Monday, December 26, 2011

harry potter trivia game

the trivia game
ok, this is just for you geekiest of people out there. this is the trivia game i used for the harry potter party. fair warning it is HARD. i did that on purpose since most of the ones i found were pathetically too easy. this was printed out and pasted into the monster book of monsters. when people answered a question correctly they got a chocolate "galleon" as a prize and to keep track. the person with the most right answers per game got a weasley is our king badge. feel free to use this for your own party, please link back to here if you re-post it. i worked really hard on this. answers are mostly from the books, but some from the movies. if there's a difference it's stated. some answers are only found on hp lexicon and interviews from jk rowling. here we go!

where was the first golden snitch made?
goddric’s hollow

kreacher gives harry a christmas present. what was it?
a box full of maggots

why are red caps dangerous?
they like to kill humans to dye their hats red with their blood

what is a puffskein?
a custard coloured furball that makes a pleasant purring sound. they have long tongues and are
often kept as pets. they eat anything from spiders to leftovers so they’re easy to care for. fred
and george breed miniature puffskeins in pink and purple called pygmy puffs.

What is the make and model of Mr. Weasley's flying car?
Ford Anglia

Who was the headmaster of Hogwarts before Dumbledore?
Armando Dippet

What is the full name of Nearly Headless Nick?
Sir Nicholas De Mimsy-Porpington

What is the Hogwarts school motto?
Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus, the Latin translation for "Never tickle a sleeping dragon"

What is Albus Dumbledore’s mother’s name?
Kendra Dumbledore

Who has a scar in the shape of a map of the London underground?
Albus dumbledore

What type of cactus squirts stick sap as a defense? (also once used as a Griffendor password)
Mimbulus mimbletonia

What sort of organism causes spattergroit?
Fungus (very contagious)

Which character ends up with “sneak” written in pimples across their face?
Marietta Edgecombe

What does molly weasley like arthur to call her when they are alone?
Molly wobbles

Which Patil twin is a Ravenclaw?

What is Dumbledore’s favorite flavor of jam?
Raspberry “but if i was a death eater, i’m sure i would have researched my own jam

What is Ron’s middle name?
Bilius, named after his uncle who use to be the life of the party at weddings. he used to drink a
whole bottle of firewhiskey, bend over, pull up his robes and pull bunches of flowers out of
his...never mind. never married, for some reason.

What was used as the first snitch?
A tiny bird, but rules changed over the years to prevent animal cruelty

In quidditch, what is bumphing?
a foul that applies to beaters only, it is when a Beater is hitting a Bludger towards the crowd,
necessitating a halt of the game as the officials rush to protect bystanders. Sometimes used by
unscrupulous players to prevent an opposing Chaser from scoring

in quidditch, what is blagging?
a foul that applies to all players, it is when a player seizes opponent's broom tail to slow or

in quidditch, what is blatching?
a foul that applies to all players, it is when a person is flying with the intent to collide

what is the quaffle covered with?
Red leather

Name a game besides quidditch that’s played on brooms:
-Aingingein (Ireland) - Played on broomsticks, using a ball called a Dom and a series of flaming
-annual broom race of Sweden
-Creaothceann (Scotland) - Popular in the Middle Ages, probably the most dangerous of all
broom games. Involved trying to catch hundreds of falling rocks and bludgers in cauldrons
causing a huge number of fatalities, banned in 1762
-Quodpot (USA) - an American variant of Quidditch invented by Abraham Peasegood. Has
eleven players per side and an exploding ball called the Quod.
-Shuntbumps- popular in Devon, England. Similar to jousting, the goal to knock other players
from their brooms. (Survives only as a children's game)
-Stichstock (Germany) - Ancient game that used an inflated dragon's bladder atop a 20 foot high
-Swivenhodge - began in Herefordshire involves hitting an inflated pig's bladder backwards and
forwards across a hedge with brooms. Still played today.

What house does moaning myrtle belong to?

What house was Tonks in?

Where are Acromantula native to?
Borneo, believed to be wizard-bred (an example of why there is a ban on experimental
breeding), they are considered a beast rather then a sentient creature (despite being capable of
speech and thought) due to their violent nature

What is the proper breed name for madame maxime’s winged horses?
Abraxans, they drink only single malt whiskey

What is Sirius Black's mother’s name?
Walburga black. Orion is not only her husband but also her cousin

What is voldemort’s mother’s name?
Merope Gaunt

Who is Dragomir Gorgovitch ?
A quidditch player, a Chaser for the Chudley Cannons Quidditch team. He is also the record
holder for the amount of times he has dropped a Quaffle during Quidditch matches

What does the spell “anapneo” do?
Clears target’s airway, if blocked

What does professor Vector teach?

How many fouls are there in quidditch?

What was lee jordon’s handle on potterwatch?

How many times was nearly headless nick struck in the neck?
45, for the crime of trying to straighten a lady’s teeth and accidentally giving her a tusk instead

Which 2 defense against the dark arts teachers were followers of voldemort?
Quirrell and snape

Why don’t electronics work in Hogwarts?
All the magic creates too much interference

Who was teasing moaning mytle about her glasses just before she died?
Olive hornby

What was hagrid’s dragon named?

What fruit did you have to tickle on the painting in order to enter into the hogwarts kitchens?
Pear. it giggles and then turns into a handle for the door

What school does dudley go to?

Which professor was a dueling champion when he was young?

How many staircases are there at Hogwarts?
142 and they like to move

Why doesn’t dumbledore like every flavor beans?
He came across a vomit flavored one and lost his liking for them. This is not restored by trying
one of Harry's as it is ear wax flavored

What is the name of aunt marge’s favorite dog?
Ripper, she has 12 in total

What charm did Hermione miss learning when she slept through charms class?
Cheering charms. When harry performs one on Ron during their exams he overdoes it and Ron
has to be led away to a quiet room for an hour to calm down

Who was the first person to escape azkaban?
Bertemius crouch jr, but we don’t find that out until long after Sirius is hunted for doing so

wand lore
What type of wood is draco’s wand?

Who is Harry's oldest child?
James Potter jr

How old was sirius when he bought his first house?
17. he got the money from his uncle alphard. Walburga blasted Alphard off the family tree
tapestry for it but it doesn’t much matter since he was never dependant on the rest of the family

Why didn’t dumbledore ever marry?
He’s gay. He was in love with grindelwald, which gives new meaning to their fateful duel

How much money did the wealseys win in the daily prophet grand prize galleon draw?
700 galleons, which they used to take a trip to egypt

What number do you dial on the pay phone to enter the ministry of magic?
62442 (spells out “magic” on most phones)

How do dementors multiply?
They grow like a fungus, they are not alive and cannot breed

How many knuts are there to a sickle?
29. there are also 17 sickles to a galleon and a galleon is worth about 5 pounds in muggle

Who is mr. Tibbles?
One of mrs figg’s cats, quite possibly a kneazle

Who is tenebrus?
The first thestral to be born in the forbidden forest, hagrid’s favorite

Who is mosag?
Aragog’s wife

When buckbeak became an outlaw, what was his name changed to?

