Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Huzzah!

Congratulations, Sir Terry Pratchett!

This is a joyous day for hedgehogs everywhere because Terry is the inventor of The Hedgehog Song.  The version that I've linked to was strung together by Heather Wood using bits of verses taken from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels.  Warning: extremely suggestive lyrics.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bat's Day...Part One?

I think I've mentioned this before in brief, but I'll say it again for clarity's sake: once a year a bunch of goths get dressed up and go to Disneyland. This is known as Bats Day. It started back in 1999 when a group of about 80 death rockers, under the promotion of local goth/industrial and death rock clubs decided to go to have a blast at Disneyland in full goth regalia (which, keep in mind, would be normal attire for them). The next year they had about 200 people and the number has continued to grow. To quote the website, Bats Day has become possibly "the premier event on the West Coast for the Gothic and Industrial subculture of all ages." Yep, that's right. This event is entirely family friendly! There is nothing more adorable than seeing a young goth couple, dressed head to toe in black velvet and lace pushing around a stroller with a sleeping infant wrapped up in a pink blanky. Nothing.

Much like Gay Days, which should be obvious enough not to require furthur explanation, Disneyland is not officially associated with this event. Meaning, it's not an event run, advertised, or officially hosted by the park. That being said, nearly all the cast members know about Bats Day and the park treats it like any other group event or convention.

Those who know me in real life know that I'm not really what you'd call "goth" unless we're talking about the literary and historical sense of the word. I might have gone goth for a while when I was a teenager if it wasn't so much damn work and when it comes right down to it I am, after all, a lazy genius. So I spent Middle School with my nose buried in a book, wearing inordinate amounts of clacky jewelry and High School much the same...sans jewelry. But the one thing I have always loved since I was five years old is an excuse to dress up. An excuse to dress up and go to Disneyland? Even better!

So the next morning I woke up and went to make sure Evan was awake. Once that was done I decided to let the girls sleep for a bit while I took my medication. Afterwards I crept into Kyra's room to wake the girls. They rolled out of bed and I went to get dressed and do my goth makeup, which was pretty minimal considering how elaborate goth makeup can get. I made myself a skirt with a faux bustle (someone remind me to take a picture of that and post it) and a pair of purple bloomers with black lace that I wound up not wearing cause I thought it would be too warm. I'll probably wear them for Bad Faeries Day at the next Faerieworlds or something.

So I put those on and shared my lip stain and sparkles with Kyra and her friend Sarah. Evan came out in black pants and some kind of long sleeved shirt that made him look perfectly emo. We were going to put eyeliner on him but I knew if we did he'd be rubbing his eyeballs all day. So we left it at that and went out to say bye to Jolie. She took some pictures with her iPhone, which for some reason blogger doesn't want to upload. I'll try those again later.

The kids decided they wanted Jamba Juice and bagels for breakfast so we drove down the hill to...Ventura? Normandie? I dunno, one of those major streets in L.A. that runs along the 101. Anyway, the girls waited in the car while Evan and I split up to get breakfast. Evan went for the bagels and I got the smoothies. We met up back at the car and devoured breakfast before getting on the freeway and starting off for Disneyland. We listened to Kamelot and Ayreon on the way there, which is symphonic power metal and rock opera/progressive metal, not goth music. But it was fun anyway. I know, I know. I listen to to weirdest stuff. Anyway, going to Disneyland from Jolie's house is an interesting experience because it's almost like taking the 5 back to my house. It took a little longer than I'm used to but we made it there without any trouble.

We parked in the character parking lot and made our way down the escalator towards the tram. Kyra was feeling a bit nervous all dressed in black and pink and immediately started looking around for goths, as if I had made up the whole concept of Bats Day just for giggles. She didn't have to look hard though. As soon as we got down to the tram we were met by the familiar sea of black that marks Bats Day in the fun park. One guy in particular was standing in the middle open area of the tram stop sporting an elegant walking stick in one hand and a skull in the other. Don't know about the skull but he was wearing this beautiful 18th century floor-length coat that I totally wanted to steal.

I soon wished that I'd worn my bloomers. It was uncharacteristically chilly that day and I kept my pirates of the caribbean jacket on most of the day. It has skulls on it though, so it's all good. We got in line to buy our tickets and just as Evan was purchasing his and Kyra's tickets a group of three goths came up to us and asked how many tickets we were buying. It turned out that one of them worked at Disneyland and could sign in a certain amount of people and she needed to use up those spots before they expired. So Evan took his ticket that he'd already bought an Kyra wound up getting in absolutely free! How cool is that? This just goes to prove what I've been saying for the longest time: goths are really nice, friendly people underneath all that makeup and spooky clothing. We thanked them multiple times and wished them a happy Bats Day before continuing into the park.

I think the first thing we did was get junk food. Kyra had some cotton candy that she was nice enough to share with us. We ate that while we waited in line for Space Mountain. Here's Kyra in the black and pink tutu I made for her to wear on Bats Day. It's got a black velvet pointed overskirt with silver bells and it was hella easy to make.

She's cute, isn't she?

After Space Mountain we stopped to watch the Jedi Training Academy show. For those who have never seen this before, you are totally missing out. I wish I was seven years old again just so I could join in. It's totally unfair that this wasn't around when I was a kid, but I'll admit it's pretty cool for the kids that are around now. Basically they give a bunch of kids Jedi robes and lightsabres and teach them some moves with the lightsabres. Then Darth Vader and Darth Maul show up and each kid gets a turn to fight them. The guy playing the Jedi Master, who runs the whole thing is always wonderfully sarcastic and it's always enjoyable to watch.

