Old Marley was dead as door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail.  I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.  But the wisdom of our ancestors is in simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.  You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was dead as a door-nail.

–  Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

No matter how many times I sit down to read this book the first page still surprises me and makes me laugh to myself.  A very good evening to you, and a happy December the first if I might add.  Today  seemed to come with an air of celebration, at least in my little corner of the world.  Maybe we were all holding back together thinking “is it too early to break out the Christmas music and snow exploration?”  and then today hits and everything we’ve been holding back on and waiting to do kind of bursts through the floodgates.  I skipped a week or two, for good reason, so I suppose I should catch up as we’ve been particularly magical throughout the last fortnight.

Prior to Thanksgiving my family held their annual Early Thanksgiving.  I feel like I totally dropped the ball on this festivity and not only for the colossal flop of a pie I contributed.  Next year I definitely plan to play up my Fantastic Beasts hors d’oeuvre tray (which means getting the hang of the pie for starters).  This year I embraced the flavors of the holiday and made a Cranberry Pie

20171118_100603This is consequently the best picture I have of it.  It really was a thing of beauty (I’m quite proud of the knot I constructed) however I desperately need to work on my tart/pie crusts and figure out what went wrong with the filling (it was super runny).

What worked out immensely was my homemade mince filling, which I pied later in week.  I had wanted us to wait to eat our first one (and make a wish) but waiting is really hard and I’m so glad to have gotten a picture of this face:

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I also hand stuffed sausages with my father that weekend.  My mother’s vegetarian counter top has seen some things that it will never be able to unsee.  I’m getting better at it and it was really nice, albeit strange, to sit down with my dad and chat it up over bottles of Old Speckled Hen.  I have no pictures on account of really messy hands, but I did drive home with a large freezer bag full of oxford style sausages to last us through the holidays and beyond.

Tuesday night Baby Bat looks at me earnestly when we are about to turn the lights out “mommy, lets put up our tree!”  Secretly, not so secretly, I wanted to as well but I asked her “wouldn’t you rather do it tomorrow night, and then it will feel more ceremonious, like the start of the holidays?”  She shook her head no and who was I to argue?

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Thanksgiving was a blast at our center and now that I know what to expect I can’t wait to do it up next year.  The weekend after we made our way out to Santa’s Workshop in the Adirondacks.  It was a long drive but well worth it, the town was gorgeously quaint and cozy and it began to snow that night so when we did visit Father Christmas the next day it looked as magical as you would expect.

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20171126_115639Baby Bat got to meet Father Christmas, for the first time really, all the other times we’ve taken her she was too scared to talk or sit with him.    Throughout the past year I’ve been hearing “I want this, I want that etc. etc. ”  I got a bit fed up and said “well you’ll have to ask Father Christmas for it then”…and then I heard “I’m going to ask Father Christmas for that!” as often as I heard the “I wants” before.  I’m not really mad or irritated, I think its rather cute in a way.

Anyway she met the big guy.  She was a bit star struck and got very quiet and shy.  They had a Disney moment of sorts while he was talking to her, his hand was resting on his knee and she simply reached her gloved hand over to his and he patted her ever so gently, it was so brief and so simple but it melted my heart a bit.  When prompted by the (overpriced picture taker) Elves she immediately piped up and told Father Christmas that she wants “Elsa things and Peppa Pig things!” for Christmas.

On a humorous note, while we were out at the craft store yesterday she spotted a Hello Kitty Camera and said she wanted to get that today.  I said “if we get you all of these things now what is Father Christmas going to bring you?”  she says “mommy, Father Christmas will get me Peppa Pig and Elsa things”…::eye roll:: duh!  We did not leave the store with the camera.

Message_1512082780128I found my goose yesterday as well!  I was so excited for I had been to the store the week before and saw they had them but wtf mate! they were an arm an a leg (that was a bad shopping day, treacle is now in fancy squeezable bottles and also went up in price…I have 1 jar left and I’m hording it like a miser).

To cap off our adventures this week I made a double pan of treacle fudge (Baby Bat thought more of the tasting of it then the stirring of it:

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We also made a decorative paper chain for the holidays, balloons to follow.  We’re heading out to the Hilton Tree Lighting tomorrow, that and cookie weekend is in our future.  Enjoy the holiday season and make as many magical moments as possible!

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The First Fall of Snow

Happy Belated Veterans Day!  I would have had this out last night but someone didn’t fall asleep until midnight (Babybat, after a lengthy nap in the evening).  We had our first fall of snow Friday so it was a pretty special weekend to begin with.  I had these great plans of having Frozen, Tinkerbell and the Secret of the Wings and Ice Age ready for the event but as you never can tell in Western New York all we had was Frozen (and as it turned out Ice Age too, just found that some moments ago).  Anyway this is our 2nd annual First Day of Snow Snowflake Decorating RitualLast year we broke out the coffee filters and made some standard flakes…this year I wanted to be all fancy.  I found a few good templates and have had them on hand since September.  As it turns out fancy snowflakes are a lot of work.  Of course I wanted to do Harry Potter snowflakes but I also wanted to work in some Frozen ones for Babybat.  I tried some templates that were all the house mascots but they were too tiny and fragile.  I also started off trying some origami techniques but for the life of me couldn’t get the hang of the 1/3 center fold or whatever so all of our Frozen ones are standard snowflake fold.  My other two are pinterest finds the Hogwarts/Dobby one I scaled back a bit to make the smaller ones in the middle (this was me slacking off because they were vastly more time consuming then I had anticipated…I’ve found that pumpkin carving and snowflake cutting are things one should only do once a year).  The Deathly Hallows ones are the origami method also and I was pretty good at them for a beginner until the last one, I was ready to be done, so I cheated.  In some way I’m having trouble describing now but suffice it to say I only really folded the paper once and broke it into 1/3rds and…magic!

