Monday, May 10, 2010

Let's Nerd It Up: Tickle Six

Here is a simple game that you can play with your child(ren) that basically teaches about rolling dice, number recognition and taking turns.

I came up with this game after a failed attempt to play a simple homemade board came with my then two year old. It had originally consisted of spinning a die (a d6) and then moving your piece (minis, in this case) around a hand drawn track. This had problems with a two year old because the concept of 'winning' is still not important to her. So I simplified the game to: Tickle Six.

The game is played thusly. You will need:

A d6 (otherwise known as a 'die')
Ticklish people

Sit in some kind of formation. Take turns rolling the die. If you roll a six, you get tickled.

That's it.

With this game, my daughter learned about taking turns, recognized numbers and got to be tickled. The turns are shorter which is good for a toddler but still exist so they learn to take them. The easiest number she recognized first was 'six,' of course but through continued play and calling out the numbers while playing, she learned the rest of them. I'm not a child rearing/psychology expert but I know she has fun playing it. She still wants to play it and I've play tested it on a 12 year old, who also enjoyed it.

Please be sure your kid is not one of those 'ticklers' that actually just rips chunks of flesh from people or it will not be fun.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring: Another Chance to Start Over

So, in case you haven't noticed, I rarely write in this thing. But I still want to. I'm just bad at sitting down and typing stuff if I'm not in the mood. So sue me.

However, my husband will be leaving the country for a nice, big, fat, disgusting chunk o' time and this may serve as a good distraction. I can write about raising the Sopester, military life, living without gaming, perfumes and making them (a hobby I am trying to get into...I have the hardware, just need to get the software), cooking for 1.5 people (I usually cook for like, 5 people, despite our rather small family)...

So yeah.

Not making promises but...we'll see.

Keep watching.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Villainess Soap Company: Mall Santa Smooch

So, I want to start off by saying, I am not an official reviewer. No one pays me for this and I am just a 'normal' like you, trying to stay bathed and fed and entertained and blah blah blah. But I tried this product today and thought I would share.


I had to buy some more bath stuff after I ploughed through the last of my Smooch! samples, provided to me by a very wonderful enabling friend. Ginger Snapped was alright to me but the real love of the two had been Quick or Dead, the description of which can be found here (leather, tobacco, lime, sasparilla, lime cologne, sweetgrass...yum...this is just the notes, btw). However, Villainess isn't currently carrying Quick or Dead since it is part of their Black Label Edition (Limited Edition); it comes and goes, making it even MORE delicious. Not to be thwarted, I perused the very well designed site to see what they had for their offerings and found: Mall Santa.

Characteristic Scent:The pervasive scent of cinnamon buns and cream cheese frosting, underscored with cheap whiskey, tobacco stains, toffee candies and delicious filthy lucre.

This is what I decided to get. I ordered the Smooch, and looked over the soaps to choose what two samples I would like for my freebies (any order of a full sized item receives two free soap samples; I chose Decadence, Scintillating and threw in a Grundy for my daughter as a potty present), placed the order and wham. It was on it's way. In the interim I emailed back and forth with the owner about 'points (Yes, when you buy Villainess items, you get points that can be turned in to acquire other items. One can also get points for enabling a friend and I wanted to be sure that my friend received hers)', and she was very easy personable and made sure my friend did in fact get what she was due. I was sent a USPS tracker for the item and eagerly I waited, rubbing my hands together in anticipation.

It arrived in a cube shaped box; packing peanuts and one of those big plastic balloons padded the rather healthy portion of the Smooch, as well as the three soap samples. I took the Smooch out and it was sealed with one of those paper thingamabobbers, you know the one. I was presented with what looked like thick, whipped cream with what appeared to be actual cinnamon sprinkled on top. It was real cinnamon. Apparently, it is also real cream cheese frosting, with soap in it (this was what I heard from someone else who loves the Mall Santa). I sniffed it.


No, I didn't really eat it, but I sure as hell wanted to. I made my husband sniff it and he looked at me with big eyes and a serious face.

'Can I eat it?'

I explained that no he could not, but that it was made with actual food products.

'So I *can* eat it?'

I don't blame him. Patiently I waited for the opportunity to use this. I placed it in my bathroom where my rather awesome 2.75 yer old would NOT reach it (she loves to get into things and rub them on herself. Vicks Vapor Rub was my personal favorite, though the pomade was pretty sweet) and thought, maybe tonight...that night passed...then the next.

