Something’s afoot!

We’ve got at least one fire truck in the area and guys with flashlights looking for something. Two just went into our basement saying something about a boiler, an old gas line, and my building’s “heck of a chimney.”

Wonder what’s going on?

ETA: Well, it looks like the trucks and ambulances are gone, but there are still guys with flashlights talking about the boiler. Oh, sounds like someone smelled wood smoke, saw steam coming out of our building, and thought the building was on fire. Now they’re discussing bringing “the gas guy” out. Hmm, “something’s going on,” someone’s said…

ETA2: Not sure why it took them so long to come over here if this is where they thought the fire was – all the vehicles were at the end of the block at first.

ETA3: That seems to be that – apparently nothing that needed following up on. Back to sleep for me!

New TV: Sunday

Once Upon a Time (7:00-8:00 CST, ABC)

At first I was annoyed by Snow White and Prince Charming, but now that we’ve set everything up, I’m hooked! I wasn’t a huge fan of Cameron on House, but I’m liking Jennifer Morrison’s character here and I’m interested to see which character knows what and how things are going to come together and what’s going to happen as they gradually figure out who they are. I thought I was going to like Grimm better, but now I’m not so sure….

October movies!

Oddly enough, I do like a good political thriller. I do, less oddly enough, reeeeeallly like George Clooney. I don’t like Ryan Gosling. I did like The Ides of March. It walks the line of falling into cliche and bad decisions, but ends up going the much more interesting route. To be fair, Ryan Gosling’s character tries to do the cliche (and stupid) thing, but circumstances, and a very clever Paul Giamatti, don’t allow him to. I don’t want to give things away, but basically mistakes are made and loyalties are questioned and morals are weighed against the greater good and to see the campaign game at work is all very interesting.

New TV: Friday

Chuck (7-8 CST, NBC)

It’s the last season of Chuck! I’m afraid I’m still behind, somewhere in season 4, but Claire is not the lazy fan that I am and emailed me yesterday about the first episode:

Eh, it was OK. Zac looks handsome, but the whole twist from the end of the last season (which I won’t spoil for you), kind of made it a bit disappointing so far. But I have a feeling it will pick up. If nothing else, it’s good to look at Zac – LOL!

I have confidence they’ll turn it around and go out on a high note.

Happy Halloweeeeeen!

All right! After a brief delay due to technical difficulties and a migraine (WHAT?!), it’s time to post, post, post about my party! First up? The decor!

I gutted these on Saturday to roast the pumpkin seeds and then started carved one on Tuesday (kitty-bat), one on Wednesday (Grim Reaper), and the last on Friday (cute ghosts). Two of them were moldy and sunken by Saturday. Hopefully it only added to the ambience!

Next. The costumes! We had a flapper and a gangster, Katy Perry and Kitty Purry, John Denver, Kermit the Frog, Lady GaGa, Jem (side note: I was Jem when I was in…3rd grade?), the Green Lantern, a copy cat, and a Real Housewife of Tennis.

Then there were Jell-O shots, courtesy of the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen (you can also find recipes up on their website). Apart from GaGa, though, who was definitely doing his darnedest to make sure I didn’t have leftover shots, these weren’t a big hit – they tasted good (especially the Fuzzy Navels [aka Moldy Bellybuttons]), but people stuck with more traditional drinks. So unfortunately that meant throwing away a lot of Kamikaze Eyeballs and Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey 75‘s.

And then? The food!

Top left to right, there were *deep breath* Salted Brown Boo-tter Rice Crispy Treats; Chocolate Snake Cheesecake With Venom Glaze; Spooky Sweet Potato Samosaah! Pops; Roasted and Salted Pumpkin Children, Orange-Rosemary Betwitched Nuts, and Cilantro S’Lime Peanuts; Sugar Creepies; Vampire Pizza Bites; Poison Apple Cupcakes; Pumpkin Cookies With Brown Butter Ooze; and Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes With Maple-Marshmallow S’Cream Frosting. Not pictured are Murky Maple Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Soup; Yeast Coffins; Robot Devil’d Eggs; Vlad’s Caprese Skewers; and Ghoulish Goat Cheese Squares With Spine-Tingling Raspberry Chile Chutney.