That took most of Friday night and until 4pm Saturday (breakfast, laundry and baths intermixed).  I had some great plans of going to Target and getting a couple of the Harry Potter 12 Days of Socks Advent Calenders (one for me one for a friend)  but luckily I did as the clerk Friday suggested and called ahead, turns out they sold out already (!)  So we’ll have to try next week when they get a new shipment in I suppose.

So, if an Advent Calendar only has 12 days to open do you open it before Christmas or after for the “12 Days of Christmas” ???

Anyway aside from socks Target had some interesting stuff.  I was thinking Baby Bat and I could write her letter to Father Christmas this weekend so we were in the toy department when I found these:

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You have to buy the Squatty Potty separately though.

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Then there was this pygmy puff look alike “They’ve been known to sing on Boxing, Day you know”.

 

 

 

 

It seems like its definitely going to be a Frozen year for Baby Bat as she stayed in that section the longest playing with the sing along microphones.

Last night I also stirred up my Christmas Pudding.  Lots of people are like “Lets eat the turkey first!”  but this traditionally should have been done in late September (so it has 3 months to feed/drink)  so in fact I’m a bit behind.  Will plan accordingly next year.

20171111_172122 I found a great way to shred the kidney fat this time around by working the grater back and forth and keeping the fat stationary (rocket science).  I also left the almonds in whole but took their jackets off. I also needed to pause a bit before I added the liquid because Babybat was still taking her nap and she needed to give it a stir and make a wish.

I needed a good playlist for Christmas Pudding so I put this together a few weeks ago using only WRock Bands and music from the soundtracks (if you know of something I don’t have on here let me know I would love to add it!).

  1. Christmas at Hogwarts – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Soundtrack
  2. Christmas Time at School – Gred and Forge
  3. 12 Days of Christmas – Gred and Forge (this one is good and is well known and all but I wrote/thought my own last year (I’m quite partial to the Muppets version of this song particularly when Miss Piggy goes all diva like with the 5 Golden Riiiiings! bit, so now you know and now you will sing it like that…if and when you actually do sing it that is):

A Cloak of Invisibility, 2 Racing Brooms, a three headed dog, 4 nesting dragons, 5 gold galleons, 6 house elves cleaning, 7 mermaids swimming, 8 potions bubbling, 9 Owls Swooping, 10 Moving Portraits, 11 Floating Ghosts, 12 Uses for Dragons Blood

4. Christmas Mirror – The Butterbeer Experience

5. Wizard Wrocking Christmas – Hawthorn and Holly

6. Happy Christmas Day – Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls

7. God Rest Ye, Merry Hippogriffs – Bastien Lenoir

8. Harry in Winter – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Soundtrack

9. Freaking Ask Me to the Yule Ball – The Parselmouths

10. Potter Waltz – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Soundtrack

11. All I want for Christmas – Draco and the Malfoys

12. Nargles in the Mistletoe – The Moaning Myrtles

13. Christmas with the Weasleys – The Remus Lupins

14. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls

15. It’s Snowing – Catchlove

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The rest of the evening was spent knitting and watching “Shawn the Sheep: We wish Ewe a Merry Christmas” that we found for a steal at Target($4).

Next weekend is my family’s Early Thanksgiving (still haven’t decided on what I’m making/bringing)  but at some point I’m also going to be stuffing sausage for the holidays with my dad and brother…I would do it by myself but I’m trying to create traditions here and include people.  As my mum has a monopoly on the cookie ritual I figured, how awesome would it be to make sausages with the guys.

7 hours left to go on steaming the pudding, in any event have a magical week! Stay safe and warm!

 

Remember, Remember the 5th of November…

…The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Happy 5th of November or, as it is also known, Bonfire Night!  This post is going to have nothing to do with Harry Potter (::gasp!!!::).  Although it should, Guy Fawkes Day is a British Holiday and Harry Potter being an albeit fictional character would have probably celebrated it all the same, however the only reference you will find is in the first book when the Dursley’s are watching the news before Harry has entered their lives:

“Well, Ted,” said the weatherman, “I don’t know about that, but it’s not only the owls that have been acting oddly today.  Viewers as far apart as Kent, Yorkshire and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they’ve had a downpour of shooting stars!  Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early-it’s not until next week, folks!  But I can promise a wet night tonight.”

…all that aside (as I’ve noticed I’ve already talked a considerable amount more then I had intended to on Harry Potter)  I started celebrating Guy Fawkes Night back in college with my friends after the movie V for Vendetta had come out.  I don’t remember why but it became a tradition to watch the film and make roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

20161105_194409This year I wanted to do things differently though.  I knew what Guy Fawkes represented in the movie but I felt terribly ignorant of the real story behind it all.  I was a little loath to give of my traditional meal I was terribly excited to try my hand at new things that I had possibly never heard of(!!!!).

