What’s Lost is Lost and Gone Forever…

Good Morning! Dia Dhuit ar Maidin! I have the strangest nightmares lately so I’m really glad to be awake so early. Friday morning, It was Christmas Eve and I realized that I forgot to make the mince pies and couldn’t get ahold of my father to have him pick up brandy…also didn’t put almonds in the pudding but that would have worked out as one of my cousin’s has a nut allergy. This morning a mixture of LARPing games…but I was using some of my classroom’s cardboard blocks as throwing weapons (definitely not regulation) with a side of not being prepared for college exams (I have a lot of those recently I wonder what that’s suppose to mean. Anyways. It was a good week. Baby Bat did well her first week. We set to tackling her lunch box together most nights. Lunches are different from when I was growing up. Back then I feel like all we did was slap together a PBJ and throw in some prepackaged lunch box treats and you were done. Now with all the allergies and the push for healthy living it takes some time and effort. When we go to the store now I let Baby Bat pick out 1 fruit and 1 vegetable for the week, anything she likes. Yogurt is one of her favorite things too but I put restrictions on sugar, which gives us rather limited options. Frozen peas are a great easy go to and hard boiled eggs are the best thing since sliced bread.

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Her first day went well. No sad faces or crying…from her anyway (it was a rough morning for mommy). Our only somber moment was when she woke up and we were getting ready and she voiced that she would miss one of her friends at the center. I felt wretched, even though this rift would have happened in another year anyway I still didn’t want to rip her away from any friends. Its been intimated that well “she’s 4 , she’ll make new friends”. While I can see the truth in the statement I still wonder should we be so flippant with friendship? A thought that has been echoing in my mind lately too. Along with “am I a good friend?” I think about saying things or calling people more then I actually do it. Sometimes I feel like I go through a grieving process If I haven’t spoken to someone in awhile “that was another great friendship that I let slip away”. I feel that I’m so very cold these days and I leave people standing alone wondering if I’m really there or care at all…

And so, work went on as ever with all the ups and downs, we have new faces coming in. Which is pretty nerve wrecking for me. Yes, everyone is a stranger until you meet them, but I’d rather slip to the knowing them part of the relationship.

Homemade slime, crayons, packing lunch boxes soon every night and that Dino Lingo DVD set (which has been pretty good. A little trippy and definitely geared toward the YouTube crowd but good all the same).

Pretty soon the week was over and we could have some fun!

Last year we went out to the Niagara Celtic Festival on a whim and to meet up with my folks. It was shocking how huge it was and how many different kinds of people and costumes were there. The music was great, there was tea! etc. etc. So we made a commitment to go back this year for the whole weekend.

It was a hot day and my car has no AC. As we approached the site there was this dense dark smoke that seemed to be coming from the festival? Also the local fire department was out collecting (I think) so we drove into it, as there were other cars going to and from and no one else seemed to be acting as though there was cause to panic. As it turns out it was a massive amount of fog coming off of Lake Ontario so it was literally like walking through the fairy veil what for all the costumes and music that was buzzing around the place. It was real and it was fun but it was missing something this year, quite possibly my friend who went there with us last year. The highlight of the weekend was my Aunt’s dancing group that performed and one of the guys sang a beautiful rendition of “The Town I Loved So Well” originally done by the master Luke Kelly, I’ve a bit of an obsession with that song for a few months (which is where my entry title comes from).

Anyways have a wonderful and magical week. Baby Bar starts ballet this week and we go apple picking this weekend with my center, fun times!

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There is something in a Sunday…

The weekend soda bread has just been taken out of the oven and let to cool while the roast has just started its turn in the oven.  Baby Bat is napping and I’ve got a good strong mug of tea and some Great Big Sea playing, life is pretty good.  It was cool this morning, when we left for church, so that we needed to scramble for lost and forgotten coats.  The day continued to be grey and windy while we visited Charlotte Beach for the playground, the beach and some free rides on the old fashioned carousel (yay!).

