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Monday, January 26, 2015

The Portal

Surreptitious Fire
photo credit: darkday. via photopin cc
Today I thought I would try something different on my blog. I'm going to post a picture and the first sentence and we are going to write a story together! All you need to do is watch the comments thread down below and add the next sentence in the story in a comment of your own. With each person replying with the next sentence in the story I am sure this will get really interesting fast!

So... lets start with:




Enriel had lived in the town of Lanta all of her life, this was the first time she knew of that anything like this had ever happened here.


What's the next sentence?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What Advancement Do You Want To See In The Future?

Cityscape - One IFC, BoC Tower
photo credit: Mr Wabu via photopin cc

Time to give you a chance to speculate among the stars!
So... you've been given a time machine to use- just to peek into the future once and then come home.

New things are being invented every day! New ideas are coming to life which will change the future we are headed for.

What advancement would you most like the future to have?

A cure for something?

Warp Drives?

Colonies on other planets?


While you are at it... check out this article about the worlds first truly heartless man who has no pulse yet lives! The Wonders of Technology!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

When You Cant Find Anything To Wear In Your Dresser

What is a girl to do? There's not a thing in my dresser that I feel like wearing today, so instead, I decided to look into my husbands dresser!

Mini geek rant alert: Why is it that the GUY section always has the coolest geek shirts and the women's section gets stuck with M&M's and cartoon characters?

Seriously! I wanna wear an Iron Man or Dr. Who T-shirt from time to time! Yeah sure... my hubby's T's are a tad baggy on me... but hey! Its a sci fi shirt! Who's complaining!

So friends and family... I've deliberately left the bottom of this picture out of the shot because the show title is on the bottom.

Who can tell me what franchise this T-Shirt is from? Extra points if you can tell me what specific movie in the franchise! ;)


And no- I don't typically go running around taking selfies of myself. I moved over to a new phone yesterday, the Motorola Maxx and I'm having fun trying out all the new things and trying to get comfortable with a new phone again. The screen is much bigger than my old LG and it feels thin in my hand without the rubber bumper slip on protector that I had on my LG. The only problem that I am having with this phone so far is finding a protective case for it that FITS and that I like. I still don't see how those snap on hard cases protect the phones much...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Altering Spaghetti To Accommodate A Toddler

spaghetti
V.L. Jennings' Spaghetti
Growing up in my later years I discovered that I wasn't very fond of spaghetti. It took more work to eat it than most foods- I mean really... who wants to eat half a plate of spaghetti with sauce and the other half with a bland sorta 'no more sauce' taste? A lot of work goes into getting the proper sauce to noodle ratio on each spoon! Then you add in the fact that apparently tomato sauce just tasted really acidic to me, the same reason I dislike ketchup (and yet I LOVE hot sauce... how does that work?).

However, when you are trying to cook family meals on a budget, spaghetti is still awesome in a pinch.

When my husband and I married he came with two kids- ready made family. One was 2 almost 3 when we married and the other was 6. The oldest came with a bunch of medical issues, one of which being fine motor skills. What this boiled down to was having two kids in the house with the dexterity of a toddler.

At first I tried chopping the spaghetti up... yeah that went over well *sarcasm*. Not that they pitched a fit or anything, they just really didn't enjoy eating it. So I took a bite... and discovered that chopping up the spaghetti so fine may have made it easier to pick up but was BLAH as far as chewing texture goes.

Add that into the fact that noodles sliding all over the mouth leaves sauce all over the face... cute to some parents sure- I could see the appeal. Until I discovered that eldest's face would sport a red rash the next morning from the sauce. I thought about nixing spaghetti and pizza all together until I realized that she would only have a reaction if she made a mess of it on her face. If it all made it into her mouth... no problems at all.

Next time I decided to try using elbow noodles instead- SUCCESS!!!

From there, I was even more determined to tweak the sauce recipe to get just the right amount of flavor and enjoyment out of it. Heck, if I'm going to be working over a stove to make this than it better be enjoyable to eat even for the cook!

