awhile back i had the crazy idea that i would like to organize my books into the Dewey decimal system. the internet led me to two different websites to help my with this. library thing allows me to sort by author, Dewey, ISBN, language, LCC, publication date and title. i can write reviews on my books and add meta tags and i can read and view other peoples entries about my books. gurulib is useless for organizing allowing only title, released date, added date, or used or new price. of those only a title search may be helpful but not entirely sensible. it lets me keep track of my movies music and video games. gurulib also has a neat bit of software that lets me scan my media into its system using my webcam. scanning is my favorite part. right now i've got my library entered into both websites, i'm waiting for libary thing to accept all media or for gurulib to organize things into more scholastically friendly categories. anyway, here are some pictures of my bookshelf, its been organized by dewey with some slight rearrangements for space and sanity. bookshelf bookshelf 2

Writer's Block: Back to the future
If you were 12 and could see yourself now, do you think you'd be happy or disappointed, and why?

at 12 my parent's marriage was failing and i was pretty depressed. i spent the entirety of middle school grounded for lousy grades. having said that, i think 12 year old me would be pretty impressed with me. I'm going to college learning something that I'm good at. i don't have too much of a life plan, but i don't think i won't end up somewhere reasonable.

its been 10 years but i haven't changed much, I'm a lot happier now. i still love harry potter, space movies and yarn. I've mostly got the same friends.

so, imbolc happened a couple weeks ago and i like imbolc. its groundhogs day with more meaning. i was getting ready for it, i was cleaning my room i was going to spiritually cleanse it on friday or saturday and i was basically all ready to welcome the return of the sun. and then my uncle died. and it was like the groundhog saw his shadow and declared 6 more weeks of winter. my room exploded and i slept all weekend. friday i kept all my appointments. i drove down to littleton to tell my mother and then i went to hearthstone as i had planned and then i went to rocky. telling mom was easier than i thought, mostly because i picked the easiest way to tell her. hearthstone was like a drug, once it started nothing mattered and i was on a cloud for a short while after, and then i fell off that cloud and hit the pavement. and going to rocky was like being dragged across that pavement. it kicked my ass. it was a hard weekend. and the memorial was difficult.

so, its three weeks later, and tomorrow i'm going the the funeral of an old friend but i think the clouds are starting to part because i'm back where i was before i found out about my uncle. i'm cleaning my room, and i'm thinking i should try and acknowledge imbolc sometime this weekend.

christmas cake
its christmas and i'm poor but this year i kinda have presents for people because i have leftover chocolates from my chocolate final. not enough chocolates to be significant, but i have chocolates for necessary people.

today's cake:
gingerbread cake with creamcheese frosting

grandma said i should make dessert for christmas at bobs and i'm so tired of pie i'm not going to talk about it. so i went browsing through tastespotting and found this recipe for gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting. the one on the blog is badly frosted to which i say, "clearly they do not have my mad frosting skillz" i'll admit my frosting skills have produced a slightly better frosted cake than the original, but the cake in question is largely un-frostable and fought me every step of the way. i wouldn't say it is my best work, but i'm glad to say its not my worst. i will admit to my failure at making smooth caramel.

its a sticky cake, if i decide to work on it i'll be reducing the sugar, i didn't mess with the recipe much because you've got to make it as is the first time to see whats wrong. i did rearrange the method because most people don't know how to assemble a stable cake batter. it turned out relatively level, only a slight ridge on each cake. it might have dried out if i had time to let them sit in the pans in open air, but grandma is paranoid of spoilage and thinks everything must be wrapped and refrigerated and wrapped my cakes in wax paper shortly after i removed them from the oven, most likely adding to their stickyness.

i find it odd that the woman will let meat and leftovers sit out on the counter for hours (in the danger zone!) but baked goods must be wrapped and refridgerated immediately. her food safety is way backwards.

the frosting doesn't work, if you cool the caramel to room temp as specified it clumps up in the frosting. next time i'll think of something else and tell you how that goes if i do it. i also found the frosting extra soft. seriously, i went to pipe a border on the top of the cake and it just flopped over so now the sides of the cake go frosting, cookie layer, more frosting.

also, some stuff i've been making:

a D20 shaped box and a dragon made out of chocolate. i didn't have time to write numbers on the box after i put it together. chef was impressed i managed to fit the thing together, he didn't think it was going to be easy. it wasn't easy, but i shaved off the lumpiness.

chocolate d20 and dragon

also for my chocolate final we had to make 2 flavors of truffles, the white i had fewer of because molded chocolates are difficult for me, they are coconut with a milk chocolate center. the milk are based on an oddball cocktail called a Mt. Kenny Fizz. (rum, cognac, pineapple, and clove) i put them in a box to bring to uncle bobs christmas, i don't really want to but grandma is expecting it.

