Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hazy Shade of Winter, Part I

This is part one of what I am sure will be many, many blog posts about the winter weather here in central New York. Wednesday, October 29th was the first snow of the season in my area. I had heard reports about icy and snowy precipitation in town a week or so ago, but we had not had any wintery precipitation until Wednesday. We had a very light snow all day long, but it didn't accumulate much because we have only had a few nights when the temperature got below freezing. You might have to click on the pictures to enlarge them if you want to see the snow.

By evening, snow began to accumulate on some surfaces:

And by the time I got around to taking pictures this morning, this is what things looked like:

So we really didn't get much snow, but I think this is the earliest it has snowed since I have lived here and I really have a problem with October snow. A friend of mine who lives in western Pennsylvania made me feel better by telling me that they had enough snow to blanket the ground. At least we didn't get that much this early...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cut Me Off - Updated

Last Saturday, we had the Fourth Annual Pumpkin Carving Party at my house. Six people + one dog + seven pumpkins + lots of knives and saws + wine and Moroccan cocktails + champagne cheddar cheese + Tastes Like Halloween = Awesome. We only had one bloody injury (sustained by the one person who wasn't drinking anything alcoholic) and McKenna ate approximately 16.7 ounces of pumpkin entrails and seeds off of the floor and one slice of cheese. All in all, it was a successful evening. Thanks to Jessica, Emily, and Aaron for providing additional photos.

McKenna's pumpkin and my pumpkin before carving:

Jessica's pumpkin before carving:

I carved a seahorse and McKenna decided to carve two paw prints--ours are on the far left of this picture. Next to ours is Jessica's favorite TV character, then Frances and Manuel's large scary pumpkin eating a smaller, scared pumpkin, Emily's black cat, and Aaron's crab.

My seahorse:

Aaron's crab:

Frances and Manuel's pumpkin duo--check out the eyes:

Jessica's pumpkin:

Jessica asked me to keep her pumpkin at my house and she requested progress reports on it's state of rotting. So, here he is on Sunday night out on the porch with the other two:

And even tonight, he looks pretty good. I haven't noticed any significant signs of rotting yet.

I think he is even scarier in the blurry picture... Also, the UPS man was very impressed with your pumpkin, Jessica ;-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

She Works Hard for the Money

Since I'm working from home right now, McKenna and I have developed a new routine. At first, she tries to be helpful by contemplating hauling books upstairs. Then she remembers that she doesn't haul things.

Once she has decided not to be helpful, the shenanigans begin. Here, she is trying on the new headband that Mother of Ken sent to me:

Eventually, she gets tired and has to take her mid-morning nap in the sun:

She moves with the sun, eventually ending up under the desk:

Enough about McKenna. Some of us have real work to do. For example, last week I had to stack the firewood that my new friend Jeremy delivered. The last time I had firewood delivered, "The Wood Guy" (not Jeremy) showed up with a dumptruck full of the dirtiest, most disgusting wood that he dumped in my front yard and left for me to put away. I am sure that Mother and Father of Ken remember that Thanksgiving fondly--all of us bundled up, hauling filthy wood to the back yard in my Radio Flyer wagon. Yeah, that took a while...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do They Know It's Christmas?

Since the holiday season is quickly approaching, I have been receiving a record number of catalogs addressed to the previous resident of this house, Mrs. Disgustington. You may remember from my previous "Do They Know It's Christmas?" post that these catalogs are filled with some interesting gift ideas, holiday decorations, and home decor. Being in possession of these catalogs, I feel that it is my duty to share some of the possibilities with you gentle readers who may not otherwise be aware of them.

I'll begin with some gifts for the sports fan--specifically for those who like football. Gentle readers, I give you The Dork Family:

Trim your tree with one of these--they are even musical!

