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!

Of Plagues and Pinterest Fails

I never knew what these masks were all about until I sat down to write this.  They are costumes that Plague Doctors wore during the Middle Ages.  Creepy eh? The Cloak and mask were suppose to protect the doctor from breathing in the germs then attributed to the spread of the plague itself.  The beak was stuffed with a myriad of herbs, mainly lavender, which were thought to filter and help protect the doctor.   Another interesting note was that these doctors were hired by the towns and the city was paying their salary so everyone rich and poor was treated.  The bad news is they were 2nd rate doctors who hardly if ever ended up curing anyone and there is apparently some documentation of some who charged families extra for false cures and such…people suck.

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On that cheery note, we just returned home early today as Baby Bat got sick at school with a stomach bug that has been going around our school.  I had my bout on Monday, but since my boss had hers over the weekend and a second yesterday I’m hoping that is my lot and Baby Bat doesn’t suffer from it too badly.  We seem to be doing alright though, with some apple juice down and relaxing with some Paw Patrol and Floam.

I don’t know if its due to some kind of retrograde or maybe I’ve just hit a snag in my kitchen prowess but things I’ve been trying lately haven’t been working out.  It started out fine.  I had this Hot-New-York-Minute of inspiration where I thought “I’m going to go vegan again and it’s going to be awesome!”  followed shortly after getting back from the store with the mad desire for Meat Lovers Pizza.  I should explain that last year I went vegan twice.  The first time I didn’t do the vitamins and felt horribly depressed like I was underwater or something and then got some kind of food poisoning (yay!).  The Second time I did the vitamins and everything was going smoothly until my desire for eggs got the better of me…I nearly made my month mark too, I was very disappointed in me.

Anyway I stuck to my decision for a week, enough to run out the ingredients I bought.  I asked Baby Bat what she would like for dinner and she said “Hot Dogs!”  so we got vegetarian hot dogs…I don’t know why I do that, every time I do I think they’ll be great but they are never great they are rather gross and don’t seem to cook properly (at least on the stove).  I also made a batch of Vegan Baked Beans and these actually turned out really good, had a bit of a kick to them.

I made some vegan meatballs which turned out really good and I have a bunch of them stashed in the fridge for future consumption:

20170326_155549 I was on a roll, still wanting to go back to my omnivorous nature, but this could work for a week.  It all seemed to go south with my attempt at spaghetti squash hash browns.   I dunno if I expected too much out of something simple but they didn’t stay compacted like they look in the pictures.  Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious and I might even remember them for a summer brunch idea, just not as pop in your mouth friendly as tater tots (more like fumble into your mouth).

I also had a recipe for Vegan Mac and Cheese that I had made last year and it had been rather good with the exception of trying to be really low carb about it and made it with cauliflower instead of pasta.  This time around I found Banza Pasta which kept it low carb and higher protein.  I also substituted soy sauce for coconut aminos (inspired by a child at my center who can have neither soy nor dairy).  Not sure if it was also because I used fresh veggies this time as a pose to canned but it didn’t come out in taste or texture.

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That was the end of my vegan streak.  I spoke last time about having great and wondrous culinary plans for Easter/Ostara  and I attempted these this past weekend:

I have been wanting to make owl shaped marshmallows since last fall but never got around to it until Easter season rolled around and I finally laid out my plans on how to accomplish this.  I smashed some orange slices flat with a bowl and cut them into little triangles for the beaks and found some candy googly eyes.  Unfortunately I killed my immersion blender *sob* it was getting old and slow anyway I will remember our run of pureed soups fondly.  I think one of these would have done the job better:

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Without the fast mixing speed they came out like this:

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Like a marshmallow pancake or something like Japanese Mochi…not bad just not anything like what I was going for.  I was going to pipe them into tear drops and give them cute ears; when it became apparent that piping them wasn’t going to be an option I was inspired by a bouncy seat we have at the center which has a triangle shaped owl dangling from it…suffice it to say this was a fail.

I also took it into my head to make licorice wands.  It all seemed so easy, I followed the directions to a T.  The only thing I can think of that went wrong was my candy thermometer and it got too hot because this happened:

 

20170408_132911 Licorice Toffee???  The wax paper stuck fast to the bottom of the candy so I couldn’t even break it up and “bill” it as Licorice Imps (?, the ones in Goblet of fire that “have a bit to them”).  I can’t re try the marshmallows (no blender) I do have enough stuff to redo the licorice wands but I think I’m throwing in the towel for a bit on candy projects.  Will probably grab some green and purple peeps for the baskets and calling it a day (got the jelly beans and chocolate already).  My next big project is making robes for Baby Bat and I as we’re going to Harry Potter Weekend Festival in Ithaca at the end of October.