What did ginny tell people ron had a tattoo of?
A pigmy puff, but she didn’t say where

What are celestina warbeck’s backup singers?
A group of banshees

What lines were missing from the merpeople’s song in the movie?
Come and seek us where our voices sound.
We cannot sing above the ground.
**And while you're searching, ponder this:**
**We've taken what you'll sorely miss.**
An hour long you'll have to look,
To recover what we took.
**But past an hour - the prospect's black.**
**Too late, it's gone, it won't come back.**

What spell turns an object into a portkey?

Where is the entrance to the room of requirement?
7th floor of hogwarts, across from a painting of barnabus the barmy trying to teach trolls ballet

*in the book* where did harry get gillyweed for the second task?
Dobby stole it from snape’s private storeroom (not Neville like in the movie)

There are 12 uses for dragon’s blood, which dumbledore discovered, we only know two of them
for sure. What are they?
An oven cleaner and a spot remover (hagrid uses a dragon meat steak for it’s healing properties
but it’s never specified that the blood is what alleviates stinging)

What type of dragon is silvery blue and prized for it’s hide?
Swedish short snout

what does the writing on the frame of the mirror of erised say?
‘Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi’ Reversing the inscription and rearranging the
spaces produces: I show not your face but your heart's desire

what specialized job does lupin do for the order of the phoenix?
spies on fenrir greyback and his gang of other werewolves, where he learns that far from being
unable to control himself, greyback purposely positions himself close to humans when he’s due
to transform in an effort to infect as many people as possible, particularly children.

who raises teddy lupin (remus and tonk’s son)?
tonk’s parents, although he spends a great deal of time at harry and ginny’s house

what type of snake is nagini?
we’ve never been told but she is described as 15-20 feet long, green, with a diamond pattern at
least on her tail, with long poisonous fangs and a triangular head, making her most likely a very
large eastern green mamba. the only problem with this theory is that they are only found in
africa and voldemort is thought to have acquired her while hiding in albania. indeed, most fans
speculate that nagini was the last animal he possessed before wormtail helped him make the
rudimentary body he has during goblet of fire. it’s possible that jk rowling made up the breed or
that nagini has been altered by magic. this seems more likely since her venom is described as
preventing clotting, making it a hemotoxin. she may be a green pit viper or a common adder
that has been enlarged purposely or as a result of being possessed

if a witch or wizard has a child with a muggle, are their children more likely to be muggle or
magic. it is a resilient and dominant gene, which is why muggle born witches and wizards are so
much more common then squibs.

who was the executioner who came for buckbeak?
the death eater macnair

wand lore
what is the core of the elder wand made of?
a hair from a thestral, very tricky and powerful and can be mastered only by someone willing to
face death (hence part of voldemort's problems with it)

what type of owl is pigwidgeon?

what is molly weasley's maiden name?
Prewett. she lost several close relatives to death eaters

what is fred and george's birthday?
april fool's day

crookshanks is unusually intelligent because he's only half cat. what is he cross-bred with?
a kneazle

wand lore
what wood is hagrid's wand made of?
oak, which does not match his celtic tree month of birth but suits his personality better

what event made ron afraid of spiders?
fred turning his teddy bear into a large spider when he was three

what did dumbledore teach before he was headmaster?

how is a basalisk born?
from a chicken egg, hatched under a toad

which came first, the phoenix or the fire?
a circle has no beginning or ending

who sent the howler to Petunia and what did it say?
dumbledore. “remember my last, petunia!” reminding her that by taking in harry, she had agreed
to a binding magical contract of protection

when ron leaves harry and hermione during the search for horcruxes, where does he spend
shell cottage with Bill and Fleur

how were the death eaters able to track harry, hermione, and ron to the cafe after they left the
hermione says “voldemort”, which has been tabooed and makes people traceable as well as
breaking protective enchantments

why and when does a bezoar make more sense then a properly made antidote?
antidotes take time to make, particularly if several poisons were used. if someone were already
poisoned you wouldn’t have time to brew one. on the other hand bezoars are not very common
so it would be a good idea to have one with you in any situation where you might be poisoned. if
you knew what poisons were likely to be used you could make the antidote ahead of time. alas,
bezoars do not work on everything

what is harry’s birthday?
july 31st

what year did dumbledore defeat grindelwald?
1945, his rein of terror coincided with the second world war

where is the malfoy’s secret chamber hidden?
under the drawing room floor, through a trapdoor

what is dumbledore’s boggart?
the corpse of his sister ariana

which bank vault in gringotts contained the philosopher’s stone?
713, which belongs to dumbledore.

what is the age requirement for an apparition license?

wand lore
what wood is voldemort’s first wand made of?
yew, which represents death and resurrection and is often considered an unlucky tree

what is the password to ravenclaw tower?
there isn’t one. you have to answer a question correctly or wait for someone else to come along
who can answer the question you couldn’t

ginny dates 3 boys that we know of, who are they?
dean thomas, micheal corner, and harry potter

what does the spell “colloportus” do?
seals a door, hermione uses it in the department of mysteries after a door melts harry’s knife

why does ginny break up with micheal corner?
he was a bad loser after griffendor beat ravenclaw at quidditch

what is ginny’s pygmy puff named?

who won the world cup?
ireland, even though krum caught the snitch for bulgaria. the Weasley twins had bet all their
savings on this outcome but bagman paid them in leprechaun gold, which vanished after a few
hours. they needed the money to start their joke shop so they tried to blackmail him into paying
up but it didn’t work. after the horrors of the last task in the triwizard tournament, harry didn’t want his prize money so he gave it to the twins as start-up funds.

who cursed off george’s ear?
snape, with a sectumsempra curse during the battle of the 7 potters, but he was aiming at
another death eater’s hand

where does Hermione take them when they flee from the wedding?
tottenham court road where she used to go to the movies with her parents

why does the bloody baron wear chains?
to symbolize his repentance for killing helena ravenclaw in anger, the woman he loved who
spurned his advances. he killed himself when he saw what he’d done

who became minister for magic after voldemort’s death?
kingsley shacklebolt

who kills bellatrix lestrange?
molly weasley, and it’s EPIC

where is the snake in the zoo from?
bred in captivity in the UK, in the book he’s going to Brazil, in the movie he’s Burmese

who killed sirius black?
his cousin, bellatrix lestrange

before he was freed, what did dobby wear?
a dirty pillowcase. house elves who are happy tend to care for their garments, like the hogwarts
elves and their tea towels, which were always perfectly clean. those who are unhappy, such as
kreatcher are often found wearing filthy rags.

who was percy’s girlfriend?
penelope clearwater, a prefect from ravenclaw

what was lily evans’ patronus?
a doe, just like snape’s because he was in love with her but was stuck in the friend zone and
then became a death eater, earning her enmity. he loved her anyways and turned spy for her

what was the horcrux that voldemort made by accident?
harry himself. voldemort split his unstable soul by killing lily and james so when his curse
rebounded part of him latched onto the only living thing in that house. this is why harry is a
parselmouth and can see into voldemort’s thoughts

who destroys helga hufflepuff’s cup?
hermione, in the chamber of secrets with a basalisk fang.

