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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ice Cream Recipes

I scream 
You scream 
We all scream 
for Ice Cream!  
Everybody knows that saying right?
We almost missed that this is officially national ice cream month, being too busy with the Ultimate Blog challenge.

Sunday the 15th was the specific celebration day.
Years ago I was wandering through the grocery one day. I spotted an ice cream maker. It was on sale for $20. We snapped that up and thus began a glorious few months of homemade ice cream.
What never ceases to amaze me is how boring and unimaginative people seem to get at this stage of the game. 

Vanilla seriously? I mean ok maybe French Vanilla and for all those people who like their soggy desserts mixed together.

For the rest of us who do not eat anything Ala Mode why stop at vanilla? Drop in some fruit, add in some spices, bring on the nuts!
My basic recipe was simple but heavy.
 
Milk 2-6 Cups
Sugar 2-3 Cups
Heavy Cream 4-8 Cups
Dashes of Salt 
To create various flavors I would add

Coconut milk and Grated coconut
Cream Cheese plus Homemade Jam
Instant coffee or super strong coffee liquid
Banana Chocolate with Walnuts
Chocolate and Grated Coconut
or Strawberry Mix

Then winter rolled around. Eggnog came out on store shelves. I did not grow up drinking eggnog so it is not an acquired taste of mine. I wanted to do an ice cream spin off of it however.

That starts with a custard base
3 Eggs
1/3 Cups Sugar
Dash of Sea Salt
2 ½ Cups Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Mix the first four ingredients in a sauce pan and heat. Use low heat for 15-20 minutes stirring constantly until the mixture will coat the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from heat and add in vanilla.

To this I would add a tablespoon or two of the Pumpkin Pie spice. Let it cool and mix with 4 cups of heavy cream. Taste and add brown sugar if sweetness is needed. 

Add a cup of chopped pecans of sliced almonds and place into your ice cream maker.

These concoctions were delightful! So much so I call them gourmet. Another favorite flavor option was cream cheese and coffee. Adding the cream cheese just made an incredibly rich ice cream. Smooth and dense most of what we made did not last very long in our freezer.

Banana I did not care for. Chocolate can be a bit tricky depending on what you use and how you like it. It was a challenge as I made up my own recipes to know how much of each nut I wanted to add to get just the right crunch.


Maybe I should try some of the non-machine methods now that my ice cream maker is gone. Either that or invest in another one. It is a great unique treat to share with dinner or afternoon guest.

If you try any new recipes or have some suggestions please link up and share your results.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Movie Fun



Our summer got off to a rocky start financially but we did manage to see about a few movies. 

The daughter went with a gaggle of other teens mostly the boyfriend and friends to see the Avengers in 3D.

She gives it her best Siskel & Ebert thumbs up even though she has not seen The Hulk, Thor, or Captain America.

Together we went to see What to Expect which was also a thumbs up but of course not so adrenaline rising and action packed.

One night when MIB III & Spiderman were out we discussed getting to the drive in. That is still the best go see movie deal in town.

$6 a person except for discount night when it is a couple dollars less. For this price you see two current feature films on the big screen. 

For some reason my daughter did not want to see Spiderman. I did not want to see the Lorax or Brave.

Most recently I was alone and slipped late into Battleship. I barely remember seeing this advertised.  I really almost had no idea what I was in for. 

Oh man was it good however!

If you like Transformers this movie should be a nice fit. 

The movie kind of reminds me of Independence Day.

An old familiar plot. Aliens attack the earth and it is up to a rag tag crew to thwart them in epic scrimmages.

There are individual characters to focus on and enjoy at different times in the goings on.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

BIG Fun That Moves You

What’s up Sacramento and California et all? Did you get to the recent state fair? Another great event was staged! It is ending just as the Olympics kick off. 

My daughter and I almost missed it this year. I was waiting for some funding to come in that would have allowed us to purchase the discount Poppy Pack. That did not happen in time. 


I would have loved to go with a friend or neighbor like we have in years passed. 


We even toyed with the idea of taking her best friend or the boy friend getting me off the hook but he is saving his money to take her out to dinner on their one year anniversary in a few months.

Awwww right?


Anyway finally with only two days to spare we packed ourselves up to experience the live people watching show that is our state fair. We saw all ages and races, couples and singles, lots of little kids and teens.


On display were BIG pale snakes and brightly colored birds with monkeys. We missed the monkeys and did not see any piggies but we saw the other animals out in the live stock area.


We did not get wrist bands so we made due with the next best deal for rides twenty five one dollar tickets for twenty three bucks.


Many if not most of the rides took 5 tickets so that would be the total we could enjoy.

We went up we went round, we dipped down we flipped over, we went fast and we SCREAMED. 


