Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkins: Round 3, Happy Halloween!

 Choclo did General Grievous (with, ahem, a certain amount of help from a very talented friend). 

Klenda did an eye. Sauron?  Creepy when lit, at any rate!

Oob did a ghost pumpkin: white with eyes.

Leena did an actual jack o lantern!

Mxyl and Zorg did Gamera and Godzilla, respectively. 

They both did drawn characters (or shallowly carved) so that the only visible openings were the Kaiju's mouths.

This was because we were using fog machine "smoke" in the pumpkins. 

When it worked, the smoke poured out of the creature's mouths, or shot out like a death ray!

That's the good news.  The bad news was that we found it very difficult to get to work properly!

The really great news, was that we got it to work eventually, and it really was amazing!

                                          In other news, we have cute warty gourds.

Also, a lot of pumpkin seeds.

Also,  brain cupcakes. 

Weird, cute, or weirdly cute?

Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow: costumes!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An Object Lesson

It's been a crazy week!

 The brand new dryer stopped working.  Someone forgot to put the lint trap  in when they started the dryer.

They realized it quickly, but not before an errant sock had gotten sucked down the trap and into the inner workings... So the moral of that story is: Always use the lint trap!

The great news is that the Emperor and I (with a little help from the internet) were able to take the entire dryer apart and get the sock out of the blower wheel!

Hooray, us!  We used to be very handy - rehabbing an old Victorian and roughing in our own plumbing and electric lines.   As we got more and more little ones, our handy hands were full, and we had to hire out lots of jobs we would have done ourselves.

It's pretty exciting to realize we can do a lot of our own stuff again!

In other news, the new freezer arrived, but with the door crunched badly, so it had to go back.  Also we have a car in the shop and a kid with a fever for several days.

The kid is on the mend, the car should be fixed today, and eventually a new freezer will show up.

And our dryer works!

Friday, October 24, 2014

I Shall Return

Really soon now!  I have a shiny new laptop which I bought before I realized that my freezer was in the process of dying.  It is new (well, refurbished and about half the price of new), and it turned out to be much shinier than we had expected: it has a touch screen!

No, I did not realize that when I bought it.

Hey, maybe the new freezer will turn out to have a touch screen, too!

Unfortunately, that brings up the image of me accidentally swiping the freezer and deleting all the ice cream...

At any rate, Bill has the laptop, and he is transferring files, setting up a firewall, making sure it has a word processing program, and otherwise idiot proofing it.

Actually, Bill also has most of the contents of my freezer in his freezer.  Hey, look, he's literally saving my bacon!  Thanks Bill!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Speaking of Pumpkins

 We painted our pumpkins!

Leena made twin pumpkins, one to put on, and one to put out!
 Zorg did a "Starry Night" face on his pumpkin.
 Mxyl did a Centauri (we recently finished watching Babylon 5).

Oob did a treasure chest on his (white) pumpkin.  He also put a little key to the chest on another part of the pumpkin!

Klenda did these beautiful  purple flowers.

And here are Choclo and Leena's sitting together on the front porch.
Much thanks to a dear friend who helped out on some of the more complex painting!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Poem of the Week

When the Frost is on the Punkin

By James Whitcomb Riley
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock. 
HT (and the rest of the poem): Poetry Foundation

Monday, October 13, 2014

Under Repair

This isn't my actual lap top, but the results are the same.

The indefatigable  Bill is on the job, so we shall see...

We may have light posting for the next week or so.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Poem of the Week: For My Emperor

                The Double Fortress

Time, wouldst thou hurt us? Never shall we grow old.
Break as thou wilt these bodies of blind clay,
Thou canst not touch us here, in our stronghold,
Where two, made one, laugh all thy powers away.

Though ramparts crumble and rusty gates grow thin,
And our brave fortress dwine to a hollow shell,
Thou shalt hear heavenly laughter, far within,
Where, young as Love, two hidden lovers dwell.

We shall go clambering up our twisted stairs
To watch the moon through rifts in our grey towers.
Thou shalt hear whispers, kisses, and sweet prayers
Creeping through all our creviced walls like flowers.

Wouldst wreck us, Time? When thy dull leaguer brings
The last wall down, look heavenward. We have wings. 

By Alfred Noyes (Yes, again with the author of "The Highwayman!" I've discovered I really like his poems!) 

UPDATE: Here is a link to all of his poems on Poem Hunter.
HT: Poem Hunter
Image HT: Jim Kalafus 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Apple Butter: How To

Step 1: Set up your pot. (You could also use a crockpot for this part, especially if you are using far fewer apples.)

Quarter the (washed!) apples and put them in.

 Add enough apple cider (or water) to cover half of the apples.

I like to add whole spices at this stage: cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise, allspice berries and/or mace shavings are all good.
 Step 2: Simmer and stir.

This is my favorite part!  I like to simmer for most of the day to enjoy the aroma of spiced apples!

Really, you just need to cook them until they are mushy.

I stir every hour or two.  In the evening, I turn off the heat and cover the apples.

Step 3: Strain.

The next day I push the apple mush through a strainer into a large pan. This is apple sauce.  I taste it and add brown sugar and any extra spices.  You want it like sweet apple sauce.

You could put it back into a pot and simmer it more until it thickens, but it'll scorch if you don't watch it, so I prefer to put it in the oven.

Step 4: Bake!

I leave it in the oven at 250-300 degrees for most of the day, stirring every hour or two.  The house smells fantastic!  I like my apple butter really thick, but you only need to let it bake until it's thick enough to suit you.  Just remember, it will thicken a little more when refrigerated.

If you made a small batch just for yourself, stick it in a container in the refrigerator and you're done!

Step 5: Can it.

Load it hot into hot mason jars, seal with lids and rigs, then put the jars into boiling water for 10 minutes.  If that didn't make sense to you, look at Ball's directions.

Your apple butter will be keep in sealed jars for more than year at room temperature- very nice for gift giving!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Choclo's Wall Comic: From Pirates to Goodness

Once upon a time there were some pirates who lived very well.

They searched for treasure.

One day they saw some!

When they unburied the treasure, they were very surprised!

The treasure was all junky and worth nothing because it was all covered with cracks.

But, secretly, that mustache guy had drawn the cracks on the treasure.

The monster guy heard about it, and was really embarrassed.

Then the monster guy turned evil!

He sliced off the mustache guy's head!

The rest of the crew were like, "Uh, oh!"

Then the monster became a giant lava monster.

He killed the rest of the crew except for three guys.

The bravest one tried to fight the monster.

The other two carried the treasure back to the ship.

Since the bravest one knew the Force, he pulled the lava monster into it's own lava!

To tell the truth, the sun actually told him to use the Force.

They did  a happy wink together!

Then the hero got what he deserved, and so did his bird.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

Except for the lava monster. Yep.

The End!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


While apple picking, we also picked up pumpkins, some to carve and some to eat, but all quite decorative.

I love things that are beautiful and useful!

This year we got some old favorites:  banana squash (sweet and good for pies, bread, and soup), a blue hubbard (fantastic for soup).

We also tried a few new experiments: the brownish one to the right is a Fairy Tale Pumpkin which is supposedly so good that you can slice it thin and eat it raw.  We'll see if that is just a legend...

The orange and green one under the wagon is a Cinderella Pumpkin.  It is French,  sweet and custardy when cooked, and supposedly the very best pie pumpkin.

We shall see!

The flat white one is a White Boer, a South African Pumpkin that is supposed to be tasty and firm - soup and stew rather than pie.

And, of course, everyone had to pick out a warty gourd.  I put a few more smaller edible squashes in there: carnivals, butternut, acorn, and spaghetti.