chocolate final box

and i've been expirementing with the smitten concept. version 1 and 2 below. 3 may be on its way both are too flat for my liking and i've still got plenty of yarn.

smitten 2


Writer's Block: My Favorite Neighborhood Business
What is it about your favorite local small business that keeps you coming back again and again?

this is gonna be short. i should be in bed.

i almost went today to buy things that go in chai even though i don't really need to make chai right now. i just love to smell it.

some other spice shop just opened up a block away from the littleton one. i want to egg it. i don't want it to be there because savory is more awesome. you can smell savory from 2 shops away. where i'm doing my internship gets all their spices from there in 1lb bags because that's what you need when you run a bakeshop. and its fresh enough that i sneeze whenever i refill the spice jars (which are ball jelly jars and need refilling every few days) btw. savory should offer this as a baking spice blend, it goes in the ginger spice cookies

1/4 cup ginger 2T cinnamon 2T nutmeg 2T allspice 2T cloves 1T coriander 1Tcardamom 1T white pepper

i think.... i should go to bed. anyway, its spicy, just the way i like my baked goods. and its more interesting than the baking spice offered by savory. oh and of course that recipe goes in the multi-lb industrial batch that we make and portion and freeze so that in the morning we can make 9 cookies of 7 different varieties without any hassle

anyway, i love their blends, it takes most of the thinking out of seasoning food. i've tried the bouquet garni which isn't tied in a neat bundle but rather just ground but its instant soup as far as i'm concerned. the chinese five spice, which i like in hot chocolate for the spicy and the licorice and i don't really eat pork. the colorado plateau citrus pepper i got when i went in for old bay and liked that better. i carried it in my purse and put it on almost anything for awhile. the medium yellow curry powder also went on everything (potato, tuna, or egg salad, ramen noodles). the pearl st. plank rub was my seasoning this summer, i like it on salmon or in my peanut noodles. the highlands Italian cheese sprinkle, i'm not quite decided on grandma bought it. and the mayan cocoa makes a mean cup that my mom and sister won't try and steal.

things that i would like to try but haven't yet include. bohemian forest european style rub, ideally the ren faire would be seasoned with it. the mexican mole. the chai spices and almost everything else in the store. i love that they sell things in 1/2oz bags if you aren't sure and just want to try some out. i wish i had more opportunity to cook for myself.

Gluten Free Invitational
I'm not gluten free. i almost fall under a weird category of gluten mandatory, kinda like those omnivores that feel a meal is only a snack without meat. This weekend i attended the annual gluten free baking invitational

Writer's Block: All-Nighter
i usually stay up rather late anyway. i go to bed around 2-3 in the morning. since november my schedule has been so that i'm not done with my day till around 11 and i don't need to start the next day till quite late in the afternoon. my summer schedule is actually quite close to my school schedule.

but, the question was
When was the last time you stayed up all night? What were you doing?

so i would have to say the night before my bread final was due. i hadn't done any work on it and spent the night typing and converting all my recipes to 5lbs. i got 3 of 5 weeks finished by 6 am and decided to switch gears for a coupple hours and get my journals and other parts of the portfolio done and went to breakfast at 8 am. went back to my dorm and did a bit more typing till the school store opened at 10 and bought a portfolio so i could print it out and jam it in. then i got a few hours sleep before dinner at 4 and class at 5. i got a strong B/ light A despite not having a couple weeks.

there was another time a few weeks later but i don't think it quite qualifies, it didn't turn out successfully. i stayed up till 6 hiking up my food safety scores before the practice final and stupidly decided i was capable of taking a short nap. i woke up 4 hours later when class was over. good thing the teacher didn't really care. it was an online class so all was well because i made sure to have the test done before the final.

i would have to say my favorite adventure in staying up all night took place the first day of spring break. that friday night i was playing chucky for rocky and because of the theme night i decided to wear pasties by the end of the show instead of my usual bra and panties. afterward i went to mccoys and stayed till 4 am playing flux with gebus and a very drunk cassidy. then i drove back to stapleton and picked up solana so i could drive her to the airport. while i was driving home and realizing the sun was soon to come up i was suddenly afraid of it because it is the first light of dawn that burns vampires, a few hours later the light loses its purity and the vampires can go back outside, afternoon sun is most gentile. anyway. i just made it back inside before the sun came up so i was safe. took a shower and scrubbed real good to get that pine scent off my tits. took a short nap (2 hours) and drove to 5 points to pick up kenny, sheena, and allie to go eat Ethiopian and shop for cheap books that the denver library didn't want anymore. after that we went to littleton and eventually i ended up at moms for dinner. it was 9 before i got home that night and passed out. i would say that is the longest adventure i've had on the least amount of sleep.