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It would be a perfect day if I didn’t have this next week hanging over me.  It’s not bad really.  Baby Bat starts at a new school and we are really excited, but it’s different.  It’s not to far from my center, but it is the end of one thing and the start of another.  Its going to be really great though! It’s a Pre Kindergarten program that is attached to a catholic school.  They have a music program there and a library and computer class, a school play in the winter etc. etc.  They teach cursive (at some point)  one of those personal vendettas I acquired some years ago when it came to my attention that they weren’t teaching it in schools anymore (side note:  they might still teach it a bit just not to the capacity it was, someone said they only teach them how to sign their names?).  They only have Spanish at this school which is great…I mean Spanish is great, languages are great, indeed Spanish is more relevant in this area anyway.  If it could be more perfect at this place they would teach latin…but no one teaches latin (to the best of my knowledge) I don’t even know Latin so there you have it.  French would also be up there in my language picks (and more realistic).  When I was in school and we got to choose what language we wanted to take I really wanted to take French but got trumped with the reasoning that Spanish would benefit me more.  I really haven’t used my regents in Spanish in my adult life…I recently taught myself some songs for my kids but my attention has never really been there.  The moral of the story is **something, something** let your kids make their own choices…which means I’ll probably be toiling away at Spanish verbs and tenses with a very enthusiastic Baby Bat in some years to come ;P

In that same vein, I’ve been working away at my Irish whenever possible and I’ve been trying to get Baby Bat into it as well.  She may never use it but maybe she will and languages are great for exercising the brain.  She knows some colors, numbers up to 6 and “Please” and “Thank You” (when it pleases her) also some body parts.  It’s a bit of  task to find Irish learning apps for kids (maybe just her age bracket) I’ve stumbled across some great resources for Scottish Gaelic and I wonder if there is something to that?  But back in February we did find some things that gave us a start:

Language Apps on my phone (I’ve only just started to appreciate my smart phone for this sort of thing)  They are just vocabulary but she took to those for a bit and they are present in a cute way.

Online Dictionary I don’t know what I would do without this one.  The best thing about is you can listen to the words in the three different dialects (I try to focus on Munster because that’s where my extended family lives, parents have visited them I hope to someday).  They also give you so many examples (no audio though for most).  The one thing I have a problem with is if something I’m looking for is in a tense I might not find it or (at this point) I’d be guessing on pronunciation.

Pronunciation Dictionary If you can’t find it in the above you’ll find it here…as long as it is spelled right.

Kids Shows This one is pretty awesome, a few times when I’ve been sick and not really in  the mood to read at night I’ll let her watch one of these and I try to pick up things here and there with the vocabulary I’ve acquired.  It was slightly because of this that I made a further investment in Dino Lingo I wasn’t going to give it a further thought because I just wasn’t very impressed with it but when we happened on this and all of a sudden she starts saying “Dia dhuit!” along with them (I’ve been trying for weeks for this simple phrase with her). So we’re waiting on the mail for this one and hope its good.

Kids Songs I’ve nearly got the lot of this memorized and I use it at school pretty much everyday. lyrics help

This too!

I’ve also got a few books, and just invested in a couple more.  You can find so much on Amazon but sometimes it takes a bit to look.

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Well time to finish the roast and pack/set things out for tomorrow.  Hoping you find magic in some way, shape or form in your week!

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2: The Vanishing Glass

Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn’t believe his luck, was sitting in the back of the Dursley’s car with Piers and Dudley, on the way to the zoo for the first time in his life. His aunt and uncle hadn’t been able to think of anything else to do with him, but before they’d left, Uncle Vernon had taken Harry aside.

“I’m warning you,” he said, putting his large purple face right up close to Harry’s, “I’m warning you now, boy – any funny business, any at all – and you’ll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas.”

“I’m not going to do anything,” said Harry, “honestly…”

But Uncle Vernon didn’t believe him. No one ever did…

Hi again! Yup, still here keeping it magical. I took a bit of a hiatus mostly due to work but also I’ve been on a different sort of adventure and I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to put it in here as it had little to nothing to do with the Magical World of Harry Potter.

This is not to say that it wasn’t magical, it was/is and I had given thought of starting a new page or giving this space a new angle but I still haven’t decided yet. I feel like I have one foot in one world in my head and my other foot in another. Its rather confusing for me as I’m sort of like a J.M. Barrie fairy.

