Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Mom reads this blog, so I'm going to ask her to avert her eyes to this post. Mainly because I'm about to equate our family's double chocolate Kahlua cake to sex.
(WHICH IS REALLY WHY YOU SHOULD STOP READING NOW, MOTHER...)
But seriously, this shit is gooooood. Like, if-I-smoked-I'd-need-a-cigarette-after-eating good. I swear, it's right up there with decent (not great, but decent) sex.
Why? Because it's chocolate. With more chocolate. With Kahlua. With soft fluffy goodness. And you can't go wrong with that combination.
Trust me when I say you MUST add this Noodles family treat to your recipe stash. You won't be sorry.
So in keeping with my tradition of PG-13 rated recipe names, I give you, faithful readers, a copy of ...
The Double O Chocolate Kahlua Cake
1 box chocolate cake mix (I usually go for devil's food)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream (yes, sour cream. Get over it. I never said it was healthy.)
1 cup Kahlua (I use a 1.5 cups and find myself loopy when licking the bowl.)
6-ish oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, and beat with an electric mixer in a large bowl for about 5 minutes. Grease and lightly flour a bundt pan (both steps are KEY, otherwise you get a totally deformed-yet-tasty-cake). Pour batter slowly into pan and then sprinkle chips into the batter. They'll sink into the mix during baking. Cook for 50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick, fork, super-sharp pointy thing can emerge without cake residue.
To remove cake from pan, I put a plate over the bottom, and then flip while saying a prayer that it just slides out. (Given the sex reference earlier, there are a million dirty thoughts going through my mind right now. But $10 says The Mom is still reading. So I will spare her.) You can serve as is, make a chocolatey ganache to drizzle over it, sprinkle it with powdered sugar, or whatever you want.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
So, I got to work yesterday and hope to finish tonight or tomorrow. Because I'm an only child (yeah, yeah, I know) I totally did mine first. So it's the only one that's totally done.
I also had fun with the back and tried out some curvy stitches.
I just need to do the cuffs for the rents' stockings. I used a slightly different pattern on theirs -- that way it's two curly toed and two not. (I'm a freak for symmetry.)
The one on the left is for The Dad and the one the right is for The Mom. (She's mathy, thus the addition fabric.)
I also had some fun doing stitches on the back of hers.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I know they look really painfully handmade (I wish I could claim an elementary schooler did them, not someone with a now-diminished 401(k)... Thanks Wall Street.) But I digress...
I'm currently working on three more big stockings -- one for me, and one for The Mom and The Dad, who will be descending ... er, arriving ... on my wonderful abode for Christmas. They have crappy dollar store ones for their now annual Christmas visits, but The Boy's turned out so well, I couldn't resist the idea of doing more. I promise I'll post pictures soon. Plus, that means I'll be able to make a bunch more of these little ornaments. So hopefully by then, they won't suck as much. And who knows, lovely readers. Maybe you'll be the lucky recipient of a few!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
If you're interested in making one of these, check out the book New Noel, currently available on Amazon. I'm psyched to use some of my scraps from this project to make ornaments for my Christmas swap.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Even without the St. Andre and smoked Gouda, it was a great chance to get started on my In & Out quilt by Blue Underground. The fabric they use in the pattern isn't up my alley, so I'm going for the Noodles-ish fabric that's excessively bright and bold and, for lack of a better word ... perky.
It's going to be a nearly queen-sized quilt when I'm done and since each of the 143 squares has five pieces of fabric, it's going to take me damn-near forever to finish piecing.
Here's my first eight squares:
And here's the fabric I'm going to use for the rest:
Since my seams aren't perfect -- and this pattern really requires everything to line up oh-so-nicely -- I'm tossing around the idea of adding sashing (or a solid strip of fabric) between the rows. And maybe as a border so I can expand the size of the quilt so it drapes nicely on a bed. I'll have to see how it looks when all the squares are sewn and I start putting the strips together. But right now I'm thinking maybe a deep navy or a nice rich chocolate brown. White would work, but I'd hate it to get dirty, thanks to The Mutt and her chew toy predilection.
Part of me feels guilty working on this when I have so much Christmas stuff to complete. But sometimes you just need time for yourself, right??
What are you guys working on?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I'm not normally one for public rants, tirades and other hysterics. But because of the hell you've put me through for the past four weeks, I'm willing to make an exception. Plus, I'm really, really cold.
Because it's Chicago. In November. It snowed yesterday. And my bedroom has no heat.