I was raised on the walmart brand of jar'd spaghetti sauce, it was the cheapest, and I am on a budget so I stuck with that as a base. I also wanted something to cut down on the tang of the tomato taste in the spaghetti sauce. Walking through the spaghetti isle I noticed the jars of alfredo... Why not! Lets try that and see how that tastes!

TONS better!

Fast forward to the end of 2014... hamburger meat is sky high... and strangely enough sausage is CHEAPER than hamburger meat (where before hamburger was cheaper). So to save money on my spaghetti dinner I opted for two lbs of sausage instead of my usual hamburger.

Ok... now I have total yumness!

I may eventually go back to using spaghetti noodles but for now my third child is 3 soon to be four, (*cries* is it really that time already!) and he loves the elbows!


V.L. Jennings' Spaghetti


1- 16oz box of elbow noodles
1- small jar of alfredo sauce
1 extra large jar (66oz) and one medium jar (45 oz) of your choice spaghetti sauce
2lbs of sausage (I like to do one spicy, one regular or one regular, one sage)

Brown spaghetti sauce and boil noodles/drain. Mix sauce, sausage, and alfredo in one big pot. Makes two dinner nights for 5 people!

PS If you are here wondering how my Crock Pot Ham turned out... 

Well I am happy to report that it was, fall of the bone, absolutely AWESOME! I ended up cooking it for 5 hours on high- I had an appointment so I didn't get back till then. However, I believe it may have been done around 4 hours.

It was SO juicy that I could shred it easily with just ONE fork!

Each bite was full of flavor and SO super succulent! It was a big success with my kids and my husband. Plus I even have some left over that I think I will shred into some mac n cheese for tonight's meal!


Anyhow- I hope you enjoyed these recipe's! Stay tuned... there's no telling what sorts of things I will go exploring or altering next!

Do you have a recipe you've altered that you would like to share? Tell us about it in the comments! I love to try new dishes!

Mad Scientist Mac N Cheese and Crock Pot Ham

Crock Pot Ham
Crock Pot Ham!
One of the key things about 'exploring human potential' is the desire to learn something new. To create something, to try to figure things out. Here I am, diving into the unknown again with some real world speculating!

Lately I have been experimenting with different recipes, combining the elements I like and subtracting the ones I don't like as I mix different recipes together. It can be tricky mixing recipes together, I always try to take a moment to mentally predict how each ingredient will interact with the others before I jump into the recipe. Now, I did this all on Christmas day... but if you are not that gutsy you may want to make this for a regular meal before you make it for company.

My original OVEN recipe called for just one cup of milk but the noodles were also supposed to be cooked before being added.

The first new crock pot recipe I had called for the elbow noodles to be cooked before they went into the crock pot and I wanted to avoid that. That recipe called for 3/4c of milk and 2 eggs. (The eggs didn't sound appetizing here so I ditched those)

Another crock pot recipe that DID call for uncooked noodles asked for 2.5 c milk and 12 oz of evaporated milk. This recipe also called for cream cheese- which would have made the mixture softer but we preferred the thick cheese texture anyhow. I was also afraid the cream cheese would have made the mixture a bit more sweet then we were used to.

Ultimately I mainly used my original baked mac recipe but added the evap milk and regular milk, as per the other recipes, in order to modify it so that I could avoid pre-cooking the noodles and do the whole thing in the crock pot.

My whole family loved this recipe! It was a big success!

My Crock Pot Mac used:

16 oz of uncooked elbow noodles
two cans of condensed cheddar cheese soup
a lb of shredded cheese
2 and a half cup of milk
and one 12oz can of evaporated milk.

Cook on low for 2.5 - 3 hours in crockpot. May stir at the 2 hr mark to check.

CROCK POT BAG recommended! Makes clean up way easier.



Today I am attempting to cook a Ham in the crock pot.... its an uncooked ham which I've never attempted to cook before.

