Monday, October 31, 2011


Before this new career Halloween wasn't on the dreaded "end of month" because there wasn't any end of month in my vocabulary.

So I laid in the supplies (and worked yesterday) to stay up on the rush. Of utmost importance: coffee. But thanks to my wonderful thick diner mug, which only holds a small cup of coffee, I wanted to avoid having to go up and down the stairs over and over again for refills. While our coffee maker is in this handy carafe, it doesn't stay hot enough. Must be HOT. So, behold, my solution: 

Turn the heating pad on high and voila! Hot coffee all morning! The creamer I sat on a freezer bag, which worked a little too well at first refill. The creamer was freezing.

Bruiser tried to curl up around the coffee/heating pad, and then in my lap, and finally gave up and chose my jacket which I'd shed after the third cup of HOT coffee. This is him pouting.

So other than work there was, of course, Halloween. 

Sammi, 4'10, has decided she can milk this until she's 40. This year she's dressed as the goddess of time (complete with Hermione's time turner necklace), although we continue to haggle over which one... Shiva, Wenut,  Ling-Pao T'ien-Tsun, Xiuhtecuhtli . . . we weren't particularly picky over gender in our haggling. It also helped that we didn't have to pronounce it...

Bob manned the door for our trick-or-treaters, and this year we actually had a pretty good turnout -- about 20 doorbell rings tonight. 

All the while, I finished out work. 

Happy Hallo-EOM-ween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011

10-29-11 Snickerdoodle Time

I won three Victor mugs and one Wallace (both WWII ceramic makers) on ebay this week and they arrived yesterday. ($4 for all 4 !)

So of course, what better way to inaugurate them than to bake . . . . 


I've been talking about making them for a couple of weeks, I've even inspired my friend Jennifer to bake them this week, so I now have a tagged photo of me on Facebook as one of her snickerdoodles.

And hers are picture perfect, textbook beautiful:

Mine, on the other hand, aren't quite like that.

Here, then is a quick primer on how to make Tori Version Snickerdoodles.

1. Assemble the ingredients, which are really pretty simple: eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla, butter, Crisco, cream of tarter, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. This is the only cookie recipe I know of that calls for cream of tartar, so that must be the magic. 

Here's the recipe -- note the 2 2/3s C of flour has been over-written to 3 2/3s -- the higher elevation here required it.

Add that last 2/3 cup just a bit at a time until the stickiness is almost gone from the batter. You'll also need a small finger bowl for flour, and a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. The recipe above calls for a 2 to 1 ratio, but over the years I've swapped that to 1:1. I do love my cinnamon.

If you've beat the dough right, with just a bit of flour on your hands, you'll have a perfect ball of perfection. I make mine pretty small and get 4 dozen +1 (49 = 7x7!)

At this point, you take the little ball of wonderfulness and make it even better by dropping it into the cinnamon and sugar, sprinkling it, telling it sweet nothings, rolling it around until it is totally coated.

8 minutes: 8 exactly. They will not spread the way they are "supposed" to, so they'll stay soft and not turn crispy.

Ta-da! The last batch is the baker's dozen and is, of course, required eating hot out of the oven . . . 

with a cup of coffee in the perfect mug . . .  

Not picture perfect, but oh-so-good cinnamon cake scrumptious.
Thursday, October 27, 2011

10-27-11 clear skies and falling leaves

The morning dawned perfectly crisp and clear this morning and my temperature reading was 12° when I took Sammi to school. 

Our final table cake measurement came in at 7 inches, the chair cake at 9.

And then the melting began.

This morning the frozen branches looked like this: 

By this afternoon:

Most of the trees will lose all their leaves from this round

So even though I'd kept from cutting the branches to create a canopy of gold, the snow got here just a little too soon.

This was last year -- I had envisioned the same color touching the ground this fall, but it wasn't meant to be.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10-26-11 First Snow

Well, the weatherman did it again. Cried wolf all week long so that by Tuesday afternoon emails were going around Bob's work about possible closures Wednesday because it was going to be so bad. Sammi's teachers were all saying "probably won't be in class tomorrow, so . . . "

Inevitably, it built up. Everyone went to bed believing.

And then . . . the wolf was nowhere in the neighborhood.

Totally clear streets, all day long. Yes, we got snow. It was probably 6-8 inches all told. If only it had been a lovely surprise instead of a "that's it?!?"

 :) Can't make anyone happy these days.

Except the dogs!

My little swing among the tree was getting up close and personal with the branches. We haven't had a frost yet, so most of the tree are still full of leaves, which makes them incredibly heavy. Most of the power outages around the state are from fallen branches.

Katy lost about half a dozen balls in the snow throughout the day.

Bruiser, on the other hand, got as far as the open door before screeching to a halt. I have to watch him carefully when going in and out of the door, except apparently when it snows.

Meanwhile, Katy wants to know where all the balls have gone. What a face.

Our first table snow cake of the season!

And we keep on watching the tree bowing to the ground.

Tonight's low? 13°!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10-25-11 The Adopted Family

Lynne and I were attending a conference at Baylor, sometime in 2005, and while we were driving around Waco we happened across a massive "garage sale" that was a fundraiser for something . .  Habitat for Humanity, maybe? It was huge -- filled up a very large empty retail space, about the size of a Hobby Lobby. Lost among the tables was this picture of a very somber and forlorn group of five, brothers and sisters, posed about a low table draped with a blanket-looking tablecloth, in front of the lowest little chaise lounge I've seen. The paper spread out among them, with not a soul looking at it, is what made me have to adopt this little lost bunch and take them home. The boys' bows, the oldest girl's pearls, the little ones' white dresses, I wish I knew where they came from and who might have abandoned them. The oldest boy -- is he on his knees? The proportions are off otherwise. I love the mystery about them. They've adorned my desk at Blinn and again here at my little corner office at home. If only I could read the paper on their table and know what time they came to me from. 
Saturday, October 22, 2011

in case you're wondering what I want for Christmas

10*22*11 Fall Saturday

The yard is starting to quickly fill up with leaves. Katy brings back about five in her mouth every time she fetches the balls.

Bob carved the pumpkins this morning. First pumpkin was my chosen design, with Snoopy, mistaken by Linus as the Great Pumpkin, rising from his most sincere pumpkin patch against the full moon.

I entertained the dogs while Bob worked on his own design. 


And this afternoon we all trucked to the zoo so Sammi could work and we could wander.

Sammi has lost count of the number of times people would walk up and make some lame joke about the human exhibit.

Nick has a new fan.

We also did more bird areas this time. These two were quite the pair.

 And outside, the penguins were wondering why their pool is full of these golden things.

Note the three penguins on the right nearest the water. The center penguin is picking up wet leaves and sticking them on the back of his buddy.

I caught him in the act here:

The seals and sea lions were basking in the warm sun this afternoon today, too.


Nick strikes a pose in the bat cave.

Very cool tropical fish whose name I don't remember:

And, with the call that Sammi was done, on the way out I got to see my big boy, who wasn't actually sleeping this time.