June 26, 2017

Pupdate!

I don't think I've blogged about Jedi since we adopted him, so here's a pupdate.



He has settled in nicely but is still a bundle of energy.


When he gets treats like this one he tries to hide them for later instead of chewing them right away. He loves to play with his toys, and he has a lot of them.


The frog is his favorite. Jedi lounges in his bed in my office while I'm working.



And he loves to go for walks, especially when we go to parks.


I'm so glad he became a part of our family!

June 12, 2017

Millionaire's shortbread

I tried a new recipe from the cookbook Baked. I've had some success with recipes from these authors, and I wanted to try something other than cookies or a cake so I went for millionaire's shortbread. It's described as like a Twix. There's a layer of shortbread on the bottom, then a layer of caramel, then a layer of chocolate.


It was very good and very rich, but I won't be making it again. I had a bit of trouble with the caramel...You make it with two cans of sweetened condensed milk. The faster way is to cook it in the microwave at low power in short bursts, stirring in between. That still takes about a half hour, but I was going to try it. The first time I opened it to stir, it had exploded! There was a dome of sweetened condensed milk over the bowl, and it had spilled out all over the microwave. OH NOOOOOOO!


I switched to the stovetop method, which unfortunately takes two hours of sitting by the stove, occasionally stirring and making sure the boiling water under the bowl with the caramel doesn't evaporate completely. It's a shame that part takes so long because this is really very easy and it's very good. Final verdict: success taste-wise but takes too long to make again.

June 6, 2017

Doctor Who: The Mind Robber

Before I started the Whoathon, I occasionally blogged about random episodes of Doctor Who. The Mind Robber is one of my favorites of the 2nd Doctor, and you can read my post about it here.



I'm not going to repeat myself here, other than to say again that I very much enjoy this episode and that I'm an avid reader so the idea of fictional characters coming to life out of books is intriguing to me. Check this one out if you haven't seen it!


THE RUNDOWN

Doctor: Second
Companions: Jamie, Zoe
Episode: #45, "The Mind Robber," five parts
Adversary: the Master of the Land of Fiction (no, not THAT Master)
Classic Lines: while trying to get into the Master's citadel, Zoe: "Well, we can't just ring the bell and ask to go in!"; the Doctor, in reply: "Well, why not? It's the usual way."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: In one episode, the Doctor has to choose Jamie's eyes, nose, and mouth from a selection of them to put Jamie's face back together. He chooses the wrong ones, and another actor plays Jamie for most of that episode until the Doctor gets another chance to choose.
Next Up: "The Invasion"

May 31, 2017

Tagliatelle with wild mushroom sauce

Here's another Lidia Bastianich recipe from Lidia's Favorite Recipes. I used different pasta and mushrooms than called for because that's what they had at the store.


Okay, so this doesn't look appealing, but it was good! Dave liked it better than aglio e olio, but that's just crazy talk.

May 28, 2017

Aglio e olio

Many Italian Americans will be familiar with this one. It's a simple dish, full of flavor.


I realize this just looks like a bunch of plain pasta, but it's not! The recipe is spaghettini aglio e olio, or spaghettini with oil and garlic, from Lidia's Favorite Recipes, by Lidia Bastianich. I substituted linguine for the pasta shape. In the photo, see if you can find the little slices of garlic and the flecks of red pepper flakes and parsley. The garlic flavor was outstanding but not overpowering. It doesn't look like much, but it was quick and tasty.

May 26, 2017

Doctor Who: The Dominators

The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe arrive on Dulkis. The Doctor tells them that this planet is peaceful and they can get a good rest there.


Unfortunately, the Dominators have landed on a remote island with their robot enforcers, the Quarks. They're aggressive and soon start using Dulcians as laborers in their secret plan, but the pacifist Dulcian leaders won't do anything about it.

Quarks with a Dominator

Good thing the Doctor is there to save the day! This story is okay. The Dominators aren't compelling villains and the Dulcians are frustrating in their general unwillingness to do anything to help themselves.