The rocking seats that had us flipped over made me feel like an ingredient in a mixed salad being tossed. 

The arm that threw us up so high in the air it looked like it would do a full 360 made me think of what Air Force pilot training must feel like. 

I did not feel like losing my lunch but I kept my eyes closed a lot!


We walked until my dogs were talking to me. Note to silly self: Do not break in new flip flop sandals at the fair.


Now the only question is why do my arms hurt the day after? We got souvenirs. She won some stuffed things. I bought us an outfit. The shirt is mine. The shorts are for her.

She had to have her favorites Dippin Dots. I settled for a Churro because I had just had a lemon aid slushy. 


We noshed at the golden arches before we headed in just so we could focus on the fun before filling our bellies with more food.

Chocolate covered bacon and deep fried peaches were new on the fair, fare menu but we declined.


The last time we attended the California State Fair we ran into people we knew and
enjoyed a Weird Al concert. This time we just tried not to get lost in the sea of humanity, enjoyed some of the silly oddities and stayed ‘til almost 10pm.

The adventure would have ended perfectly if
we had parked in a better location. 

We planned to watch the fireworks before heading home but they were out of sight and we just came home.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

We Should All Learn to Swim

It is Olympic time! The world and especially London are all a flutter.

 

It is exciting but I have not set myself to watch yet. There are a few favorites we usually end up watching like gymnastics.

Still if I turn on something else compelling, while there is not much else going on, I can see myself falling in love with a new favorite athlete.  

Even discovering an obscure country. 

I am delighted that women are making their presence known on this amazing stage in larger numbers than ever before.

One of the last staggering and all but shameful issues to deal with then, is the issue of race in the swimming pool.


It is not even about racism this time I do not think.


My mother grew up on an island but had a water scare and cannot swim. 


My father I think he said they threw him and the others in a pool during basic training for the Army when he was drafted for the Vietnam war.

He never took us to the pool or talked to my brother and I much about swimming. Mom took us to swim lessons eventually but those did little good.


I do not swim. My daughter I knew needed different parenting and instruction if she was going to break the cycle.

Being a non swimmer type myself I did not do this as well or as much as I wanted but I tried.


When she was a baby I played with her by getting her face wet and dunking her under water in the tub.

She smiled and laughed feeling safe. Mission #1 accomplished.


Next I took her to the pool as a little kid and I let her go to the pool with others when possible.

She learned to play in the pool with friends. I taught her to float and kick.

Mostly I just let her have fun and find her own way. Eventually she got to where she can swim a little.

My secondary swimming issue is that I cannot tread water. It seems like that would help me navigate deep water as I try, when I am in it, to better my skills.

I can float and even do most swimming strokes. I hold my breath and do not open my eyes while I am under water or my eyes are getting wet.


I attended a high school in Michigan that had a pool. We took a course in water safety and swimming instruction.


It helped me learn the skills I now have for confident water interaction. I know what I can and cannot do when I get in.


Go Make A Splash folks for yourselves and with your children if you all cannot swim.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sharing Unplanned Abundance


What to do when your pantry is full but a friends' food stuffs are running low? Share of course!

In 2008 the daughter and I were amidst a whirlwind of unstable living. As I recently mentioned I could prefer to live communally with good roommates. Those are apparently hard to find.

Some roommates were just hell. In this particular rental we shared a house with our landlord.
This older woman began to really get cranky with us and I began to pray to move.
Mean while there was the ever day of living with not only her but also another roommate in the three bedroom, one bathroom, older home.


We all also had to share a kitchen and single refrigerator. Everyone has a section of these areas for their own items.

It was under these circumstances that I went grocery shopping one week and came home with too much stuff.

So much that I almost could not get the freezer closed when I was done unpacking.



Maybe I was having trouble adjusting to the moving and paring myself down after living alone with my daughter for so many years. Still it feels like we had lived there for a while so that did not quite explain it.

I knew the landlord roommate who was already cranky would just use this as one more thing to fuss about.

It was one thing when she was making stuff up in her head. Having a real issue to nitpick over might have been a land mine.

Sure enough she noticed after a day or two and quizzed me in an annoyed fashion. I just apologized as best I could and tried to meal plan, keeping the idea of clearing out the most space quickly in mind.

In the normal course of events my good friend called one day. We chatted about our homes, lives and kids as usual.

She was married with three kids trying to start a cleaning business while her husband worked now that the kids were all old enough to go to school.

Stressers and problems were our norm. We were able to shared freely about what we were going through. Many times if not most there was not more that each of us could offer besides a listening ear.

This time she mentioned they were a week or more from payday and out of or running low on food.
My ears perked up.I asked her if there were a lot of specialty items on her grocery list.