In other, less disappointing, news we had a Harry Potter Night a couple weeks ago and it was a big success!  People showed up!  So much so that one of my friends drove past my house because they didn’t think that the house with all those cars was mine (haha!)  It was April 1st and though I did get my copy of Fantastic Beasts in time I did not go all out for it as I wanted to as it was hit or miss whether I would or not…Elderflower liquor is apparently on the pricey side too but I’ve been coming across more and more recipes that call for it so it might need to be a summer treat!

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I did my usual Pumpkin pasties, Jelly Beans and Chocolate Frogs and recently I’ve been incorporating “Cauldron Chips” (Kettle Chips…heh, get it?) and “Dragon Bites” (Flammin’ Hot Cheetos) as it was remarked upon that there was an over abundance of sweet on the menu and I whole heartedly agree.  The other additions were Sweet & Sour Double headed jelly snakes (Baby Bat loved these) and Extreme War Head Heat Worms (these were great! everyone was worried about the jelly beans being the gross kind they didn’t see these coming, April Fools!)  I also made the standard Chicken and Ham Pie and batch of Shepard’s Pie it was a good night.

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Now that we have the American Wizarding school I took the sorting and ended up with Thunderbird and feel about as happy with it as I do with Hufflepuff (it feels right to my soul).  I’ve been doing some serious thinking on what it means to be Thunderbird, We don’t really have a lot to go off of the way we did with Hogwarts.  I started making a playlist…if you were also sorted into Thuderbird I’d love to hear your take on this or why you feel its a good fit for you, and if you have any playlist suggestions.  Here they are (it’s not long, its a work in progress):

  1. Freebird by Lynard Skynard
  2. Wake Me Up by Avicii
  3. Lightening Crashes by Live
  4. Holocene by Bon Iver
  5. Hurricane by Halsey

I was trying to find lyrics and sounds that get at one “being” the storm as a pose to embracing or weathering the storm as well as the freedom and adventurousness of youth and finding your soul’s own specific rhythm and path…

Well, its that time of year where its getting nice out again so we’ve been going to our favorite playgrounds and going on more outdoorsy adventures.  Our first time out Baby Bat fell asleep in the backseat on the way there and I had to entertain myself for a bit since I didn’t bring my book.  Me pretending to be a Ravenclaw (crossing my fingers for good luck or ASL signing “R” because I’m a dork):

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Have a great week! Stay Magical!

 

The Night Manager: A Review

This week, instead of my usual hour of reading I allow myself in the mornings before work, I indulged in an hour of watching The Night Manager with a piping hot mug of coffee and a homemade pumpkin walnut muffin.

20170320_053454I had heard about The Night Manager during the fall of last year and had been trying to find a good time to watch it.  It was amazing!  I’ve never been much for spy movies,  I don’t really care for 007 …it brings out the feminist in me (understand I haven’t seen a ton of them so my feelings are based on 1-2 of the Pierce Brosnan instalments) I just can’t wrap my head around some guy who is so charismatic he ends up bedding most of the women in the movie.  It reminds me of the historical John Smith and Pocahontas (** at that time adventure stories were quite popular where the suave  European adventurer would go to any exotic and uncharted place and the native women wPocahontasould fall all over him and he would be a conquering leader among the native people…oddly enough John Smith’s own personal diaries took on the same themes**).  But while watching the story unfold It seemed evident that this was a profoundly feminist film.

While Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) does his fair share of the usual suave and charismatic European hero gig (I should probably warn about spoilers from here on out) the story begins with the mistress of a powerful arms dealer slipping our hero some incriminating documents regarding her boyfriend’s…professional activities (?).  Suffice it to say things don’t end well for the mistress and is what fuels Tom Hiddleston’s character into cooperating with British Intelligence to bring down the main arms dealer (Hugh Laurie).  If the story had been told in another way we might see the Mistress (and most if not all of the other women in the film) as an “Eve”/” Pandora” type, being the poison or cause of the downfall of a highly successful regime.  However in this story we are rooting for the lawful side of the equation.