THE RUNDOWN

Doctor: Second
Companions: Jamie, Zoe
Episode: #44, "The Dominators," five parts
Adversary: the Dominators
Classic Lines: a Dulcian, about Zoe: "This girl's got an inquiring mind. She can't possible come from Dulkis."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver for the second time- this time to get through a wall.
Next Up: "The Mind Robber"

May 20, 2017

Doctor Who: The Wheel in Space

The Wheel in Space is Zoe Heriot's first story. She and Jamie are my favorite companions! Unfortunately, this story is missing four of its six parts. The Doctor and Jamie arrive on an abandoned rocketship, and the Doctor is hurt. Then they get picked up by the Wheel. Zoe is tasked with showing Jamie around.

Jamie and Zoe on the bridge
Zoe is exceptionally smart. Jamie wanders off and sabotages the laser they were going to use to destroy the abandoned ship that happens to be the current location of the TARDIS. But they have bigger problems on the way...

Cybermen!

Cybermen are here! And they brought their cybermats, too.

I wouldn't touch that...
So now the Doctor is feeling better and they're coming around to the fact that he and Jamie aren't horrible saboteurs who want to stop the space program.

Jamie, Zoe, and the Doctor
Zoe is showing off her smarts, and she and Jamie are already getting along nicely. But then the Doctor and Jamie figure out that the Cybermen are on the abandoned rocket. Oh no!


Then the Cybermen are on the Wheel, and they want to invade Earth. Good thing the Doctor is there to stop them!


After the Cybermen are defeated, Zoe asks to go with the Doctor and Jamie. The Doctor wants her to be certain, so he shows her the Daleks on the TARDIS screen as the episode ends.


THE RUNDOWN

Doctor: Second
Companions: Jamie, Zoe
Episode: #43, "The Wheel in Space," six parts
Adversary: the Cybermen
Classic Lines: the Doctor: "Logic, my dear Zoe, mearly enables one to be wrong with authority."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: Jamie gives the Doctor the alias John Smith when asked for the Doctor's full name. He saw it on a piece of nearby equipment. The Doctor goes on to repeatedly use this alias in the future.
Next Up: "The Dominators"

May 14, 2017

Chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache

The latest new recipe I tried was chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache from Baked Explorations.


It was actually supposed to be chocolate coffee cake with dark chocolate ganache, but I didn't have coffee extract to put in the frosting. Also, isn't that a little confusing? This isn't a coffee cake. Anyway, as you can see, it's a three-layer chocolate cake covered in buttercream and then you pour a chocolate glaze over it. I'm going to call it glaze and not ganache because there's no cream in the glaze. It's chocolate, butter, and corn syrup. That's not ganache to me.


I suppose the negativity I feel toward this cake is coming out already! I didn't like it, even though my husband and parents did. I know why. I've had hits and misses with Baked recipes. The cakes I don't like have had shortening and butter in the cake and flour in the frosting. So did this one. I will be avoiding recipes with both of those techniques in the future. I just don't like them. It's purely personal preference. Lots of people do like them.


I didn't have any issues making the frosting, like I read online that some people did. Just make sure it's cool enough before you add the butter. Even though I didn't like this cake, I'll continue to try recipes from this cookbook because for the most part they've been great.

April 19, 2017

Doctor Who: Fury from the Deep

This is another story that is missing all six parts, but I think this is the last one with not one existing episode. We're closing in on the end of the missing episode era. The TARDIS lands in the ocean, and they have to row to shore. A few interesting things happen at the beginning of the episode. The Doctor says that the TARDIS can float. Victoria notes that they keep landing on Earth, and Jamie specifies that they keep landing in England. This is the second time recently that they've mentioned that they keep landing on Earth.

Jamie, the Doctor, Victoria

After wading through a large amount of sea foam, they find a box and the Doctor opens it using...the sonic screwdriver! The design is more simple than later sonic screwdrivers. He says it operates using sound waves. Anyway, they get taken inside a gas refinery and then sea foam goes insane, gets inside, and tries to get Victoria.


