Monthly Archives: October 2012

Water Gives Life

Today I attended the 2012 Catechist Convocation at the Paramus Catholic Regional High School in New Jersey. Whew, that was a mouthful!  Usually, I’m alone for most of the day during these things and my schedule today left me free from any workshops from after the opening ceremony, ending at 9:30am, to my scheduled lunch then my first workshop starting at 12:45pm.  Basically, I was left to my own devices most of the morning.  I spent some time browsing the “exhibits”,  but I shall call them vendors.  I pretty much spent almost all the money I had on a book about my favorite author entitled, “Genius Born of Anguish~ The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen” and a car bumper sticker that reads:  Abortion stops a beating heart.  Yeah, the book took up 98% of the money I brought.  Normally, I would’ve gotten something for the current RCIA class but there is no class currently in the works.  Thanks to Cyndi for teaching me the proper “etiquette” for these things.  The first time I attended, she got me a booklet and cards for our then class.  Well, after that purchase I headed outside and got halfway around the building, and found a nice gazebo to sit a spell and start this book.  The weather was really nice and stayed there a while until the groundsmen came around with their leave blowers and drenched me full of diesel fuel or whatever they throw in those things…. yuk!

I also attended two workshops:

  • Be An Evangelizing Catechist
  • One Body in Christ:  Sacrament Preparation & Participation in Liturgy for Individuals with Autism

That’s one bitch’in title and I had to write that whole thing when I took the survey with my opinions on the classes.  The first one really focused on the CCD kids.  Some really great ideas for teaching kids and inviting the parents to get involved.  I really enjoyed that class for the ideas, but I spent the whole time getting up and down to get my handouts, which were one after the other the whole hour fifteen minutes.  The up side is that I have the actual handouts to give to the school, and I’m going to make sure I do some of this stuff with Gabe at home.  I think I’ll work on a separate post for that…. Heck, maybe while this Frankenstorm comes through.

The second workshop focused on providing an effective education for, as it says, Individuals with Autism.  This is near and dear to my heart and I took this workshop with Gabe in mind, hoping I could bring some of this home.  My second hope is to try and get the church to develop a program for the autistic student, both children and adults.  Not sure how it will go over, but this is SO important and would go a long way with families who are not yet advocating for their autistic child for whatever reason.  While I didn’t really hear anything new about autism in this class, I found it helpful, though I do wish the speaker was more prepared.  She spent most of the time fiddling with her electronics and getting them to work.  We did not go over all the material she had for the class and that was a downer.  It was a major distraction, all the while I was thinking about the previous instructor telling us we should be well prepared with our lesson before the children walked into the class….  priceless!

Well, getting to the inspiration of my post.  I’m sitting in the cafeteria eating my lunch at 11:15am and I realize that I don’t have any money to buy more water.  The lunch people were very specific as to what we could take:  ONE sandwich, ONE packet mustard or ONE packet mayonnaise, ONE drink, ONE bag of two Oreo cookies and ONE half-bag of chips.  I’ve been guzzling water lately like an elephant and all I had right there was a 16.9 oz. bottle of Snapple Spring Water which was to last me the entire rest of the day.  Snort…. I’m sitting there knowing that will never happen.  So I sat there, counting the minutes till I could get home for a nice frigid cold glass of water …. (glugg… glugg…) I’m thinking that the fountain water was not too bad of a tasting water.  I sat there knitting (yes, I brought my knitting and knit through the whole opening ceremony and keynote speech, though I wasn’t actually there for the speech as I was stifling hot and couldn’t wait to get out of the auditorium.  Let me just say that God most certainly works in His own way and in His own time.  Whenever or however, He knows what you need and exactly when you need it.  Just before I got myself ready to leave the cafeteria, my friend from our parish came out of nowhere and offered me her 16.9 oz. of cold water, unequivocally stating she was not going to drink it.  I accepted her offer with such gratitude that even that completely overwhelmed me.  It was all I could do not to tear up, there.  She really had no clue of my dilemma, yet she handed it over just when I was going through my options.  Even after I finished her bottle, I refilled it with water from the bathroom because that water was colder than the water in the drinking fountain.  It had a distinctly chlorine taste but I told myself that it was sanitized… ugh.  That bottle, though, kept my tongue from drying onto the roof of my mouth and my lips moist and separated during my two workshops.  Oh well, not a life and death situation, but God certainly has looked out for me in many ways and many, many times.