So in a nutshell: in 1604 there was some resistance to the Protestant King James I, some thought he did not show enough religious tolerance.  So a group had formed a plan to blow up the British Parliament.  Guy Fawkes was one of the group and had been a military veteran and had experience with explosives so he was set to guard the gunpowder.  Spoiler alert!  Nothing got blown up, they were unsuccessful for whatever reason, someone let something slip and Guy Fawkes was captured and tortured for the names of the other conspirators.  They were all sentenced to death but Guy Fawkes was in such bad shape he had to be helped up the gallows where he pitched himself off thereby killing himself, like a last crowning gesture. The next year they were encouraged to light bonfires on the 5th of November in celebration of the king’s escape from assassination.

Today people celebrate by lighting bonfires and setting off fireworks.  Families roast food over the fire like marshmallows and hotdogs.  There is also a practice of making a Guy Fawkes Effigy, or a stuffed doll of sorts to throw on the bonfire.  This is where I get a bit confused; initially an effigy of the pope was burned…later to be replaced or added to with one of Fawkes(??) people in the town where Fawkes was born do not burn effigies (out of respect), there are also places that burn unpopular political figures…I think.  So the symbolism of Guy Fawkes (like a Robin Hood type…or terrorist?) is a little hazy.  From what I glean He is seen as somewhat of a revolutionary and freedom fighter (…?).

untitledI was really excited about the food that I made for this.  Just off my buzz from Wizarding Weekend (I know I was really critical in my last post but now I’m like I can’t wait to go back, more! how soon is now!?)  My Devil’s Night was okay.  I tried my hand at this “British” curry sauce (was flipping through my cookbook and re-found Mulligatawny hindsight is 20/20), the curry was really wanting, for what I don’t know…I ended up putting some honey in it and it almost saved it but it was really bland-but in an over spiced way.  Halloween was a near bust as Baby Bat took ill the night before but we eventually made it out for some trick or treating.  So when we finally made it to Friday I was really in the mood to celebrate.

Friday night I made Parkin…or “perkin”  depending on your dialect I suppose.  Parkin is a traditional Yorkshire Recipe and I took my first try at this recipe from pinterest.   I looked through a few to get my bearings and decided on this one because I liked the sound of it being “Grandma’s Recipe”…although at the same time that worried me (Were I to post a recipe from my grandmother it might end up like her tomato soup cake that she spread the cream cheese frosting on with cotton ear swabs, true story). So maybe it wouldn’t have worked out (another spoiler alert: it did!)  the description under the picture said it added lot of extra stuff that most other recipes don’t usually do.

Some things to consider: I’m really amazed by the amount of molasses used in these treats.  I was expecting a light molasses flavor but no, if you don’t like molasses neither this or the toffee apples will be to your liking.  I come from a partially Pennsylvania Dutch family where we had shoo-fly pie every now and again so I like my molasses I just don’t think I’ve ever experienced it this bold before.

Also, this recipe calls for pinhead oats, which turns out to be steel-cut.  I was not expecting that either as when I’ve used that in baking before its a bit grainy.  It also mentions Scottish oats as a substitute but I didn’t have those.  In fact what I ended up doing was a mélange of pinhead, rolled and Irish porridge…just to clean out my cupboard.

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…Parkin is on the right.  On the left is the toffee apple.  This was an adventure worth having.  Again its very bold molasses taste and Baby Bat didn’t car for it in the beginning but seemed to warm to it later. I did the apples this morning and you do need to leave some extra time for getting the syrup to the right temperature (this was particularly vexing for me).  Toiling over the stove making sure nothing burned or boiled over all became instantly worth it when Baby Bat hopped up on a chair to help me dip the apples.

20171105_103357I thought I was in the clear when they were all dipped and laid out looking dapper on the wax paper.  Little did I foresee that the same thing that happened last Easter occurred.  Yup, the toffee stuck to the wax paper and would not come off.  I looked up life hacks, and they said this happens, you should use parchment instead  (which seems counter intuitive to me, I mean I’m trying to avoid the whole paper dot candy memory lane bit.  I haven’t tried the parchment yet but time will tell I guess).  What they did say to do was heat up a pan and set the paper and the candy on it and it should lift away…sort of like it never happened.  In truth this didn’t work, at all.  So as I meditated over my predicament and cleaned my toffee pan I noticed with hot water the toffee melted off on its own (slowly).  In a stroke of genius I carefully held the bottoms of my apples under hot water and took a new clean tooth brush to the paper part and it came away fairly easily.  This may not work for all candy/wax paper conundrums but it certainly worked for me this time (not that I want to make it a practice either).  I also cooked up some toad in the hole with some chorizo and onion gravy and gave mulled wine another try.  I can always go for toad in the hole but I can’t say I’m a mulled wine person, something about the thickened texture of it when it gets cold and it always gets cold way to fast it seems.

We got lots of rain tonight and I did plan to have a real bonfire and make an effigy to burn and I have a firework fountain saved for the occasion, but the weather did not cooperate.  Oh well, a couple friends came over we watched V for Vendetta at food and it was a good cozy night all the same…there is always Yule for the bonfire and fireworks I guess.

Hope your weekend was just as magical, have an awesome week!

Ithaca Wizarding Weekend!

We just got back in from our Fantastic weekend.  The car has been unloaded, I’m sitting down with a nice cup of tea in my Hufflepuff mug after a delicious sunny side up egg and bacon “breakfast” (despite it being 1pm).  It is amazing how “back to normal” things can suddenly get after a big event weekend.  I’m still mulling over all the awesome things we did and saw.

