A New Nest, With Egg!

Long time no see, huh? Let’s try this blogging thing again and see if I manage to stick with it. I didn’t seem to have much to say when I was living by myself, but now, not only is my husband here, but we’re in a new apartment AND there’s a baby on the way! Almost five years exactly since we started trying, with some obvious breaks, we are very, very excited to meet Baby Hoho (like the monkey from Kai Lan, guys, not the defunct snack cake) at the end of May.

And so, hello. Again. Forthcoming are probably rambling thoughts on pregnancy, reviews of various stuff, recipes, and whatever springs to mind. I will probably talk quite a lot about pregnancy and babies; just fair warning. I am having a hard time even thinking about all that TTC and such, although I’ll post a bit about it, I expect.

Five-Minute Fondue

No, seriously. Having worked at a certain fondue restaurant for a number of years, I could probably now make fondue in my sleep. But it doesn’t really take all that much practice, and — here’s the thing — it’sĀ faster to make than Velveeta dip. You do not need a special pot. You don’t even need a double boiler. Since I made “Mexican” fondue tonight, that’s what we’ll go for first; look further down for other variations.

“Mexican” Fondue

  • 1/4 cup beer, cheap is fine, room temperature and preferably a little flat
  • 1/4 cup salsa, from a jar? Fine.
  • 1T minced garlic
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese* — about two cups, maybe more, maybe less
  • Flour
  • Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cilantro (all optional)

*Note: At least at my grocery store, pre-shredded cheese costs the same per ounce as a block. I find this handy for omelets, nachos, and last-minute fondue.

Put the shredded cheese in a bowl and toss with a tiny bit of flour. You just want a light coating on the cheese.

Meanwhile, put the beer, salsa and garlic into a nonstick skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir and bring to a simmer. Once you’ve got reasonable bubbles going, add a tongful of cheese — about a meatball’s worth. Stir! After that melts, add a little more cheese. Keep going, a half cup or so of cheese at a time, stirring all the while, until you have achieved your desired thickness. As long as you keep stirring you shouldn’t have problems with burning. This doesn’t take very long. If you want, you can do this all in a double boiler, but it takes longer; same with a microwave.

 

Once the cheese is melted, keep stirring and cooking for another minute or so, just to cook the flour taste out. Take it off the heat and add worcestershire (a dash), hot sauce (same), cilantro, or whatever you please. Stick it in a bowl and eat.

That was fast, right? So, now that you’ve got that down, you can also try:

Swiss Fondue

  • 1/4-1/2c white wine
  • 1T garlic
  • 1t mustard powder
  • shot of kirchwasser (optional)
  • Shredded Swiss (Gruyere is good) cheese
  • flour
  • pepper

Cheddar Fondue

  • Same as the “Mexican” fondue, but with less salsa, more beer, and mustard powder. Oh, and pepper.

Once you get the hang of this, you can really try any combination of liquid with any old lot of cheese you might have lingering about.

 

Cushions Galore

So, I’ve kind of decided that, for the new place, I’m not going to buy any stopgap items. I have enough to make it, and I was out of work for long enough to become exceedingly frugal. Anything I buy is going to be something I want to keep for a very long time. As such, I haven’t found much I really want to acquire, but I’ve spent a lot of time window shopping for housewares.

I guess I’ve settled on a sort of Deco/Nouveau/Craftsman bastardized bungalow theme for my decorating. I think it’ll look good in this house, and if I do move and/or buy a place, I expect to look for a bungalow of some sort which means it’ll all transfer over. (I note at this point that this post is far too full of commas.)

So I’ve already mentioned the Liberty of London for Target comforter set I got. It’s sort of a large paisley print in grey and teal and mustard yellow, and I’m trying to play off of that. The next logical step? Pillows. Throw pillows, everywhere. I guess technically the next step ought to be curtains but I still haven’t found any I like (currently planning to make some of muslin with nice fabrics at the hem… someday). Plus, I don’t have curtain rods, and I want to see if I can make the existing hardware work.