Just look at this kid. Holy crap, it's Darth Vader! omgomgomg!! Remember your training, Kid! May the Force be with you.

After that I think we did the Matterhorn. I love the Matterhorn. It's especially fun when you're not sharing a seat with anyone else because then you slide all over the place. Weeee! We stopped in front of the castle at some point to see what the turnout was for the first scheduled group picture of the day and all I can say is Oh. My. God. You couldn't even see the castle from Main Street. Just an ocean of black across the drawbridge. I think the final count at the end of the day was around 2,000 people. We opted out for the castle picture and decided we would make it to the Haunted Mansion photo shoot later that night.

We went on Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean after that. Two major musts when visiting Disneyland.

Ooo, there's shiny things down there!


Avast me hearties! Ye haven't seen any 'o them Jack Sparrow fangirls hereabouts, have ye? They give me the willies.

We also made Evan go on Peter Pan. Why, you ask? Because Peter Pan is awesome, that's why. The line for Peter Pan is always an hour wait. No more, and hardly ever less. It used to be that every time I went to Disneyland I had to go on Peter Pan. I'd make my parents stand there and wait an hour for a ride that lasts less than two minutes. Remember those days, Dad? I'm sure you do. The fun part about waiting in line for Peter Pan is you get to stare at Snow White's Scary Adventure, which is right across the way and is easily one of the most hilarious rides in the park once you get inside. No, really. It's up there with Winnie the Pooh in terms of hilarity. Go ride it.

But the fun part isn't just staring at the outside of the ride, it's waiting for this to happen:

Mwahahaha!!!

I'm kinda surprised how few people know about this, but I guess it just goes to show how many times I've been to Disneyland in the 22 years of my existence. For those of you who may not know, get this: there's a curtained window above Snow White's Scary Adventures and every five minutes or so (I've never timed it, but I probably should) the curtains draw back and the wicked queen appears in the window. Just look at that smug expression of her face. You know she's plotting something. This bit of Disney trivia brought to you by college students who have nothing better to do.

Here's Kyra and Sarah about to board the magical pirate ship that will take them to Candy Mountain Neverland.


Think lovely thoughts ^.^

We did lots of stuff after Peter Pan. Ran around, ate junk food, had our picture taken by random people while we were minding our own business. Some of them might wind up on the Bats Day website if the webmaster ever gets around to updating the photo section. I'm sure I made them go on Winnie the Pooh, which is the closest you will ever come to experiencing an acid trip. We thought briefly about going on Splash Mountain but Kyra was getting over the flu and it was still kinda cold so we decided not to. Perhaps next time.


Here's the gratuitous Timmy shot, kindly taken by Kyra's friend Sarah as we waited outside Pirates of the Caribbean.


Later in the evening the kids decided they wanted to go on Autopia before heading over to The Haunted Mansion. There's another ride I used to drag my dad on when I was little. Ah, how I fondly recall his argument of "I didn't drive an hour to get here just so I could wait in line an hour to drive again!" But hey, I was too short to reach the pedal so he went on with me whether he liked it or not. I get it now if it's any consolation, Dad.

Needless to say I didn't feel much like driving, so I decided to ride with Evan even though he didn't need any help reaching the pedal. Kyra and Sarah went for separate cars of course and the two of them thought it would be hilarious to practice their bad driving skills by calling each other on their cell phones. Evan got in on it too and called his mom as we raced with Kyra.


*Ka-THUMP!* Aw, snap. Floor it Kyra! I think that was Pluto you hit back there o.o



Evan, just so you know...I really don't wanna die.

Nah, just kidding. Evan did really good considering the Autopia is a heck of a lot harder to drive after you've learned how to drive a real car. Evan's getting his license soon, he's already got a car and everything. We got to go "off-roading" this time. I've never been on the dirt path before, it was neat. We managed to beat Kyra, which wasn't hard because she kept stopping every time she answered the phone. It was pretty funny.

After that it was time to get in line at The Haunted Mansion. There was a huge amount of people there. The cast members managed the crowd by having one line for people doing the Bats Day photo and another line for everyone else. We got into our line with all the goths and sat around to wait. Everyone was really nice ^.^ We made small talk with the people next to us and a couple others even offered us leftover Halloween candy! This is more or less what the line looked like from where we stood. Taken from the side of The Haunted Mansion

There were sooooo many people!

Eventually the line started moving and we got to have our picture taken at the front of the mansion. One of the dudes running this thing was counting us as we went in. I think Kyra was number 1,500 or something and the guy threw up his hands and shouted, "Congratulations! You win...nothing!" We laughed and kept going. I think the final count by the end of the night was around 2,000 people. We had our picture taken and then went through the ride. Everyone there was really cheerful and witty and we had a bunch of fun participating in this whole thing :D

Afterwards we went and saw the fireworks cause the fireworks are awesome. Evan was sad because we missed Fantasmic, though. Sorry, Evan. We'll get it next time. We tried to go on Indiana Jones but it was broken :( Jolie called right around then and told us we had to go home because poor Kyra had school the next morning. So we went down to Main Street so I could load up on caffeine for the drive home.