what is the spell to make water pour out of your wand?

what is the spell to hoist someone upside down by their ankle? and it’s counterspell?
leviticorpus, and libericorpus, both nonverbal. invented by snape while he was in school and
went by the name ‘the half blood prince’

who wrote ‘a history of magic’?
bathilda bagshot, noted magical historian, friend of the dumbledores and the potters, resident of
goddric’s hallow

when does harry meet alister moody?
june of his 4th year at hogwarts, at the bottom of his own enchanted trunk. the professor he met
at the beginning of that year was barty crouch jr disguised as madeye with polyjuice potion

who killed barty crouch sr?
his son, barty crouch jr, disguised as madeye moody. he transfigured his father’s body into a
bone and buried him in a patch of loose dirt close to hagrid’s cabin.

who is hermes?
percy’s owl that he got as a reward for becoming a prefect

who was the secret keeper for the potter’s fidelius charm?
peter pettigrew. they were going to use sirius but switched at the last min since they thought he
would be too obvious of a choice and weren’t sure who was voldemort’s spy. unfortunately peter
was the spy and betrayed them.

what did sirius tell harry, ron and hermione to call him while he was in hiding?

who tells voldemort that harry is dead?
narcissa malfoy. she doesn’t care about winning anymore, she just wants to be able to rescue
her son so she lies and says he’s dead when she knows he isn’t. she knows she’ll only be
allowed to enter the castle as part of a victorious army.

who gave pigwidgeon to ron?
sirius. “because it’s my fault he no longer has a rat”

what happened to the rest of the time turners?
dumbledore’s army smashed them during the fight in the department of mysteries.

name at least 3 magical creatures that live in the forbidden forest
acromantula, unicorns, bowtruckles, mr weasley’s car, thestrals, centars, rumor has it
werewolves (but that might have just been lupin)

how was harry’s nimbus 2000 destroyed?
it blew into the whomping willow after harry fell off his broom

who does dobby rescue from the malfoys cellar?
harry, ron, hermione, luna, griphook, olivander, and in the book, dean. he dies in the process but
gets them all to shell cottage

who else was petrified at the same time as hermione?
penelope clearwater, percy’s girlfriend. this shakes him since he didn’t think anyone would dare
attack the prefects.

what colour are unicorn foals?
gold, and they do not have horns yet. they are also not as biased against men when they’re

which ghost is very important in the books but never appears in the movies?
peeves. which is a shame since he would have been lots of fun!

how many secret exits are there from hogwarts?
seven. 4 filch knows about, one is caved in, one is under the whomping willow, and one is
through the one-eyed witch’s hump

what are crabbe and goyle’s first names?
vincent and gregory

extras just for fun

the potion puzzle:
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, which ever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting bidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine's left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

nearly headless nick's beheading song:
it was a mistake any wizard could make
who was tired and caught on the hop
one piffling error, and then, to my terror,
i found myself facing the chop.
alas for the eve when i met lady grieve
a-strolling the park in the dusk!
she was of the belief i could straighten her teeth
next moment she'd sprouted a tusk.
i cried through the night that i'd soon put her right
but the process of justice was lax;
they'd brought out the block, though they'd mislaid the rock
where they usually sharpened the axe.
next morning at dawn, with a face most forlorn,
the priest said try not to cry,
"you can come just like that, no, you won't need a hat,"
and i knew that my end must be nigh.
the man in the mask who would have the sad task
of cleaving my head from my neck,
said "nick, if you please, will you get to your knees,"
and i turned to a gibbering wreck.
"this may sting a bit" said the cack-handed twit
as he swung the axe up in the air,
but oh the blunt blade! no difference it made,
my head was still definitely there.
the axeman he hacked and he whacked and he thwacked,
"won't be too long," he assured me,
but quick it was not, and the bone-headed clot
took forty-five goes 'til he floored me.
and so i was dead, but my faithful old head
it never saw fit to desert me,
it still lingers on, that's the end of my song,
and now, please applaud, or you'll hurt me.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

harry potter food

gotta have food! i knew there would be lots of sugar and booze about so i wanted to make sure there was real food as well, just to keep people from vomiting. we were going to start with full english brunch but the first day no one could come until the evening and the second day it was just me and sarah for the first few hours but we did make ourselves a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, hashbrowns, sausages, and fruit. now you guys know what you missed out on by not coming earlier :P

the first day dinner was cockaleekie soup with barley instead of rice (to ensure it didn't get too soggy), kept warm in the crock pot, with yorkshire puddings of course. this didn't go over as well as i'd expected. maybe because everyone was scared of the name and maybe because soup is crappy party food.

the yorkie puddings went down a treat though. wish i'd made a double batch.

the other day's dinner was cornish meat pies (made ahead and frozen raw). which i just sorta throw together so i have no real measurements i'm afraid. i have this great pie crust recipe that you can't screw up without trying really hard. the filling would have been veggie steak strips but i couldn't find them anywhere and had to use ground "beef" instead. i think i just sautéed some onions and mushrooms, in butter, added flour to make a roux, added broth to make a sauce (not too soupy now!), stirred in the veggie meat and some ketchup, Worcestershire, and dijon for flavor. add some dill and garlic, salt and pepper. taste and adjust as you see fit. let cool and add some cubed cheddar. roll out the pastry to 1/4"-1/8", cut into 4" rounds (i used a small plate as a template), put a few spoonfuls on one side, wet the whole edge and fold over. press well to seal. if you want them to look all authentic, stand them up with the seam running along the top. try not to overfill of they'll explode. i think i baked at about 375 until they were brown, maybe 25 min? you're just trying to cook the crust so no stress.

i also made these fun little parchment scrolls filled with spinach and feta, tied with green onion with tatziki to dip (so adorable! this pic isn't mine but kinda resembles them, add a green onion tied around) really though, make these. just make my spanikopita recipe in a different shape. i cut my phyllo sheets into 3, lengthwise and rolled double layers. i also pre-cooked my filling but i don't think that was a good idea. they would have held together better if i hadn't and probably been less dry but they were gobbled up anyways.

mini pumpkin pasties (made ahead and frozen raw) were done with the same amazing pie crust. you have to pre-bake the filling so it will hold it's shape when you're filling your little circles of dough. obviously they cook for mush less time than a normal pie or tart.

the candy/snacks included liquorice wands with white chocolate/sprinkles handles (melt chocolate, dip liquorice, roll in sprinkles, lay on wax paper), chocolate frogs (melt chocolate, pour into molds), peppermint toads (melt white chocolate, add a bit of peppermint extract, pour into molds), fizzing wizzbies (fizzy center candies), and every flavour beans in mini cauldrons, and chips and popcorn in big candy bowl cauldrons. the frog mold was the only thing i had to specially order and it took FOREVER to arrive so be sure to order it well in advance.