Anyway. Pillows. I spent about a week poking around, looking at fabrics, changing my mind about what I wanted. I finally narrowed it down to four fabrics, which I bought a little of today on Etsy. Zack is bringing my sewing stuff down this weekend when he comes to visit (YAY).

Hey Guys…

I’m posting a bit more these days over at my other blog, Fumbling Toward Fashion. Fair warning: It may contain harsher language and a less positive attitude, but if you’re OK with that I’d love it if you’d have a read! I’ll still be posting here with the more domestic and crafty stuff… and hopefully a menu plan sometime this century. That’s been a real fail lately. Also, a November desktop calendar with left and right hand options!

Desktop Background: October 2009

I’ve been wanting to make calendar desktop backgrounds for a long time, to give my readers something to download. This is my first attempt; it shares an image with the new October blog header. I hope you like it. It’s available to fit a 1024×768 monitor but should scale for smaller monitors. Sorry, no widescreen available yet! To use for Windows, just click on the image to bring it up, then right-click and select “Set as Desktop Background.” In the Position dropdown menu, select “Stretch,” then click “Set Desktop Background” and you should be all set. My Mac laptop is broken at the moment, and I can’t remember how to set desktops in MacOS. Maybe a friendly reader could help me out.

Please enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Calendar, October 2009

Welcome to ICLWers!

For folks who are stopping by for the first time as a result of ICLW, welcome! I mostly blog about food, more food, and cats, but occasionally mention our struggles with infertility. My husband and I have been TTC since October 2007, and I’ve been working on a post about the dreaded Taking a Break, because it’s just not working for my sanity right now. Meanwhile, please relax and enjoy some recipes, and I’m glad you’re here. I love comments!

Switch Witch Halp!

As you are probably already aware, I have a slight (ever so slight) addiction to BPAL perfumes. There’s a really great fan forum for them, and one thing we do on there is a seasonal Switch Witch round — sort of like secret pals. Last round was a short one, but I still had a lot of fun getting to know my Witchee and sending her a package. I still have some more things to go to her, but I’m working on finishing up a secret item to include. AHEM.

Anyway, part of playing SW is answering many, many questions, so that your Witch can better stalk you and thereby send awesome gifts. Lots of these are just good, general, get-to-know-you questions, which is why I thought I’d make it a blog post here at the Birdhouse. Well, that and I’ve been lazy about blogging lately, so maybe this will give you something to read.

To my Future Witch: I hope this is helpful! I’ll come back and update this as more questions are added.