i love food blogs
i've always wanted to write one, and one day i will do this more regularly, but for now i feel a bit confined in grandmas house and when i'm at school i don't feel like i'm doing anything original. anywhoo. awhile ago somewhere online i found a recipe for candied nuts and these particular ones had a similar visual texture to the ones they sell at the ren faire. since yesterday i bought a nice new whisk i decided to give it a try. another thing i discovered yesterday is that having a whisk that is light and fits your hand well does wonders to whipping by hand. the ones at school are bulky and for some reason would give me a couple awkward blisters but these ones i bought are awesome. they're also dirt cheap.


my advice for buying utensils would be to hold them and imagine using them. make the motions you would naturally make. i liked these because they seemed invisible in my hand and the handle wasn't so long that it got in the way of the rotation of my wrist while whipping. i used the medium one (not pictured) because it was round like the short one but also had a bit of length.

fold together sugar spice mix with whipped egg whites till combined.
coat nuts with mix and spread on greased cookie sheet and bake until toasted

now i'm gonna talk about my spice mix. i think this batch was almost over spiced because i left my usual bottle of spice mix at jades so when i made new i just made it straight into the bowl. i've been playing with my spice mix for awhile i like 1 part each of cinnamon, ginger, chinese five spice, cocoa powder, and 1/2 part cardamom. i like the five spice because it adds a slight spicyness and a few interesting flavors. cocoa powder is a great spice, it adds a dark earthy bitterness. i left out the cardamom because grandma doesn't have any and i was starting to overload on spice anyway. if you have a bottle of spice mix then you can add the right amount to anything though without any thought, a good rule of thumb is a small palmful of spice to 1 lb of product.

i didn't measure, but if you pulled my leg i would say i used 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar. i was out of brown sugar so i made new with some molasses. i also added a tablespoon or so of honey because grandmas is crystalizing and i'm putting it in everything to get rid of it. i should just make something with all of it to get it over with. maybe meringue cookies. i love meringue cookies.


add the whipped egg whites. that is two whites left over from lemon bars i made shortly after i moved in for grandma to freeze and use when her sewing club comes over. never throw anything out. and unless you are whipping nearly a pound of something there is no reason to pull out the machine, a little labor is good for you and still won't hardly cover the calories ingested later.

candied nuts 3

candied nuts 4

here it is all folded together. its lumpy because the sugar was quite wet and lumpy. if i cared i could have pushed it though a sieve but it won't matter to the final texture. if i were making meringues than i would want them smooth and consistent. the sugar would have been sieved a couple times and carefully added while whipping. thinking back, these would make great meringues if i had less sugar or more egg whites. i miss meringue cookies.

now about the nuts. grandma buys nuts at costco in quantity because they are snackers. on the end table next to the recliners there are a couple planters nut tins that are regularly refilled. planters nut tins are probablly the perfect container for snacks because of they way they keep light out and seal without being a pain to open. when i get my own place maybe i'll decoupage some so they don't look out of place. these thoughts are what happens when you grow up watching martha stewart. i used more walnuts than pecans and almonds. approx 4/5 handfuls walnuts. 2 handfuls each of pecans and almonds. last time i measured my handful it was 1/4 cup for something lumpy like macaroni.


candied nuts 5

it took about at half hour at 325. i went for a reasonably low temperature because i was afraid of burning the nuts. i shouldn't be afraid of burning them, if lavallee tried to teach us anything it was that things work better at higher heat and with confidence. i mostly just wanted to dry the moisture out of the egg whites. i pulled out the nuts and stirred/flipped them about once a commercial break or so until reasonably dry and kinda fragrant. a good rule of thumb with almost anything is that if you can smell it its just about done so watch it like a hawk.


looking at that picture i am reminded how much i love grandmas essentials canisters. she's also got flour and coffee. i should keep an eye out for ones to keep in my home someday. i've always found it handier to have the basics out on the counter.

most activity in weeks
yesterday eve i was reading my email and decided to see about going to lunch with jan and friends this week. my schedule happened to be open that day so i decided to go even if jessi 4 was going to be there.

i woke up and was slightly nervous about lunch, haven't done it for nearly a year except that one time at the begining of spring break. i was early as to be expected, everyone runs late but i've never quite figured out how late. that crazy waitress with the birds was there, she talked with jan and i for a long time while we waited on kenny and jessi4. i got a sandwich, should have ordered something saucier, it would have been more satisfying. i returned the l word to kenny and some movies to sam. sam and i shared carrot cake, jessi was neutral to me which is the best i could hope for.

