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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Victorian Lavender Cookies



Last month I bought a magazine called Capper's Farmer. Capper's Farmer is a homemade good magazine and I loved their scrapbook ideas. I was looking at their recipes and I thought the recipe for the lavender short bread looked good:


Lavender Shortbread (Capper's Farmer)
*Bullet*1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
*Bullet*3 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
*Bullet*2 cups bleached all-purpose flour, divided
*Bullet*1/2 teaspoon salt
*Bullet*2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
*Bullet*1/4 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
*Bullet* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla abstract

1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, grind the almonds, lavender flowers and 2 tablespoons of flour until the nuts are finely textured, but not pasty.
2. Into a bowl, sift together the remaining flour and salt. Stir into the ground nut mixture, set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Turn mixture to low speed and gradually add flour-nut mixture, blending until just combined. Stir in vanilla extract.
4. Turn dough out and flatten into a disk; wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until very firm.
5. Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two 15-by-10-inch cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
6. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out assorted shapes using cookie cutters. Carefully transfer cookies to prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle tops evenly with remaining sugar.
7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until shortbread is form to the touch and lightly browned on the bottom. Immediately transfer to cooling racks and cool completely before storing.


However, the process was very involved and wanted to try something simpler. I Googled "Lavender Cookie Recipes" and found Victorian Lavender Cookies. I thought the recipe was the easiest:

Victorian Lavender Cookies
*Bulletb*1/2 cup butter
*Bulletb*1 cup sugar
*Bulletb*2 eggs
*Bulletb*1 teaspoon lavender, crushed
*Bulletb*1 1/2 cups flour
*Bulletb*2 teaspoons baking powder
*Bulletb*1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, lavender, flour, baking powder and salt. Drop by teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.


I went to William Sonoma to buy the crushed lavender. They had a small jar for $6.99, but you can buy lavender on Amazon from $3.50-$10.50 (then whatever shipping is). I was happy that the William Sonoma in King of Prussia sold it.

I baked the lavender cookies on Saturday. On Friday night, I pulverized 1/2 teaspoon of lavender and I was amazed at how fragrant it was. That Saturday morning, I creamed the softened butter (left out overnight) with the white sugar.





As the butter and sugar were creaming, I mixed the dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I added 1/2 teaspoon of lavender that I crushed on Friday night and then another teaspoon of the lavender untouched from the jar.







I then added the two eggs that Aunt Linda brought me from her three chickens to the butter, then the dry ingredients. Beat slowly because the flour will go everywhere if it's done fast.





Once the lavender cookies are mixed, place a teaspoon size clump of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and I made three dozen.



I couldn't find rose water and mom thought rose water was more spring. I made a lemon icing instead:

1 1/2 cups of powder sugar
6.5 teaspoons of water
1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract.


Stir the sugar until it's icing like consistency. Drizzle over the cooled cookies. Enjoy!





Here are the beautiful girls my aunt owns and whose eggs I used for the cookies and will use for the rest of the cookies. These pictures were from last Christmas when I had to care for them for a week (the Rhode Island Red is my favorite). Thanks, girls! :)


Monday, November 24, 2014

Caskey's Black Sheep



I was first introduced to Caskey back in 2013 when he was featured in Twiztid's The Deep End. Caskey is a 22 year old rapper from Orlando, Florida that started out with heavy metal in middle school and then evolved to writing raps in high school after his sister got him into rappers such as N.W.A. and Three 6 Mafia. In Caskey's early days in 2011, he released two underground mixtapes: Blowin' Out My Mind Vol. 1 and The Intangibles. While recording his third mixtape, Homegrown Vol. 1, he has been recording with the producers, The Avengerz, since April 2011. When Caskey was sixteen years old, his father committed suicide, and a few of his songs reference the aftermath of his father's actions - much like what Caskey rapped about painfully on "The Deep End." (Source: Caskey (rapper)- Wikipedia.)

I really liked Caskey from what I heard through Twiztid, but to be honest, I didn't check out more of his work after constantly listening to "The Deep End." He follows me on Twitter and after I saw his follow, I followed him back. I've been keeping up with his work and when I saw he released Black Sheep mixtape on free download, I was excited to give it a listen. I tweeted him the question, "will you be releasing this on a physical CD? I would love to buy a copy." I was so excited when I won a signed physical copy of Black Sheep.