It was a woman who initially handed over the incriminating documents, knowing that what was happening was wrong and needed to stop.

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It was a woman, a later to be pregnant woman, who grabbed this evidence ran with it, trusted it and fought for its continued attention and pursuit with the lawful and corrupt British intelligence officials.

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It was the wife of the (2nd in command?) that gave Pine his first bit of information on the inside and worked with them in the end to bring down Roper even though it meant taking a really big risk.

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It was a woman, and estranged mother figure,  who was instrumental in getting much needed information and being of strong moral fiber in the face of more than probable death.

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There were some plot holes and character flaws.  I kind of felt like they took for granted that you would accept that Pine was charismatic and everyone liked him, maybe because Hiddleston was cast and “everyone” (self included) likes him.  He was suppose to act like he was one of the big dogs with the arms dealers and he didn’t seem that threatening or dangerous.  Maybe this is the caveat you run into when making or watching a series, the momentum gets lost?  I felt that way at the end of Sons of Anarchy.  Yeah, you knew that was probably how things were going to pan out for the characters but the last episode kind of felt anticlimactic, we speculated that maybe it would have felt better if they had a two hour finale instead of breaking it up.

As for the suave charismatic hero gig, I’d like to attribute that to this quote (obviously I was going to link Harry Potter to this somehow):

“You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!” said Dumbledore loudly. “The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort’s! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you were at the age of eleven, when you stared into a mirror that reflected your heart’s desire, and it showed you only the way to thwart Lord Voldemort, and not immortality or riches.”

“Amor Vincit Omnia”  It is our ability to love and feel empathy for our fellow man that defeats those who desire power, riches and glory at the expense of others.  It kind of made me want to take a second look at the 007 instalments to see if I had judged them too harshly in my youth.

And while I’d have more to say on this I don’t want to spoil any more.  Go watch it!  It’s brilliant!  It kept me right on the edge of my seat.  I had one episode left and I had to go to work, I kept turning it over in my mind all day…is it going to be like a heist film where they pull a rabbit out of a hat so to speak and outsmart the bad guys?  Or is it going to be like a Greek tragedy and everyone dies??? It didn’t disappoint, trust me!

 

 

Unicorn Boogies!

Last Sunday I set to work making a clear glitter slime for Baby Bat and my daycare kids to play with. It was just a day dream idea so I had to go looking for a recipe on Pinterest again (oh darn!).  It exists and it’s easy:

20170312_123731– 1/2 cup of warm water

  • – 1/2 cup clear glue
  • – Glitter (the site I found said you can never have too much so use your best judgment)
  • * mix these three ingredients together well first.
  • – add 1/2 cup of liquid starch (you can find it in the laundry soap and cleaning section at the store)
  • * get to work stirring right away as it congeals rather quickly.  Once it is pretty well mixed the kiddos can play/work it themselves, it gets better with time.

Baby Bat loved this and now asks for it on a daily basis (observe the unicorn that looks like it has a serious case of conjunctivitis).

Two small things to note: 1) If the kids are in the practice of putting everything in their mouth this will require a lot of supervision…or maybe holding off until they aren’t as mouthy.

2)  Boogies are hard to get off clothes without washer (in the washer its fine, no worries, just be aware)20170312_124443

This is a really versatile recipe, you can use white glue instead of clear and add colors with food coloring and different  kinds of glitter or confetti.  I’m thinking this would be great to make some “Troll Bogies” for a Vine or Ivy Moon Harry Potter Marathon:

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We also made a new batch of Purple Glitter Aromatherapy Play Dough.

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I think I enjoy the play dough more than her when we make it like this.  I used Lavender as it was purple and I was in a soothing mood.  We have also done pink (rose scented), blue (vanilla scented), yellow (lemon scented)…green I was thinking could be lime or pine but I haven’t tried those yet (and I’m a little disappointed with my pine oil).  Red could be strawberry… or cinnamon (another one I haven’t tried yet).

The weather turned ridiculous on Tuesday.  It didn’t look like much, a lot of fine misty like snow, but it piled up and driving conditions were horrible.  I went to bed that night thoroughly expecting to go to work in the morning as it had become evident after last weeks wind storm that we don’t close for much where I work (kind of a constant theme any place I work really).