i had tons of fun collecting interesting bottles for this. most of them came from dollar stores and michael's but a few were reused wine and other liquor bottles. i was expecting to have to add food colouring to more things but the majority was already an interesting blend of colours. i gave everything fun names from the books and made sure it was possible to make a few popular drinks like broken down golf carts and tequila sunrises, blue mondays, rum and cokes, whathaveyou. amusing bits included grated cucumber (gillyweed) to go into mojitos, whole nutmeg (bezoars) to be grated into butterbeer, and poprocks to make your drink crackle and fizz. fun with layering and mystery drinks ensued until ilet out the secret that the real names were printed on the backs of the fun labels so you could read them through the glass from the back

butterbeer went quite well. i used my usual hard cider, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in the fermentation stage, than warmed up and added butterscotch. we kept it simmering on the stove (and burned one batch, oops!) and ladled out, topping with whip cream and a cinnamon stick. the milk content from the butterscotch does curdle, unfortunately. next time i might use butter ripple schnapps to flavor it instead.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

harry potter props and decorations

harry potter party props and decorations
quite late with these but yule, etc took over my life. these are some of the projects i put together for the party. info on activities and food to follow. no laughing at my messy house!

platform 9 3/4
this is fairly straightforward: take a brown(or tan, or grey, whatever colour you want your "mortar") twin size sheet, tape lines horizontally for the rows, than small pieces vertically to separate individual bricks. spray paint somewhat unevenly with dark red, than add a light, uneven dusting of dark brown for texture, remove tape, tack to ceiling/walls, slit up center with sharp scissors. you could also use a sponge or rag dipped in acrylic paints swirled together on a plate and dab it on instead of spraying. the sign is just painted posterboard safety pinned to the sheet

house banners
these are just simple painted posterboard but they're good for big impact

post owls
i made a little stuffy errol and pigwidgeon out of spare yarn i had kicking around, a couple of googly eyes, and some scrap felt. instructions can be found here but you don't have to be terribly exact. fair warning, cutting the pom poms makes a mess no matter how careful you are so be prepared to get fluff everywhere.

nimbus 2000
this one was really easy. i got a nice witch's broom from value village (although the handle could have been longer) and covered the wires that bound the tail twigs with wide ribbon, glued in place. i couldn't find nice gold ribbon, the closest i could get was yellow so i painted it with acrylic. i also painted "nimbus 2000" on the handle.

sorting hat
this turned out beautiful but really small! sorry about the pic. they all turned out either too light or too dark to see the shading properly for some reason. if i make another one i'll have to start with a really big hat since the process shrinks the inside and i forgot to try this hat on before starting >.< i took safety pins and bunched the front of the hat together to form eyebrows and a mouth, pinning in place on the inside as i went. it didn't look much like a face at that point. my hat started out all patchy already but very light brown so i spray painted it dark brown, purposely uneven. that stiffened the whole thing nicely but it still only sorta looked like a face so i took acrylics to it and painted the hollows of the eyes and mouth black and highlighted the lips, eyebrows and nose in a slightly lighter brown. now he looks like a cranky old man :) when people were sorted they were given a house badge made of painted posterboard with a pin glued to the back

monster book of monsters
this was fun and easy. i just cut out the shape from scrap fun fur i had around and glued it to a dollar store notebook along with some googly eyes and halloween monster teeth. instructions found here but i did a bit different shape and left off the lettering since i thought it was quite cute without. i printed out the trivia game and glued it into the book, along with fun little things like nearly headless nick's beheading song. the person who did best in the trivia game each day recieved a prize of a 'weasley is our king' badge made of crayola air-dry clay:

these turned out beautiful if i do say so myself! i followed these instructions but i used a bamboo skewer as a core for stability and wrapped the whole thing in masking tape to shape/stabilize before painting. the hot glue takes a bit of practice. the key is to be confident and smooth. you can create really neat textures once you get used to playing with the melty plastic. the metallic accents on the raised parts are much easier to do with your finger. the 'dilute the paint and wipe off to antique' thing doesn't work at all. just work in layers and mix your colours, blending on the wand.

dragon eggs
i forgot to get a pic of mine before we tore them apart, sorry! these were made by covering inflated (not water filled) water balloons in paper mache done with layers of tissue paper to make them easy to tear apart. i added a bit of white glue and black paint to my simple flour/water paste for texture and colour. one of them was painted gold and we had a little dragon statue standing guard over the nest in a cauldron. the eggs were filled with candy, confetti, and toys as party favours. these have to be made a few days before the party since they're fragile and likely to get damaged if done too early. when letting the air out of your balloon, poke a little hole close to the knot to let them deflate slowly. if you just pop them you sometimes damage the delicate shell. widen the hole just enough to stuff and then cover carefully with more paper mache. it helps to insert a little loops of string or fishing line as a handle to start the ripping open process (unless you're like my friend sophie who squealed and smashed it on the wall immediately, i love you sophie!). i found when drying them, it's easiest to get a box, lay it on it's side, and poke holes in the top so you can hand your eggs in a protected space and have a drip-catcher all in one. be sure to tie string to your balloons before starting with the paste.

radish earrings
i had the clay out anyway so i couldn't resist making these. i just made quick eye head pins with scrap wire, than bent the tails of them into zig-zags to hold the clay better. i molded upside down tear drops over the pins, leaving the ring in the top free, attached two leaves to the top of each, let dry, and painted with acrylic. i just attached claw clasps to these to clip to my usual earrings but you could just as easily mold the wire into a hook to begin with or attach with a jump ring to a stud. i just have a metal allergy so i have to wear special earrings

paper bats and LED candles
these bats are just cut out from cardstock. i have about a hundred. they're part of our usual fall/halloween decor. we cut these out by hand and then strung them with fishing line and tacked to the ceiling. fair warning, it takes FOREVER. if you had one of those nifty expensive crafter cutting machines like the silhouette i'm sure it would be much less annoying. good part is that they store flat for reuse with much less hassle the next year. we have them in a trail from platform 9 3/4, snaking through the house and out the balcony door. i actually only put up about 65 since i was very tired of stapling things above my head while balanced on a chair. put up a single line of bats every few feet to start with to get the basic line you want, than fill in. it looks more realistic if your fishing lines are all different lengths and you have a few different shapes of bat. they look really cool when they flutter in the breeze/air currents. kinda like they're a real cloud of bats that were petrified as they went out to hunt for the night.the LED candles i picked up from the dollar store for a buck each and drilled little holes for the fishing line in the plastic holders

golden snitch
this is just a ping pong ball i painted gold and made little wings for out of wire and aluminum foil. after i finished it, it occurred to me i could have used real feathers painted silver. oh well.

chamber of secrets warning
this was just written in dry erase marker, cuz it's fun. and a clue to look for the entrance:

this was just a simple little clay sculpture with a magnet backing. just seeing if people are paying attention. the first person to find it got a potter stinks badge, also made of clay see pic with weasley is our king badges)

while we're having fun with dry erase markers, i also couldn't resist doing this:

which actually turned out to be one of the most popular of the decorations. funny considering i just threw it in last min.