K-Cup Problem Solved

Because I’m an Egg (Electronic Gadget Groupie), I have this urge to have the biggest and the baddest of devices out there.  I own Apple products, most beloved of them is my ipad.  When it comes to coffee, however, my most preferred brewing method is the old tyme way, perked.  I still believe there is nothing better out there than a perked-on-the-stove cup of coffee, timed just right.  I collected every pot my mother owned, from an electric Farberware 12 cupper, to her Pyrex 12 and 4 cupper.  Loved the Pyrex because it’s made of tempered glass and you can actually watch the water turn into coffee.  Totally amazing.  I used these pieces for 10 years and then, one by one, they started breaking down and in the case of the Pyrex, I broke the stem, where the basket sits on, while washing it in the sink… Yes, I am our own dishwasher.  I was crestfallen.  So this was right around the time that the Kuerig brewing system came into my life.  It was such a novelty that I had to have it.  I waited for Christmas and told myself that was my gift… or no.  I purchased it in April and told myself it was a birthday gift (June)… yeah, that’s the ticket.  Let me just say now that this was the worst possible decision I could make.

Problems abound.  The first and foremost, is that these cups are possibly the most expensive choice one could make when you think that decent coffee grinds to perk coffee cost roughly $6.-$8 or$10.00 per pound and a box of 12 or 18 k-cups just went up to $13.00.  You are able to perk a lot more coffee than the, at most, 18 single 6 oz. cups from the Kuerig.  Don’t get me wrong the convenience and the maintenance of the Kuerig machine is unbeatable in my opinion, after years of hand washing all parts of my coffee pots, sometimes multiple times per day… BUT it comes at a pretty hefty price.  A price I didn’t want to pay.  I believe the standard they are using per cup is the inflated Starbucks-type cup that runs, cheapest $2.00?, I’m guessing as it’s been a while since I’ve been there.  A pound of whole beans cost what, around $8.00?   I’d say that you could get more than four cups of coffee from that.   Anyhoo… As luck would have it, just as I literally had this machine packed up in its box and ready to be put into the basement, my darling DH comes home with like 3 boxes of k-cup coffee from the grocer.  “They were on sale,” he happily stated.  Okay.  Now I am confused.  This is the most fugal, yet obviously the most generous man I know, who went out and of his own volition, purchased more than one box of not particularly great, yet expensive coffee.  Oh well, I’m not going to complain, I thought.  So I proceeded to unpack the machine, saying goodbye to the extra counter space I just created, and made us two cups of coffee.  Since then it’s hit me that DH, who can’t boil water by himself, loves the Kuerig because he can make himself a cup of coffee in the morning without waiting for me to get up to do it…. YEAH.

Okay, so it’s been running like this.  We get the k-cups when they are on sale and I have a Melitta cone filter thing-a-ma-jig for grinds and boiled water.  My other problem with the k-cups is that most of the coffee flavored choices brew up too weak for my taste; and so, I’m limited to only getting bold coffee.  Recently, and getting to the crux of my post, my sister gifted me with a bunch of k-cups from a sampler she bought and of the flavors she didn’t like… and I’m not going to say no to free k-cups.  I got a bunch of Gingerbread and Golden French Toast flavors that smell great, but didn’t taste so great.  So, I got an idea.  I cut open the tops and emptied two cups of grinds into my Melitta filter, poured boiled water and waited for my coffee.  It was terrific!