I put a layer of brown sugar and mustard in the bottom of the crock pot. Set the ham flat side down in the crock pot. Put brown sugar, mustard and on a whim I added some vinegar over the top. Lid on and because I intend to eat it tonight I am cooking it on High and hoping it is done in about 6.5 hours.

*fingers crossed* I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tomorrow... if I remember, I will share with you my alterations for spaghetti!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Just Finished The Final Season Of Star Trek Voyager

Star Trek Voyager Season 7
Loved this crew!


My husband, my kids, and I have all been watching Star Trek Voyager over dinner on most nights, thank you Netflix for having them all send to our house by disk! So far we have watched the Original Series (Capt. Kirk), Next Generation (Picard), and now Voyager (Janeway). When I was a teen I watched all of the 'Enterprise' (Capt. Archer) episodes as well. I can't say yet with honesty that I enjoy any of the editions over the others yet but I do have one confession to make...

I think the final episode of Voyager season 7 truly takes the prize for best finale ever!

One of my favorite things about watching the Star Trek series' is watching the crews grow, and learn, and discover their own potential. Seven went from being a Borg drone to being completely free of the collective and learned what it means to be human again. The Doctor explored what it means to be a sentient life form in holographic form, and even asked himself whether he would ever want to become human given the chance. Tom grew out of his rebellious ways, and even Tuvok learned to make friends even with the illogical Neelix.

Season 7 wrapped up all the stories from all the main crew members and in the end every story ended in a satisfactory way.  Seven of Nine found someone to have a relationship with. Tuvok got his cure. B'lana and Tom got to have the doctor birth their baby. We find out that Harry Kim may eventually become a captain of his own ship, and the Doctor may eventually pick a name for himself and perhaps even get married; all of this being up in the air of course since they rewrote time again but... check it out and you'll see!

Yeah its all a bit Timey Wimey but we've also been keeping up with all the Doctor Who episodes so we are totally used to all that.

I'd have to say the only thing I was disappointed by is the fact that 7of 9 didn't finish her codiscot game (or however you spell that) with Neelix, AND the fact that they left him behind. I am glad that he found the rest of his people and a family, and I guess if Star Fleet can communicate with voyager on the rare occasion than they can still keep in touch with Neelix too.

So overall, unlike the series finale of 'Enterprise', I was very satisfied with the way Voyager ended.

And I'm not the only one who loves Voyager! Author Travis Simmons has even gone against the typical geek grain and professed his love for Capt. Janeway on his blog along with a pretty well thought out list as to why he enjoys Captain Janeway over the other Star Trek captains!

We've been dipping back into re-watching the episodes of Smallville from the beginning, and Breaking Bad (though the kids don't watch Breaking Bad with us of course). We are also anxiously awaiting the new season of Doctor Who, Green Arrow, and Walking Dead.

Its a great time to be a geek! :P

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review of Star Trek TNG and Doctor Who story Assimilation 2

Assimilation 2 Vol 1
Assimilation 2 Vol 1 Image from Amazon.com
Assimilation 2 vol 2
Assimilation 2 Vol 2 Image from Amazon.com




















My hubby gave me books for Christmas! Not just any books, graphic novels! (- funny story, I once had someone ask me if 'graphic novels' were too 'adult' for children.... umm- unless otherwise stated, graphic novels are just comics made into book form.)

 These particular graphic novels are part one and two of Assimilation 2 (not quite sure what assimilation 1 entailed, but that is neither here nor there). Assimilation 2 is a mashup of the characters from Star Trek Next Generation (for those non Trekkies out there.... that's Captain Picard's timeline) and the characters from Doctor Who during 12's (bowtie doctor) regeneration. Also found in this story line are the 4th Doctor (long scarf doctor) along with Captain Kirk and crew. In this story line the Cybermen team up with the Borg to attack and attempt to assimilate Captain Picard's universe.

For the Trekkie and Whovian that I am I absolutely LOVED this story! It felt just like every other Doctor Who episode. Complete with a few jumps back and forward in time and the Enterprise crew getting a peek into the Tardis- "Yep, its bigger on the inside!" It was also hilarious to find that both The Doctor and the Cybermen were impressed by Data who even manages to save the Tardis from the Borg!