pygmy puffs
i got the idea for these from making the owls, they're just a big pom pom with googly eyes and long felt tongues. the yarn was from the dollar store

dumbledore’s army sign up sheet
i aged a piece of paper by soaking in strong tea and rubbing with some coffee grounds. blotted dry with paper towel and rolled up while it was still damp. i had a nice dip pen and ink around anyway so i just looked up the list of DA members and wrote them out, leaving space for guests to sign up as well. if i had more time i might have made a common room bulletin board with quidditch practice schedules, weasley's wizard wheezes ads, and offers to trade chocolate frog cards

overall we had a lot of fun. i don't think anyone else was as hardcore of a geek as me and didn't get all the details and references but oh well. now on to the food and activities!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

epic party plans in the works

i plan parties on a fairly regular basis. holidays are usually held at our place which means that i decorate and cook and organize stuff every few months. my birthday is usually low-key. we go out for dinner and then have drinks at our place. some years are rowdier than others. this year i was bored with that. also, this year the last harry potter movie comes out on dvd just in time and we've been looking for an excuse to do a movie marathon. i was initially thinking we'd watch all the movies and make some british food. easy, right? then i looked it up and discovered that even the non-extended movies add up to over 20 hours. ok, so we'll do it over 2 days and people can drop in and out as they like. then i made the mistake of looking up harry potter parties. oh dear. enter the mad crafter/chef/geek. i've been quickly carried away with all kinds of ideas for decorations and food and activities and... yeeeaahhh. i'm having a little too much fun geeking out. it's a good distraction from the stress of house hunting and such. i'm just hoping none of my projects get broken/lost in the move at the end of the month. the party's in november. most of the ideas i found catered to kids so i've adapted them to be more fun. so far we have handmade stuffy owls, a monster book of monsters, several wands, a trivia game with almost 100 really hard questions, a nimbus 2000, and several other half done props. i've got all kinds of food and a few activities planned. i'll do a bigger post as we go with photos and links and recipes and such. there's going to be butterbeer based on my homebrewed cider, a potions table filled with booze, a sorting ceremony, i hope you guys like geeking out :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

7 things every vegetarian should know how to cook

i've come across several lists recently of "10 things everyone should know how to make". while i agree with the concept here, that everyone should have basic cooking skills, i think these lists only apply to meat eaters (i'm not ashamed that i can't make steak or roast a chicken). when i google "things every vegetarian should know how to make", i get nothing of any use. since i haven't eaten meat in 15 years and i cook, any new vegetarians i know ask me for recipes or where to start. obviously you need to make friends with your local green grocer and start adding veggies to everything. you also need staples and basic skills. here's my own list, with reasoning and recipes scattered throughout:
whole grains
from rice to quinoa to barley to amaranth, these are an important staple of any diet but most especially a vegetarian one. they're available in bulk for dirt cheep and are all made by combining with water in various ratios, bringing to a boil, and simmering until they soften. as silly as it sounds, considering all the other things i can make, i still struggle with basic rice when it's not added raw to a soup or filling. i still keep it in the house and try again every few times we need it. the rest of the time my roommate has to make it, while teasing me mercilessly. i have some amaranth i'm going to experiment with and i have a recent love of quinoa. barley isn't just for soup, guys! it can go anywhere rice can with more nutrition and better texture! one solid tip i've learned: if you want to add lemon juice or any other acid to grains, do so AFTER cooking unless you want the whole thing to turn into glue. that's how they make sushi rice stick together so be sure that's what you're going for.
beans and legumes
again, available in bulk for cheep, and they'll keep more or less forever. in general you want to soak them overnight and then rinse, boil for an hour or until tender, then rinse again. the rinsing and soaking help make them less, ahem, windy. they're so terribly healthy you really should be able to make them into at least one dish you really like. make a big batch and use them all week just like you would for canned. i think the home cooked ones taste much better then canned. i make garbanzos into mock-tuna salad and hummus. black beans do wonderfully in mexican and baja dishes and you can sprout them or grow micro-greens or whole plants and have fresh beans! you can apparently also take cooked soy beans, blend with water, strain to make soy milk, and turn that soy milk into tofu (kinda like making cheese) if you so desire. i may try this sometime just to prove that i can and see if it's really any better then store bought. you can thank me when the zombies come :P
which brings us to tofu
which is NOT to be used as a meat substitute unto itself other then in very rare cases because on it's own it tastes like a wet sponge. this is the controversial ingredient that gives vegetarians a bad name. it's honestly not as good a protein source as people think, but you also need less protein then people think. it does do well in stir fries and the desert stuff isn't bad as a snack (kinda like a pudding or custard) or in fruit smoothies. we don't eat a lot of it around here but if you don't eat meat you're kinda required to have an opinion on it and be able to make it edible.
meat substitutes
are way more versatile and tasty then tofu and they're much higher in protein! they are more expensive as well, but not more then meat. we've come a long way even in the last 5 years from the crappy veggie burgers and tofu dogs which used to be the only things in this section. go have a look in the produce section, by the bagged salad and expensive dressings. there's a whole world of interesting new things. some are fantastic and some are awful but it really is worth experimenting. in BC, Yves is the biggest and best brand but there's a few others that are rising stars. i'm fond of the fake chicken and steak pieces and the "ground round" is really versatile and freezes well. the deli slices usually resemble the texture of bologna or pepperoni so don't expect anything like your thin shaved black forest ham from the good deli. also don't expect anything in this category to taste exactly like meat. you will be disappointed. it is it's own thing and should be treated like an exotic food you've never tried rather then a copy of something you know well. that being said, a lot of these do well pressed into service in lasagna, casseroles, stir fries, stews, pizza, etc. you do need to take into account that they will not bind together like raw meat will, so treat them like pre-cooked meat and you're golden.
speaking of pizza, bread
seems like something either totally unnecessary and extravagant to make at home, or something everyone should know how to do, depending on your perspective. i fall firmly in the second camp of thinking but i think it applies to us veg-heads even more since it's the basis for so many other wonderful things! things like burgers, pizza, calzones, and filled buns! it's 7pm and you don't want to go to the store for bread? got flour and yeast? do it yourself, you silly person! you'll have hot wonderful fresh bread to go with that soup that's taking too long to simmer and fantastic toast for the morning! freeze half your dough and have it on hand whenever you need it. learn the tricks of warm ovens for rising and instant yeast to speed up the process. look into the no-kneed types that hang out in your fridge all the time. play in the wonderful ancient world of sourdough. knock out a loaf of irish soda bread before your super fast soup is done. make gluten-free, multi-grain, high-protein, or fat-free bread for a tiny fraction of the store price! this is food at it's most elemental and basic. this is creation and transformation and one of the first uses for fire. this is a food that kickstarted civilization as we know it. it matters. every human should know how to make it. you can't call yourself a cook without it.
soup to go with that bread!
another of those really basic foods you can throw together with whatever is left in the house. got a couple of potatoes and some cream cheese? you have soup. got some frozen broccoli and a block of cheddar? you have soup. nearly every culture has some variation on this theme because it works! it will fill you up, clean out the leftovers, tide you over till payday or be the star of the show. you should have at least 3 go-to recipes in your repertoire.
seems an odd choice but i think it's important for a few reasons: it's super healthy and versatile, it's much cheaper when you make your own, and it is a great introduction to the world of probiotic foods, bacterial cultures, and biochemistry in cooking. that makes it sound scary, stay with me. take milk. heat to almost boiling. let sit till only warm, not hot. add a spoonful of yogurt. pour into now-empty yogurt tub. wrap in towel. set somewhere warm overnight. the end. i know it's scary to leave milk out overnight but i promise it's safe. take your newborn yogurt and make smoothies. or drain it to make greek yogurt. make tatziki. stir it into curry. use in place of sour cream. eat with cereal. now you have an idea of how fermented and cultured food works! go learn how to make kefir. go make booze! go learn more about how yeast works. save the last spoonful of your last batch to make your new batch.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