That morning I got a message from my boss saying that we would be opening later which didn’t really concern me so much because the time we were now expected was only 1/2 an hour from when I had initially been scheduled.  I went downstairs, as usual, made coffee and instead of reading like I normally do went out and shoveled the driveway.  Damn it was cold!  I took a break half way through to drink my coffee, eat a pumpkin muffin and listen to The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra’s Harry Potter soundtrack while my fingers defrosted. I dutifully went back out and finished the driveway in its entirety and dusted off the cars only to come back in to find a new message saying that we were officially closed due to weather!  I like to joke that I am personally responsible for this snow day as if I hadn’t done any of that shoveling it wouldn’t have happened.  Cheers!

I already had a good amount of caffeine in my system so instead of going back to bed I used my new freedom to make breakfast and do laundry.  I talked with both my mum and my grandmother and on the latter’s advice made cookies with Baby Bat.

I don’t know if I regret it, because they are so delicious, but I definitely could have taken a nap or done a bunch of other things in the time it took to make these Unicorn Butter Cookies

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They are kind of like Scottish Shortbread Cookies (aka: easily inhalable). When using the unicorn cookie cutter it is best to make them either really thick or only bake them for 3-5 minutes (my first tray was a bit overdone, but I got the knack of it).

In short it was a good day but I felt like I needed a recovery day after all the shoveling and cookie baking, pretty sure I don’t work that hard on a normal basis…although giving the daycare kids tonton rides while we waited for their parents probably added to this feeling of lethargy and achiness the next day…

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Spring Equinox is Monday!  Yay!  As much as I want to celebrate with all the pomp and circumstance befitting a major holiday it is on a Monday, after an early day of work so I think we’ll just keep it simple, have a nice dinner and make some Dragon Eggs out of leftover plastic Easter eggs!  I do have “Spring Festival”baskets (encompassing both and not limited to Easter and Ostara)  planned for Baby Bat and all my little relations which I’m seriously excited about putting together! (future posts…stay tuned!)

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Medea’s Reindeer Cookies

Life Quote of the Week: “…If nothing else this has taught us that one should always wear pants when playing Quidditch…”

So…not a lot has happened in the past couple weeks.  I mean we’ve done things and the weeks have had their own special quirks, crisis’s and adventures, but I guess I haven’t felt really motivated to write about it. I chalk it up to seasonal laziness.

Two weeks ago Baby Bat and I went to a get together and I finally got to use my dragon cookie cutter that my mum got for me ages ago:

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I had great ambitions of first making them gingerbread…but as I had already done gingerbread with the unicorns during the last Reed Moon and I refound the very best butter cookie cut out recipe (seriously!  Its the best.  I’m one of those types that feel like cut out cookies only serve the purpose being the vehicle for getting the icing into my mouth but this recipe you wouldn’t even notice if the icing wasn’t there.  I made bats last time with it and me and a couple friends almost inhaled them).  Anyways, I settled for making gingerbread cut outs as I feel strongly that it suited my dragons better and resolved to make my unicorns with the butter cookie recipe.  I also wasn’t happy with the gingerbread recipe I used previously and wanted to have another go at it.

For me, cookies involving a shaped cutter are a lot like playing Monopoly: It sounds fun and you haven’t played in awhile, but then you are two hours into it and wondering when this is going to be over because its taking so bloody long.  But I would never get store bought…a) they don’t have the shapes I want and b) its someone else’s energy going into my food.  I may not be the best kitchen witch (catch myself way too often stirring widdershins when should be going deosil…I’ve resigned myself to it’s the thought that counts) but I like to make from scratch as much as possible.

The good news is I found a recipe I love (this one!)

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Baby Bat approved so much she kept trying to push me out of the way and dig into the batter.

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They turned out great…just their tails have a similar problem that the unicorn horns have.  They tend to break off easily in the cutting process and the post baking process, or cook faster.  I also was very ambitious in making these into filled cookies.

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And the tails present a problem because they don’t line up with their other side.  The icing recipe called for vanilla of which I had very little…but apparently I have a ton of rose water so this came out like an Indian chai desert like cookie (why I opted not to put some cardamom in it somewhere I’ll never know).  In essence, this was great but I have since found a dark mark cookie cutter:

dark markAnd I now have great ambitions of making a Dark Mark Oreo.  I found this recipe back in the fall and made bat Oreos.  They were good but I was overly ambitious in wanting them to be really dark and put black food coloring in them.  I don’t think it changed the flavor of them but we definitely saw the coloring again later…if you catch my meaning.  Next time we’ll skip the food coloring entirely.

