Allow myself to introduce... myself


Friday, April 24, 2009

Woo Hoo!

I stole this picture from the internets.
Happy 2 Year Anniversary to this blog! I had intended to post a lovely picture of a scrumptious cake I made to commemorate this occasion, but the cake never actually got made. It's not due to laziness, dear reader(s), I assure you. I, for one, have been hard at work getting a package ready to ship off to the Half Moon Creek Gallery up in Anchorage. I'm beavering away at a collage jacket, and have seven scarves to ship along with. I promise to post pictures shortly, as a trip through my camera's little memory shows me I've taken PLENTY of pictures to share here, then haven't gotten around to sharing them. I also blame Scootchie's Stolen Cheese blog, which I happen to be the blog master of. I don't even know if that's a real title, but it's definitely one I should be getting paid for... And if you happen to be one of those people that jaunt over to Scoochie's blog from here, DO check out my special touches on each of his posts that appear when you hover the cursor over his artwork. Tashie's learned some new tricks with HTML, and had enough fun to kill two ponies one day, updating all his posts with random little comments. We also started a Stolen Cheese Etsy store, and have actually listed two of Scott's ORIGINALS for sale. Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Day Job

I don't think I've talked much before about my day job, and some of you may not even know that I have a day job, which might leave you thinking I'm a lazy good-for-nothing because I can't seem to get my sewing mojo back.

I like to think I'm not lazy, but Scoochie might say otherwise.

The truth of it all is that I started my blog two years ago this month (at the insistence of my great friend Tif, who I like to think of as my textile art sister-in-arms), and then a mere four months later was promoted at work. I don't build rockets or perform brain surgery, I'm the Branch Manager at a credit union. I have responsibilities, I coach, manage, and lead people, I have many keys and programs which require constant changing of passwords that I can never remember, I hold meetings in which I am completely resonsible for the agenda, I monitor the usage of paper towels, I make sure the plants aren't blocking the thermostats, and I approve time sheets, which feels like way too much power for one person to have. I love my job, but of course this is not the job I dreamed I'd have when I was a wee grade school imp. I was sure I was going to be a ballerina until I was sure I was going to be a rock star until I was sure I was going to be an English teacher. The trouble is, I never could decide on any one thing. My college transcripts (which I had to dig out this week) wander a bit. In my brief college career I wanted to focus on Psychology. No wait - make that a double major in English and Sports Medicine. No wait... how about Nursing? I've changed my mind completely! I want to be a Zoo Keeper, and I'm pursuing a Bachelor of Science!

Almost the entire time I waffled on the planning of my career trajectory, I was actually working at credit unions. It was the best job you could get on Whidbey Island at 18 with only some college, and here I still am some 16 years later. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and this is a good job for always wanting to be the best; but it's also a career that pays quite a bit of attention to how we treat our people, which appeals to that psychologist in me.

Which is why I was so completely devastated this week when I found out I'd failed my last audit.


So last night when I was laying in bed tossing and turning, I decided to come clean about my day job in the hopes that admitting how upset I was at failing my audit might give me a tad bit of closure.

At the very least I'd like to be able to sleep again.

Not that tossing and turning is completely unproductive. I made some decisions about some shelved sewing projects that have been awaiting new inspiration, I thought of four topics for future blog posts, I watched the dog breathe for about three minutes, I thought about the injustice of food calorie counts and the mess the Bush administration left behind, I thought about wanting to buy a house, wanting to finish my degree, and wanting the best life possible. In the end I recognized that life is about a series of steps forward and hiccups back, and as long as you make sure to keep your feet moving, you'll find yourself somewhere new in the end. Failing the audit is a hiccup, and I've had many hiccups in my life. But at the end of it all I want to be defined by how far I've come, not by how many missteps I've taken.

Let the sewing begin again!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Birthday?

Who put the litter box on the kitchen table?!

My oldest child, Boo, had the (un)fortunate luck of being born on April Fool's Day to a mother who likes to play jokes. I did recognize a few years ago that Boo prefers to be in on the joke, so this year she was in on the surprise we played on the boys: Luna's Cat Poo Birthday Cake.

The cake was just perfectly delicious enough (no, really!) for me to post the recipe here, for your adventurous dining pleasure. Adapted from this recipe.

Before you even start, I have to warn you that you'll need to buy a brand new litter box and scoop. This is not the time to be cheap and think you can just wash out that extra cat box you have in the basement, you will definitely want to buy a new box for this. Of course when the love of your life asks you point blank with the fork at the edge of his lips, tentatively poised to take his first bite of delicious Cat Poo Cake whether you bought a new litter box, say with the most wide-eyed innocent look, "No, but I washed that one in the dishwasher!" It's really cool to see how far cake can travel when it's spit out forcefully.