We started our journey at 1:40pm and the day could not have been better, a perfect fall day.20171026_134006

As nervous as I was to drive out there it was pretty straight forward and easy to find (one road, follow the signs, nothing complicated. We even stopped at Taughannock Falls for a brief nature excursion.

 

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We made it to the hotel by quarter to 5.  The only trouble we encountered really was a weird direction given by google but was easily fixable and in my excitement over really and truly being there attempting to enter the wrong room (what was even more embarrassing was that we took a picture of the door first and I didn’t even then realize it was the wrong door…I really hope no one was in at the time)

 

 

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Nothing much happened that night.  Baby Bat immediately wanted to put her pajamas on and started calling the room her house and invited anyone we spoke to once we got in and settled to come visit her there.  After awhile I did manage to get her into the pram and we ventured out into Ithaca.  We really only made it to the library and we spent the evening the way we usually do at home and then went back for a snack and to watch The Sword and the Stone.   Their library is amazing, at least their children’s section was anyway and we found an advertisement for Wizarding Yoga for the kids the next day and  The Daily Non-Profit (see what they did there) which had all the info for the event and was not something they actually put out everyday.

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After a relatively restless night (sleeping in strange places is becoming less and less appealing as I get older it seems).  We got up, had our porridge, got ready and made another nature excursion to  Buttermilk Falls which Baby Bat re-named “Butternut Squash”  and she was not partial to it.

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In the afternoon we ventured back to Ithaca and got our Magical passports. These are a particularly good buy $20 a pop and it included the Potions crawl, (different restaurants offered up samples of some fun drink concoctions…non alcoholic so its fine for kids), the artifact hunt and different crafts and games for the kids to do (like floo powder, dragon eggs and slime)….oh! and a hand written acceptance letter!

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Things to consider:  There is a ton going on at this festival, lots to listen to, lots to see, food that isn’t just your run of the mill festival food.  We did a few of the crafts, had a couple of the potions but did hardly any of the artifact hunt.  I think it was just really overwhelming for our first time and if I were to do it all again…I think I’d still get the passport because we did enjoy mixing slime and decorating eggs etc.  The one potion that was really good was a warm cider mixed with a maple infused balsamic vinegar blew my mind and totally made me rethink how I use vinegar.  Next year I think I’ll make more of an effort to hit all the potions sites.

We also made it to the Wizarding Yoga which was (i’m pretty sure) taken directly from Cosmic Kids Yoga (it tells the story of Harry and the Philosopher’s Stone through yoga poses).  Baby Bat and I were the only ones there for the beginning only to be joined by one kid who tried a couple poses and left and another mother and daughter who came in for the last half and I think might have stayed to hear/do the whole story.  In any event I ended up doing most of the poses and Baby Bat was a little more interested in dancing around.  In short it was yoga the way we normally do it at home:

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This was their first time doing Harry Potter Yoga so it was a little awkward…at least for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take any kind of yoga and while I’m working on my own Hogwarts House styled Yoga it helps to see other perspectives.  But when it’s clear that my child just isn’t into this right now I’m left with the inner struggle of: do I get up and leave?  They say that you are suppose to be excited and into the activity and the child will be excited about it too but the more I try to emulate that in these activities the more I think it’s (for lack of a better term) BS.  So in the effort to show interest and in the hopes they would do it again next year (or advertise for it better) we stayed and me and the other mom got a great workout.

That night was the City of Magic Ball.  I had these great fantasies of jamming out to various wizard rock songs or a live wizard rock band with other Potter-heads and swigging Flying Cauldron Butterbeer or other magical concoctions (which is what we do once a month at home…just the two of us anyway).

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What it actually ended being was like a Halloween Dance. It was a small, intimate venue.  Dark and lit like a club…maybe.  there was a dessert table, and snack table (which had some really awesome cheese…like they totally didn’t skimp on the food).  There was also a cash bar.  People were dressed in costume or like prom style, it was kind of like going back to my Goth club days (and Baby Bat got to come too!).

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The music was your average Halloween stuff (Monster Mash etc.), run of the mill “wedding” dance songs and some top 40 stuff (i.e. that new Spanish Justin Bieber song).   Baby Bat immediately ran out onto the dance floor and started dancing, but as it was already late we only stayed until 8:30pm and went home to get a good night’s sleep.

Saturday was the big day! We got up like usual and got ready for THE FESTIVAL:

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Baby Bat pretty much lived in her Frozen Anna Dress this weekend and was even given toward answering to the name “Princess Anna”.  I was really excited about my cosplay costume (I kind of want to live in my costume everyday too).  First thing we did was get coffee and checked out some Quidditch:

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I really wanted to watch my college team play but we left early today as it was raining and as it still is (presumably there too) it would have made for one very long, very wet day and being rested for the muggle world tomorrow was kind of important.  Next year definitely want to make a bigger effort to see one full game.

We made some Floo Powder using clear glass vials and colored sand. and then we entered the main festival area.  It was awesome to see so many Hogwarts uniforms and costumes, cosplay, fantasy you name it.  If this was what comic-con is like I might have to think about going.  We stood in line for awhile to get our acceptance letters (…which will be framed and put up on our wall soon).  FYI if you get one of these you have to go in one line first to get your passport stamped and they take your name.  Then you wait in another line to receive the hand written letter.  After that we got our faces painted we went off in search of wands and food.