perfect summer dinner

difficulty rating: bottle short of a six pack
you know what's lovely on a summer night? a filling salad and a cooling grown up drink. without further ado i give you creamy greek "chicken" salad and cucumber mojitos:

1 cup kalimata olives, roughly chopped
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (use low fat if you like)
1 cup cucumber, diced (about 1/2 a long english)
1 cup yellow pepper, diced (about 1 big pepper)
1/4-1/2 cup red or white onion, finely chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped (about 2 med)
1/2 cup tatziki sauce (store bought or make your own)
1 pkg veggie chicken pieces, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups, i use superstore brand or yves. you could use real chicken i suppose but i would suggest it be precooked)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 veggie chicken broth cube
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dill
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried onion flakes
water, to cover

mix "chicken" with spices and lemon juice in a small pot, add water to cover. bring to a boil and simmer on med
in the mean time chop all your veggies and mix with tatziki in a salad bowl.
taste the "chicken, see if it has some flavor yet. if not, mix a drink and go out for a cigarette while you let it stew some more.
drain the "chicken", save the broth if you like. it may need to be watered down somewhat to be drinkable on it's own but it would be great to cook grains in or use as the start for a soup. add the "chicken" to the salad and toss well. leftovers would be good in a wrap.

make a simple syrup by stirring half a cup of sugar and half a cup of water together, bring to a boil to dissolve, then cool. it only takes about 2 min, don't be so lazy. you can make a bigger batch to keep in the cupboard if you like.
throw a few ice cubes in a glass
add a couple sprigs of fresh mint. dried or extract or any other mint flavored thing will not do, it must be fresh.
squeeze in a couple lime slices. you can cheat a bit here and use the bottled stuff if you have to. if you use fresh lime, throw the squeezed fruit into the mix.
add a few slices of cucumber. you could also use whatever fruit you have on hand.
muddle this mess with a spoon. that means kinda mash and bruise it all up to release juice, oils, and flavors
add a couple of ounces white rum
top with soda water
sweeten to taste with simple syrup.
use a straw to avoid chewing leaves and things

there! you just made a super easy, grown up meal and cocktail in about 20 min. packed full of vitamins and protein and flavor, and you can get most of it from the farmer's market this time of year. impress your friends by being all effortless iron chef. relax in the hammock with another mojito, you totally deserve it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

argh with the flies!

so this is a little off-beat from my usual fare but have you ever noticed that bugs come in waves per year? one year it might be a mosquito year, then it might be a fly year, then a spider year, or a beetle year. this has been a fruit fly year. i'm not sure what causes it, probably a combination of life cycles of bugs and plants combined with weather, but i'm not the only one playing battle of the fruit flies right now. i thought at first it was just my sub-standard housekeeping skills, which undoubtedly contribute to the problem, but lots of people with cleaner houses then mine are having the same issues. i can't set a glass of wine or cider down around here for even so long as to go pee without coming back to find 4 fruit flies swimming in it. random note: have you ever found that after fishing out several fruit flies from your drink (carefully to avoid consuming bug bits but not have to pour out your drink every 2 min) that it takes on a sickly sweet smell? concerning... anyways. we're fighting around here by trying to get rid of all dirty dishes and garbage as quickly as possible and in the mean time setting out fly strips and traps. "traps?", you say?....yes traps. if you're fighting the same battle, i advise you to create a few of these and set them up wherever you see the most flies:

it's just a container of some kind topped with a funnel made of a piece of paper and taped in place. you bait it with wine, cider, a piece of fruit, balsamic vinegar, or anything else they've been trying to steal in the bottom of the container. they fly in and are too stupid to find the exit so they drown or die of old age. i'm not usually one for murdering bugs en mass but this has truly gone too far. they are disturbing my quiet after-work drink and invading my cherished fruit and coming in clouds that are making me crazy. this means war! common sense rules still apply, keep your place as clean as possible, even if it's still messy (not the same thing) and don't leave anything out that they like. remember that they will live and breed on damp sponges and dish rags and that vinegar is just as good, if not better, than any toxic chemicals to get rid of that juice spill or counter crumbs. i never thought i'd be so looking forward to winter when they all die! fight bravely for your sanity, my friends, and stay strong! they only each live a week.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the delusion of time

