Thursday, October 27, 2011

I am sipping the fruits of my labor, and they taste like pumpkin spice.



Guess what?

It's fall! And do you know what fall means?


Seriously. Google image search "pumpkin spice."
There are pumpkin spice flavored Hershey's kisses.
There is pumpkin spice flavored BEER.
This, in my opinion, is the best of things. The only problem? As usual, money. Do you know how much pumpkin spice lattes cost at Starbucks? Even QuikTrip (the poor Tulsanite's Starbucks) has raised its drink prices. And as dearly as I love the pumpkin spice flavored froyo at Cherry Berry, thirty-nine cents per ounce adds up quick.

So what is a pumpkin spice loving cheapskate to do?

Make it herself.


Someone (my guess is Frugally Sustainable, and even if it wasn't, let me just say that Facebook-friending her has about septupled by OMG-want-to-do-that list) posted this recipe on Facebook. The DDH and I experimented this weekend, and I thought I'd share our version.

We made pumpkin-spice flavored coffee because we were actually out of coffee on Saturday (it was the only ingredient we were missing!), but I've been bringing the milk mixture in and putting it in my normal coffee at work and that tastes fine, too.

We made this in a pitcher and it probably makes about twelve servings, depending on how big your mug is. ;-) I've provided the thirded (is that a word?) recipe in parentheses in case you have food commitment issues/don't want to drink this every day for a week.

3 cups milk (1 cup)
1 can pumpkin puree (1/3 to 1/2 can)
1 teaspoon nutmeg (scant 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon cloves (scant 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (though wouldn't fresh ginger be yum!) (scant 1/2 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (scant 3/4 teaspoon)
3 teaspoons vanilla (1 teaspoon)
6 tablespoons brown sugar (though our housemate has lent us some agave nectar to try next time) (2 teaspoons)
generous shake of garam masala (1/3 generous shake ^_~)

I dumped all the ingredients in a pitcher and had at it with the immersion blender so that I could just stick the lid on the pitcher and store the extra. Otherwise, put everything in a blender and blend well, then pour into your chosen container.

Mix pumpkin mixture with coffee to taste (so me, I like it about half and half; the DDH likes a spoonful or two in a mug of black coffee). It's also nice if you warm it up before adding it to your coffee. Top with whipped cream (cream + sugar to taste (though you could do unsweetened for this, really) + vanilla to taste beaten in a metal bowl with a hand beater) and cinnamon.

The mixture will settle if you leave it sitting around, so shake or stir briskly before pouring that second cup. And the third.

Sadly, I had no cream to whip. It was delicious anyway.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ich bin Deutscherin!

Well, half German, anyway, and that's more than enough during Oktoberfest!

Tulsa has, perhaps surprisingly, a really good Oktoberfest each year. Usually the DDH and I go on Thursday night with a free admission coupon, but the dealership or whatever it was that handed those out before didn't do that this year. :-( So instead, we actually went during the day, and that turned out to be a lot of fun!

First, before it opened, we went to a worship service put on by the LCMS Lutheran churches in the area. Our DCE led the service, and we got to do the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer in German. Woot.

After an unexpected storm Saturday night and several days in the fifties last week, we thankfully had beautiful weather. The fog cleared for a sunny day in the seventies. Wunderbar! ;-)

A Weiner Dog Races Foto Montage:

Those are some fast little short-legged doglets.

A girl next to us in the crowd with
her dachshund, Fievel.

Some dogs were less into the "running" part of the race than others.

On your marks!


Run run dachshunds.

The one on the left was the eventual winner, Bolt Speedman.
The black-and-white dachshund in the middle is aptly named "Snoopy."
The Grand Champion, Bolt Speedman, and his human pack.

My early anniversary present: this beautiful market basket.
I've been admiring the baskets sold at this stand at Oktoberfest and the Fair
for several years; supposedly they're made by a group of women in Ghana.
I never know how much to believe those sorts of stories, but the baskets are
beautiful, reasonably priced, and I've seen people using them at the market, so
they seem sturdy and like they hold up well. The DDH kindly noticed my
drooling and told me to choose one for an early present.