The Doctor insists to Robson, head of the pumping operation, that he heard something in the pipes that could be a heartbeat. Other people have heard it, too. Robson says it's a mechanical fault and they aren't turning off the flow.


The Doctor and Victoria do some tests and determine that the weed is alive. Wouldn't it be alive anyway, since it's a plant? Hm. Meanwhile, some creepy people are going around spewing toxic gas and knocking people out.


This episode is pretty slow, even by early Doctor Who standards. Victoria is freaking out the entire time about how they're always in danger. It's heavy-handed foreshadowing of the fact that this is her last story. After the Doctor defeats the weed creature, she decides to stay with a couple at the refinery.


THE RUNDOWN

Doctor: Second
Companions: Jamie, Victoria
Episode: #42, "Fury from the Deep," six parts
Adversary: Weed creature
Classic Lines: Victoria: "Every time we go anywhere, something awful happens...Why can't we go anywhere pleasant? Where there's no fighting. Just peace and happiness."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: This episode is the first time the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver.
Next Up: "The Wheel in Space"

April 7, 2017

Doctor Who: The Web of Fear

This story is a sequel to The Abominable Snowmen. It's 40 years later, and Professor Travers has reactivated one of the Yeti control units he brought back from Tibet. Then it disappears. Oops! It seeks out the Yeti he brought back from Tibet and brings it to life, and soon Yeti are taking over the Underground.

the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria

The TARDIS gets encased in a web in flight, but they manage to land on Earth, in an Underground station. Soon they're reunited with Professor Travers, who is shocked to see people from 40 years ago looking the same and relieved because he thinks the Doctor can help with this Yeti issue.

Victoria, Travers, Travers' daughter, and Jamie

The army has a base in the Underground and is doing what they can, but they aren't very successful. Then a new commander arrives. Look who it is!!

Yes, it's him!

It's the Brigadier! Except, he's not the Brigadier yet. He's Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, commanding a group of the Scots Guards of the British Army. He gets promoted and moves to UNIT later. I was disappointed that the first footage of Lethbridge-Stewart was lost. This story is six episodes, and episode three is missing. The story I watched had a re-creation of the third episode with audio and photographs. The Brigadier was awesome right from the start. Fair, direct, brave, and smart, with his trademark bit of gruff.

the Doctor and Professor Travers

So there are webs everywhere, Yeti everywhere, and the Great Intelligence is controlling it all. The Doctor better figure out how to fix this, fast. The soon-to-be Brigadier leads a patrol to break out on to the streets of London, but they find Yeti there, too, and head back to the Underground base.

the Yeti don't look so snuggable anymore

You may notice that the Yeti look different than in the last story. The Doctor mentioned it himself. I guess they knew the old Yeti looked like giant, huggable teddy bears and wanted something more menacing? They still don't look that menacing, but I like the Yeti. I wish they were in the show more.


So the Great Intelligence takes over Travers and reveals that this was all a trap to catch the Doctor. Oh no! How will they ever get out of this? I'm sure it won't be something kind of anticlimactic after you've watched six episodes of this story. Nope. Not that. But watch it anyway to see the Yeti and the Brigadier.


THE RUNDOWN

Doctor: Second
Companions: Jamie, Victoria
Episode: #41, "The Web of Fear," six parts
Adversary: the Great Intelligence and the Yeti
Classic Lines: the Doctor: "Funny, isn't it?"; Jamie: "What?"; the Doctor: "How we keep landing on your Earth."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: The is the first appearance of Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, but he wasn't yet the Brigadier; he was a colonel. 
Next Up: "Fury from the Deep"

March 31, 2017

Baltimore: (Re)Generation Who 3 and Fort McHenry

This month Dave and I went to Baltimore for a weekend with some friends to attend a Doctor Who convention, (Re)Generation Who. We went last year with this same group, and we had just as much fun this year. My friend Josh blogged about this year's trip much better than I did here.