  • Anyone reading an amazing book right now? Hm. Usually it’s best to check my Goodreads page. I haven’t read anything very lately that just screams “RECOMMEND ME!” although Beasts of New York was really cute and enjoyable, and I dig the Temeraire series if you haven’t read it yet.
  • What socially respsonsible site would you recommend to ALL Witches? Well, everyone has pretty different ideas of what is important, but as far as charities go, I usually contribute to Feeding America, Doctors Without Borders, and Animal Friends. Also, in my sidebar you should see a banner for the Animal Rescue Site at the top — I click there daily.
  • What is your favorite anime, or if you don’t like that what is your favorite animated series? Do you like villains that are funny because they are meant to be, or are you like me and love the villain that just can’t seem to get his evil schemes to work? I haven’t watched that much anime lately, but I loved: Ceres, Celestial Goddess; Ranma 1/2 (of course); Urusei Yatsura; El Hazard; Tenchi Muyo. I also love the Ghibli films, especially Totoro and Princess Mononoke. Oh, and Spirited Away. I think I enjoy the intentionally hilarious villain most.
  • Tea. How do you feel about it? I feel like I burned my mouth on some tea really badly the other night, but besides that, I adore it. Really I love almost all tea, but jasmine is not my favorite. I drink A LOT of it, too. A lot.
  • would my future witchee like to receive steampunk style jewelry? It really depends on the piece, but there are a lot of steampunk style necklaces/pendants and bracelets I like. And rings.
  • Does your feline like catnip? Yes. I often catch them sneaking out to buy some on the street corner.
  • Salt soap bars (soap made with a large quantity of salt, like salt-scrub-in-a-bar)? Yes please! I’ve been dying to try one of these.
  • How would you feel about homemade jelly/jam from home-grown berries? Yes x10000. Yes. Yes yes yes. Especially jam.
  • Homemade dill pickles? Made from cukes, beans, snap peas, baby zucchini? Another big huge yes, although I do not like super-vinegary pickles — other than that, it’s all good. Please don’t send botulism though šŸ˜‰
  • Based on Prior Carnivale act prototypes…which one are you truly excited about? I love the CD scents I’ve tried but I don’t know enough about the prototypes to really answer this.
  • Would it bother you if you are not the first person to receive the same gift? Imagine a Witch who always sends her favourite book, for example. Not at all — I would think that was pretty cool.
  • Pets: What do you have, and do they need/want anything? I have three cats: Audrey, Isabella, and Noodle. They claim to want dehydrated kitty treats, Wellness canned grain-free food, and some window perches and other cat furniture.
  • Does anyone play video games? What platform(s)? Are there any new or vintage games you would like? Ha. Yes. We have: DS, GameCube, Wii, PS2, Xbox, PSP, and PCs for gaming. Used games are fine; WoW timecards always welcome. And LotRO time, too. I never get to play it because of financial constraints. Games I’d like include: The Dark Spire (DS); The World Ends with You (DS); Knights in the Nightmare (DS); FFTA2 (DS).
  • Twilight fans, would you be interested in any products from this Etsy seller? I’m not a Twilight fan, at least not yet.
  • Are you in need of decanting supplies, wand caps, or other scent-related paraphernalia? Yes please! I can always use nice vials (i.e. NOT from Madina), pipets, wand caps, address labels (both 1/2 sheet and the little 8160 size for imp labeling). And bubble mailers.
  • Are there any single notes (likely non bpal) that anyone is dying to have/try? I would really like to sniff various ambers.
  • net flick or the likes gift subscriptions? A month of Netflicks vs a DvD? I’d love a month or two of Netflix, I like to watch all the documentaries online.
  • Adorable Japanese characters? Yes please! I love Nyanko and Kogepan (from San-X) best, oh, and Rilakkuma (Relax Bear). I also like Chococat, and Mixed Cats. I adore the little notepads that come with stickers, the bizarre portfolio holders, stationery sets, miniatures, small plushes.
  • My fiance sent me an early dvd rip of Coraline that he was given (pretty sure it’s not been released yet, but I sometimes have a hard time keeping up) and I was wondering if anyone would like a copy of it? Sure.
  • Do you collect dolls or miniatures? What kind? Do you like to get new clothes or items for them? Yes! Blythe dolls and Sylvanian Family/Calico Corners. I like to get Re-Ment miniatures mostly. I don’t have many so any will be appreciated.
  • If you were to make a seasonal mix CD for this summer, what would you name it? God I Suck at Making Mix Names
  • Would you like any recycle/upcycle supplies for your crafting? Definitely. Yarn is good, salvaged linen for embroidery is good, neat fabrics….
  • Is there a program you might have missed or show you love which is gone from the airwaves which might be found (or burned) for you by a Witch? Hm. I forget how I answered this. Square One Television is one example.
  • Do you play any online games, like World of Warcraft? If so, what server do you play on, what’s your character’s name, etc.? Yes. On Dark Iron, Alliance side, Akatia, Aerandil, and Plotz. On Argent Dawn, Hordeside, Makuahine and Taeriel.
  • Would anyone like bath bombs or bath melts scented with one of their favorite Bpal scents? YES! Please.
  • Would you like homemade cinnamon buns or sticky buns? I would adore them, although I don’t know about shipping in the summer. :\
  • Is there anyone here that likes Hello Kitty or any other Sanrio Characters? Yup, mostly Chococat and Badtz-Maru, but I like some of the San-X better.
  • Any non NZ or Aus witchee that I get gets Tim Tams, OK? I would love Tim Tams
  • For non-US witches: is there anything from the US you’d love that you can’t get where you live now? Well, I’m in the US but if you’re not chances are I want your chocolate and any neat condiments you might have.
  • How many potential witchees have an iPod, or download MP3s? I do, I do! I like iTunes store credits. I have an iPod Touch.
  • Are there any of the BPTP bath oils you adore (particularly ones that you cannot get anymore). What about the room sprays? I am dying for the Tomoe Gozen Warrior Queen set, and I really like Templum Victoriae. I enjoy the Yuletide Goblins, too.
  • How would you feel about an ultra-girlie shawl or wrap in summer-weight (lace)? Yes please, but no pink šŸ˜€
  • What would you think of hand-dyed items? I like the low-water immersion dyed things a lot. I am not opposed to tie-dyed PJs, pillowcases, or hankies.
  • So, I hear you don’t like lacy wraps! How do you feel about hand-knit socks? I love them. I have big feet though: Women’s US 11/EU42, and wide.
  • What kinds of crafts does everyone either enjoy making or enjoy getting? Do you have a certain type of handmade item that you love to collect? Socks, boxes, jewelry, dolls etc? I love pretty much anything handmade, maybe a weakness for jewelry, prints, and dolls.
  • Clearly, vegans are not into soaps with honey or milk, etc. But, if you’re NOT a vegan how would you feel about soaps made with emu oil? Squicked out/concerned about animal cruelty, or willing to try them? I would love to try some!
  • Do you like coconut? I love it. To eat, to smell, to drink. Love.
  • Puddin’ posts ebay sales of older stuff every now and then – what of the current lot are you dying for? Honestly I don’t know enough about the older perfumes to really covet any of them, though I would love bottles of Taurus, Capricorn, or Leo, or any of the Tarot oils especially.
  • Do you tweet? I do. Chirp! jenniedee.
  • What kind of mythology are you interested in? All kinds, probably most especially Norse and Celtic, but also Greek, Roman, Egyptian, all your standard mythologies. I find them really really fascinating so books on mythology are favored heavily here.