Brats, Polish sausage, and kraut. Noms.

Oktoberfest is held at the Festival Grounds of RiverParks.
A view of the river and the syringe building.

Some German state flags. The black and yellow one with
the lions is for Baden-Wuerttemberg, the state where I lived.

And my favorite part--potato pancakes and applesauce!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I am October: The Fair!

The DDH and I went twice to the Tulsa State Fair this year.

I love Fairs. They're just silly. I like to eat junk food and pet animals and see all the 4-H exhibits and gawk at the junk for sale and watch the fun shows.

Last year there was the coolest fire-twirling show I have ever seen, but this year all the shows were lame. The trick dogs, of course, and then a Star Trek show (lame) and a hypnotist (also lame). So that was a disappointment.

We did look at the cake decorating contest. Some of those cakes are just mind-bogglingly amazing. Unfortunately, all of those pictures are on my "real" camera and I haven't uploaded them yet.

BUT. For your vicarious Fairjoyment, a photodocumentation:
Long-horned cows + bonus baby cow.
My family used to show dogs and are generally all-around dog people, and one of the things I love MOST in the WORLD is seeing dogs doing what they were bred to do. I get super tickled when I see dogs that were bred to herd cattles hanging out with cattles. Because what is more awesome than that? (I noticed all the Welsh Pony fanciers ALSO had Welsh Corgis, which is also awesome.)

A working Pembroke Welsh Corgi keeping an eye on its herd.
Another favorite Fair pastime is checking out all the crafts and artwork submitted by children and adults for competition. The children's Lego competition is my favorite, and this is probably the coolest freestyle Lego Fair entry I've ever seen:

Pacman! With little ghosts and spare lives and cherries and everything!
And look how the asteroid is the controller ball! :3
Ok, my other favorite part of the Fair (I have a lot of favorite parts) is looking at all the rabbits and surreptitiously poking my fingers in to pet them without getting bitten or yelled at by their owners. While I love looking at rows and rows of Megs (my castor (brown) Mini Rex) in different colors, I also like the weird breeds, like this. I think it's an English angora?

Alien Rabbit
The strangest thing I saw this year at the Fair was this entry into the adult handicrafts competition:

Nazi Quilt
No idea. None at all. Though the DDH insists those look nothing like swastikas, everyone else I've shown the picture to agrees with me.

As a surprise, MC Hammer performed one of the evenings we were there. He is not as cool in a white pimp suit as in parachute pants. And though the classics are the classics, the truth is: There's a reason he's performing at State Fairs and not at, you know, actual concerts.

So there we go! I will admit that the Tulsa State Fair has nothing on the New Mexico one, but it's still always a good time. We adopted the Adorabeagle after seeing her picture and description on the Animal Aid display in 2006, so the thing holds a special place in my heart.

Come on, you know you like them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I am forgetful.

You know how, when you get some cash out, you stick some of it aside so you don't spend it all at once, and then a week or two later you go back for it, and you're not sure if the problem is that you can't remember where you put it, or if it's that you did remember where you put it and have already retrieved and spent it, and so you're just not sure if you'll eventually stumble on a bonus $40 someday or if you already have $40 worth of stuff (groceries, usually) floating around that you've forgotten, but either way, you don't have the $40 dollars you expected to use to go buy dog food?

Yeah. Me too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I am a laundromat.

Not really, actually.

I do laundry maybe once a month (a bonus of not having kids yet). The DDH does small loads more frequently because he has a limited number of work appropriate shirts and a lower tolerance for re-wearing clothing than I do (this is, admittedly, the man who was raised to use a bath towel only once before washing it. He gave up this habit when he realized that I, unlike his mother, was not going to wash a giant load of towels twice a week), but I usually do a big laundry party weekend for my clothes and the towels/rags/napkins/sheets roughly once a month.

The beagle likes to keep the laundry warm for me while I fold it.

This weekend, I suspect, has been nominated as The Laundry Weekend, and I noticed that my laundry detergent supply was running low. It's time to make more, and, while I'm at it, thought I'd share the recipe.