Whew! It was literally a week’s-worth of cooking and baking and carving, but it was worth it. I had quite a bit of leftover food, but everyone seemed to enjoy it! After this, though, it’s potlucks. πŸ˜‰

ETA: I realized I posted this in such a hurry that I didn’t even really discuss the food, so I’ll remedy that now!First the sweets:

  • The salted brown butter rice crispy treats are simple and yummy – my mom said she could taste the difference the brown butter made, though I couldn’t. Working with the food coloring was a bit of a trial – I realize now that I should have colored the butter and marshmallow mixture before adding the cereal because stirring the rice crispies (especially as the marshmallow starts to cool) is…difficult. It’s also a little tricky to spread once you’ve got that first layer in, but stick with it and it eventually will come together. I got the idea to do the black and orange Halloween layers from this – I will never have the patience to do that rainbow one (though it’s certainly a nice effect).
  • I found the chocolate cheesecake to be on the soft side and also quite too rich for me, though, others seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. Note: Martha doesn’t specifically say to butter the bottom of the springform pan, so I didn’t, thinking there was enough butter in the cookie crust recipe that it wouldn’t need it. It does. Also, I should explain for those of you who didn’t click the link to Martha’s website – there’s supposed to be a snake stenciled on the top of it, hence the name. I couldn’t find powdered food coloring, so I tried sanding sugar which clearly did not work.
  • Kate liked the apple cupcakes, but they were definitely not a favorite of mine (though I admit this could be because I only managed to eat one several days after the party). The consistency of the cupcake with the chopped apple wasn’t for me and the dulce de leche had just sort of soaked into the cake instead of being a filling. That may be my fault – I cooked the dulce de leche for 3 and a half hours, but I see now I should have gone for at least four so it would have been firmer – maybe firm enough to stand up on its own with the cupcake.
  • The pumpkin cookies were good, but I think I didn’t brown my butter enough for the frosting – it just didn’t have much flavor.
  • The mini pumpkin cupcakes with what was originally intended as whoopie pie filling were good – I think people liked that they were just bite sized and easy to eat.

Oddly enough, it was the savories that went the fastest:

  • Oh, sweet potato samosa pops. These bastards nearly killed me. I doubled the recipe. MISTAKE! The filling just never ended – I ended up throwing out probably half of it because after I’d made twice the amount of pops the single recipe called for, I still had a huge amount of filling staring back at me. No matter how many teaspoons I scooped out of there, it never seemed to diminish! So don’t let the size of one sweet potato fool you – it will be enough. (Vegan)
  • The salted and roasted pumpkin seeds ended up being not crunchy enough for me – I should have roasted them longer, even though I did surpass the time called for in the recipe.
  • The orange-rosemary buttered mixed nuts are amazing and really so super simple, so if you’re looking to impress with not much effort, this should be your new go-to recipe.
  • The cilantro-lime peanut recipe actually calls for raw peanuts which are impossible to find in the market (at least around here they are). I went with roasted, unsalted peanuts, but I think maybe the roasting makes them particularly resistant to flavoring because I couldn’t really taste the cilantro or the lime here.
  • The maple garlic cauliflower soup was also a hit – only one bowl-full left at the end of the night. And it was super easy to make, too! I actually made it a week in advance and froze it. Alas, I didn’t take it out of the freezer early enough and there was much swearing and hacking at it in an attempt to get it into the slow cooker to thaw and keep warm for everyone. The yeast coffins were hot rolls – from a box as always.
  • People love deviled eggs. I thought it was just me!
  • They also love caprese salad on toothpicks. Can’t say I blame them!
  • The goat cheese squares with raspberry chile chutney were also popular, though I was afraid that the chutney would be too spicy for people – there’s an entire chipotle chile in adobo sauce in there (the chutney cooks for three hours and the chile just ends up disintegrating. A warning about the chutney – it WILL make your house smell of vinegar. Quite strongly. For three hours. Plus.

So there you have it!

Silly kitty!

I had my housewarming/Halloween party last night (yes, I know it took me three years to finally have a housewarming party), so the previous week has been filled with cooking, baking, decorating, and all the other things that go into planning a party. And of course, no matter how well I scheduled and planned and worked ahead, the day of the party counted down into a bit of a rush. My mom came over and cleaned and helped me make a few last minute food items while Heather put final touches on the decorations.

Josephine volunteered to deejay.

Meet the smug bastard…

…who broke my knife.