I won't go into further detail here as it would spoil the story but it really was an entertaining read!

 If you'd like to check it out for yourself you can find it on amazon.com in both e-book and paperback- I'd personally recommend the paperback copy! http://www.amazon.com/Star-Trek-Next-Generation-Doctor-ebook/dp/B009H8LUZ0

Hubby also gave me a book of Sherlock Holmes puzzles- when I finish that one I'll be sure to let you know how it was! It's intriguing so far!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Turbo Roaster Review

Turbo Roaster Box image from Walmart.com

My husband gifted me a Turbo Roaster for Christmas about two years ago. I like to try something out thoroughly before I write up a review for it. Honestly, I love this thing! I've used it about 5 times so far. The Turbo Roaster has made my holidays so much more enjoyable and cooking so much more efficient!

I cook a turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas most years. Typically this entails getting up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven while everyone is asleep. Finding a way to get it in the oven without waking up my kids on Christmas morning has always been a major hurdle.

No longer! I haven't gotten around to timing the cooking EXACTLY due to various holiday distractions... but I do know that the cooking time is cut in HALF! I no longer wake up at the crack of dawn to prepare my turkey. This year I was up by 8 and the 17lb turkey was done in about two hours! Normally I am finished with all my other cooking and waiting on my turkey to finish so we can eat dinner. This year- my turkey sat cooling while I rushed around to finish the rest of my cooking!
Tony Chachere's Injectable Turkey Marinade
 image from Walmart.com


Most of the time the turkey seasonings you add to the outside only help flavor the top little bit of the turkey meat. I've tried and tried and tried again and no matter how I prepped it my turkey always ended up dry on the inside. Using the Turbo Roaster, along with Tony Chachere's Injectable Turkey Marinade made my turkey come out very juicy and flavorful. Even the cold leftovers were finger licking good!


What is the Turbo Roaster?

Its a glass jar attached to a curvy metal tube with a canning lid and a plastic gasket. You fill the jar with water, attach the lid/tube set up and stick the end of it in the turkey before cooking. The oven heats up the water and causes steam to rise through the tube and cook the turkey from the inside while the oven cooks the turkey from the outside. Thereby cutting cooking time in half.

It does work with a stuffed turkey... just not as well.


Tips on using the Turbo Roaster

-I use a turkey pan rack to elevate my bird so that the jar can sit mostly flat in the oven- this helps.
-Leave the turkey unstuffed for best results (though I have done it both ways)
-Put glass jar directly on stove rack- it does not need a pan under it.
-*DO NOT FILL (even with HOT WATER) until the jar has cooled!

Ok... so for the bad news...

The jar on my turbo roaster smashed this Christmas... my own stupid fault- I forgot to let the jar cool before refilling it with hot water -.-

See... I did know better... the instructions are really rather clear on this point. However, I was battling a sinus infection and apparently my brain was all mush from it. (It even took me three separate tries to figure out how many chairs and plates we needed at the table- that's how bad my head felt.)

And now the jar for my turbo roaster sits on my counter in two pieces. *facepalm!*

So... now for some Real World Speculating

The jar mouth for the turbo roaster is the same size as a regular canning jar. So, I'm wondering if I could just switch out the broken jar with a regular wide mouthed canning jar instead. To know that I needed to look up online as to whether the canning jars could even be put in the oven or not.

That's when I stumbled on this Pie in a Jar recipe:


Seriously... even if you don't plan on cooking your pies in a jar, you just HAVE to check out these pictures! Tiny pies! The cuteness!

My favorite is when the blogger slides the baked pie right out of the jar and onto the plate- UBER CUTENESS!

Anyhow... Apparently you CAN put mason jars in the oven.

So next year (or the next time I cook a whole bird) I will swap out the broken jar for an ordinary canning jar and be sure to come back and report the results to you!

If it doesn't work, oh well... I will certainly buy another Turbo Roaster!