we were recently talking about the silly concept of money and the value of physical objects. main conclusion: money doesn't exist. while we're on the subject of crazy things we take for granted, let me tell you a little story about the delusion of time.
once upon a time (*smirk*) humans did not keep track of hours or minutes or years. we noticed the seasons as the length of day and night changed and grew warm and cold. we worked with those seasons to gather and store what we needed. if something got done today instead of tomorrow it was no matter. when hungry, eat. when tired, sleep. you're a baby until you can walk. you're a child until you reach puberty. you're an elder when you can no longer work as hard as the rest of the tribe but have wisdom to impart instead. seems fairly sensible, doesn't it? time is relative to what you're doing and measured by the movement of the sun and the beating of your heart.
then we started noticing things like the patterns of the stars and started keeping track of years and noticing various cycles. in an effort to understand our world better, we started playing with math and star gazing and really neat theories. we figured out that each day is the same length even though there's more and less light in each depending on the time of year. we noticed the length of the cycle of the seasons and came to all kinds of fun ideas about how the universe was put together because of it. so far so good, these are all naturally occurring cycles, even if none of these are nice round numbers that would make for easy math.
now we start to diverge a bit from the rational. at some point we decided that years and moon phases were not fitting nicely together, math-wise, and we wanted to divide up years and months differently. we also decided we want to divide up the day into more then morning, afternoon, evening, and night. this is where i think we went terribly wrong.
humans have this strange and arrogant desire for control. we also have this notion that just because math makes sense to us as far as explaining things to each other (the whole point of it, btw), it must be a universal truth. because of this, we adjust either our notions of the world, or our systems, until we are sure we totally understand how everything works. if we understand and measure things we can control them, right? *smirk* and if we control them we can change them and we have, MWUAHAHA! ULTIMATE POWER!
so for a system that can make sense in our brains (although the math is...interesting), we divided the year into 12 months for some reason. this is close to the lunar cycles we used to follow, but 13 moons don't fit nicely into a year. 12 doesn't actually fit either but it's a little closer. it used to be 10 but that really made no sense. since the math doesn't work, the months are different lengths. instead of naming the months things like the cold moon and the planting moon and other such things, we named many of them arbitrarily after some dudes who used to have lots of power and various gods. once you name something after someone it must BELONG to them, right? so August(us) wants more days then Jun(ius) and Februalia gets totally shafted, etc. since it still doesn't work we have leap years which almost makes sense. i once tried to create a lunar calender but it was such a headache i have no idea how it used to work. i think it was mostly just that we used to be a little less control freakish and didn't try to reconcile the phases of the moon with the seasons of the year. the sun and moon are two separate entities with separate cycles of their own. why should the math relate to each other from where we stand on earth? i'd actually like to see a round calender with an outer ring for the moon name, then one inside for moon phase, then one for seasons closest to the center. each ring would turn independently...anyways
a bit of math that mostly makes sense is that 365 almost divides evenly into 7, so we have weeks. 4 weeks is almost a lunar cycle but doesn't relate mathematically to months which is why weeks start and stop more or less independently from them. perhaps they were doing this math before we came up with the decimal?
now that we have a silly little system to divide up the year, we feel the need to have more precise control of the day. "i'll meet you at mid-day at the oak tree" is terribly inefficient, you see. in an era before clocks, you had to get good at looking at the sun to determine what point in the day it was. if it's THAT big a deal to wait for someone or something for a little while then we have to track better and have a system we can all relate to. a day is a rotation of the earth. it's a fixed natural amount. we arbitrarily decided that we would divide the day into 24 units (yay for more strange math). enter sun dials. they're easy for people to understand and reasonably precise. at some point we then decided we needed much more control then that. if it makes any sense to divide a day into 24 hours, it must make the same kind of sense to divide an hour in 60 min and a min into 60 seconds. kinda reminds me of the craziness of imperial vs metric measurements.
besides being rather dumb math, the big problem with dividing this much, and making it such a part of our lives, is that we've become slaves to it. yes, it's useful for various science and explaining things to other people, but otherwise how important is it, really? if you have to wait for a friend who's ten min late, is it the end of the world? if you were ten min late to a job interview it would be considered a huge deal. in theory you're being disrespectful by making someone wait. in practice, we're really all being disrespectful to each-other by insisting that not only should every clock in the world be perfectly synchronized, but we should each be perfect at keeping to every bit of a schedule, with no room for real life to interfere.
when was the last time you watched the clock while making love? while sitting on the beach? while dancing to your favorite song? time that keeps close track holds us to an impossible standard. it sucks the joy out of life. it leaves us no room to breathe and remember that we are alive. do you hold your pets to this kind of standard? your garden? your infant? why are we so harsh to each-other?
once upon a time we woke up at dawn, regardless of what a clock would have said. we went to bed when we were tired. we ate when we were hungry. we planted when the ground thawed, we harvested when plants were full grown. we hunted when animals were plentiful or culled the herd when we needed meat for the winter more then we needed to feed all our animals during the cold months. we slept more in the winter because that is the time for renewal. you baked the bread until you could tell it was done. time should be measured by what is done in it.
keeping close track of time has given us many insights and allowed us to share a lot of knowledge with one another. it has also caused us an awful lot of harm. use it when it is needed, but for gods' sake cut each-other some slack! hours and minutes are a human-constructed notion. the important things are those you cannot measure. the times that stand still or rush by. this is where our souls live. this is relativity.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

savory french tarts

difficulty rating: rolling in her grave
this is my new favorite throw-together dinner for the summer. it lends itself to whatever you have on hand and fairly bursts with rich flavor.

decide on a crust-i like puff pastry but i've also used several layers of philo, pre-bought or homemade pie crusts, whatever you've got around that resembles pastry. depending on what it is and if you think it'll go soggy you may want to blind bake it for a few min before adding toppings. sometimes i do this in a pie plate and sometimes just on a cookie sheet depending on how many toppings i'm trying to corral.

layer on some fresh veggies-i like good ripe tomatoes and fresh spinach but i've also used peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, use whatever you've got that is colourful and tastes great. if you had cooked meats on hand you could add prosciutto or crumbled sausage or something.

be heavy handed with the aromatics-raid the herb garden and throw on a good handful of whatever you have on hand. dill, basil, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, or all of the above. fresh is better then dried by a long shot. i don't usually use garlic but i see no reason why you couldn't. roasted would be especially nice. a good grinding of black pepper is nice too.

find some cheese-good strong stuff like chevre or good parmesan or blue, you don't need a ton so use up that little chunk of good stuff left over from your last party. i sometimes add a bit of mozza or other mild cheese as well if i have any.

if it looks really dry and falling apart i sometimes pour a beaten egg over the whole thing to hold it together

layer it all in your crust in whatever order you think is pretty and bake at around 350-375 for some 25 min or until your crust is cooked and your cheese is melted

serve with wine and salad or soup. now you know how to cook like a french peasant!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