  • Which flavors are you interested to try from the Chocolate Research Facility? Oh my dear sweet Lord. All of them? Honey melon with cassia; Cardamon with almond; Yam with almond; Red bean; Sichuan pepper; Cheese (CHEESE?!); Wafer crunch; Mango with dried mango; Longan with pumpkin seed; Lychee; Sweetened plum; Lavender; Bergamot; Darjeeling; Cafe mocha. Any of them, really.
  • Do you wear makeup or nail polish? Need brushes, containers, storage, mani/pedi supplies? What colors and brands do you like? Sure! I could use a few brushes, a Caboodle, things like that. I love MAC, almost any of their eyeshadows although my favorite is Trax. And I like China Glaze and Rimmel 60 second nail polish, and Seche Vite.
  • Do you like shiney hanging porch decorations like windchimes or those things that spin and swirl in the wind? Yes I do, but I may have nowhere to put any for a while šŸ˜¦ so better to skip them this round.
  • Hair adornments? Yes! I would like decorated clips or even plain ponytail holders. Hair sticks do not work well for me because they fall out of my fine hair.
  • Is there any infomercial product you’re dying to try even though you know it probably sucks? RIP, Billy Mays. Mighty Putty, the ShamWow, and… I think there was another one. NOT the TotalGym šŸ˜‰
  • What are your favorite websites (besides this one, and the online shops you listed in your questionnaire)? Gah. Tastespotting, most of the things linked in my links here, Goodreads, Flickr.
  • We have so many talented witches and they really need to promote themselves more so, if you made something by hand for a previous witchee or have an etsy store or some other outlet for hand made goods, will you post it here with pictures or links? Or, if you want to brag on a previous witch’s talent, this is the place for that as well. I haz Etsy and Artfire! http://binkin.etsy.com and http://binky-bird.artfire.com. Please see my sales section on Etsy; the shop is empty right now because I have too many customs though.
  • If you could make your perfect scent (or at least most desired at the moment!) what would be in it? Amber, vanilla, cardamom, and orange blossom.
  • So I have a question for the witchees, and hopefully mine will answer as well…In trying to decide what to fix for dinner, I thought that I’ve received some great recipes from friends (particularly the culinary mastermind that is scotchgrrl). I also have a few great recipes of my own. So would anyone like to receive some original, or very much loved recipes from his/her witch? Absofreakinglutely yes I would.
  • List things you DO NOT need any more of: Cats. Cardboard boxes. Defunct computer parts.