We were from two different cultures and there were a few allergy issues among her clan to take into consideration.

My friend assured me that and freezer or pantry basics could be put to good use and would be appreciate.

She had a mom and sister in town, even local in laws I think, plus her husband who worked in food, all resources I did not have. Someone else probably could have shared some meals to tide them over.

Still somehow I just knew my seemingly ridiculous abundance was not for me and my household. It was a small gift meant to be shared.

We scheduled a time for her to drop by and pick up a few bags full of food. It just felt right.
Recently I blogged about that large 5lbs container of honey that was sitting around in my kitchen.
Last night I poured out four cups and am storing it.

The rest I sent home with a young family and their new baby. Babies can’t eat honey but I am sure the growing family will find uses for the sweetener.

Being new parents I know they are connected to other families too that they can share with.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Unwanted Blog Traffic

Do you post real pictures of yourself and family on your blog?

We will not even discuss how Facebook owns all the data you have uploaded there.

It can be a hot topic the idea of posting pictures of your children for instance.

Is it fair to them?

These generations are growing up without any understanding of the freedom and safety that comes with anonymity.

Undesirables surf the web with the rest of us. 

If your blog were a house are you leaving the windows open when you should install blinds or pull the curtains?

There are just simple things to do that might lesson your exposure. There are pesky people who can show up in comments.

I never mention them. Think ‘maps’ backwards. I deal with things but I see no need to have a word I do not want associated with me posted by me. 

If you check the statistics tools for your blog you can see the kinds of odd things that people might have searched to land on your pages. 

See any strange spikes? These are things to not be paranoid about but to be aware of. 

I know some people are trying to keep themselves rather anonymous. Others are just innocently sharing their lives with the world.

We think our viewers will be people just like us. What if they are not?

YouTube videos that have made the rounds like The People of Walmart should tell us differently. (That was kind of a joke.)

Then there are the seriously disturbing ones where parents and care takers post what looks like abusive behavior to the rest of us.

Social policing takes on a whole new meaning.

People get really comfortable on their blogs. They say things they would never share with strangers and sometimes close friends.


That is half the fun. We just do not want to attract the wrong kinds of attention.

It is summer. Time for playing in the water and fun in the sun. Snap pictures of the dog, cat and other pets. Capture memories of your family growing.

Be thoughtful of the ones you share. Take notice of what is in the background that could attract the greedy.

Think about using stock photos.

Remember that digital information up loaded from your technical devices can contain information about your location etc. embedded in it.

Keep an eye on your viewership hits and any spikes that perhaps come from odd places.

Think about putting copy rights or water marks over pictures you post of your own subjects. Do you want to disable the ability for people to copy and paste text from your posts?

This usually annoys me when I discover it on someones site but I have read of content being swiped and re used as original by a viewer.

Mostly my life is so weird and my perspective my own that I do not worry anyone will try and pass off something I have written like they came up with it.

We could perhaps all use a refresher course in the dangers that exist.

I hope this has been helpful not worry some. It take a bit of creativity to put yourself out there safely.

I know you can do it. You are a blogger! A writer! the creative type. Necessity is the mother of invention and we are the grandchildren.

“Make it work!”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Posting Milestone #2

Someone in the blog sphere said when you get to 100 posts you are supposed to celebrate. I missed that memo back in January when we were doing the first UBC challenge of the year and planning Super Bowl parties. 

Milestone number two happened this week post 200! Yeah so that means a party. If I was going to host a party I would want to start by having a perfect day. 

Great simple days for me look like this: 

I wake up on my own with no pressing meetings or deadlines. I can watch the news, drink that first cup of coffee and spend time checking in with social media. 

Things are cool and quiet in the house. My cat wanders by to sit on my lap. With the laptop. Oh yes fun.
Next I want to pamper the body. A nice shower, deep condition the hair as needed, exfoliate or shave again as needed. 

It has been forever since I soaked in a bath. 

I do not like bubble baths but my daughter does. She also likes foot soaking.

It is summers. Showers are fine. I can forget to eat so it is good when I plan food to keep me moving. This morning I had a skinned apple. Sources say high toxins can be trapped in the skins of non organic apples so I am trying to avoid that when we do not buy the organic ones. I miss the pectin but oh well.

There are bagels stocked in the pantry. Yum! 

Blueberry and plain. I can eat them both with butter.

There's cream cheese.
My options for toppings seem endless!

There is some Nutella in the house that I have not brought myself to try. 

Ooh there is left over Chinese takeout. This morning just keeps looking better and better.

I have a new bin or tub for my fingernail polishes. It keeps them and the other supplies all in one place. 