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20171028_135108 Baby Bat found a nice, small pink one that suits her nicely for the time being. (there were a few wand vendors but it didn’t seem like any sold wands of specific wood like Alivans. My wand is an Alivan’s wand and even though it is not specifically my Pottermore wand I’m really attached to it so I was really excited when the wand makers that Baby Bat got her’s from said they would engrave mine also for free (they were doing Initial engravings).  We went down the Ithaca Commons and found a Hand Pie stand and Baby Bat and I both got some delicious pies.  She got a sausage filled one and I got a Cornish Pasty (!!!!Delicious!!!!)

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Afterwards we went to watch some live Wizard Rock!!!  We saw Hawthorn and Holly first, they were pretty good and they had a Wizard Rock Holiday Album which I bought later (saw it on Youtube and was very pleasantly surprised to find it there).  We also saw one of the guys from Draco and the Malfoys (bought one of their CD’s also…not sure if I’ll play this one at school as “it’s not very kind”  but in a humorous way…they do songs from Draco’s point of view)  I also got a couple from a girl we didn’t watch so it will hopefully be a nice surprise later when I finally get to listen to them.   Baby Bat was most enthusiastic about getting out there with the other young kids and dancing in the front of the band.  I got up there a little a bounced around but I mostly felt inhibited by being tall and in front of a low stage and later the wind picked up and my cosplay skirt was…well way to short ( and I wasn’t wear cute underwear either) so I felt like a prize dork for not getting up and dancing with my baby when she’s calling for me to come join her “Wizard Mommy Come ON!”20171028_13145620171028_140446

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well we wrapped up the festival and went back to the room in time for it to start raining and to meet up with a friend and go to the adult potions class.  Again, it was nice to be in a room full of Harry Potter fans dressed in their finest etc.  however, I feel that if you are offering a “potions” class at a Harry Potter event you should have the “teacher” dress up as either Snape or Slughorn.

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The “potions master” was very good at explaining how different drinks and beverages are made and little anecdotes about the ingredients and how to mix them.  Although the “class” kind of devolved into a cocktail party/local tasting event.  Not a bad thing at all, many of the drinks were overly sweet in my opinion but I was feeling a little ill from lack of sleep and excitement from the day so I was kind of ready to turn in after awhile.  My friend wanted to stick around and get food and a drink at the bar which I rallied for.  I didn’t know what to order, I wasn’t hungry.  Then I had a jolt of inspiration and looked up the Wolfsbane Potion which I have been wanting to try all year and gave the recipe to the bartender (who consequently was a big fan of Fernet-Branca) and then I had my second wind and the night ended on an awesome note.

Today we got up, packed and checked out.  We had been planning on staying to see a bit more of the festival but it was raining cats and dogs so we came home early.  The coming home didn’t feel nearly as long as the going (it never does). We are all talking about “next year” and indeed I’ve used the phrase in this entry.  However I don’t know, there are other Harry Potter festivals to attend, I mean we could turn this up to 11 and go to Philadelphia or there is even a Charles Dickens Christmas Event nearby (it’s not Harry Potter I know, but I still feel this is magical).  My point is, this was fun, this was a great experience.  Maybe it will get better as events tend to do that go for long periods of time with annual attendance but why limit ourselves, it’s a big world.  If there is a next year, I would like to talk to people more (a big goal for me as talking with strangers isn’t my strong point), get a butterbeer from the Marriot (I saw other people having them and it looked ridiculously good, it was on my list of things to do today but rain and 11am is still early for ice cream or whatever it is), will probably go only for the Saturday Festival and maybe (big maybe) go in Ilvormorny garb because I didn’t see anyone representing the new American Wizarding School.

Thank You Ithaca and Everyone Involved in Making Wizarding Weekend So Magical

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Have a great Devil’s Night, a Spooky Halloween and looking forward to some culinary adventures this upcoming weekend for Bonfire Night.  Stay Magical!

 

 

This is Halloween! This is Halloween!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (and I think it’s almost my anniversary for this site), Pumpkin Spice everything! Reese’s!  FreeForm’s 13 Nights of Halloween! Mother nature even gave me some rainy, melancholy days that were delightfully foggy and deserving of copious cups of Earl Grey.  I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for the past two months getting ready for this week but Baby Bat and I have managed some seasonal fun as well.  We attended Hilton Apple Fest earlier in the month, which always sounds entertaining in my mind and then I get there and my introverted personality is like “yup, never doing this again”.  Afterwards we went with a friend to a local orchard and picked our own apples (first time), it was gratifying, fun and cheap so we went back again this weekend!20171021_120912

Last week I also went to see the New York State Ballet’s Production of Dracula at the RIT campus:

choice_event4-1-dc329e8780692b65I feel really, really critical of this piece maybe because I read the story so many times growing up, maybe because its dance…but I really want to say positive things about it so here it goes:  there was no Van Helsing character!  No, wait. Stop.  That was a criticism, had to get it out of my system.  I totally get why they cut him, another character to introduce, another dance to choreograph…would have taken to much time to tell the story etc. etc.  Moving on.  The best part about this outing was getting out with a friend I work with and having someone who has an appreciation for the gothic genre to enjoy it with.  The crazy adventure in finding the theater on an immense and sprawling college campus was just an added bonus…nothing like looking for signs to the event only to find them on the way out afterwards.