So another big problem with these cups is the recycling, repurpose, reusing potential… 000, zero.  That is, up until now.  It’s only one way, but cool.  I refilled my cups with grinds, covered it with slip of aluminum foil and sealed it with masking tape.  Voila a k-cup ready to go.  I know that this type of recycling is not exactly a new idea, I’ve seen it around on the net, but using the grinds that would have normally made a weak cup of coffee and blending it with stronger grinds, with a different brewing system, just about made my day.  On second thought, you can also do this to used cups.  All you’d need to make sure to do is line up the hole on the bottom with the needle inside the cup basket in the machine.  I think the only draw back with this is that the filter on the inside might be ripped if you’re not careful when filling and manipulating it.

I digress….

The cup on the left is emptied and the cup on the right is upside down, showing that there is no hole, the cup in the middle is refilled with aluminum foil on top and sealed with masking tape.

I REALLY digressed posting the photo above, but I’ll get it right some day.  My idea was to show you the k-cups in three stages:  The top taken off and grinds vacated, the middle is a repurposed k-cup ready for use, and on the right one just showing that there was no hole on the bottom.  I thought it was important at the time… ugh.  I used Dunkin Donuts Dark and I must say it made an excellent cup of coffee.

As my last side note, I want to draw your attention to Michael Bobblehead.  I love the show The Office and scored this guy, brand new, in mint condition, for two bucks at the Cranford Townwide Garage Sale last month.  On the down side, I had also scored the Dwight Schrute Bobblehead supposedly in the same condition; but when I got it home, the neck was broken…. Oh the AGONY~!  I love the Dwight character more than the Micheal (sorry Michael), oh well.  Maybe I can fix it?  Not sure, this is a BOBBLE head for goodness sakes!  Anyway, Michael served his purpose while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Did I mention olives?  I’ll be posting about them after Thanksgiving as they are still cooking in their tightly packed jars in the whole left side of the bottom of my fridge….

Weird Nailz

Just had to share this, my most recent nail design success (and there have not been that many).   Many designs are hard for me to do, but I seem to have some luck with bi-tonal and stripes made with those special nail art polishes.  The weird thing about this pic is that it doesn’t show the true color.  To photograph my hand, I need to use a flash to get the sharpest picture and this messes up the colors sometimes.  The dark dreary day doesn’t help much either….  heh.

To the right is a close up.  I love how this looks and the main reason I’m posting is that I’m sure this is the most successful I’ve managed to date, and that is including color choices.

The pic below shows the polishes I used for the design above.  You can get a little bit better idea of the true colors.

List them left to right:  Kiss Nail Art Paint- Black, Art Deco- Purple Blue Glitter, Wet n Wild Megalast in Wet Cement #201C, and my favorite Wet n Wild Fastdry in Gray’s Anatomy #237C.  A pearlized effect.  Look at it from one angle and it’s pink, tilt it at a slightly different angle and it’s greenish.  Not at all like the pic above, eh?  I love WnW’s Megalast.  Megalast sports a “ManiCurve” Pro brush… fancy schmancy!  Seriously, I love this brush and most Megalast colors are thick and I like that.  I go for maximum coverage and hate when I have to do 3-plus coats just to achieve that look.

I have an artist’s brush, size 000 (that’s zero, zero, zero).  I know some use these brushes with nail polish, but I prefer to only use them with acrylic paints to make designs, then when totally dry, I’ll seal it with clear polish.  Oh, secured a nail stencil stamping kit (with video) for $3.00 at a local yard sale a couple of weeks ago… woo hoo~!  When I get up the nerve to try that out, I’ll be updating here to let ya’ll know how it went.  You know, it still never ceases to amaze me that not only do I have nails, but I have LONG nails.  Not so long that they render me non-functional, but pretty impressive given my lifelong history of not having any nails to speak of, being a compulsive nail biter, I bit them way past the nail bed… so my nails get kind of wonky as they grow.

Funny thing this year, I’m craving grays,blue-grays, and just about all grays.  I’ve not found anything in my price range, however, to push me over the edge and take the plunge.  I’m usually drawn to blues, purples, reds and like greens, teals, oh, and this summer even oranges.  Check out a couple of pics below on the way out.