 

I don’t have the dark mark cutter yet but…

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In the mean time I can also decide whether I’m going to get the Hogwarts house cookie stamps as well.  The Dark Mark one lends itself well to a theme night/weekend: Dark Mark Oreos, Apothic Dark Wine & investing in some rub on Dark Mark tattoos…still working on the rest of that menu/idea.  Probably do that for upcoming Ivy or Reed Moon so we got time.

What else?  Last weekend was a Harry Potter Marathon Weekend (yay!).  We did the usual, Jelly beans, pumpkin pasties and chocolate frogs.  We made Toad in the Hole on Friday, Chicken and Ham pie and Treacle Pudding with custard on Saturday and ended the weekend with Shepard’s Pie.  Also mixed up some Felix Felicis again (March = Luck = Liquid Luck)  But honestly I feel like I gotta make an effort to do it a bit different next month.  I’ve been really wanting to try the Wolfsbane Potion or maybe the Pheonix…but April seems to suggest laughter and joking…also hoping that my copy of Fantastic Beasts will arrive then we can experiment with finding a Giggle Water recipe

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What is really cool is that “giggle water” is an actual thing!  Its kind of like butterbeer in that its based on something real…the problem that arises is that it is a very broad 1920’s term used to describe alcohol in general (or at least that is what my research has yielded).  Last I checked it didn’t seem that anyone in the fandom has attempted to make something like this so I’ve been thinking up ways to bring this to life.

To me Gin seems to define the 1920’s (thoughts? totally open to suggestion on this one…I mean you could go with bourbon I guess, Bourbon is used in Mint Juleps which are mentioned in The Great Gatsby, but I feel like Gin is a light and airy option that would lend itself well to something whimsical.  I also feel strongly that Giggle Water needs to be fizzy.  So with those two factors I went searching on the almighty Pinterest and came up with this

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2 parts gin, 1 part elderflower liquor, Prosecco, lime wedges and sugar garnish (sounds like yum to me!) Only thing I think would be harder to find is the elderberry liquor but maybe not.

Anyways, despite it not being a Harry Potter weekend we’re still keeping it magical here.  We played potions this morning and made a little attempt at Quidditch, but I think we need to wait a bit until it’s warm enough to do it outside.  We also went to the craft store yesterday and got a Harry Potter Creature coloring book (which I’m sure we will make quick work of…when I restock our colored pencils).

If you’ve been hit with any of the wind or storms that we’ve received this week I hope you are safe and sound.  We’ve only seen a bit of it but surrounding areas got a big blast.  Trees are down, power is out, roads are blocked off but we’ve managed to somehow get through it unscathed **knocks on wood**…Indeed, if I still worked from home, I wouldn’t know that anything had happened unless I turned on the news.

Have a good week! Stay warm, stay safe and stay magical!

 

 

 

Hogwarts Library: Kids Section

I’m currently gearing up for what has been forecasted to be a mentally  and/or emotionally draining week at work; but that is okay “Ma’ma said there’ll be days like this…” and I know we will get through it.  I’ve also been up to some tinkering in the kitchen with some holistic remedies and am waiting to see how they go before displaying them.  All that being said I’ve decided to share a collection of my favorite children’s books this week.

I put a lot of emphasis on games and playing to get Baby Bat’s mind engaged and keep the creative and imaginative juices brewing. We play potions regularly which serves not only the imagination but also feeds significantly into science exploration as well as developing her fine motor skills.  I have a set of blocks that my brother and I use to play with as kids at my grandparents (castles = Hogwarts, you get the picture…I think it was only this past Vine Moon that she would see any representation of a castle and refer to it as Dumbledore’s House.  Then we became acquainted with Frozen and a distinction was drawn between Dumbledore Castles and Princess Castles):

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Last week we explored writing with feathers and ink and as the weather turns more inviting I feel the need to put together a Quidditch game.  But initially Harry Potter was a series of books which explore not just witches and wizards, magic and fantastic beasts but also a discussion of friendship, family, love, differences, and the morality of good and evil, right and wrong, easy and hard etc. etc.