Stay comfortable while you watch the game in some of these:

After you have adorned both your person and your tree with items supporting your favorite team, be sure that you don't forget about your car:

And don't forget the outside of your house:

I don't quite understand this next one. I get the "joke" of the shirt, but why does the guy have to have the Santa hat and beard? Just because he has a big stomach? Frankly, this guy looks like a 19 year old model that strapped on a 3 month size fake pregnancy belly before he put on the shirt...

Perhaps you could pair the beer gut t-shirt with these lounge pants for an extra special gift. There is just something fundamentally wrong about making lounge pants that look like worn out jeans--what is the point? I seem to recall a similar knit-pants-made-to-look-like-jeans product that someone marketed for about five minutes in 1987. It didn't work then and I doubt it will work now.

And now for some Christmas themed products. First, I have seen these Santa pants candy bags in at least two other catalogs. Who wants to eat candy out of Santa's pants?

I love these themed bathroom rugs. I see them in these catalogs all of the time for various holidays. The Christmas ones are the best, though, and this example of Santa and a chimney-that-serves-as-a-tissue-holder is something else. I once saw one that made it look like Santa had fallen head first into the toilet.

Here we have another "exclusive" item: the dog themed Nativity set. I think I would have used a Chihuahua to play the baby Jesus.

This next item--what do I say about this? I am considering it as a gift for someone I know who collects cow themed items. I am sure that she needs a new vacuum cover.

Who leaves their vacuum out? Don't most people put them in closets or in the corner of a bedroom or something? Or are there people who have to leave the vacuum in the living room and therefore need a cover for it? And why a cow and not just a piece of fabric? I would not want this thing lurking in the corner...

For the hunter in your life:

I cannot tell you how crude some of the items in these catalogs are--I saw at least 15 items that were similar to the one below. I will let the photo speak for itself ;-)

If you've been shopping for a dickie for you or for a loved one, look no further. These are even fleece! I don't understand the point of these, particularly not in fleece.

This next one is just awful. But still kind of funny. But I would absolutely never give these to a friend of mine who had a baby in early April. Never...

These things are so creepy. I was in a store once where someone had one of these on the counter and I thought it was real. The baby versions are even creepier.

Speaking of creepy:

What is this all about? Who is buying these things? What does one do with them?

Finally, the piece de resistance of any properly decorated home:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pop! Goes My Heart

Okay, so it isn't a real 80s song, but it is the best thing about the otherwise terrible movie "Music and Lyrics," in which it plays an 80s song.

Besides apples, apple cider, and cheddar cheese, one of my other favorite fall foods is Tastes Like Halloween, so named by my college friends. I probably make at least 8 pans of this during the fall for various people and events and people always love them, so I thought I would share the recipe and process with all of you gentle readers.

These are like fall Rice Krispy Treats. The ingredients include a bag (14 oz.) of vanilla caramels (I use Brach's) and three tablespoons of water:

Five cups of rice cereal:

And one cup each of semisweet chocolate chips and butterscotch chips:

The first step is to put the caramels into a pan:

And melt them with the three tablespoons of water:

As they get to this point, I get started on the topping.

I melt the two kinds of chips together in the microwave for 45-60 second intervals until they are almost completely melted:

By then, the caramels have melted and you can put the topping aside to finish melting. Pour the caramel over the rice cereal in a large mixing bowl (and, yes, it will "snap, crackle, and pop" when you do this):

Then mix the two together gently until all of the cereal is coated with caramel:

When you're done, it will look like this and you can pour it into a greased 13 x 9 pan. I did a lot of this while I was on the phone with Brother of Ken--it is hard to talk on the phone and deal with caramel!

Once the cereal and caramel mixture is in the pan, I dampen my fingertips with water and press it into an even layer. The water keeps the caramel from sticking to my fingers.

Then, stir the topping one more time before pouring it over the cereal mixture:

Spread the topping evenly:

Then let everything cool for at least an hour before serving. Here's what it looks like when it is finished:

See? Halloween colors and fall flavors = Tastes Like Halloween. This recipe came from my mom, who probably got it out of a magazine when Brother of Ken and I were much younger. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.