I got my nummy Disneyland coffee and we got on the tram and fetched the car. Evan stayed up for a bit but the girls passed out the minute I got on the freeway. I made it back to Jolie's without any problem, though I had to change the music to something less predictable when I started getting drowsy. I switched it over to one of my mix cds and the girls woke up when the Moulin Rouge songs came on because they recognized them. We got home shortly after (around 11:45) and all went off to bed.

I wish I had The Haunted Mansion photo to post, but I'm still waiting for the website to put them up :( I keep checking frequently and will post it here as soon as it's up. According to the Bats Dat website, Bats Day has been moved...again. This Bats Day was in November, before that it was in August. Now they're moving it to May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and saying that it's going to stay there. So who knows? We may wind up going again. Yay for Bats Day! :D

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Timmy visits the Getty Museum.

Ok, Skeeve reminded me that I need to post about Bats Day. But first, the Getty!

So for my art history class I had to visit the Getty Museum and write about three works of art that I liked or otherwise found interesting. It turned out Evan had to do something similar for his ceramics class so I made arrangements to spend the night at Jolie's the day before Bats Day so Evan and I could get our homework done. Timmy was excited. This was his first museum trip!

For those who don't know, or if it's been too long since you've been there, this is what the outside of the Getty looks like! This is a shot of the steps leading up to the main entrance after you get off the tram. Yes, there's a tram that takes you to the museum. Just like Disneyland!

The Getty Museum is home to a wide variety of modern and classical art. With that being said, Evan and I had fun trying to figure out what the hell this thing is. I thought it looked like a lacrosse bat and Evan thought it looked like the end of a putting iron or something. Somehow I don't think either of us were right.



We wandered around and looked at stuff. Ancient stuff, old stuff, classical stuff, modern stuff, and food stuff. Evan and I hadn't eaten so we decided to grab a bite at the cafe before they closed. I had this chicken sammich thingy with fig spread that turned out to be pretty good. Evan had caesar salad and m&ms. No, not at the same time, geeze.



We didn't get to the Getty until 4:00 or so. So the sun started to set shortly after we arrived. I don't think I've ever been to the Getty at sunset before, it's quite pretty. We finished lunchfest and continued to wander around the museum. I wanted to try and get in a couple of modern paintings since my art history class this semester covers the Renaissance to the present day.

We soon discovered that the Getty Museum is awesome at night. They were open till nine that night and I think we stayed until at least 7:30. Hardly anyone is around and thus you can take as long as you like to browse the artwork. There's no crowding, no tourists pushing to the front, and no noise. Museums at night are just neat. If you've been reading my novel for NaNoWriMo this year, it's probably what inspired that museum scene I put in there.

Here's a picture of everyone staring at the sunset. I'm only posting this because Evan thought the kid running through the shot was cute. So eventually we went back inside and started looking at more art stuffs. I found three paintings I wanted to use for my paper and wrote down the necessary information. Then we just sort of goofed around for a while and looked at art. These are the paintings I chose to write about:




The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light by Claude Monet



Mars and Venus, an Allegory of Peace by Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée




Musical Group on a Balcony by Gerrit Van Honthorst



This painting is on the ceiling and a lot of people miss it for that reason. Evan lied down on the floor and took the picture for me. I like this painting a lot. I want it in my house. I also took some pictures of a few painting purely for reasons of comedy but I'll post those one day out of the blue when I'm bored cause this post is pretty image intense already.


After I decided on all the paintings I needed we explored the rest of the museum. We found this neat exhibit where you sit in a chair and a video camera inserts your image into one of the furniture rooms in the Getty that you're not normally allowed to go in. This is what the room itself looks like. The chairs are models of historical pieces of furniture from different rooms. You sit in a different chair, you get a different room. Here we have Evan checking out the video screens in what everyone is now calling the perfect facebook picture. I think this is the artsy-est photo I've ever accidentally taken. This is what the screen looks like when you sit down. Pretty neat, huh? We had fun playing around with that for a while.


Afterwards we wandered around those outside areas where nobody goes and saw some weird statues we'd never seen before. Eventually we realized it was getting kinda late so we went back to the Greek and Roman stuff so Evan could do his ceramics assignment and take down some information on pottery. Evan finished his homework and we went outside and had a snack at one of the food carts that were still open. We had hot chocolate and walked around outside.
We got slightly lost along the outside stairs and balconies trying to go from one pavilion to the other. It was...interesting.

Once we finished our drinks and found our way back inside we decided to check out the exhibits that are usually too crowded during the day to enjoy. I finally got to see Van Gogh's Irises unobstructed. Why is it that Van Gogh painted all his best stuff while he was institutionalized? We wandered around the empty museum a bit more until we found some of Timmy's relatives.



They're guinea pigs in case you can't tell. We spotted them at the bottom of a much larger painting. I can't even remember what it was supposed to be. Some kind of grand painting of mythological figures I think. All Evan and I could care about what the fact that there were two cute little guinea pigs in it. Of course Timmy had to take a picture.


We tried to take one closer but we scared the security guard, who told us we had to maintain a distance of 1 foot from the artwork at all times. I guess he was worried Timmy's quills would scratch up the painting or something. Eventually we decided we'd seen everything there was to see and went back to Jolie's house for the night. I stayed up and worked on my novel while we waited for Kyra's friend to show up. She finally got there around midnight and she and Kyra stayed up into the wee hours of the morning looking up goth makeup tutorials on youtube. I'm not sure when I finally closed the laptop and went to sleep, but the girls were still up when I drifted off to sleep.