I really wanted to translate these values to Baby Bat as much as the fun magical atmosphere, and while doing so provide her with knowledge that actually applies to the real world.  So how do you do that and keep their interest?  I mean you can try to read the voluminous series when they are super tiny and immobile that can be an option (I read Baby Bat Alice in Wonderland two hours after she was born, do I think she retained or even remembers it? No, it was more about bonding and letting her hear my voice). The thing is words on a page aren’t as gripping for little kids as they are for adults, they need pictures to put the story  and ideas together.  Recently they started coming out with illustrated versions of the books, which is great but still a bit sophisticated for little minds.

So I have been searching and collecting books that go with the Harry Potter theme for awhile now.  I keep them out for regular consumption but we read them most when it is a Harry Potter Weekend.  There are some books I know about and have yet to check out so my collection is still growing, and I would love any suggestions to add to it.

For the wee ones I think Board Books are a must.  You also need to take into account that they are at the very beginning of building their vocabulary so simplicity is key:

 

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Owls

Owls are symbols of wisdom, sacred knowledge, the underworld, transitions and messages which syncs up pretty  well in Harry Potter as they are predominantly used in the Wizarding World to send correspondence. Luckily  owls have been kind of in vogue for awhile now and you can find cute little owl print outfits mostly anywhere for any budget.  While I have not come across a board book featuring an owl bearing messages to people these books by Divya Srinivasan have quite captured my heart if only for their illustrations.  They also introduce basic vocabulary like numbers and colors.

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This book also deals with owls and counting and is one of Baby Bat’s favorites.  When she acquired her pink owl she immediately began calling him “Hoot”.  My mum tried to correct her since the owl is a beanie baby and comes prenamed, but I put my foot down as this was a big moment for Baby Bat (first time she named a stuffed animal!):

 

 

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Dragons

I think dragons and unicorns are the creatures that are called to mind the most when discussing the fantasy genre.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone introduces them almost right off the bat and are continually included one way or another in the rest of the books.  While I’ve yet to find a book featuring unicorns, this one is a classic dragon story  and the pictures are awesome

 

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Halloween

Ghosts, cats, toads, witches and wizards, werewolves…pumpkin juice, lots of elements surrounding Harry Potter have to do with Halloween (which is probably why you tend to find more events around that time of year…also December, Yule Ball, you know).  Anyways, Halloween is the time to raid the bookstore in search of these kinds of books.  These are the ones that we’ve had for awhile:

 

 

Witches and Wizards

Often times when there is a witch present in children’s literature and other media they are presented as the antagonist, or bad guy.  As part of the pagan community finding books and movies that represent witches and witchcraft in a positive light were far and few between.  It even seems to be a thing that witches are more commonly set as the villain then wizards, so there you go gender inequality to boot.  Luckily we’ve seen a bit of a turn around as far as content and theme (maybe because of Harry Potter or maybe as a culture we are becoming more open…maybe a little from both).

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This one is great because it has one of those buttons that make noise and this one sounds like magic…or like a spell was just cast.  We love it but the one foreseeable problem it has a bunch of peek-a-boo flaps, which is great but little hands get busy and all of a sudden you don’t have the flap anymore, they do have a witch version but I didn’t see that until later.  I’m sure its just as wonderful:

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This book I read as a child and might explain why I turned out the way I did.  Though it sort of keeps with the traditional wicked witch look it makes the point that just because some one looks different doesn’t mean we don’t have things in common.  It is also by Norman Bridwell and if you aren’t familiar with that name you will probably recognize his popular book series turned PBS television show Clifford the Big Red Dog.  There are a few other Witch Next Door books but I guess they didn’t take off as much:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This book is a super cute collection of stories by Georgie Adams and Emily Bolam about three little witches who go to a school that changes location each day, they ride brooms, clean up with spells that go awry and have a multitude of other adventures.  Baby Bat and I just started getting into reading this one on Fridays when we get moving early and get coffee or cocoa at the Starbucks around the corner from work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This one the art is a little lacking and a bit reminiscent of Asterix comics (not exactly but something about it reminds me of those, maybe its the background).  The Lonely Wizard deals with the power of friendship and overcoming differences.

 

20170212_162222This book by Jack Prelutsky is admittedly more Slytherin in nature.  The opening lines proclaim that the wizard is plotting his evil deeds for the day…which amounts to a series of transfigurations.  While sinister it might seem I love it, the art is amazing (I’m big on art in books) I ask baby bat if she can find certain things in the pictures so it kind of becomes a look and find book.  The poem is very imaginative too with the moral at the end of the story noting to be aware how you treat creatures and things as they might have one day been people transfigured by the wizard.