  • Is there something that would offend you if you received it in your mail/gift/email)? (as in profanity, a bad words in an email/card/music … or a card or something with a scantily dressed man/woman pictured on it, crude/immature humor tshirts, etc …) It’s hard to actually offend me but if it’s offensive humor on a tshirt, I probably don’t want it. A card, maybe. I actually like some off-color humor, and I swear like a sailor, so that doesn’t bother me, but there are some areas that I just don’t find funny so better safe than sorry, right?
  • What do you like to snack on? I like to balance out my snacks by having salty, sweet, sour, crunchy, soft, etc. I love: Chocolate, gummis, fruit, chips/crisps, dried fruit, almonds, pistachios….
  • What is the color scheme you use most when you decorate? Brown and blue; wood grains. Sometimes green.
  • If you have music or DVD’s on your wishlist, do you mind getting a burned copy? How about if it is original packaging but previously used? Or do you only want it new? Used, etc. is fine. I don’t need packaging either.
  • Who is your favorite artist? What are some of your favorite pieces of their work? Ayiyi. I may have to do a separate post on this. But, I like most of the pre-Raphaelites, Mark Ryden, Dan Danger, Jay Ryan, Mike Budai, Emily Balivet to name a few.
  • Are you a candles person, incense person, or just a BPTP spritzer for room scents? Any and all.
  • What is your favorite latin or faux latiny phrase? Si Hoc Legere Scis Nimium Eruditionis Habes

    How are you doing for BPAL storage? Need any boxes?

    Is there any place you’ve visited where you feel like you left your heart there?

    What one item would you just love to have that is made by a Switch Witch?

    Is your abode a palace covered in fur, a disaster area ,or a neat freaks delight?

    Are there any phobias you have that you absolutely, positively, do NOT want anything from your witch referencing?

    Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

    What kind of a car do you drive and would you want something you could use in your car? Rear view mirror charms, steering wheel covers (a new thinkg for the knitters ), car blessing medicine bags

    Do you want to know when you have something coming in the mail, or would you rather it be a complete surprise?

    What is your mailbox situation?

    ***6/25***

    Are you interested in Tarot or Tarot art?

    What would you think of soap samples/shampoo bar samples? (I believe the latter can be used as soap if you are not shampoo bar inclined). Or other sample sized bath/beauty products, for that matter?

    What about burnables as in candles, tarts and/or incense?

    Who knits? Do you also spin and dye? What supplies, that you wouldn’t buy for yourself, would you just love to have for that activity?

    Do you like coffee? Whole bean or ground? Bold/Medium/Mild roast?

    So you have enough socks and wraps… (shush, VCW!) Are there any other knitted goods you might like? Lap blanket? Fingerless gloves? Arm warmers? Little knitted animals? Silk scarf? Head band? Wrist cuff? Dish clothes?

    ***6/24***

    Are you obsessed with honey? If so, is there a particular kind you like best? Spun honey, flavored honeys, certain types of honey….etc.

    What are your favorite materials? Or material things? Some people like jewelry, some like woods, some plants…

    Is there anything you’ve been wanting to learn that your witch might be able to help you with?

    Posters, yes or no?

    What are your favorite animals? Or, what animals resonate strongly with you?

    Are there any historical figures you are particularly interested in – say, that you’d enjoy reading about, or movies, etc.?

    What, if anything, are you earwormed with right now?

    What scent are you wearing right now, if any?