I love Black Sheep and the mixtape doesn't disappoint. I love the styles of each song, the beats, and the messages behind the lyrics. Black Sheep is very deep and visceral - it struck me at my core, which I think Caskey was going for. Since I'm around his age, I could relate well to the songs. I listened to this CD when I walked to work, when I was taking the Rambler to Wegmans and again coming home. Sun Goes Down, Tats On My Neck, Come N Get It and When I'm Gone are my absolute favorites.

I wasn't disappointed with this CD and I would definitely recommend Black Sheep. I'm going to listen to more of Caskey - I'm excited to listen to more of his work: he's awesome and talented.



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Frozen




I will admit that I have been out of the loop regarding Frozen for the past year. Since I don't have children and there are not many young people in my family, Frozen wasn't on the top of my list to watch. I do work in a library and heard great things about the movie: I thought in April I'd check the movie out to see what all the fuss was about. Well, the library's copies were on hold until last week. I was stunned the copy we had in the adult department (one in the adult department, one in the children's department - I guess adults do love Frozen) didn't pop a hold and so I checked it out to watch.

On Friday night, dad lit the fire place and we sat down to watch Frozen. While the fire raged, we bopped along with the music. Frozen is definitely a musical and I gathered it takes place in Norway since they mention fjords and lutefisk (lutefisk is a Christmas fish dish that is served in Norway). I researched the origins of Frozen and according to Wikipedia, Frozen is based off of a Hans Christian Andersen's story called "Snedronningen" or "The Snow Queen":