Up next: Bats Day! Followed by The Dicken's Fair!

Monday, December 1, 2008

In which novels are born and fog is terrifying

Ok. You guys want to know what happened last night, right? Here goes...

Dad and I got to the airport around 2:30-3:00. My flight was originally scheduled to depart at 4:00 pm. We got there and found out it was delayed until 6:15. I just kind of went "Bwuh..?" while Dad laughed his ass off. So we sat around for four hours. We talked, we looked at the airport museum, we had a snack, I did a little writing for NaNoWriMo. We checked the time again and saw that the plane had been further delayed to 6:50. Oy. Found out later the flight was coming from Seattle and there was too much fog for the plane to safely take off.

So fast forward a bit later when I finally said bye to Dad and got to go through security. The plane boarded at 6:45 but we didn't take off until about 7:15 because they had to re-enter the flight into the computer -_- Finally we got off the ground and were on our way home. I took out my laptop and did some more writing. I was almost to 50k!

So an hour passd and they told us to put our electronics away and prepare for landing--huzzah! Everyone complied and put up their seat trays and then we all started to realize that we were going in circles. WTF, mate? The captain came on the loudspeaker and told us that it was too foggy for us to land in Long Beach. What the f#@%ing hell?! Are you kidding me? Don't you people know I have a novel to turn in tonight?! Sadly they weren't kidding and we continued to circle for twenty minutes while they decided if the weather would get better or if we were going to have to land at another airport.

They said we could use our phones so I called God and let her know what was going on. I figured if it was ok to use phones it must be ok to use laptops. So I pulled out my computer and kept writing. There was no way I was going to let this bull get in the way of finishing my novel.

The weather only got worse and they diverted us to Ontario, which is an hour away by car. We sat on the runway for another forty five minutes. Meanwhile I finished with 50,063 words by 10:00pm and I had no way of uploading it D: I tried looking for an internet connection from the plane but no dice. We sat there while they tried to decide if they would fly us back to Long Beach or shuttle us back in buses. I was on the phone to God and Dad letting them know what was going on as I got more details. All the while they only thing I could think of was my poor novel waiting to be uploaded.

Finally they told us they were going to bus us into Long Beach, which takes about an hour. But first we had to wait for them to find some stairs that would fit our plane. >.<>

Meanwhile I'm standing there with my laptop open, battery nearly drained, looking forlornly for a wireless signal. I found one that looked like the airport wireless network. I had to pay $3.99 for it. Damn. My insanity won out however and I purchased the internet only to find that the connection kept timing out and I was unable to log on. ARRRGGH! I turned off my computer again, wandered around the baggage area, and waited for my bag. I talked to God and we decided I would try and take a cab home from Long Beach since she had to be up at 6:00 the next morning to go to work. I found out that the airport was also a T Mobile hotspot, but that cost money too and I still needed to figure out how I was getting home.

I got my bag after much waiting around and found some other passengers who looked just as lost as I was. We found out that the buses were outside, all the way down the street, waiting for us. Luckily, we found them without any further trouble and boarded the bus. We sat there for another twenty minutes or so waiting for other passengers to turn up. It was getting closer to midnight and I was near tears at this point. It was so disappointing to have legitimately won the 50k challenge with no way to validate my word count.

My battery was very low at this point. I had maybe ten to fifteen minutes of battery left. In a fit of insanity I turned on my laptop and logged on to the T Mobile hot spot. I found a payment option for $2.99 for one hour. I bought it. I had internet access! I quickly opened word, copied and pasted my entire manuscript into the validation box and sent it in at 11:38 pm. I was rewarded with the image of a viking long ship and a message of congratulations with the word "Winner!" emblazoned across the screen. I did it. I was a novelist.

I was so happy and so relieved and so amazed at how important this whole thing had been to me. 50,000 words is the most I have ever written, ever and reaching that was a glorious feeling. I talked to Skeeve for a bit until God called and I decided to save my battery. The bus took off for Long Beach and it was an hour drive back home. Luckily I had my iPod so I rocked out in the dark, reveling in the feeling of being an author again.

The closer we got to Long Beach, the scarier the fog became. This was scary fog. This was fog that is going to swallow you up and eat you and spit out your bones fog. We couldn't see a damn thing. We made it to Long Beach airport around 1:00 in the morning. I got my bag and looked around for a taxi. After some initial confusion I found the place where they all live. Some guy was getting chewed out by the...um...I guess you'd call him the taxi manager for insulting a customer. I think he was fired. That was scary o.o

I got a cab and started home. It took a while because the fog was that thick. Creepy fog. Finally managed to get home at 1:45 am. The cab fare was exorbitant but at least I was home. Rob was so happy to see me. He was the only one awake when I came home and he would not leave me alone. By his reaction, it was as if Santa had just walked in and Christmas had come early. I said hi to Rob and then went in and woke up God to let her know I was home. I stayed up for another hour talking to Skeeve about the craziness of the evening and finally crashed right around 3:00 am.

So there you are. Now you're all up to date. Whew.

Oh my f#@%ing God!

I cannot begin to describe what I had to go through to get home from San Francisco. So look for an update this week on my adventures with JetBlue and the Fog of DOOOM.