Anyways, just to catch up: Way back, a long time ago I had been dreaming up things to do with my kids during the month of March. While I can appreciate my own memories about St. Patrick’s Day growing up, I wanted to do something different, something more cultural I guess. I was dragging my feet about it this past year as usual, I feel this had a lot to do with being so invested in British cooking, history and culture over the past few years that I had trouble finding my emotional core for the project. Anyway, I found it in the most unlikely and yet obvious place and it has been so much fun I wish I had shared it with you. I started at Lent, working out of a cookbook by Darina Allen:

I had discovered her back when I was pregnant and refound the book at my local library (It is now mine, as I bought a copy, and holds a place of great reverence on my cooking shelf). I was also doing a “traditional” lent so I had to modify quite a bit to not use eggs, milk, butter, meat or alcohol. I traded my Earl Grey for various brands of Irish Breakfast (my favorite thus far being Bewley’s Dublin Morning Tea) and embraced the music of my youth (We had this cassette tape labeled Irish Drinking Music that my grandfather had made featuring groups like The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, Dubliners etc. etc. This as well as the Beatles, Kinks and Beach Boys will always remind me of driving with my father) I also picked up some new literature and lost my heart to James Joyce’s Dubliners. I have every intention of reading Ulysses (started it a couple times) but it might have to wait for the snow as it is the warm season and I feel a little more then obligation to get us outside. On a personal note I gave Connemara perfume a try and nearly cried when I put it on for the first time to realise it held a scent memory for me of my paternal grandmother.

In my kids room and at home with Baby Bat I took on the task of bringing them Irish language, literature and music. I memorized a song a week in Irish Gaelic and instituted some simple Irish vocabulary. For Baby Bat I found a couple books on Irish legends at the library and bought a couple children’s books off Amazon.

It was a great time and one of the best finds I had was a language app called Mango Languages. I love it! I can do a section anytime I want, there is repetition and a good deal of pronunciation help as well as some cultural notes.

So, thanks for sitting through my catch up. Now for the main focus of this post.

Today we celebrated/reenacted the birthday of Dudley Dursley and the start of the Harry Potter series (yes, I skipped the first chapter. This seemed to create more flow as the events from here on out all happen within a year. So that’s my plan)

To be perfectly candid this wasn’t the best morning for me as I seem to have caught some version of death and was up half the night with a wretched cough. We also we’re forecasted with an 85% chance of rain and it was very wet and grey out when we woke up. Nevertheless we got up and made eggs, bacon and toast as described in the books but without the Dursley drama. This is regular weekend fare for us and I considered pulling out a Full English Breakfast but I had neither the energy or the baked beans.

Unlike the books we had Baby Bat’s piano lesson to go to before really starting the adventure. That’s another thing that started in the early spring and we are so excited because she also just got potty trained so that means we can start dance class soon too!

We really lucked out with the weather as it drizzled on the way there and we had nothing but grey sky while we were at the zoo.

I’ve never been to this zoo during anything but summer so I wonder if it is more attended or if the animals are more active other times of the year. Our first stop was a reptile house (apparently there are 2?). and we luckily met this guy from Brazil (“thankssss amigo!”)…we did not set him free but Baby Bat might have spoke some parseltongue to it.

Our next stop was the concession stand for ice lollies. There were no plain lemon but we enjoyed these before heading out to see the rest of the park:

I’m not sure what the zoo in London has by way of food but in Rochester there is mostly hots options. So in the effort to emulate the book we left the zoo for Friendlys and ice cream sundaes on a par with a knickerbocker glory.

It was a good albeit anti-climactic day, owing to my lack of sleep the night before. We ended the day workshoping wand making for a new work project I’m starting this week. I’m going to be going into other classrooms and doing magical arts and crafts with the kids! This upcoming week we’ll be doing wand making and potions. It was good we went over this now as I have a lot experience with potions but not so much wand making experience and noticed some hiccups that we might have hit.

Now hopefully off to sleep while we watch The Sword in the Stone and hope my robitussin kicks in. Have a good week and stay magical!

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!