yesterday after lunch with jan i stopped by the target on santa fe to buy a food scale and a whisk. grandma didn't own a wisk, seriously, what equipped kitchen doesn't have a whisk. bought the cheap set of three because the handle felt better than the 8$ ergonomic one they offered. looked for a kickball ice cream machine but couldn't find it, may have not looked hard enough. got a haircut and managed to not be outsmarted by the stylish short ones that i always want but hate when i realize that i can't put it up. then i stopped by sunflower to procrastinate a bit longer before going home. got a bag of candied ginger. when i got home i made banana bread after grandma was done making dinner. made a loaf and a cake pan, grandpa ate half the cake pan. i think he's a compulsive eater and i'm surprised hes not fatter than he is. grandma nagged me to finish my fafsa, i did last night before bed, went much faster the second time.

today i woke up and printed my fafsa for mom to sign, addressed an envelope and stamped it and stuck the pile in moms mailbox with an instruction for her to sign it. old sean caught me and we talked for a bit. said film school is in session and jan was hanging out at binning so i dropped buy and talked to jan more. she had me show troy and sean my ears. had a good talk with them. sean reminded me that life is going better for me than i feel like it is. school went well. i'm employed. i've got a nice boyfriend. and i'm still my old eccentric self. now if only i didn't feel completely imprisoned. after i got home i made candied nuts like at the ren faire. i felt better while i was doing that but felt an odd urge to hide all evidence when grandma and grandpa got home.

i did other things earlier in the summer. moved out of college. started looking for a job. made lee a shirt. found a job. went to the ren faire for what is most likely the only time this summer now that i've started my job. i work at king soopers now as a cashier and i make better money than i ever have. goals for the summer are to dye my hair because my roots are nearly half my hair, and to actually assemble the pirate coat that i bought all the supplies for last august before going to school

Writer's Block: Going Greener
How could you better “green” your life? What’s holding you back?
     there are so many ways i could go greener. i have a friend that is ever researching ways to do so and is actually implementing them in her life. because of her i'm more aware of different ways to be greener, but out of my own stubbornness i could care less or want to find my own unique ways. many of my green habits aren't so much for the purpose of being green, but for some other neurotic reason.
      i drive my car far less than i used to, approximately once a week. i suppose that is something to be proud of, but i don't do it out of concern for the environment but concern for my own bank account. i am unemployed by choice in order to free my time for school while i can still afford to do so, i want my money to strech as far as it can. so far i managed to go from august to early april on approximatly $1000. if i had needed to i could have made that final 100 go till late may when my schedule frees again, but i got insurance money.
     i reuse, i guess you could call it that. i use an item until it cannot possibly be used anymore. i patch and repair my clothes, i will put cardboard in the bottom of my shoe if i wear a hole through, but it is not out of concern for tossing, i'm just frugal. my car is another example of this, the insurance company has declared it "totaled" several times by now, but i see no reason in tossing it, or selling it. if i sold it i could only afford another used car of most likely no better value, so i might as well keep the one i have. i plan on driving that car till it doesn't go anymore, and then i will find the parts a good home and buy a car that i believe will last at least 20 years before dying.
  i'm a vegetarian, i suppose. i could care less about the animals, i'm cheap and believe meat is expensive. but because i don't believe in waste i won't snub my nose at something offered to me made with animal products including broth or gravy. i don't buy meat but i'm not truly offended by it. if i'm offered something with chunks of meat i do fish them out and offer them to someone else. after several years they just don't go through so easy.
     I like natural products. but not just products that advertize themselves as natural, i read ingredient lists and try to keep a realistic grip on "natural". to a certain extent i prefer sugar in my soda as opposed to hfcs because it tends to accompany more realistic and identifiable flavors; however i like my coke plain and i like it cheap not diet or imported from mexico. i like natural fibers in my clothes when i can get them too. i did a 5 minute speech on why i like natural fibers. basically they breathe which results in a number of other green consequences.
     there are a number of green hobbies that have been passed down to me by family members. weither or not i actually garden i am aware of the concept and procedures. i know the basics of canning and preserving food for the remainder of the year, and i have a full appreciation of home grown produce. i can make my own clothing, and am actually capable of taking raw fiber, processing, spinning, weaving, knitting, or crocheting the yarn, and sewing the final product into a piece of clothing. i'm also well aware of the amount of time required for the entire process. my mother has been pushing home remedies at me for my entire lifetime, and over the years many have lodged their way in my brain.

i suppose the thing that makes me feel i am not doing enough to be green is that i believe firmly in the power of the american consumer and i haven't really been participating as one for months now. i have forfeited my life to johnson and wales and the majority of the money i have spent in the past 9 months has been on the occaisional tank of gas and breakfast at mccoys after rocky horror.


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