To be fair, I suppose that if someone was attempting to pry open my head and scoop out my insides, I’d do everything I could to stop them as well. Oh, well, I’m off to dig through its innards and look for its children so I can roast them in the oven, so I think I won in the long run.

Who knew you’d need tissues at a movie that’s basically about Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots?!

Awesome movie, but first? We have to talk about War Horse. If you’ve somehow managed to make it this far without seeing the trailer for it, here it is. MOM, DO NOT WATCH IT. This movie is not for you – just keep scrolling.

Goddammit, I cried just trying to make sure I had the right trailer to link here!

Every time I see that first shot of the horse running across No-Man’s Land, I think “OH, GOD, IT’S WAR HORSE!” and the tears begin. I do not want to see this movie – I really don’t want to see this movie – but I have a horrible feeling I’m going to end up seeing it. My plan is to go to a super-early show so that the odds are good that I’ll be the only one in the cinema and won’t disturb anyone with my hysterical sobbing. And then I’ll be set for crying for probably the next year or so. But before I go, I’ll need to get all the tissues there are. And I mean that a la Ron Swanson.

So back to the movie at hand.

WHICH IS THE MOST AWESOME MOVIE EVER! I will admit that I was not sold when the trailer for this first came out (a million years ago – did its release date get pushed back or something?), but they wore me down and I was looking forward to it. But never in a million years did I expect it to actually be a really good movie.

It has action, it has drama, it has heart, it has the always lovely Hugh Jackman, it has an adorable kid, it has an even more adorable robot. What more do you need?! Heather and I both teared up more than once – I can’t speak for her, but it’s the whole underdog, father/son relationship thing they’ve got going here that got me. And the robot fight scenes are really exciting, too – in the last fight, I really had to work hard to not cheer out loud for Atom (though the only other people in the cinema actually did, so they probably wouldn’t have minded).

Also, if robot boxing were actually a thing, I would so be all over that. And actually, the same goes for Hugh Jackman. πŸ˜‰

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your eyes!

Or your knowledge about eyes, if that’s easier. So, I have an astigmatism. There. I said it. I’d say it again if I had to. πŸ˜‰

I sort of hate my soft contacts – they shift around every time I blink and my apparently extra proteiny eyes make them all cloudy which only barely outweighs the benefits of wearing them. And, frankly, sometimes doesn’t.

Gas permeable contacts were starting to sound pretty good, but I know a lot of people don’t like them (Jillian, I’m looking at you!) because they’re not as comfortable and…other reasons I can’t think of at the moment. And then? I stumbled across Synergeyes and they sound amazing!

Hybrid contact lenses?! The benefits of gas permeables (less shifting around, less likely to have proteins stick to them) with the comfort of soft contacts?! How can I go wrong?

But there’s probably a way that I could, so I wanted to pick the brains of all of my contact-wearing friends, especially if you have an astigmatism. Do you wear soft lenses? Hard lenses? What do you like about them? What don’t you like about them?

New TV: Wednesday

Up All Night (7-7:30 CST, NBC)

I love everyone in this – they’re all hilarious, but somehow it hasn’t quite come together yet… The first episode was setup and the second episode was just embarrassing humor, though the third episode was getting better. I’ll keep watching it because this is one of my few unconflicted time slots and keep my fingers crossed!

New TV: Tuesday

Glee (7-8 CST, Fox)

Ugh, we’re all still watching this one, but a bit grudgingly – the musical numbers are still great (as long as they keep the Autotune under control), but we’re a bit frustrated with the characters and their lack of learning from their experiences. How many times can Sue be horrible?! Quinn can’t seriously think she’s going to get custody of her baby that she put up for adoption, can she?! That storyline’s almost as terrible as the fake pregnancy we had to wade through in the first season. And I’m worried Kurt is going to break up with Blaine when he gets the lead in the school musical which he clearly deserves over Kurt and, OMG, Kurt, you’re 18, get over yourself!

But the music’s still good! πŸ™‚

New TV: Monday

How I Met Your Mother (7-7:30 CST, CBS)

What’s not to love?! I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll get some Robin/Barney plotlines this season and I’m interested to see how they’re going to handle the addition of Lily and Marshall’s baby (though I don’t know if that will be happening this season – things are vaguely chronological on this show, but they definitely have some freedom to play with the timeline if they want to delay the arrival of the baby). I’m settled in!