20170212_162202Lastly The Tales of Beedle the Bard.  The Wizard and the hairy heart and the tale of the three brothers might be a bit much for some kids but I really want to make some felt board stories for Babity Rabity and the Wizard and the hopping pot. This would have been first if there had been more pictures also I think she needs to add more stories at least the one about the goat she references in the introduction which never made it into the book for some reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all for now.  If you have any suggestions send me an “owl” or comment.  If nothing else have a great week!

 

It was the very best butter (beer)…

After a relatively uneventful week we got hit with a bout of extremely cold weather and snow on Friday.  Baby bat and I got home and all I wanted to do was curl up with some comfort food and a hot drink. My plan to quickly roll out my premade dough and whip up some chicken and ham pie was thwarted by my forgetting to take the dough out of the fridge that morning.  After an impromptu FaceTime call from my mum I finally got to work making a truly regrettable batch of chicken French (I suppose as well as grocery shopping you also shouldn’t cook when you are hungry).  I did however have a go at this Butterbeer recipe.  I loved her Pumpkin Pasty recipe and I figured this was worth a shot.

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This recipe makes one serving:

1 bottle of beer (she suggested Speckled Hen and I came across it at my grocery store down the road, I would definitely recommend it if you can find it.  If you can’t it calls for a British ale, the last time we attempted Butterbeer I think we used New Castle and I think that would be easier to find and work just as well).

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I had leftover English Mixed Spice and used that, I think it would work better with a generic Pumpkin spice as the English is a tad stronger.  However I do think that 1 tsp is quite a lot).

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 egg yolks (one of the driving reasons behind making chicken French that night since I could use the whites to dip the chicken before coating, huzzah! no waste)

2.5 tbs butter

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Honestly it wasn’t bad..I also didn’t follow the directions the way they are written and if I tried it again I think I would do it the same way. She says to start heating the ale first and I’ve always understood that if you heat alcohol it loses its potency.  I wasn’t looking for taste alone, I wanted that cozy, magical, buzzed (but not too buzzed) feeling.  So I added the beer a little at a time and mostly at the end.  I think the amount of cloves is what really killed it for me.  I love cloves in baking, but I think they added a bitterness to it that wasn’t really intended.

I tried another recipe Saturday night (when I finally made my chicken and ham pie, commenced with knitting a Slytherin House Scarf and had a Deathly Hallows Marathon…life was good 🙂 ).

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In the Food in Literature page she notes that Butterbeer is in fact a very old beverage and not like the sugary butterscotch interpretations that you generally find.  So I did a little research and found this one and I think I’m going to stick with it.

This also makes 1 serving:

In a small sauce pan whisk together and place on low heat

1 bottle of beer (Speckled Hen if you can find it) only and a little (like 1/4 cup) to start you’ll add the rest of the bottle later.

1 egg yolk

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Once that starts to simmer (keep whisking) add and boil:

1/4 cup white sugar

1/16 tsp (seriously, its  like a pinch of each) of nutmeg, ground cloves and ginger

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Once that is all mixed and heated up add the rest of the beer and 2 tbs of butter

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Once the butter is melted you can pour it into your mug of choice, let it cool a bit  and enjoy!

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We also dry ran a new Harry Potter activity:

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When I was in the fourth grade I did a project on the Erie Canal.  My area of exploration was school and I had a little presentation and some visual props.  I had a tin of sand (that would have been used to practice letters), also a chalk board and some chalk as well as ink and a “quill” that people could try their hand at. I thought this would tie in well with a Harry Potter activity seeing as how part of being in the wizarding world is writing papers and letters with a quill and ink.

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I sometimes feature myself as a master calligrapher and had some writing ink on hand, so we got some craft feathers and experimented with that on paper.  Baby Bat tried painting with the feathery end at first and didn’t seem too interested when we were dipping the tips into the ink.  I think this might appeal more to 3-4 year olds or maybe if there had been more colors than just black.  Aside from my horrible spelling I would consider this to be a nifty educational experience.

I also made a layered sensory “love potion” bottle but I think the purple took over and it is not as pretty as the picture on Pinterest made it out to be…the layers seem to be lost. I tried putting the bottles in the fridge and the freezer (as this is what you do to separate the liquids when making layered cocktails and shots)  but it hasn’t made it better.  Just took them out…maybe thawing will do them some good.  Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Have a great week!