on strong women

we all know i'm a fairly hardcore feminist. most people who know me would also describe me as a very strong personality. sometimes that's meant as a compliment, sometimes as an insult. our society tends to look down on strength as much as we used to revere it, and far moreso for women then men. when you say the word strength people tend to conjure images of muscles and emotional coldness. they also tend to think of men and not women. somewhere along the way we seem to have forgotten that the genders truly are equal, even as we are different. some of this is evolutionary and biological (women have a higher pain threshold because we have to deal with childbirth) and some of it is cultural (men are often expected for provide the incomes for their families). as we move more into equal rights truly being the norm, we're starting to reclaim the strengths of women that were once accepted, if never celebrated, that have been pushed to the background or frowned upon for the last few hundred years. so what does it mean to be a strong woman? being a child of the computer age, i turned to google for answers and inspiration and you know what i found? disappointment. google shows you the most popular responses. when you're swimming against the stream it often makes you really mad (try googling "courage to heal", the most groundbreaking book on healing from childhood sexual abuse in our lifetimes. nothing but abuse of the authors who have helped so many).
i never had strong female role models as a child but a few things did get set into my mind: just because something is traditionally done by males is no reason females shouldn't do it too; men aren't any better then women, just different; and if i wanted to be happy with who i am i would have to reinvent myself from the ground up. some of this was taught by positive example (my grandmother was one of the first female doctors in canada) and some by negative example (i sure as hell don't want to be like my mother so what shall i be instead?). skip forward a decade or two of struggle and change and personal evolution and we come to me: still very much a work in progress but someone who could never be called weak. interestingly, all of the things that i think define strong women are also the things that get me into trouble the most, how about you?:
intelligence-whether book smarts, intuition, street smarts, or physical intelligence, you'll never find a strong woman who doesn't have a deep cache of wisdom of some type.
passion-having the emotional drive to pursue your interests with enthusiasm is a very rare trait, to the extent that it tends to scare the hell out of people who lack it. nothing of any value was ever achieved without it. it's also the driving force behind loyalty.
honesty-it's often a lot harder then lying, it's also a large part of what makes someone an honorable person.
originality-anyone can go along with the crowd. it's important to know when the crowd is not where you want to be and do something completely different no matter the consequences.
endurance-this applies more to women then men because it's one of our differences. "the courage of women is different then men, deeper and more enduring." accepting the changes in a tribe, in a community, in the attitudes of acceptable behavior, and surviving anyways; a 48 hour long labor followed by a child who will be attached to your skirts for at least 5 or 6 years nonstop; cooking and cleaning for many more people then yourself; the physical demands of our moon cycles; being the moral and emotional center of a family and leading joy by example. these things train endurance into us from a very young age and most men would be completely overwhelmed by them, just as a woman with no training would be completely overwhelmed on a battlefield or a hunting ground.
morality-it's one thing to know that it's bad to steal from your neighbor and kill for reasons other then sustenance. it's a different thing to make the judgment calls when the lines are gray and fuzzy, or when there are no good options at all. sometimes this is the big decisions like triage at a disaster site, sometimes it's the little decisions that keep the household running smoothly and everyone in it healthy and happy. it's how you spend your time, it's what you accept happening around you, it's your self discipline.
competence-look at the strong women around you. everything they do, they do it well, don't they? when they screw something up, they look to learn from the mistake. they're not afraid to try something new because they know they can practice enough to get good at it. they have a careless grace that is rooted in mastery.
i'll tell you an open secret: all grace is rooted in strength. all strength is paid for in pain. physical or emotional, we are tempered by experience. often those lessons are brutal. they make us who we are. the trick is to accept it, to let go. to be in and of the experience and allow it to forge and change your spirit. which brings us to the one we feminists don't like to acknowledge and society likes to believe is the only female virtue:
surrender and tenderness-you cannot be strong without also knowing the ways in which you are weak, and accepting them. you cannot be the master of yourself if you're afraid to be vulnerable with another person. strength is just as much about letting people in and being close and soft and gentle as it is about drawing a hard line and being passionate and smart. this is a spiritual mystery because it must be experienced to be understood. it's the feeling of getting lost in the eyes of the person you love most in the world. it's a mothers fierce protection for her child, and the connection she feels while breastfeeding for the first time. just as strength is paid for in pain, passion and aggression at their most intense, are fed by the tenderness we feel for the things we hold closest to our hearts, and our insistence that they never be taken away.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

newspaper nails

difficulty level: cut and paste
i don't often bother to do crazy nail art but the literary snob in me couldn't resist this. it's actually a lot easier to do then i thought it would be. impress your friends with your superior skills! boys could certainly get away with this too, you don't have to be limited to black you know. i painted my nails a flat white last night. any light colour works. this is crappy dollar store nail polish that was rather goopy and didn't want to go on evenly. it looked a lot like white-out actually but it turns out that this totally camouflages any streakiness. resist the urge to use actual white-out. it isn't good for you and probably wont work the same way. i wanted to make sure it was really dry before i started the second part of this so i gave it a good 8 or 10 hours. that probably wasn't necessary but i wanted to go to bed anyway.
get some rubbing alcohol or vodka or something with an alcohol content of 40% or higher. pour an ounce or so into a little cup of some kind. cut out little pieces of newspaper (or nice prints and pictures you find in ads. or comics! totally doing that next time) about an inch square or slightly bigger then your nails.

dip a nail in the alcohol for about 30 seconds to soften it slightly. try not to touch the edges of the cup.

press a piece of newspaper down hard onto the nail and hold it there for 30 seconds. don't move it around once it's pressed down and try to keep the pressure even so you don't end up with lighter and darker bits. don't hold down for too long or the paper will stick and leave fibers on your nail. doing this against a table is easiest. using two fingers to press down results in unevenness. it's kinda like when you played with silly putty as a kid.

peel off the paper gently and admire your work! it will be on your skin as well but that washes off easily. let it dry for a few min. repeat for the rest of your fingers. doing just one in a full colour comic and the rest in newsprint would be fun.

put on a thick-ish layer of clear coat. thick-ish because that way the brush wont streak the printing as much.

tah dah! looks kinda punk doesn't it? would look a little more girly if my nails were as long as usual but they were all ratty so i cut them off last night. now i wonder what other silly things i can do to my nails that doesn't require hours of breathing fumes and fidgeting with toothpicks...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

cheesy pull apart herb bread

this was tonight's tasty creation, made from whatever i had on hand, to be breakfast tomorrow. i'm kind of amazed i had all of this since tomorrow's payday and i haven't grocery shopped in two weeks. this is put together much like a cinnamon pull-apart bread i made a while back that was AMAZING. you roll out the dough, spread on the filling of your choice (much like making sticky buns) and then cut it into squares, stack them up, place vertically in a loaf pan and when it's done you'll have pre-sliced bread already spread with tasty stuff! you do have to have some kind of fat in the filling to keep the pieces separated but that's pretty easy to do. you can see here i'm mostly relying on the whole-fat cheese. i added the mayo mainly to make it more spreadable. i possibly could have used milk to keep the fat content down but i didn't think of it. this is a treat snack, not a healthy one. you could use whatever cheeses and herbs you have on hand. would work nicely with some minced olives, roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes or spinach in the filling. you can also go the sweet direction and use fruit and brown sugar and butter (remove the garlic powder or i'll laugh at you a lot for not having enough sense to be allowed in a kitchen)

3/4 cup sourdough starter (or more warm water, i was just trying to use up the starter instead of throwing half out when i fed it)
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 Tbs instant yeast (could have upped to 3/4 Tbs)
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs oil or butter
2 cups flour

1 cup shredded cheese (i used half low-fat cheddar, half coriander gouda but whatever)
3 Tbs half-fat mayo
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (i used rosemary, thyme, dill, sage, oregano, and basil since that's what's available in the garden right now)
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1/3 cup cream cheese (i used mostly light plain and a bit of tomato-basil that was left over)
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes

mix the starter, water, yeast, and sugar. let sit for a few min to get all bubbly
add the salt, garlic, and oil, stir briefly, then mix in flour. i suggest starting with 1 1/2 cups and adding more as needed to make a soft dough that's not too sticky. warning: making it too dry when you used sourdough starter makes it take AGES to rise
while it's rising mix all ingredients for filling and adjust to taste, you may need to warm for 30 seconds in the microwave.
let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, then stretch/roll out on a floured counter to about 1/8-1/4" thick. mine ended up being about 18" square, give or take.
spread the filling evenly on the dough, then cut into little 2-3" squares. they don't have to be perfect.
grease your loaf pan, then create little stacks of squares. i usually do about 4. hold the pan at an angle so you can put in the stacks without them falling over too much
let rise in a warm place again until doubled in size, then bake at 350 for about 25-30 min or until golden brown.
mine actually took overnight to rise but i think that's because the yeast i added was fighting with the yeast in my sourdough starter and both were inhibited by the fat in the filling. next time i may skip the starter or skip the yeast and plan better but this was still herby cheesy flavorful goodness!