Well, people, tonight was THE night and I have to say, this Mall Santa does not disappoint. I was almost scared to disrupt how beautiful it looked in its container (I know, I'm weird) but I dug my finger in and well...the cream just gives way but stays thick and the sugar scrub is SOFT. Some sugar scrubs, the sugar is too coarse and you can feel it dig under your nail. This sugar gave way and scooped out easily, much to my delight. It smelled AMAZING as I rubbed it in my hands and as I rubbed it over my skin, sugar melted and scrubbed nicely while the cream streaked its lusciousness over my skin. YUM. It reminded me more of homemade cinnamon buns rather than the kind at the mall, and the candy was there. The whiskey was there in the shower (HA!) but dies quickly so don't think a quick scrub before work will have your co-workers raising brows. After scrubbing down with the good stuff and getting out of the tub, my skin didn't feel greasy at all, just soft.

While I was drying off, my husband came in to use the facilities and commented on the bathroom smelling good. He was half asleep and still felt the need to comment.

A few hours later, the smell is not as strong as it was in the shower. My skin still feels soft but the last few weeks have been dry and my skin has taken a BEATING. A few more days of Mall Santa ought to get my skin back to a less reptilian state :D

If I had to give it a rating, I would say 5/5 for appearance, 5/5 for Customer Service 4/5 for smell (I personally would have dug a bit more whiskey) and for effectiveness...well, give me a few more showers and I will let you know. This Mall Santa is seasonal but I wish it would stay around!

Friday, January 8, 2010

2010: Now Without Flying Cars

Well, I wrote a little note to myself elsewhere on the interwebs regarding my goals for this year. But I came up with a few more and well, I wanted to be more organized about it. So, without further ado:

Housewifely Goals:
Cook one vegetarian dinner a week
Cook one NEW dish a week
Clean one part of the house very well each day
Get laundry put away within 12 hours of having it done (believe it or not, this is hard for me to do)

Motherly Goals:
Do 30 minutes of music time, science time and alphabet time with the Sofer
Try to find friends for Sopi to play with since she is apparently not as antisocial as I am

Wifely Goals:
Learn to drive
Help husband stay on budget we have set for ourselves

Personal Goals:
Make/perfect one type of book binding a month (this month: Japanese stab binding)
Have two pairs of pants that fit well and that I like
Have two skirts that I like
Have five shirts that I like
Create one item (crafty) a month

Writerly Goals:
Finish Tavera story by end of the month
Edit one story every fortnight
Get a domain before Spring (March 20th)
Have my site up, running, with stories for download by Summer (June 21st)

Nerd(ier) Goals:
None. I...can't think of this a bad sign?

Blog Goals:
Update once...a...week.

I think this pretty much covers everything. At one point I was thinking about going to school online but it turns out you have to still talk to people to get this set up and I can't really think of something I really want to take. I don't want to take something *just* to take it. If I don't have a reason to, I won't. If I got a chance, I would totally take some kind of art class so I'll keep an eye out for that. SO there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Letting Someone Else Do My Dirty Work

Here is a link on how to make vanilla extract.



Monday, December 28, 2009

I do declare! Savannah is the BOMB!

So yesterday, the Augusta Tarwaters and a family-Army friend drove the 3ish hours down to Savannah, GA. I had visited Savannah once in my youth, when I was still in High School. My father was stationed there and I remember thinking it was cool. There was a beach and the downtown area was walkable. I seem to recall there being a Jazz Festival at the time and the architecture blew me away.

We drove down, leaving the house at around 0830 and making a beeline for a coffeeshop called The Sentient Bean. Lattes were ordered and snarkiness was encountered. For the FIRST TIME since moving to the South, we were presented with hipsters in all their too-cool-for-you glory.

We were home.

Augusta is nice, don't get me wrong and we found a decent coffeeshop with a hipster at the healm (sp?). But he is kind and says 'y'all.' At The Sentient Bean (located next door to some kind of small business-natural grocery store, hello!) there were skinny jean wearing people who needed sandwiches, bitching that the coffee was stale. There were (at least) two kinds of sugar at the bar. Tea was offered and they had pu-er. The guy who took our order seemed like he did not want to take it. It was like being back at Stumptown. The patrons ran the gamut from crazy old dude with puppet, gay couple out with dogs, family out for a weekend lunch, old punks huddled around pints of was nice. We went back twice for caffeination.

Parking across the street from The Sentient Bean was perfect. Across the street is the freaking awesomely awesome Forsyth Park. I have never had amorous feelings like this for trees. Holy smokes. Oaks and Spanish Moss(?) = win. The sidewalks were clean and borderd by these majestically aged trees, the occasional palm tree thrusting into the sky from time to time. The weather by the way? My husband and daughter didn't wear jackets for a good percentage of the day. The sun was out and there were camellias in bloom at one of the many squares set up in the city to commemorate some long deceased general. We ate lunch out in a chunk of park, over a blanket of oak leaves.