Weak and ugly feathering technique below.  But you know what they say, “nobody will know.”  Eventually, I want to use real feathers.  So many crazy things out there since my last foray into the world of nail designs.

Holidays ARE Kicking in

The holidays are sneaking up on us.  While I don’t have sugar plums dancing in my head, I most certainly DO have the recipes for holiday dishes and desserts dancing up there!’

Right now, I’ve got a batch of whole cranberry sauce cooling on the stove and I do believe I outdid myself this time.  It’s Traditional Cranberries with a Kick.  I usually do not make spicy foods, though I love them.  One reason being is that DH has a very delicate stomach and the other is that hot spice gives me heartburn… ugh.  BUT… there’s always a but.  Today, I stepped outside of the norm.  No pics yet, but I’ve just got to write down the recipe before I forget.

Whole Cranberry Sauce, with a KICK…

Traditional Cranberries With a Kick

  • 1 package Raw Cranberries
  • 1 cup Sugar (used white today, but usually use dark brown sugar)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 can Crushed Pineapple (with juice, try to make the water and juice add up to 1 cup.)
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg (fresh ground)
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (secret kick-but ingredient)

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and heat to boiling.  Watch all the berries pop… this is the fun part.  This recipe is forgiving in that you can just start with the cranberries and water, then add the rest of the ingredients at your leisure.  Stir.  I started out with more than a cup of liquid, so I had to keep this boiling until the liquid thickened a little.  The amount of cayenne pepper should be to your taste.  I’m assuming you can use chili peppers, and maybe jalapeno peppers… but not sure on that.  That’s too spicy for me, though I might try it.  Just received a couple of homegrown jalapeno peppers and this might just be the experiment for it.  Okay, if you use the correct amount of liquid combination, you should just need to boil for 5 minutes, or to whatever thickness you like.

Edited 10/19/2012 1:01pm:  To insert pic of cranberry sauce above.  I do think mine is not as thick as I’d like, so I will cook it down further or add a thickening agent if I have one on hand.

Fig Nut Cookies

Italian Fig Nut Cookies.  Cute but compared, visually, to what I remember is like comparing a toddler’s artwork to a one of the masters.

Another holiday tradition that snuck back into view this week is an old Italian fig cookie recipe that I first experienced during the years of my first marriage, mid-late nineties.  They are called by various names: cuccidati, buccellati and Emril even has a recipe.  If you look close, he’s got TWO recipes listed for fig nut cookies.  Hey, this is a BIG thing in Italy.  The ex’s aunt, Tsi Tsi (aunt), and totally not sure that I’m spelling that correctly, would make the most delicious fig cookies that reminded me of all the cookie recipes my own grandmother would make with love every year, stretching from October on into Jan.  Every time company would come over, she’d come out of her room with a plate of mixed cookies.

Anyway coming back to the topic of fig cookies.  I believe I was slated to receive this secret family recipe, but then the divorce threw a wrench into that idea.   Yeah, his aunt took a lot of pride in these cookies and she even let me help her make them one year.  Of course, I was never privy to the exact ingredients, but I helped her form and cut the cookies.  They were beautiful and reminded me of graceful flowers.  If I remember correctly, the fig filling was encased in the dough, like a calzone.  Then she’d cut along one edge, making thin pieces on one side.  THEN came the fun part.  She’d pick up each little “arm” and twisted and turned each piece in turn.  Each cookie was a unique piece of artwork.  I’ve yet to find any pics of these cookies that look even similar to what Tsi Tsi created.

I am so totally psyched.  Little do my nephew and new niece know, but I am going to use Thanksgiving to test out whatever recipe I use or tweak or whatever.  So many recipes out there and that is not uncommon, I’ve learned.  Each town has it’s traditional way of making it.  Wow, even FAMILIES have their own version, of course, being a well guarded secret family recipe.  I can’t wait to start my own family tradition, over here in the USA…  I don’t remember my own grandmother making this recipe, but so what.  It will be brand new one, coming from me and hopefully, I’ll be able to put my own spin on this one.

Pics to follow….. of COURSE~!

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