I’ve  been big on making Dundee Cake lately.  This has nothing to do with Harry Potter, oddly enough, and everything to do with Peppa Pig and has become a weekly staple if ountitlednly for myself as Baby Bat doesn’t seem to care for it.

We were watching the “Pretend Friend” episode and I got to thinking that a) I need to do a baking project with Baby Bat in mind and b) everyone in this television show seems to have the same cake this has got to be a thing?  So I did some research.  Of course I went to Delia Smith first and looked through all of her cake recipes, it was a choice between the Dundee Cake and the Family Cake but the Dundee cake seemed to look like the show more.  It was late spring or summer when I made this the first time and I was quite appalled that no one had orange peel or cherries glace on hand (apparently its a holiday thing).  That didn’t stop me then, I just looked up how to make those things and had an awesome and really delicious time of making the candied peel and cherries from scratch (my kitchen needs to smell like that all the time!).  The peel was easy, the cherries I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing wrong because the were literally candied cherries with very little fruit crisp to them anymore (not a wholly bad mistake, just not easy store for later and dreadful to cut otherwise.  But a couple weeks ago the holiday candied fruit made a reappearance and I got this book out of the library:20171007_112108

I can’t even tell you how weird it is to not have to wiggle a mouse to make sure the screen doesn’t go blank while your cooking.  Totally a blast from the past.  Anyway, Peppa Pig aside Dundee Cake is significant as it comes from the Scottish City for which it is named.  If you have an international section in your grocery store you might find Dundee Marmalade.  Dundee is, I believe the birthplace of marmalade although I’m not sure on that as a fact.  To be sure, they make a good deal of marmalade there and as such had a great deal of peel left over and started mixing up these cakes as well and I guess had a period of popularity in many homes (may or may not be the case…or might still be the case as it would be).  In any event I love it! and am very much shocked by that as I have never been one for fruit of any kind in my baked goods.  I’ve also gotten a chance to use my experience from trying to make almond milk from scratch in the process. as it calls for blanched almonds to decorate around the top like so:

20171007_112301The secret I’ve found, as whole blanched almonds don’t seem to be a thing they carry at my local grocery (or am utterly blind),  is to measure out 1/4 cup of whole almonds.  Either boil  a good bit of water or let your faucet go hot and add enough to cover the almond to soak while you prep the rest of the cake.  When the cake is mixed and placed in the buttered and floured tin the almond jackets can easily be removed and placed on the cake…now it also says to split them but I had no luck with that and had little patience left after stirring 2 and half…2 and a 1/4 (?) cups of flour by hand so as there were more then enough whole nuts to go around splendidly I gave it no further thought.

 

 

Yesterday, after apple picking I took Baby Bat to Mount Hope Cemetery.  No matter how hot or sunny it is I always feel the need to keep an eye out walking in there because my imagination runs wild and what is probably a chipmunk or a falling acorn may one day be a zombie or a day walking vampire (kidding…not kidding, my imagination is ruthless and can make me believe the most dreadful things).  Even still it is one of my most favorite places to walk any time of year and I love sharing that with Baby Bat:20171021_140443

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She is now also in an “take a picture of me!” phase and I love it!  I loved getting out with her this weekend and can’t wait to do more and play with her on my breaks as I have finished my big Harry Potter Wizarding weekend Project!!!! TA-DA!!!!!!!:

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I’m so excited! So proud of me!  Of course there are mistakes, things I would have done differently but for my first big project in pretty much forever I did pretty darn good.  I especially love my pockets not only because they make pulling a wand out very dramatic but also because I did them after I had sewed the two layers together

vlcsnap-2012-10-19-22h33m55s131“what a goose!?”

Well, off to Hogwarts on Thursday!  Time for bed now. Stay magical!

You’re a wizard Harry…

“Anyway – Harry,” said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, “a very happy birthday to yeh.  Got summat fer yeh here – I mighta sat on it at some point but it’ll taste all right.”

From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slightly squashed box.  Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.

Harry looked up at the giant.  He meant to say thank you, but the words got lost on the way to his mouth, and what he said instead was, “who are you?”

The giant chuckled.

“True, I haven’t introduced myself.  Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.”

He held out an enormous hand and shook Harry’s whole arm.

“What about that tea then, eh?” he said, rubbing his hands together. “I’d not say no ter summat stronger if yeh’ve got it, mind.”

His eyes fell on the empty grate with the shriveled crisp bags in it and he snorted.  He bent down over the fireplace; they couldn’t see what he was doing but when he drew back a second later, there was a roaring fire there.  It filled the whole damp hut with flickering light and Harry felt the warmth wash over him as though he’d sunk into a hot bath.

The giant sat back down on the sofa, which sagged under his weight, and began taking all sorts of things out of the pockets of his coat: a copper kettle. a squashy package of sausages, a poker, a teapot, several chipped mugs, and a bottle of some amber liquid that he took a swig from before starting to make tea.  Soon the hut was full of the sound and smell of sizzling sausage.  Nobody said a thing while the giant was working, but as he slid the first of the six fat, juicy, slightly burnt sausages from the poker, Dudley fidgeted a little.  Uncle Vernon said sharply, “Don’t touch anything he gives you, Dudley.”

The giant chuckled darkly.

“Yer great puddin’ of a son don’ need fattenin’ anymore, Dursley, don’ worry.”