The architecture was astounding. Southern charm, verandas, churches and temples as old as the city itself. We got to stare at these awesome edifices while geocaching (0/2) and saw trolleys and horse drawn carriages get pulled through the streets that also had trucks, hybrids, sedans and the occasional Hummer (boo). We walked from Forsyth Park down towards the Old Fort Jackson and the Roundhouse Museum which had old steam engines as well as an old train yard (complete with historic 'Colored's Bathroom). Now, I don't usually go insane for trains but that place was COOL. They had old engines, cars, and the building was pretty much free to roam. I can't really explain the grounds but it was cool to walk around what used to be a functioning trainyard, all the nooks and outdoor areas, including what used to be a garden for the employees to unwind (with one, solitary koi in the pond). They had old printing presses and it was just freaking cool. We paid $4 each to get in and was well worth it. We plan on going back. Sopi loved it and got a harmonica out of the deal.

After the train yard we walked back towards the park to change the goober and then walked over to our destination for dinner, Vinne Van GoGo's Pizza. It was a nice walk that took us through a rather awesome downtown. A walkable downtown. With sidewalks, more awesome architecture and stores that we had actually heard of. People were out on the street and the restaurant was located just a few blocks away from the Riverwalk. We sat outside and ate some of the BEST pizza we've ever had (I know, blasphemy. Pepperoni and black olive, great crust). Sopi got to watch the punk rock Southerner's toss the dough into the air and got to tell one of them that the pizza was 'freaking awesome,' to which he replied 'Thanks, y'all!'

My blog post is really not doing it justice. Savannah is beautiful, historical and liveable. Their craigslist has prices for homes that made my mouth fall open and the feeling when you walk around is that of...well, that you are in a place of beauty. It is probably the least sketchy city I've been to in a really good long time.

Obligatory pics. More to come; also links for the places that we went to.

Visit if you can. It's worth the trip. And if you pass through Augusta, you'll have a place to stay.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fettucine Alfredo for 2.5 people

Who doesn't love fettucine alfredo? Weirdos, that's who. I love it a hell of a lot more than red sauce because I have a soft spot in my heart (and a hard part in my arteries) for creamy things. However, storebought alfredo sauce is in my experience expensive, full of strange things and WAY too salty.

Interwebs to the rescue! I make fettucine for my family based on this recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis, who I always call Giada Boobylicious for one reason alone. I make a few changes though because my family is small and there is apparently a huge amount of lemon juice in this, as in, way too much.

Here goes!

You will need:

4 T of butter
1 C of heavy cream
the juice of one lemon
grated zest of one lemon
grated nutmeg (a pinch; please use fresh)
2/3 of a box of fettucini pasta (I like Barilla. It just has a better mouth feel to me)

Heavy Saucepan that will fit all this stuff
Pot to boil water
Something to grate the lemon zest and the cheese and the nutmeg (I use a really sharp veggie peeler for the lemon and mince the **** out of it with a good knife and use the small holes on my box grater for the nutmeg and cheese
a cutting board
a knife or two
a spoon and potentially a whisk if you're feeling fancy

Get water boiling in the huge pot, making sure you don't put in so much water it will boil over. Put a lid on it.
Pour heavy cream in pan; add butter and place over medium-low heat, until butter is melted, stirring or whisking occasionally.
Add the juice of one lemon. Stir to combine. Turn off or let hang out over low heat, but keep an eye on it if you keep the heat on.
When water is boiling in pot, add a handful of salt and add the pasta, stirring for the first 30 seconds to keep the pasta from sticking together. Cook according to directions/ till al dente. Slighty on the hard side is better. Drain.
Add cooked pasta, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and nutmeg to the heavy cream-butter-lemon pan. Use tongs to mix the pasta in the sauce, then cover and let hang out for a few minutes; turn the heat to low if you feel like you need it to be hotter.

If you feel like this needs protein in addition to all the fat and carbs, roasted chicken goes great with this. Grilled/scampied shrimp would probably make it killer, gastronomically and literally. Add chicken to the sauce while the pasta is cooking so that it gets a change to heat through. Shrimp, I would cook alongsidethe dish, seasoning them with lemon juice, garlic powder and olive oil since reheated shrimp are nasty. Add them at the very end.
Asparagus is a nice addition, as are sun dried tomatoes. Roasted garlic would be delicious and be healthier.
Feel free to make a salad to accompany this! It would round the meal out nicely. I am just generally too lazy to ever make a salad. I know.
Use different kinds of pasta to make it more colorful. Spinach pasta is my favorite.

This recipe is great. While it takes a bit of forethought in terms of ingredients (I usually don't have heavy cream in my house), it's as easy as making a box of macaroni, quick and delicious. The lemon gives a great flavor and cuts through the richness of the cream and gives it a real freshness. Because the ingredients list is so short, get the best ingredients you can. And next time you consider reaching for the jar of carageenan laden white glop that most markets carry, please, make this.

You'll be glad you did. And if you do any variations, tell me!