According to your various customer service representatives (So far, I believe I've spoken to at least eight of them. Lovely people, really. Especially the one who told me I should just lie. But more on that later.) this doesn't qualify as a gas emergency since I have gas to cook, just not to heat half of my living space. So I have to keep calling to try to get someone to fix the problem. They may not be able to come for another month. That's right. A month. Are you beginning to understand the source of my rage?
But let me back up, since it seems like you guys need help understanding the problem.
I became a homeowner last year. My lovely (but breadbox-sized) space used to be two even SMALLER apartments with two different apartment numbers that were converted years ago into one slightly larger condo unit. But no one seemed to have told you that. Or you just didn't care. But for whatever reason, there are two separate gas lines and two separate gas meters that feed my unit, one of which is labeled as feeding my condo and the other which goes an apartment that actually no longer exists.
So when I moved in, I gave you my address and apartment number, and you set me up. And I paid my bill. On time. In full. Every month. And we were pals.
You can imagine my surprise when I went to turn my heat this fall and only get cold air. I call my HVAC company, and re-upped a $500 annual service contract for my two furnaces. The nice technician came out to inspect the damage and discovers that the gas meter that feeds the no-longer-in-existence-apartment-that's-really-just-my-bedroom has some kind of lock on it. Looks like you turned it off. But no one told me, since the account I use and pay for and unbeknownst to me just supplies gas to my livingroom and kitchen is just peachy.
However, it turns out that getting the gas turned back on is apparently a really big, damn problem. Each time I call, someone tells me something different. The emergency number said I'm not an emergency. The customer service line told me to call the emergency line, which referred me back to them. Then the customer service line told me to just lie and say that I don't have any gas, to ensure a visit that day by a technician. I've got problems with fibbing, especially when I find out that if it's not a true emergency and someone is dispatched, I get charged a hefty fee for every half hour someone is on my property. I'm just a single girl who writes for a living. I'm not so much with the cash, so this doesn't work. Oh yeah, and then there was the time when I called and I got stuck on some kind of hold only to get transferred to an attendant at 7:01 p.m. Unfortunately, your customer service line closed at 7. D'oh.
I talk calmly. I yell. I cry. Nothing works. So I do what every feminist bone in my body rejects and turn the problem over to the boy. He works his magic and I'm told that I have to apply to open a separate account and they'll send me the application in the mail. That would have been great if the envelope you sent me actually included an application and not just a cover letter telling me to fax it back to you.
So I called again today and talked to someone else who assured me there's no way I or any of my neighbors could pay our heating bills because the balance is so low each month and that it must be paid by the condo association. Wrong again. She also explains it's impossible for there to be two gas lines going to one condo unit and that I can't have to different gas accounts _ even if I want them. But she offers to make an appointment for one of their technicans to come look at the situation. On Dec. 17.
The tears start welling.
But if there's anything I've learned in this, it's that you've got no consistency. So I try one more time. And apparently, this time I've got some kind of good karma. Or, I just beat the system by pressing "2" to set up a new account where I reach a nice, helpful, speaks-in-complete-sentences girl who tells me that if I just write a cover letter explaining this situation and fax it along with my driver's license and copy of a closing document that shows when I took ownership, I'll be able to get the ball rolling.
Of course, then it will take at least three days for them to review it before they can schedule someone to come over and turn it on. And that wait might be a week. That means we're at least a week and a half way from heat. But it's a hell of a lot closer than Dec. 17.
Since I'm not a troll, I told this wonderful lady how great and helpful she was compared to her less-than-desirable co-workers. But that doesn't erase the fact that you still suck. And my toes are getting kind of numb.
This is my sewing machine. My lovely, borrowed sewing machine. And I'm afraid it's about to die. Which is a problem on a whole variety of fronts, the least of which is that it's not, you know, mine.
Apparently, the Kenmore Mini Ultra was not designed to piece five quilts, a dozen handbags, a series of place mats and a variety of other projects. And now, I think it needs hospice care.
I happened to ask Santa (ie, Dr. & Mrs. Noodles) to consider buying me a new machine for Christmas. I researched and test drove and came up with this beauty, a Singer 7466 Touch & Sew.
Trust me when I say it's splendiferous, full of all kinds of fancy stitches that I'm sure I'll NEVER need, but com'n, really... isn't that half the fun?
The other issue is that I really, really wanted to make most of my Christmas presents this year. Sewing is a re-discovered hobby and I can't wait to share what I've learned and made with my closest peeps and peepettes. That said, I also don't want to put my friend's lovely machine in the grave to do it.
So, now I'm stuck. Christmas is just over a month away (Sidebar: can we take a second to have a collective "holy shit" moment at that?) and I'm stuck.