And now for the ingredients:

  • 2 boxes of delicious cake mix, whatever kind you like. We chose Devil's Food, because we live life on the edge. And don't ask what size box, because cake mix comes in one basic size unless you're shopping at Costco. This ain't rocket science.
  • Eggs - However many the directions on one of the boxes says for you to use, multiplied by two. Maybe this IS rocket science! I used six eggs.
  • Oil - Same as with the eggs, do the math. I used a cup of oil because it was Boo's birthday and I didn't feel like worrying about how much fat I was going to be ingesting. Besides, it's not my fault that the fat is the most delicious part of most food. If you didn't want to use so much oil, you could substitute something wet that splats really well, like applesauce or canned pumpkin or a Splat Pig.
  • Water - Once again, double whatever it says on one box. I think I needed 2 2/3 cups or something like that. Unless you're some kind of savant with measuring things with your mind, don't just turn the faucet on and 'eyeball' it. Making a cake is BAKING, and BAKING is like rocket science (it turns out).
  • TWO boxes of delicious instant pudding(the small size that supposedly makes 4 servings), in your favorite flavor (we used chocolate).
  • Powdered Sugar, which is very messy and smells funny and is really only useful for french toast.
  • Milk - 2 cups (plus additional).
  • A WHOLE PACKAGE of Nutter Butters, which are know for their magical properties.
  • Some green food coloring (probably left over from St. Patrick's Day).
  • A Metric Ton of Tootsie Rolls.

Make up the cakes like the box says. Make sure to beat for the amount of time suggested on the box, because the box has directions, and directions are important. Pour half the mix into one 13x9 pan, and the other half into another 13x9 pan. If you don't have two 13x9 pans, perhaps you could use a 13x9 and two 8x8s, or four 8x8s, or a 15x11 pan and an 8x8 pan, or even four 9" circular cake pans. I'm not picky, and you shouldn't be either.

Let the cakes cool somewhere that small children and grown men won't have a chance to pick at them.

Cut the cakes any which way you can to fit into the big, shiny, new, clean, litter box. I used two 13x9 pans and put one cake in whole, then cut the other one to fit along the top and side. This cake is only going to be one layer, and it doesn't have to stand up straight at all, so whatever happens here happens. As long as there are no witnesses to what happens during this stage, you will still be considered a genius when the cake is being eaten.

Make the frosting for the top of the cake. This is what I did, and everything I do is wonderful, so maybe you should do this:

Put both boxes of the magical pudding powder into a bowl, and add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Sift it together with a fork so all your powdery bits are mixed together nicely. Add two cups of milk and whip together with a wire whisk for two minutes. If you do it right, this can be considered your workout for the day. The key is to use your hips. After it's all pudding'd up, fold in (that's a cooking term, you're not really folding anything) a large tub of Cool Whip. If you want to be a killjoy, you can use "real" whipped cream, but you should know now that all the really cool people love Cool Whip.

So that's the frosting, and you should put it on top of the cake and spread it around so you don't see cake, just frosting. That's the main operating philosophy behind most cake baking.

Open the bag of Nutter Butters that have been waiting patiently. Take two out for yourself, because you've been working REALLY hard so far and you deserve it! In fact, pour yourself a nice refreshingly cold glass of milk to enjoy with your Nutter Butters, because this is probably the last quiet time you'll have to yourself before you show the cake to your friends and family, who will instantly recognize how brilliant you are and will devote the rest of their lives to being in charge of a fan club for you, and from then on you'll be spending all of your free time answering fan mail.

Mash up the rest of the Nutter Butters, using anything handy for that sort of thing. I put mine in a bowl and used a potato masher, but you could use a Cuisinart if you don't mind getting the stool to get it off that high shelf, and then having to wash all those darn pieces. You could even use a hammer if you want to, but if you want to use a hammer to cook you might have problems that would best be left to the professionals. Perhaps your employer provides access to some sort of employee assistance program?

Take out a handful of the Nutter Butters and try dying them green. They won't dye very evenly, but you'll probably be the only one who notices anyway. Spread the plain Nutter Butter crumbs evenly over the frosting, then sprinkle around the green bits to look like deodorant crystals in kitty litter. Squint if you have to. When you squint it looks much better, doesn't it?

Now for the poo:

Unwrap the number of Tootsie Rolls that corresponds to the number of poos you want to have in your litter box. You can be all cute and have the same number of poos as years of your child's life, or your waist measurement (before eating the cake), or develop some kind of complicated mathematical equation that totals the amount of love you have for each member in your family and divides that by the amount of hours you've spent following overly complex recipes. In any event, you'll want to unwrap the rolls, and then microwave them a bit to get them suitably soft for shaping. I microwaved too many at once and so had some super soft ones and some barely more than room temperature ones, but I made it all work anyway. Basically you're just squeezing them a bit to look like poo, and really, no one is going to question how authentic your poo is. Put your brand new never-been-used litter scooper artfully into your litter box, then strategically arrange poo throughout your litter. I hung one off the scooper for some realism, but that might be a little bit too much for your audience. The best presentation method for this cake (if you have kids), is to wait until everyone is in another room and then yell authentically, "Who the hell put the @#$%)(@* litterbox on the @#$%^&*()@# kitchen table?! Everyone will come running (unless they're already too afraid of you), and once the joke is discovered, they will applaud you as a hero.

Last one in has to eat the first poo.

Scoochie has a bad habit of eating cat poo