In the meantime, I have discovered that noveling makes me insane. I actually bought internet while I was at the Ontario airport (long story) when I only had about fifteen minutes of battery left on my laptop and miraculously managed to upload my novel to NaNoWriMo by 11:38 and win. Not only did I win, but I found out when I got home that I still managed to beat Quizmo by 44 words. The Dark Gods of Writing have heard my prayers and answered my call. This means a sacrifice is in order.

But look what I have to show for it. Check this out, baby.



Oh yeah...


It feels good to be an author.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

We're off, eh wot?

Goin' to San Francisco, brb!

My flight is delayed because of fog in SF. This makes me laugh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

National Novel Writing Month


I know, I know. I haven't been around for a while. What gives, you ask? Well, the truth is I've been consumed with this thing called NaNoWriMo. It's short for National Novel Writing Month. This thing is actually world wide and the objective is to write 50,000 words (roughly 150 pages) in the month of November. Starting November 1st and ending November 30th. If you make it to 50,000 words you win. That's it. You just...win. You get a certificate and the right to claim that you have written a novel.


You get an encouraging email from a published author that supports the site every week to keep your spirits up. Among these authors are the well known Piers Anthony and Phillip Pullman. Yeah, it's pretty cool. I'm doing this mainly so I can start writing something and actually finish it. NaNoWriMo is all about getting people to write. It doesn't have to be good, it doesn't even have to make sense. It's all about adventure and the joy of writing. I'm currently around 13,500 words which is the most I've ever written consistently ever.


Actually, I'm a little behind in my quota. It's day 11 of NaNoWriMo and I should be closer to 18,000. So I'm gonna go back to writing now. Just wanted to let everyone know I'm not dead. I'll get a real blog post about Bats Day up as soon as I catch up on my writing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted! Did you? If you haven't, go now before the guilt monkeys get you!


This message brought to you by Hedgehogs for Obama.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sewings

So I've got a couple of sewing projects coming up. I still have to finish my Ghawazee coat for Friday. I'll probably work on that today when I get home from school. I'm still working on the muslin mock up to get the pattern right before I cut into my nice fabric.

Kyra also wants me to make her a black and pink tutu for Bats Day so I have to remember to pick up tulle at Joanne's sometime this week. I also noticed that I have some leftover red stretchy velvet fabric from one of Skeeve's skirts. I was thinking of making some traditional arm warmers for God and Skeeve. I'm sure Skeeve could use them in Washington.

Oh, Denise just showed up. I think I'll talk to her now. Ok bye.

Update: *sigh* Making patterns is hard. I may want to start thinking about other options if I don't finish this coat in time for Friday.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In which cupcakes are made and Australians are insulted

So Thursday night I made cupcakes for this going away party God was having for one of her coworkers. I was told that the lady in question was originally from Australia and was moving to Colorado. So I was requested to make something incorporating both those places. Um...ok, we'll deal with that one later. I decided I was going to make red velvet and pumpkin cupcakes since I'd been wanting to try out those two recipes.

Let me take this moment to explain just how much I hate my oven. Years ago, the original knob that controls the temperature fell off and was never seen again. For a time we had an oven thermometer in there so we could more or less gauge the temperature. Then that thing broke and we haven't been able to find another one. I tried to explain to God how she could use a remote thermometer a la Alton Brown but she was having none of it. So now whenever I want to bake something it's anyone's guess what the actual temperature is. Generally the knob has to be about 100 degrees higher than the temperature you want. So if you're trying to bake your cupcakes at 350 you want the knob to be somewhere around 450. Even so it's still anyone's guess.

So with that in mind I preheated the oven to somewhere around 350 and started baking. Red velvet cake is the most fattening cake in existence. I didn't truly realize this until I made it myself. It contains 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil, 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk, and three eggs. With this much fat going into the mix you can bet it's going to be a tasty cake. The whole thing smelled a bit odd at first because of the buttermilk and vinegar and such. But as soon as the sugar and cocoa powder went in it was all good. I ran out of red food coloring at this point and had to run up to the store in my PJs to grab some. Luckily I found a container of just red coloring, which was all I needed, and hurried back home.

It took two tablespoons plus two teaspoons of food coloring to give the batter that deep red color. Then it was time to taste the batter because....well, who doesn't? It was nummy. Sweet and delicious and slightly tangy. Into the paper lined cupcake pan and then into the oven. While the cupcakes were baking away it was time to get started on the cream cheese frosting.

I had no idea my frosting recipe would yield quite as much as it did. Two gianourmous bowls of the stuff. I guess I should have seen it coming. It was basically a pound of butter, a pound and a half of cream cheese, two pounds of sugar and some vanilla and it was gooooooood. Like omg party in your mouth good. So I covered the frosting and put it in the fridge so I could get started on the pumpkin cupcakes.

I have to say the pumpkin cupcake recipe I got from cooks.com was very badly written. In the process of making the cupcakes I forgot one of the ingredients because it didn't say in the recipe when to add it. It was in the ingredient list but never mentioned in the actual instructions. Weird. So those went into the oven and the red velvets came out. After cooling it was time to frost. I did almost half of them before I realized that if I frosted them all now with cream cheese frosting they'd all have to go in the fridge. Oops. I put the ones I did frost in the outside fridge and decided I'd do the rest in the morning right before I left. I gave God one of the red velvets to taste. She didn't like it. I thought they were fine. I wound up overcooking the pumpkin. They didn't actually burn per say, but they got a little too brown on top which made them chewier than they were supposed to be. I decided I would make a fresh batch in the morning as it was starting to get a bit late.