He passed the sausages to Harry, who was so hungry he had never tasted anything so wonderful, but he still couldn’t take his eyes off  the giant….

Whether you are reading this at midnight right after I post it or sometime during the day of July 31st or even a few months from now I hope that (albeit very long into) gives you a warm fuzzy feeling and you remember what it was like to sit and read those words for the first time.  For me Harry Potter will always be somewhat synonymous with the summer holiday, toast with butter and marmalade and a cup of steaming English Afternoon tea.

I had some grand ideas of going to our local theme park on the this day to emulate Harry’s trip to Diagon Alley.  However, it was a marathon weekend (which I still might have arranged the outing) and I wanted to do some potty training boot camp.  We’re getting to that stage and I wanted to take the weekend to just do it…however I’ve been asking around and doing some research and I wasn’t so sure that we were going to do that. All bets were off Thursday night when Baby Bat came home with goopy eyes.  We missed the bullet last time but this time no such luck.  I was still saying “it could be 20170727_213102allergies” until we saw the doctor.  In my mind two things would be the worst to get in school: pink eye and lice.  As it turns out pink eye hasn’t been as bad as I had anticipated.  Not that I want to have this every weekend but we have definitely made the best of it.  As it so happens there are two different kinds of pink eye: Bacterial and Viral.  Baby Bat had the Viral which was apparently the good kind to get as it usually clears up by itself  (and has) and only really calls for some warm compresses on the eyes.  Baby Bat woke up with one eye crusted shut Friday morning, and then the other eye on Saturday.  Today her eyes are mostly clear and should be all set to go back to school tomorrow.  The rest of us haven’t really caught it, we did feel lightly itchy in the eyes but that could have been psychosomatic.

Well, instead of going to work we stayed home.  I made French Toast, washed everything that could be washed and watched Paw Patrol with Baby Bat.  I thought we’d make it back from the Doctor’s just in time to make the “Hogwarts Express” (Freeform Marathon at 3:30pm) but we were late but made it back just in time to get to Hogwarts for the first time.

I hade great ambitions of making dinner but lacked the enthusiasm and energy so we munched our Pumkin Pasties, Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Botts Beans, Cauldron Crisps and Dragon Bites and washed it down with iced Flying Cauldron Butter Beer (Funny story: its soda and the clerk at the store tried to card me for it, haha).  At some point we turned on some Wizard Rock and had a dance party in the kitchen , pulling down the pink and purple streamers from her My Little Pony Birthday Party last week and used them as ribbon dancers while prancing around yelling out spells and various lyrics.

We ended the night with some color changing sparklers and went to bed right after The Chamber of Secrets ended.

The next morning.  I woke up at 7am, turned on The Philosopher’s Stone, made some tea and set to work cutting up our fabric for our wizard robes.  Baby Bat woke up after awhile and settled in with her hot chocolate and wanted to help.  I let her give me the  pins and place them.20170729_085810Message_1501358025069

 

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I went with the traditional yellow and black for Hufflepuff and Baby Bat picked out her own colors, Pink and purple.  I’ll admit I wasn’t wild about those colors at first,  kind of wanted to take the reigns and make her a perfect little Hogwarts robe for my Future Hogwarts Alumni but I was good and let her do her thing.  Now I’m so excited about that mesh up “My Little Pony Wizard!”

While I made breakfast I started on my other big weekend project: English Banger Sausages.

20170729_104053Bangers apparently date back to World War II when resources were tight and they were trying to conserve, so filler (breadcrumbs) were added.  There are several regional varieties of bangers but the only real recipe I’ve found thus far is the Oxford variety so I decided to start with that and try my hand at others after I mastered a basic.  I got sausage casings from the store and had most of the spices in my spice cupboard.  Many sites say to soak the casing over night or for a few hours, I soaked mine for at least an hour and added a tablespoon of vinegar.  There is also some dispute over cold and warm water, I did both.  I also don’t own a sausage stuffer but found a very helpful video on how to stuff a sausage using a Chinese Soup Spoon.20170729_14144820170729_140624

Honestly, my stomach knew new feats of strength during this adventure.  Between stuffing raw meat and working with natural animal casings it was a roller coaster in my stomach.  Natural casing look really fragile but sometimes it seemed like they could take a lot of strain and other times all of a sudden the casing would pop apart and I’d have to do damage control. In the end I made several nice fat sausages and put them in the fridge for later.  After making chicken & ham pie and treacle pudding I settled down with a “goblet” of Felix Felicis to enjoy the remainder of my Saturday night marathon (Goblet of Fire and Half Blood Prince).

This morning I test ran the sausages and they were good…I mean they were kind of soft (due to the bread crumbs?)  maybe that is the way English sausage is?  I have no comparison.  I did deviate from the recipe a tad (per usual)  it calls for 6 oz of pork fat (I didn’t do that) and where it calls for slices of bread I did some digging and found that 1/4 cup of bread crumbs is equivalent to one slice of bread (I hit the easy button).  I could totally see how this would go over well with mashed potatoes and gravy.

This afternoon I also made Harry Potter’s 11th Birthday Cake

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I Sirius-ly love this girl’s recipes.  I had a bit of trouble with it this time possibly because I

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broke it up into 1 short pan and several mini cup cakes to take into work, but they should be alright just the same.  “Baked it myself words and all”  I used a Buttercream Frosting and an easy  Gel Piping Icing.