An evil troll (called the "devil")[2] has made a magic mirror that distorts the appearance of everything it reflects. It fails to reflect the good and beautiful aspects of people and things, while magnifying their bad and ugly aspects. The devil, who teaches a "devil school," took the mirror and his pupils throughout the world, delighting in using it to distort everyone and everything; the mirror made the loveliest landscapes look like "boiled spinach." They tried to carry the mirror into Heaven with the idea of making fools of the angels and God, but the higher they lifted it, the more the mirror grinned and shook with delight, and it slipped from their grasp and fell back to earth, shattering into millions of pieces. These splinters — some no larger than a grain of sand — were blown around and got into people's hearts and eyes, freezing their hearts like blocks of ice and making their eyes like the troll-mirror itself, seeing only the bad and ugly in people and things.
Vilhelm Pedersen illustration
Years later, a little boy Kai and a little girl Gerda live next door to each other in the garrets of buildings with adjoining roofs in a large city. One could get from Gerda's to Kai's home just by stepping over the gutters of each building. The two families grow vegetables and roses in window boxes placed on the gutters. Gerda and Kai have a window-box garden to play in, and they become devoted to each other as playmates.
Kai's grandmother tells the children about the Snow Queen, who is ruler over the "snow bees" — snowflakes that look like bees. As bees have a queen, so do the snow bees, and she is seen where the snowflakes cluster the most. Looking out of his frosted window one winter, Kai sees the Snow Queen, who beckons him to come with her. Kai draws back in fear from the window.
By the following spring, Gerda has learned a song that she sings to Kai: Where the roses deck the flowery vale, there, infant Jesus thee we hail! Because roses adorn the window box garden, the sight of roses always reminds Gerda of her love for Kai.
On a pleasant summer day, splinters of the troll-mirror get into Kai's heart and eyes while he and Gerda are looking at a picture book in their window-box garden. Kai becomes cruel and aggressive. He destroys their window-box garden, he makes fun of his grandmother, and he no longer cares about Gerda, since all of them now appear bad and ugly to him. The only beautiful and perfect things to him now are the tiny snowflakes that he sees through a magnifying glass.
The following winter, Kai goes out with his sled to play in the snowy market square and — as was the custom — hitches it to a curious white sleigh carriage, driven by the Snow Queen, who appears as a woman in a white fur-coat. Outside the city she reveals herself to Kai and kisses him twice: once to numb him from the cold, and a second time to make him forget about Gerda and his family; a third kiss would kill him. She takes Kai in her sleigh to her palace. The people of the city conclude that Kai died in the nearby river. Gerda, heartbroken, goes out to look for him and questions everyone and everything about Kai's whereabouts. She offers her new red shoes to the river in exchange for Kai; by not taking the gift at first, the river lets her know that Kai did not drown. Gerda next visits an old sorceress with a beautiful garden of eternal summer. The sorceress wants Gerda to stay with her forever, so she causes Gerda to forget all about Kai, and causes all the roses in her garden to sink beneath the earth, since she knows that the sight of them will remind Gerda of her friend. Gerda's warm tears raise one bush above the ground, and it tells her that it could see all the dead while it was under the earth, and Kai is not among them. Gerda flees and meets a crow, who tells her that Kai is in the princess's palace. Gerda goes to the palace and meets the princess and the prince, who is not Kai, but looks like him. Gerda tells them her story, and they provide her with warm clothes and a beautiful coach. While traveling in the coach Gerda is captured by robbers and brought to their castle, where she befriends a little robber girl, whose pet doves tell her that they saw Kai when he was carried away by the Snow Queen in the direction of Lapland. The captive reindeer Bae tells her that he knows how to get to Lapland since it is his home.
Vilhelm Pedersen illustration
The robber girl frees Gerda and the reindeer to travel north to the Snow Queen's palace. They make two stops: first at the Lapp woman's home and then at the Finn woman's home. The Finn woman tells the reindeer that the secret of Gerda's unique power to save Kai is in her sweet and innocent child's heart:
Vilhelm Pedersen illustration
When Gerda reaches the Snow Queen's palace, she is halted by the snowflakes guarding it. She prays the Lord's Prayer, which causes her breath to take the shape of angels, who resist the snowflakes and allow Gerda to enter the palace. Gerda finds Kai alone and almost immobile on a frozen lake, which the Snow Queen calls the "Mirror of Reason", on which her throne sits. Kai is engaged in the task that the Snow Queen gave him: he must use pieces of ice like a Chinese puzzle to form characters and words. If he is able to form the word "eternity" (DanishEvigheden) the Snow Queen will release him from her power and give him a pair of skates. Gerda runs up to Kai and kisses him, and he is saved by the power of her love: Gerda weeps warm tears on him, melting his heart and burning away the troll-mirror splinter in it. As a result, Kai bursts into tears (which dislodge the splinter from his eye) and becomes cheerful and healthy again with sparkling eyes and rosy cheeks, and also recognizes Gerda. He and Gerda dance around on the lake of ice so joyously that the splinters of ice Kai had been playing with are caught up into the dance. When they tire of dancing they fall down to spell "eternity," the very word Kai was trying to spell. Even if the Snow Queen were to return (although it is never said where), she would be obliged to free Kai. Kai and Gerda then leave the Snow Queen's domain with the help of the reindeer, the Finn woman, and the Lapp woman. They meet the robber girl, and from there they walk back to their home, "the big city."
Kai and Gerda find that everything at home is the same and that it is they who have changed; they are now grown up, and are also delighted to see that it is summertime.
At the end, the grandmother reads a passage from the Bible:
"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

Although Frozen doesn't follow that premise 100%, there are hints of Andersen's story in Frozen's story line. Elsa is banished until three years after her parents die in a boating accident and Anna, her little sister, pushes Elsa at her coronation that makes her unleash her icy powers. Fear produces ice and Elsa plunges Arundel in a permanent winter. How does Anna push Elsa? Anna meets a prince and spontaneously they decide to get married. Elsa says no and Anna, being unaware of what is wrong with Elsa (Elsa almost killed Anna when they were children and if Elsa aimed at Anna's heart, Anna would have died. Elsa was banished after that), reacts badly to the answer since Anna felt like she was shut out of everything in life.

When Elsa runs to the mountains, Anna runs after her and her prince runs Arundel. Anna meets Kristoff and Olaf. I won't write about the entire plot because if you haven't seen the movie, you should. I will say Anna and Kristoff do fall in love, but Olaf shows his love to Anna as well. Olaf is naive, but he's so cute. Olaf was the snowman (yes, he was my favorite character)!

I loved the musical scores in Frozen. Yesterday as I was baking cookies, I was singing "Let It Go" and "Do You Want to Build A Snowman?" I would definitely recommend this movie and I think it's a perfect movie for all ages. It's not like the Lion King (the way my friends that have kids were explaining, I was comparing it to the Lion King since I would play that movie over and over as a kid), but it's unique and I think all ages would laugh along with Olaf, sing along with the songs and relate to the characters. Definitely check out Frozen!