I still had to make this thing that would incorporate Australia and Colorado. Well...Australia has kangaroos and Colorado has...um...snow. So guess what she got. Yup. A skiing kangaroo. I pulled out the gum paste and food coloring and got started. It takes a while to get the color you really want because every time you add food coloring you have to tirelessly knead it in to the gum paste. Eventually I got the brown to a point where it resembled kangaroo fur. At least as close as I could bring myself to care cause I really didn't want to knead this sticky stuff anymore. So I got the body of the kangaroo more or less shaped, securing it with toothpicks where necessary. Then I got some pink coloring and kneaded it into a small ball of gumpaste and shaped a matching hat, scarf, and nose. For the skis, I just added black powder to the leftover brown until it was a darker color. For the ski poles I decided to use chocolate pocky. I thought this was a brilliant idea until I opened the package.



See that? That's what old pocky looks like. The chocolate was oxidized and the biscuits were two immovable bricks of fused biscuits. It was a sad sight indeed. This is why you never buy pocky or other asian treats at the mainstream supermarket it you can help it. Don't ask me how, but I managed to pry off a couple biscuits for ski poles. It wasn't easy, but it worked. More or less. And here is the fruit of my labors, a kangaroo which I have fondly named Hobo Joe.


It's ok, you can say it. He looks like a hunched over old hobo trying to find his way back to his nice warm box in the middle of a snowstorm. I didn't beat myself up over this or anything, this was after all my first time working with gum paste. It's just that I couldn't stop laughing at myself. Just look at him. Any minute now he's going to ask me for spare change.

Here's a couple more shots from different angles so you can get the full impression:


Chaaaaaange! Chaaaaange! Spare some change?! Aw c'mon help a marsupial out, will ya? Chaaange!

Ahem. Seriously though. I considered writing a note to this poor lady saying something along the lines of "Please forgive me for insulting your country." Now that that's out of my system I'll get on with the story. The next morning I tossed out the dead pumpkin cupcakes and tried again. This time I added the missing ingredient. I also took out about half the cream cheese frosting to modify it for the pumpkin cupcakes. Basically all I did was add some pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste. It came out really good. Better than the Starbucks stuff. Luckily the cupcakes came out beautifully! I must have had the oven at a good temperature or something. I didn't actually get to taste them but they were more like muffins than cupcakes. That's ok, pumpkin is like that. Once those cooled I frosted all the cupcakes and wrapped them up in cookie sheets and left for Pt. Fermin.

Only one or two cupcakes got their frosting smeared which is pretty good considering I didn't have Skeeve to help me transport this time. I even managed to get them into the teacher's lounge without dropping anything. Here's the finished product. Taken with my cell phone, sorries.



Here we have pumpkin.


Yum!

And the amazing Joe, the cupcake skiing kangaroo hobo!

Wow, let's get an aerial shot of that, Bob. Just look at that form!

God told me the cupcakes were a big hit. The nice lady they were having this party for actually cried (in a good way!). She wanted to know if there was some way she could preserve the kangaroo. Well damn, if she wanted something she could keep I would have been more than happy to make her one out of modeling clay. It would have been a whole hell of a lot easier. I told God it should be fine if she just lets the gum paste dry out. She can probably paint a clear glaze over it if she wants to try and keep it from cracking. God tells me I have four more requests for business cards from her coworkers. So I guess I'll throw together some business cards until Skeeve gets some artwork to me. Then I will have awesome business cards ^.^

I think I'm gonna make more pumpkin muffins. I have leftover cream cheese frosting that needs to be used up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hey look, no TB!

Got my TB test read today and the good news is I still don't have tuberculosis. Yaaaay! Now they'll let me volunteer to work with children again. I also got my flu shot taken care of while I was in the nurse's office. Now there went $10 well spent. Check out my rockin' 90s band-aid! I know you can't see it very well, but it's got the classic 90s palate of neon yellow, pink, green, and blue. It has pink flamingoes and yellow airplanes on it. Ah, childhood.

According to the paperwork I filled out volunteers from grades k-12 in LAUSD are exempt from taking a TB test, which explains why I never had to have one before in all my years of volunteering at Pt. Fermin. Of course it took them a few years to realize I was over 18 and had to go through the adult volunteer process. But to be fair, I wasn't volunteering during college quite as often as I was in high school. So I can sort of see why it took them a while to go, "Heeeey, hang on a minute..."

In other news, God, Richard, and I are all going down to the AT&T store in a short while to get new phones. Finally!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

C is for Cookies!

I told you I'd get to use my new cookie cutter. I made a batch of Alton Brown's sugar cookies for the faculty at Pt. Fermin. Usually I make sugar and pumpkin cookies for Skeeve, Eden, and their husbands during Halloween and Christmas. But it's a bit difficult to ship homemade cookies in the mail. Then again, the sugar cookies would probably last a few days in the mail. I'll probably attempt to ship some for Christmas.


Here's a picture of the cookies side by side. They're frosted with royal icing, which is the worst tasting icing in the history of baking but it's good for making sprinkles stick. It's made from egg whites and powdered sugar and is basically the glue of the baking world. This is the stuff they use to put gingerbread houses and other such sculptures together. The good news is you can't really taste it once it's on the cookie. Just don't try to eat it by itself cause--ewww. I had some leftover melting chocolate so I decided to use that for the jack o' lantern faces and the detail on the hats in lieu of frosting. I'm pretty happy with the way they came out. But I have got to find some other kind of stiff drying frosting to use instead of royal icing.