After all that I’m ready for bed and to go back to life as usual tomorrow, hitting up a Barnes and Noble Harry Potter event after work.  Have a good night and stay Magical!

Me dad’s a muggle; mum’s a witch. Bit of a nasty shock for him when he found out…

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In fact I just had my dad take the Pottermore Quiz and as it turns out he’s a Hufflepuff too!  Mum’s a Ravenclaw; I always thought maybe my dad was too or Slytherin. Anyways its been awhile because I’ve been adulting (“in the muggle world”).  Oddly I do a lot of what I do here with pictures and documenting things I do and my kids do so I haven’t felt like doing more on my free time during the past month.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping it magical here.  We’ve had a Harry Potter Weekend and as I had to work a close shift I couldn’t be there for the Hogwarts Express Leaving at 3 in the afternoon Friday so it has been designated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them night

…and then get up at 7 on Saturday and watch Harry, makes sense to me…

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Anyways I did not feel up to taking myself on a baking adventure and I really wanted to take it easy and enjoy the movie, so this is what I came up with:

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I got mini hot dogs and pre-made crescent roll dough as an homage to our messy hot dog eater, Nina, in the beginning:

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I hunted down apple toaster strudel… I was going to try to make this because it just felt like a sin to get something so processed for something that Queenie made but I was exhausted and I can be funny about apples in baked goods so if I didn’t like it I didn’t want to spend too much money or effort.  I’m sure they were nothing compared to Queenie or Jacob’s baking:

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Finally, we absconded with potions and brews in favor of a simple but decadent hot chocolate:

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It seems like lots of people focus on the 1920’s speakeasy when cooking/celebrating for this movie and I might do that too for maybe a specific night or when there are more movies or something but this was a good way to relax and get ready for a big weekend (…of sitting around/cooking/baking/laughing with friends).

Harry Potter universe aside (or maybe not…) Baby Bat and I have been busy.  I was originally going to take her to a Fairy and Gnome Festival at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens but that very week I heard that Peppa Pig was coming to the Eastman Theater!  I take her to enough fairy and fantasy stuff I wanted to do something that was her specific. So we got tickets and made a day of it.  We went early and had lunch at Java’s right next door which is a really groovy-artsy coffee house in downtown Rochester.  The Eastman school of music is right there too so it’s real bohemian like and covered in all sorts of art.

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After a Panini and lemonade we went and saw the show.  The theater is beautiful and we both admired the zodiac ceiling decoration around the chandelier.

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Its been awhile since I’ve been to a kids show of this sort but I was a little let down.  Peppa Pig is a British television series and the cast for the show was decidedly American, so no British kid accents.  There were also puppeteers for the child characters which would not have been so weird if they hadn’t been all dressed in black and in no way blended in with the sets…maybe kids don’t care and its still magical for them but I was a little perplexed (they could be shadows?). The theater also treated it like a regular event so the crowd had lots of gaps which I believe contributed to the lack of audience involvement. But we went we had fun and came home with a light up fan with George on it.

The ay before the show I also found out that the University of Brockport was having their first ever Harry Potter Festival (!!!).  Most of it was happening around the time of the show so we didn’t really go but we did make it out for a Quidditch demonstration.  Baby Bat got to play Beater!

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Mother’s Day also just happened and I get really stumped when gift giving is mandatory, not that I don’t like giving gifts its just that I better with random giving (would make an excellent gifter if I waited with the random gifts and didn’t spaz out and get overly excited and give the gift upon acquiring).  That being said I chose to make my mum brunch for Mother’s Day.  I’ve had brunch on the brain for awhile (pinterest board upon board dedicated to themes and menus) so I finally settled on vegetarian (as my mum is a devote vegetarian) and Fall flavors because I read up on Apple Cider Mimosas and had to try them, I also make awesome Cinnamon Rolls.

About these Apple Cider Mimosas.  When I saw them I naturally thought “oh, yum…okay”  but really this shouldn’t be a seasonal thing, more like all the times because as good as it already sounds it tastes amazing!  It’s simple but my taste buds were kind of like “we haven’t lived until now!…Except for that one time at the speakeasy bar downtown, but other than that we haven’t lived until now!”

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The rest of my menu was a delicious Frittata (because Frittata is synonymous with Brunch in my opinion) made with shallots, mushrooms and butternut squash.  The only thing I would do differently is shred some smoky gouda or something in it (recipe didn’t call for it, they were trying to avoid milk). I also set up a mini yogurt parfait bar.  I originally set out to do a fruit salad (also synonymous with Brunch, IMO) but honestly I don’t like most fruit.  The apple fruit salad was nice and Autumn-y but called for Neufchatel cheese and sour cream.  “Why bother?”  I said to myself, and got a few single serving cups of plain Greek yogurt; mixed up the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla for people to sweeten as they desire and mixed up a bowl of walnuts and cranberries and set out another bowl of chopped apples (granny smith and pink lady).  Ta-da!  And then Paula Deen’s Cinnamon Rolls of course.  For garnish around the champagne glass rims I dipped them in vanilla extract and then again in a mixture of brown and white sugar and pumpkin pie spice (I felt particularly brilliant after that first sip).

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Next thing I really need to do is get down to it and put our cloaks together for Ithaca Wizarding Weekend but I hope to have a few more adventures throughout the summer.  “Until our next meeting!”, Keep it magical!