Tuesday, October 14, 2008


My favorite store bought cookies are...dead.

I went to the store yesterday, and the shelves that held Mother's Circus Animal Cookies looked like locusts had come through. There was not even a single bag left.

I called Wayne, and he stopped by another store on his way home and bought SIX bags of the Halloween Circus Animal Cookies, which aren't quite as good as the pink and white version, but it will do.

Today I checked eBay just for the heck of it, and there are a lot of Mother's Circus Animal Cookies listed.
Check it out.

There's a bag of the Halloween cookies going for $20/bag. I think we might sell our unopened 5 bags on eBay and make some money!! The profits could pay for a date night!

It makes me, sad, though that the pink and white cookies, which I always thought were so pretty, are going to be non-existent. There are cheap imitations, but they just aren't the same.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I have decided to sew Maya's Halloween costume this year, and thanks to Jo-Ann's Columbus Day sale and 50% off coupons, got all I need for much less than full price...still, sewing is spendy and no longer a way to save money. I could have bought the costume for half of what I spent on supplies to sew the dang thing.

But here's the pattern:

I'm making the red/blue one; the other one is more complicated, and I just don't want to deal with it. The material Maya chose is gorgeous. I want a skirt made out of it; I'll post pictures soon.

I cut out the pattern tonight; tomorrow I plan to pin. I'll cut tomorrow evening, and I bet I can sew on Thursday (Wednesday is insane).

Damn. I feel so domestic.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the last dance (almost)

Last night was Paige's homecoming...Senior Edition.

It was a fairly frugal dance:
Dress: borrowed from a friend $0
Shoes: $100
Hair: $30
Makeup/lashes: $20
Cash for pictures: $60
Boutonniere: TBD

Total: $210

She hated her hair, but I thought it looked cute. She wanted it to look like this:

And it didn't.
But she still looked lovely:

Tyler & Paige

Paige & Maddi

Paige actually did really well this time. She didn't stress, and she wasn't mean to me; it was a nice change. The last dance I fronted money for was Homecoming 2006...Sophomore Edition; she was awful. Severe emphasis on AWFUL. She gets mean, condescending, snippy, disrespectful and at times cruel. It makes me really want to kick her hiney.

After that homecoming, I told her...never again. I'm not paying money for you to treat me like shit, but it is her senior year, and she tried to be very frugal. I think it also helped that her date was a guy that she is very familiar and comfortable with. He seems like a nice enough guy.

Next up is Senior Ball, and I hope she'll have a job by then to help pay for part of it because that can be a really pricey event.

I also had a candle party last night, and I felt like it was a success. My main goal was just to cook some nice Autumnal foods and be with women whose company I enjoy; the candles are nice to have lit through the rooms, and I really need some seasonal candles. I know other people do, too, which is why I even had the candle party in play.

I made some great food, and it was all from scratch, baby:
  • Squash soup
  • Bread (that was store-bought)
  • Spinach, gorgonzola, apple, sugared pecan salad (I call it my Bradley salad because a Bradley grandma gave me the recipe)
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Carmel (caramel?) apple cheesecake
  • Pomegranate martinis
The food was great. I think that next time I make that cheesecake, I will cut the cake into individual slices, and top each slice with the caramel and apples. The warm apples and caramel really made the cheesecake get super soft.

I wish I had taken a picture because it was my very first cheesecake, and I was very proud of how it turned out.

We plan to have an Election Night party (Go Obama!!), and I think I'll make a red, white and blue cheesecake for the evening.

The cheesecake was a very different flavor and texture, but it was good. And no crack in the top! Yea! It looks complicated, but it was super easy to make.

Here's the recipe, via Bobby Flay on Food Network:

Caramel Apple Cheescake
8 servings

8 whole graham crackers
1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, divided
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (recommended: Philadelphia)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 recipe Apple Mixture, recipe follows
1 recipe Apple Caramel Sauce, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the graham crackers, 1/2 cup of the walnuts and brown sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground. With the motor running, add the butter through the feed tube and process until the mixture just comes together. Spray the bottom and side of the pan with cooking spray. Pat the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until lightly golden brown and just set, about 8 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and let cool completely.

Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the orange zest in a food processor and process until combined.

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand fixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the orange sugar, remaining granulated sugar, and light muscovado sugar and beat again until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time and mix until just incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla seeds and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the salt and heavy cream and mix until just combined.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake until the sides of the cake are slightly puffed and set and the center still jiggles, about 55 minutes.

Turn the heat off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon and allow the cake to cook in the water bath for 1 hour. Remove the cake to a baking rack and allow to cool to room temperature for 2 hours. Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours until chilled through.

Top with the warm apple topping, drizzle liberally with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining toasted walnuts. Serve additional sauce on the side.

Apple Mixture:

2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, reserved from the cheesecake mixture
1 tablespoon cold butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
3 Fuji apples, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple brandy (recommended: Calvados) I used cheap Apple Jack brandy because Calvados was $50 for a bottle.

Bring apple juice, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil in a large saute pan over high heat and cook until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in the butter until melted. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and soft. Add the apple brandy and cook until reduced by 1/2. Transfer the apples to a plate and let cool slightly.

Apple-Caramel Sauce:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons apple brandy (recommended: Calvados)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat (do not stir), swirling the pot occasionally to even out the color, until amber in color, 10 to 12 minutes.

While the caramel is cooking. Place the heavy cream in a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and keep warm.

When the caramel has reached the desired color, slowly whisk in the heavy cream and salt and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the apple brandy and vanilla extract. Keep warm.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

so it's been awhile...

God, life is crazy right now. Actually, I expect it to mellow out a bit now that we're comfortably into the school year. I don't have a class in session right now, but I hope to have one Oct 20th. None of the teachers around here are getting very many inquiries. It's very odd. I had to cancel my September class, and I have never had to do that.

I've been talking and talking and talking about applying as a substitute paraeducator with the school district, and I finally finished my cover letter and resume last week. I was waiting for my transcripts from TCC to complete my resume, and guess what?

I only need a 100 level math and a natural science (with lab) class to get my Associate's degree.

Two measley classes.

I am thinking about taking chemistry online, and then that leaves math. Good ol' math. I dropped my last math class twice and never did complete it, and that was math 99, I believe. I still didn't make it to 100 level math in 2 years. That is how bad I am with math.

So my conundrum is, do I bite the bullet and take those last two classes, or do I just stay this close to to finishing. Well, finishing that step anyway.

And then I found what I want to go on to afterwards:

I just paid off my piddly little student loan in August, and I really don't want to get another one going; however, with only about $1,000, I can be half-way towards a BA. A full quarter of classes at UW-Tacoma is $2, 244, which would end up being a $20,000 endeavor, if my poor math skills are at all accurate this time.