Saturday, November 22, 2014

Property of Slim Shady

Today Susie posted Bruiser Girl and it reminded me of a middle school memory I have. Well, I have a lot of middle school memories, but there is one in particular that makes me giggle. When I was 12 years old, I had a HUGE crush on Eminem... actually, I think crush is a mild word because it was more like an obsession with Eminem. Looking back at my diary from back then, I chronicled how I'd marry Eminem some day and all would be happy (ah, gotta love 11 and 12 year olds).

The summer of 2001 was my last year of summer camp because 12 was the oldest you could attend. I remember there was this younger girl at camp - I'd say she was 3 years younger than me, so she was 9. Everyone between the ages of 8-12 and knew who Eminem was and since I was in a silly mood that summer, I said I was engaged to Eminem. She believed me. For the ring, I had a ruby ring my parents bought me one Christmas, so I wore it to camp a few times to show off my engagement ring. She fell for it the whole summer and I think I just played along with it until a few days before camp ended (I missed the final two days of camp since I had my first period). I came clean before camp ended and she was so mad, but she did laugh. Looking back, with the legality of that... yeah, if that was true... Eminem would have been in jail. But, young people don't know that... I guess that's how naive we were.

I used to have a shirt that said "PROPERTY OF SLIM SHADY" that my friend Anna from Tower City bought me for Christmas 2001 (along with Kittie's Spit... that was the first year I got into heavy metal music... so 2001 was when I started with heavy metal, 2002 with grunge and classic rock and 2003 with Twiztid and horrorcore). I wore that shirt so much; I wish I knew what happened to it. I did a Google search for the shirt and I couldn't find it at all - I guess the shirt was something a mom and pop store created and that's why I can't find it. The lettering was like this:



I might have to recreate it myself. It was a white shirt and the lettering was in red. :) Ah, that was such a funny time in my life.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Snapfish Pre-Thanksgiving Day Sale

As a Snapfish member, I receive many e-mails from them a week. I've been a member since 2010 and order all my pictures through this site. Their quality is great and they have great prices. Many retailers are having pre-Black Friday sales this week and Snapfish is following trend.

This weekend, you can create a calendar and order three of them for the price of one. It also comes with free gift wrap. I decided to create a few because three of them for $26.95 is a great opportunity.





They are also having a picture sale - 999 prints for $9.99 or penny prints. They also have other sales - if you're interested and a photographer, I would suggest joining Snapfish. You won't regret it and can order many reasonably priced gifts that are made by you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful/Positive Writing

I am no longer on Facebook personally, but I did keep a nom de plume account (yes, I'm one of those people that have a teddy bear account for one of my favorite stuffed animals) and I noticed when I signed on the other week that people have been writing what they are thankful for each day for the month of November. The social media accounts I do have personally, yes including Instagram, people have been participating in this exercise.

I hold a Thankful Thursday each week on my blog and oftentimes I do this daily in a paper journal. Why do I do this? Why do others choose to do this around Thanksgiving? For me, I know taking time to reflect on things to be thankful for alleviates any depression I might have. I tend to be negative at times and taking time to look at the big picture of my life grounds me to see, "Well, it's not all bad. Yes, a situation or situations might not be ideal, but I do have a lot going for me and I'm thankful for it." Working in a library I am exposed to many books and last Spring I decided to check out a book on positivity. One of the essay writers suggested keeping a journal to write about what you are thankful and positive thoughts for fifteen minutes each day. It helped her.

But, why does writing about positive events and being thankful for things help people? In the abstract from the National Institute of Health, stated that, "Writing about positive experiences led to improved physical health (measured 4-6 weeks after writing) compared to control and higher levels of global cognitive focus after writing mediated this effect. Notably, while the positive writing condition was more broadened than control, positive affect was not responsible for this difference. Implications for disclosive writing and the broaden and build model are discussed."

Psych Central's blog contends that positive writing can "increase peoples’ positive emotions and moods. One research study revealed that when a group of participants wrote about positive emotional experiences it related to a significant increase in measures of life-satisfactionalong with a few suggestions on how to get started.