I will get to adding colors to the digits as soon as I can. It is just a fun girly thing to do. I try not to wear the same color on any two nails.
I can spend all morning online. The tv is almost always on while I do this. My daughter can wake up and we will chat here and there.

She comes in my room. I go downstairs to her. She spends all her time on her phone using social media when she is not texting or talking.

I am low maintenance. Can you tell? I like low pressure.

See? I am not really a procrastinator. I am just a slow burner.

Right now I am a full time college student. That is influencing what I am free to get out and do in many ways. We have also left the play date and homeschooling scene that had me involved with other moms on a weekly basis.

The MeetUp activities I try to enjoy mostly kick in at night.
 
Still as I have discussed on the blog I know I am not type A. I have a go getter gear but I do not like getting up and going early if I absolutely do not have to.

However once I am up, I am up and the more (energy) people around me influence how active I become. I wish we had great roommates. I would prefer to live more communally.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Twitter 101

This is post number 5 or 6 in mini running series on Twittering. If you would like to know more use the search engine on the blog for words like hash tags and tweet.

Twitter is a community. Have you joined in the conversation? It can be addicting like Words with Friends and sometimes ranty like perhaps Angry Birds.

Twittering is like texting with a world of strangers and friends you do not know yet. 

The key to building your Klout there is multi-pronged. First you have to reach out and connect.

There are a million ways to find new people to follow.

If you follow people, people will follow you. Not always just the people you are following either.

To go wide search out some television shows, channels and actors you are a fan of. Follow them.

To stay more local search out your favorite nearby small business.

Follow them. If they do not have a Twitter presence do they have a Facebook page? If the answer to either or both is no do they need a social media player on their team and could you be it?
These are interesting questions to ponder.

If you have favorite authors follow them. They tend to be a bit more intimate and personal than say television or movie actors.


Have you learned to read Twitter stats? Pay attention to the numbers when you are deciding to follow someone. 

How many tweets have they made. How many people are they following. How many people have chosen to follow them?

Do they have a web site linked? What do they seem to tweet a lot about? Check out their lists and favorites.

Doing all this over and over should help guide you to being a better member of the Twitter family and community. Adjust accordingly.

Next it is all about content. What are you talking about and why should anyone care? What do you care about and who are you reaching out to?

Finally you should be a good neighbor

  • RT (or share) great, funny, informative tweets

  • Report/Block spammers

  • Style and decorate your page to keep it popping 

  • Save special tweets (use the Favorite button)

  • Make your own personal lists of users

  • Fact check
Before you hit send or ReTweet on something sketchy or inflammatory please make sure and double check your information.

Remember that your Twitter feed is public unless you have set it to private. Even then anyone who views it could copy paste it and reshare it so beware.

You do not want to go viral due to a mistake.

If Twitter is too much for you or if you have the dot com site mastered have you  tried the applications sites that make it more user friendly?

They are HootsSuite and TweetDeck. I have an account with both. These days I only use the latter.
 Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, July 23, 2012

Write to Heal and Grow

Well I guess this post will end the tips for writers series. The first three tips are not so much writing prompts as they are writing preps. 

Jeff wants writers to make time for writing by getting up two hours early. Yeah that is so not Midnight Musing style. 

I would rather stay up two hours later or curtail my fooling around at sometime during the day to focus on writing. 

You can read his tips and make the appropriate changes to your life. I am taking them under advisement. 

Meanwhile and this seems fitting considering all that the nation is dealing with right now, here is something I wrote while in high school.

In the spring of my sophomore year the night of homecoming three local kids were in a single car crash. Two were injured and my good friend Lee did not survive. 

It was the first time such shocking grief hit home for many of us kids. 
I began to learn that writing could be therapeutic for both writers and readers. I was experimenting with writing types and genres.

This piece I wrote in In Honor of Lee was featured in the school year book: 

I got the saddest news today, 
and I just don’t know what to say.

Last night was homecoming. 
I’m sure you all know, 
that many of my friends 
were eager to go.

Well most of them went 
but here comes some sad news: 
not all of them came home again, 
now have the blues.

I can’t quite remember 
the day we first met 
but our last conversation 
I will never forget. 

She gave me two pictures 
and about 15 letters 
they now hold my heart 
like huge iron fetters.

I pray for her family 
and I hope they can see 
what a special blessing 
their daughter was to me.

I wanted to write a poem 
for the whole world to see, 
precisely how sad this death has made me, 
but the words would not come 
I just could not convey, 
the feelings from within my heart 
in any kind of way.

So in honor of Lee 
I wrote this sad letter.
 To all those she knew 
may we never forget her. 

Love Tosca

Michelle "Lee" Ward 1975-1991