I'm currently working on a ghawazee coat so I can wear my tribal belly dance garb for Halloween. I'm working with my own pattern which can be seen in progress to the left. Once I get the pattern down with muslin I'll move on to the pretty fabric. Traditionally the ghawazee coat is attributed to parts of Egypt, where they quite liked stripes. The Turks had a similar garment called an entari and they were open to more paisley patterns. The pattern I'm using is probably more victorian than anything else but I rather like it. Ghawazee coats are made from pretty much anything these days (unless you're in the SCA). It'll look neat when I'm done with it. The nice thing about American Tribal Style belly dance is that the idea is to recreate the look and feel of tribal aesthetics, not necessarily being 100% accurate.

Here's a picture of the fabric along with one of the clasps I'll be using. I don't know that I'll try making this garment again because my version is going to be rather simple. I'd love to have a fully lined coat some day made of some kind of brocade. But those cost something in the realm of $80. Maybe one day. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When Shall We Three Meet Again?

Well I can do next Tuesday.

Seriously though, Tuesday is now my favorite day of the week for Disneyland.  It's such an awkward day of the week for most people that Disneyland attendance is very low on that particular day.  Of course Skeeve, Jerome, and I made sure to go one last time before they left for Washington.  We chose the Tuesday before they left which meant that I got to skip my Art History class.  I went to my 8:00 am class (Humanities) and they made plans to meet me at school at 9:35.

As usual, we left a bit later than we originally intended.  Once we got there we decided to take Jerome to California Adventure first so he could go on the new Toy Story ride.  I like that ride.  It's fun.  Plus, you get to talk to Mr. Potato Head.  Mr. Potato Head is animatronic (duh) with computerized eyes, probably an image projected inside his head and reflecting off the curve of his eyeballs.  Or I guess the eyes themselves could be screens.  Jerome could explain it better than I can.  Anyway, Jerome was looking at Monsieur Pomme de Terre through polarized sunglasses, which make everything look creepy.  Particularly this vegetable's computerized eyes.  Through Jerome's magic lenses they became purple and red and glowing and see-through.  Who knew a starchy vegetable could be so unnerving?  

The Toy Story ride was broken when we got there.  Mr. Potato Head was working fine, however.  That's suspicious if you ask me.  We wandered around a bit and enjoyed the nice open area because nobody else was there.  Once the ride opened up again we only had to wait about half an hour which was a mere fraction of the time Skeeve and I waited the first time around.  We finished the ride and I was happy to see that my score had improved since last time.  This and Astro Blasters are the only two "competitive" rides in the park and yes, we take them fairly seriously.  


We continued to wander around California Adventure for a bit as it was nearly deserted.  It's kinda weird living in California and being able to see the most recognizable parts of your state broken up into what serve as "lands" with bad puns and cheesy names.  There's a section of the park which is clearly Santa Monica/Santa Cruz/any other boardwalk area you can think of.  It blends into the wharf area that makes up what's supposed to be a portion of San Francisco.  San Francisco Land is missing two important components.  One of them being the obvious rainbow flags the other being sea lions.  I've been to Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf and the sheer number of sea lions is astounding.  The place is crawling with them.  Though perhaps "lounging" would be a more appropriate term.  Wouldn't it be great if California Adventure did a Gay Pride Parade through the San Francisco section every two and a half hours?  I think it's imperative to capture the unique and diverse atmosphere of our glorious state.


But anyway, back to Santa Cruz.  We looked around and I took pictures of random stuff.  We wandered through the shops and found that they were starting to put out the halloween merchandise.  Apparently this year is the 15th anniversary of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.  I still remember the first time I saw it.  I was seven years old and God brought it home for me to watch when I was sick.  I should mention that she also brought me Little Nemo.  That's right, I watched two of the strangest, most surreal kid movies ever made while I was sick.  Gotta love my mom.  As I recall I watched most of Nightmare and Nemo from behind a pillow, but I watched it regardless.  Years later (after getting over my fear of the Beetlejuice soundtrack) came an appreciation for Danny Elfman.  The Nightmare Before Christmas holds a special place in the hearts of my generation.  But not quite enough for me to buy an $18 commemorative travel mug...though I may go back to The Disney Store for that one sweater (it was comfy, ok?).


Jerome found The World's Strongest Man inside one of the shops on the boardwalk.  Look at this guy, he's holding up the whole store!  We eventually convinced Jerome to go on the marine carousel with us on the condition that he got to ride a sea lion.  I got a sea otter and Skeeve got a dolphin.  I don't think Timothy was terribly excited about the carousel.  He does kind of look like a sea urchin if you squint a bit and that sea otter sure looks hungry.  Remember guys: hedgehogs are friends, not food.

As 
we were wandering around we started to think about what we might want to do for dinner.  It suddenly occurred to me that we had never been to The Blue Bayou restaurant (OMG overpriced!!) in New Orleans Square and this was possibly our only chance to go all together.  Jerome seemed to like the idea so we hoofed it over to Disneyland to make the reservation.   We managed to get in for a late lunch at 4:00, fair enough.  So we went on a few rides, had a snack or two, and went back to The Blue Bayou around 3:45.  