  • Write about future life goals.
  • Journaling about positive experiences.
  • Start a blog about things and ideas that inspire you.
  • Write a happiness essay.
  • Write a happy and positive song or poem.

I challenge everyone to take 10-15 minutes out of their busy days to write something positive from an experience they might have to something you felt proud about today and something you're thankful for. Try something like this:

I remember the first time I visited Green Bay in 2011. I planned and financed the trip all by myself - I put money aside each week for the expenses of my visit and had some money saved already for the plane ticket and hotel. When the trip finally happened in August 2011, the experiences were more than what I envisioned when I planned seeing a Packers game, going to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, the historical societies and meeting people. I met wonderful people and a few of them became great friends; people I will use as contacts for when I do finally prepare to move, but their friendship now has been a great asset. The Packers game was fun - they beat the Cardinals and just the atmosphere was fun. Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary took my breath away with feeding the ducks and looking at owls.

I am thankful for Ally suggesting that I should treat myself to a trip: treat myself to one place I've always wanted to go. Being a Packers fan, it was natural. I'm thankful that she encouraged me to take such a leap... a leap that inspired me to save for a whole year to explore more of Wisconsin in 2012 - another experience I'm grateful for.

Thankful Thursday 11/20/2014:
I am thankful for my health. I had my physical today and I lost 20 pounds since last year. My thyroid is back on track and everything else looked great: I am an extremely healthy 25 year old young woman, the doctor said. He gave me kudos for the major improvement and said to keep doing what I'm doing. I love taking my walks and zoning out to my iPod, I love walking to work and I am happy with the results of walking plus watching what I eat.

Today the signed CD I won from Caskey came in. I'm so excited to listen to it - I'm thankful that are still artists out there who care about their fans and hold these types of contests. It was so exciting to see last Friday when I was randomly chosen as the winner. Today has been a good day for me.

Do this for a month and see how you feel. Who knows, it might become second nature to do such a wonderful thing. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

15 Things You’ll Only Relate To If You’re A Cancer Sign

Every once in a while I love participating in random merit badge giveaways on Writing.com. One of the genres for this month is astrology and we could win an astrology merit badge if the participant writes a poem, short story, essay or article about any astrological sign. Since I was born on the Fourth of July, my sign is cancer. I know moodiness is common with Cancers and oh boy, I really define moodiness well. I wanted to write about my sign, but wanted to do more research. I found this site: 15 Things You'll Only Relate To If You're a Cancer Sign and dang, I'm definitely a cancer!


  • You really trust your gut: Oh yeah. Though for a few years I tried ignoring my gut to give people the benefit of the doubt. In grade school, people thought I was guarded because I had that sixth sense. I've learned my gut/intuition have never been wrong and now I rely on those feelings hardcore. Sometimes I do talk it through with trusted friends to make sure I'm not day dreaming about things and oftentimes my gut/intuition is onto something.
  • You're always daydreaming: Although, I don't want to be a unicorn. I rather write a bestseller, travel the world, host my own travel show, start a business, be a gourmet chef, etc. Though, some of those things can be accomplished, it's just realizing those things take time and to be patient.
  • You actually have a lot of #feels in general: Yeah, "feels" should be my middle name. It seems like I feel every emotion and can feel everyone else's aura too. Seriously, I can pick up on if someone is in a bad mood because I'll catch it and be in a bad mood as well. Same as a good mood and a meh mood. I have been called intense too, probably because all the emotions I feel.
  • You remember everything: On Saturday, my aunt was talking about the car my cousins use now. I said, "Yeah, you bought that car one week before 9/11 in 2001. It was a sunny day, still warm. It was a Saturday because 9/11 happened on a Tuesday and it was Saturday because we were volunteering at the Elmwood Park Zoo." She was amazed and most people are because of how much I remember. Sometimes I feel like a freak with that ability. :\ I am the go to person with remembering birthdays. I never forget birthdays or it's rare that I do. Maybe that's why I was pretty good with history.
Overall, that list is me to the "T." I can get pretty crabby and people have accused me of being negative, but I'm also nurturing and people do come to me for help. And looking at the image of Mr. Crabs, I think that is a good likeness of me when I am feeling crabby:


Anyway, here is the poem I wrote: Cancerian Memories. I can't wait to get a merit badge. Astrology has always been a favorite of mine and I always loved reading about sign personalities.