Because as it turns out, laundry detergent is so ridiculously simple, fast, and cheap to make that I do not understand why people buy commmercial detergents. Srsly guyz. Have you seen the price for a box of Tide these days? That is not in my budget. Plus, even the not-particularly-keen-on-green DDH has sensitivities to the chemicals in that stuff. So! Without further ado:

You need:


*Washing soda (this is not baking soda; it can be found on the laundry aisle of your grocery store and occasionally Walmart)

*Bar soap, such as Fels Naptha (laundry aisle) or Ivory (something plain, basically, is what you want, and white so it won't discolor your clothes)
*A food processor

*Something to store it in (I use the empty detergent bucket from the detergent I bought at Sam's Club before discovering this magical recipe)

Cut a bar or two of soap into chunks and process in the food processor until it is finely grated (I used to do this by hand until a friend told me she used her food processor--it's much safer for the fingers, heh).

Mix the grated soap with the Borax and washing soda in your container using a ratio of 2:1:1 soap: Borax: washing soda.

Use one Tablespoon for a full load of laundry. Less for smaller loads and, now that we have one of those energy-efficient washer things, I use a little less than a tablespoon for large loads, too.


Seriously, the first time I made it and had to buy everything at once I think it came to less than $15 for a big thing of Borax, a big box of washing soda, and ten bars of Ivory soap. That lasted me a year and a half before I had to get more Borax and washing soda (I think I had to get more soap sooner). Admittedly, I already told you I don't do that much laundry. But call it twenty bucks for a year of two people's laundry is cheaper than commercial detergent any way you slice it, and with the food processor it takes less than ten minutes.

It works better than the cheapo stuff I was buying at Sam's before, and seems to work just as well as Tide or anything like that. In the winter when everything is colder, I use a little less and make sure the soap is really, really finely ground if I'm doing a cold-water load (which is most of them), because sometimes the soap wouldn't dissolve all the way and would leave little flakes on the clothes.

And! While we're on the topic, there's no need to use fabric softener, either. White vinegar does the job perfectly well. I pour some into the little fabric softener ball that came with my washing machine. This keeps all my clothes from being painfully stiff when I air dry them.

This site has some other detergent recipes, including liquid ones, if you're a die-hard liquid detergenter.

Try it! Let me know how it works.

Linked with Your Green Resource at SortaCrunchy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I am fighting off a chest cold.

But I'm losing.

This came out of the blue. I was hit by a nice juicy cough last night while watching Castle and thought, uh-oh. And sure enough, I almost slept right through my alarm this morning, completely glued to the bed, with that weird heavy wet ball in the middle of my chest that means I'm sick.

Ugh, my lungs hurt. And I can feel that exhausted achiness creeping into my bones.

And you know when you can just taste the mucus hovering at the back of your mouth, overflowing from your bronchial tubes?


Good times.

At least my nose isn't running (though now that I say that, it will be), and since the boss is out of town it's actually warmer than 55 degrees in my office, so that should help.

Gallons and gallons of immunity-boosting tea, a fuzzy scarf 'round my neck, and either soup or a nap for lunch.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I am.

They say that time heals all wounds.

I'm not sure I believe them.

In this moment, it seems this wound is too big to heal. Every tentatively formed scab rips off, exposing the pus-filled pain beneath. Anger. Envy. Sorrow. Bitterness. Doubt.

Drowning in tears and drowning again. Hurricanes and steady rains but always always tears and sadness and pain and questions.

How long, O Lord?

Too long. Too much.

The sun comes out.

The pain numbs, subsides. Dull throbbing always there. Slow leak of salt from eyes.

But a smile to the world, always a smile. Hiding a hurt that no one knows. Smile, wipe eyes. Blame allergies--it's fall, after all.

They say the physical act of smiling can make you feel happy, can release endorphins. Drugs from the brain for the wounds of the heart.

I'm not sure I believe them.

Find the rainbow in the rain.

Linked up with Heather of The EO's Just Write, a weekly exercise in free writing ordinary and extra-ordinary moments.