Luckily, I've been spending a lot of time at my favorite sewing/quilting studio on the AMAZING machines, which cost a hell of a lot more more than my mortgage payments. So I guess the moral of this story is that if you want to find me between now and Christmas, head down to Halsted and Wrightwood.
I'll be the one covered in thread while cursing like a sailor. (It's part of my charm.)
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Life's been a twee bit nuts these past few weeks, right up until five minutes ago when I deposited my very drunk and vomity neighbor in the arms of her boyfriend after she decided to stop by my condo following a bar crawl. (P.S. Karma gods, I get a shit ton of brownie points for taking care of neighbor girl while she purged the vast quantity of liquor from her system. P.P. S.: I haven't seen that much puke since my sorority days. Yeesh.)
But, just because my life has been hectic doesn't mean I haven't had time for crafty goodness. I've sewed a bunch of awesome tote bags, but won't be posting the pictures here since they're presents for a few lovely readers.
However, I made an awesome denim one tonight, intending to give it as a gift. But it was so freakin' lovely that I think I may keep it for myself. (What can I say? Once an only child, always an only child.)
Anyway, I've tweaked and revised the pattern that I used for the original bag to accommodate my own style. I've added some lining and inside pockets, which I think gifts it a nice touch as well.
My photography session was interrupted by The Drunk One, so I don't have a ton of good shots to share. Just take my word when I say it's AWESOME.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I confess. I went a little nuts when I decided to order five yards of absolutely fantastic fabric from Fabritopia. But seriously, have you looked at their selection? How could I not?
So after compulsively checking the postal service's package tracker for days, I came home from work today to find my lovely, amazing, fun, fabulous fabric waiting for me!
And seriously, OMFG! It's bad ass. I can't wait to get started. I've never wished it was the weekend so much! I'm thinking about using this pattern, but I'm not sure and totally open to suggestions.
Here's hoping my currently misbehaving sewing machine improves its attitude by the weekend!!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I won't get into my thoughts on the election because a) this isn't a political blog and b) my wonky ass would get fired if I did.
But trust me when I say it's highly unusual that I got to spend election night at home. In my jammies. On the couch.
But don't think for a second that I spent the night oblivious to the historic vote being cast. (Attention boss folks: historic = either slate of candidates.) I am, after all, the girl whose Election 2000 party was visited by the D.C. Police Department for our, um, noise problem.
Tonight was quiet. But I got to nerd out in my favorite way, as you can tell by my crayon-colored election map.
Here's a view of my techno-laden spot on the sofa, complete with the wire, CNN, a variety of news web sites, my Blackberry and my trust map. And, um, booze.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
When I was snapping pictures of my most-recent quilt, I thought I'd snap a picture of my great bulletin board that's on the wall over my bed. It's one of my favorite things in my home and has always been one of the first things I've insisted on hanging up during each move.
I love the hodgepodge of stuff that's on there -- vintage postcards, cool bumper stickers, pictures of typewriters (something I love), inspirational quotes, even a note from a former colleague, not to mention a great headline or two I've clipped, a few bookmarks, and just some lovely art prints I've picked up along the way along with reminders of places I've been.
Also cool: this bulletin board was made by my grandpa and was used by my mom when she was little. Sometime in elementary school, I got my grubby Noodles paws on it and it's been hanging up in a my bedroom (or home office) ever since.
But check out some pictures I took of the most recent flished project. I've got to say, it looks really ... scrappy. And you know, I like it it. It's kind of fun and perky and random and all over the place. Which is pretty much how you could describe me.
Many moons ago, I found this picture through the miracles of the Interweb. It totally reflected my mood and rage at the world at the time, leading me to decree that "I am the bunny" and whatever was currently pissing me off was the waffle.
I mentioned this to my super-lovely boss (a walking Encyclopedia Britannica about Broadway) who promptly made me listen to the song "Don't Be The Bunny" in Urinetown.
The lyrics, for those of you who are less nerdily inclined than me, go:
Don't be the bunny. Don't be the stew. Don't be the dinner. You have better things to do.
ANYWAY, you can imagine my happiness when I saw my favorite demonic felted bun-bun on Craft Magazine's blog this week, attached to a video interview with Tobiah Mundt. I had no idea who was responsible for my little evil pick me up (which, btw, is totally posted on my cube wall), and now I know! YAY!
So, Tobiah ... thank you for your quirky designs. It has totally kept me sane. And even though I still think I'm this bunny, I've taken the Boss Lady's words to heart. And I will NOT be the bunny!