thin. I timed them for 12 minutes since I didn’t know how long this oven would need on the above mentioned 10-15 minute range and I have no idea how to tell if an oatmeal square is cooked. I still don’t know so if anyone wants to share their tricks feel free to leave a comment!

oatmeal squares 1

Started cutting before I took a picture, I’m such a bad food blogger lol

I left the squares a little longer than five minutes before cutting but even with that extra time they ended up looking like this when I tried plating them…

oatmeal squares 2

oops?

After that disaster (visual disaster only, the taste was perfect) I let the rest sit in the pan longer before plating in the hopes a longer cooling time would help the squares become more solid and less granola-esque.

My plan worked! I left them in the pan for a couple hours, and the remainder of the squares came out much better. I didn’t want to risk trying to cut them smaller and making another mess so I cut the remainder in to two large triangles. When I cut them in to the large triangles they were fine, when I tried cutting them smaller they tended to crumble so they are staying large…for now! πŸ˜‰

oatmeal squares 4

Final product!

I know the recipe is simple, only 4 ingredients and barely any time in the oven, but I think that is what makes them great. You probably have the ingredients lying around the kitchen, it is quick and easy, and most importantly they tasted like home…er, I mean delicious. They tasted delicious. πŸ™‚

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