We gave the hostess our name and went to sit in the little waiting lounge.  It was...um...fancy?  I guess?  There were mirrors and chandeliers and, uh, cushioned benches.  So I guess you could call it fancy.  Finally someone called out "Cawley-party of three" and we got to go inside the exclusive,  mysterious and by far, most expensive restaurant in the park.  So yeah, we got into The Blue Bayou.  Barely.  We were seated, I kid you not, at a table a mere five feet away from the door.  Not quite the same atmosphere as by the water or in the center of the restaurant.  We knew we were going to be paying at least $30 a person for this meal.  Skeeve and Jerome decided to splurge and got the filet mignon.  I wasn't in the mood to shell out (pardon the pun) $50 for a lobster and filet so I went with an interesting looking jambalaya for $28.  We each had a choice of soup or salad.  Skeeve got one of those wedge salads realizing too late that it had the word "wedge" in it.  Jerome and I each had a cup of gumbo.  


The gumbo was really good.  Not too terribly different from the regular gumbo you get in the park.  After all, there's only so many ways to prepare it.  This one was a bit thicker with better tasting sausage and it seemed to have some different spices in it.  Skeeve's salad came as a little wedge of lettuce with some dressing and other little vegetables on the side.  She had to cut it with a knife and fork though, which she didn't like very much.  We also got cold (yes, cold) rolls and butter to eat while we waited for our main course.  Maybe I'm asking too much, but you'd think for the amount they're charging they'd have to decency to serve us warm, or at the very least, room temperature rolls.  But no, these were cold like they'd just come out of the refrigerator.  What gives, Disney?  Uncle Walt would be so pissed right now and you don't want to make Uncle Walt angry...you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Eventually the main courses came.  I had a taste of Skeeve's filet mignon.  It was ok.  The meat was cooked well but they were really unimaginative with the spices.  I've had way better filet mignon for the same price Disneyland was charging.  The potatoes were good though.  Yummy, cheesy, delicious potatoes.  My jambalaya wasn't too bad actually.  It wasn't worth $28 but it wasn't bad either.  It was spicy with a mild after burn that wasn't too overpowering.  They tried to offer us dessert afterwards but we said no thanks and asked for the bill.  I think it came out to around $120 just for entrees and drinks.  I whipped out my magic passport of doom, however, and saved us $20--woohoo!  So basically my pass paid for my meal, that's always nice.

After that we went on more rides.  I can't even remember what anymore.  Maybe I should get one of those stupid little tape recorders so I can take notes.  We did all the important stuff obviously: Thunder Mountain, Materhorn, Space Mountain, etc.  We went on Indiana Jones and Jerome got to drive.  He was happy about that.  

The park closed at 8:00 that night.  Which was a good thing because I had to get up for class the next day.  It was kinda weird being at Disneyland at night and not seeing any kind of show in progress.  No fireworks, no Fantasmic.  It was all just...quiet.  Even on Main Street the atmosphere seemed to say, "We're still staying open an hour past closing but really we just want you to go home."  We didn't shop this time but we did get ice cream for dinner.  I had cookies and cream in a waffle cone and Skeeve and Jerome had sundaes.  

Now we all know how much Skeeve like maraschino cherries (eww).  I'm not particularly fond of them as I'm sure you can tell.  So whenever I get something like a sundae or a shirley temple that comes with one or more maraschino cherries I usually give it to Skeeve.  Or Evan.  Basically whoever's around at the time and wants it the most.  Anyway, Jerome knows how much Skeeve likes them so he gave her the cherry off his sundae.  Then he turned around and pulled a second cherry out of the air and Skeeve couldn't figure out where it came from.  Here we see Skeeve with a puzzled expression on her face as she points at her husband in  an accusatory manner.  Obviously someone gave Jerome two cherries but he transfered them to Skeeve in such a stealthy manner than no one knew what happened.  Ok, maybe you just had to be there.  After ice cream we decided to go home.  We were all pretty tired from waking up so early.  I stopped in front of the firehouse on Main Street and took a few pictures because I hadn't been in there in so long.  After that we got on the tram, got in the car, and went home.  Certainly the earliest any of us have left Disneyland in a long, long, time.  

So that was it.  I don't know when I'll be at Disneyland again since everyone I know who has a pass has moved away.  Might still go for Bats Day with the kids but that will depend on their schedules since Bats Day is on a Sunday this year.  I could always bring them home early but that's up to their parents so we'll see.  I'm still somewhat amused that they changed Bats Day from August to November because all the poor little goths cried that it was too hot.  You know what?  Real goths are hardcore enough to wear black in August in Southern California.  I'm not a real goth and I still pulled it off last year, so there.  Anyway, we'll see what happens.  I'm sure I'll be there soon enough with Evan and/or Kyra in any case.  Might look up Christina from high school choir and see if she wants to go too.  Turns out she's a passholder as well.

Gonna try and make Halloween fun this year even though I suspect it will be pretty boring.  Gonna clean out my room and get my paperwork together so I can volunteer at Pt. Fermin for the Halloween Carnival.  I'm also working on making a ghawazee coat so I can wear my tribal belly dance garb to Pt. Fermin without being called a tramp.  After that I'll probably have to stay home and chuck candy at small children.  Denise might come over and hang out if she doesn't have to do the same thing at her house.  Ah well.

Stay tuned for project-type things to appear.  I'll post pictures of the ghawazee coat once I start working on it.  God's got some things she wants me to sew as well.  In the meantime, better go clean.