I didn’t end up seeing too many panels. This year had more of a focus on new Who than classic Who, and the classic show is more my thing. I did attend two panels with Sylvester McCoy, and he is always entertaining. A friend of mine even asked him a question. Another friend lurked in the hallways and elevators dressed as a weeping angel. Her costume is amazing, and she scared quite a few people, I think.


 
Another friend hosted his own panel. Very exciting! It went incredibly well. I blogged about him here, but the short version is that a Doctor Who audio drama he wrote was produced by Big Finish, and his panel was about that.



A few of us took a break from the con on Saturday and took the Charm City Circulator, a free city bus, to Fort McHenry. I made a giant popsicle stick Fort McHenry when I was in fifth grade, so I was very excited to see it in person.


It’s also run by the National Park Service, so you know what that means…at least one stamp for my National Parks Passport! Woooo!


It was a great weekend. I’m lucky to have such fantastic people as friends.

March 16, 2017

Philadelphia Flower Show 2017: Holland

My mom and I took our annual trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show last weekend. The theme was Holland, so I expected a lot of tulips.


And I got them! It was tulip heaven.


My mom is a member of the horticultural society, so we got to go to the members' preview before it opened to the public. Wow, what a difference in the crowds! It was a much better experience. Sometimes the Philly Flower Show can get crushingly crowded. The members' preview was fantastic. We weren't getting bumped into, we could see everything, and there was space to move around.


The show this year was spectacular. It is one of my favorites of all the years. The design of the exhibits was really well done. It's like they stepped it up a notch this year.


There were tulips everywhere and windmills and bicycles.


I've never seen dark blue tulips. Of course, there were other types of flowers besides tulips, too.


But the tulips were the best. There were a lot of daffodils, which I didn't know were big in Holland. Overall, a tremendous flower show. I highly recommend going this year!

March 13, 2017

Burnt sugar bundt cake with caramel frosting

This past weekend I made burnt sugar bundt cake with caramel frosting from Baked Explorations.


It was delicious!! However, I didn't follow the recipe exactly because I had a caramel disaster when I was making the burnt sugar part. Cooking the sugar went okay, and then when I added the cream and it clumped up I was worried, but it eventually melted into a nice caramel. Then it was time to add the coconut milk. It turned into a giant hard blob of caramel.


I had store-bought caramel in the fridge from the last time I tried to make caramel for something from this cookbook and had to run out and get it when I had another caramel disaster. So I just combined that with the coconut milk and lemon juice and soldiered on.


The cookbook offered a substitution of vanilla extract for the rum in the frosting, and that's what I did. The cake was really, really good. Everyone loved it. I'll definitely make this again.

March 4, 2017

Ziti with broccoli rabe and turkey sausage

I've been wanting to try more new recipes lately, so I went with this pasta dish from Lidia's Favorite Recipes, by Lidia Bastianich.


It was easy and so tasty! Okay, so that's supposed to be sweet Italian sausage, but I substituted sweet Italian turkey sausage instead. Still yummy! Broccoli rabe is always good, of course. It also called for garlic, red pepper flakes, and parmigiano reggiano, which all combined to add a nice flavor.


I can't wait to try more recipes from this book!

February 27, 2017

Snickerdoodles

I made snickerdoodles using a different recipe than my usual. I thought I had blogged about the recipe I had used before, but I can't find it...


This time I made them from Joanne Chang's cookbook, Flour. They're pretty much just sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar. They were tasty. If you like sugar cookies, you'd like these. They're nothing super special, though.

February 23, 2017

Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World

The Whoathon has reached The Enemy of the World. This story is notable because Patrick Troughton plays the part of the Doctor and the part of the villain, Salamander, who the Doctor just happens to resemble.

the Doctor, Victoria, and Jamie

Of course the Doctor impersonates the baddie. Salamander is trying to take over the world. His plan is convoluted, and to be honest, this isn't my favorite story...People do like this one, and Troughton does a fantastic job with both parts. Let's move on to the next one. It has Yeti and introduces a much-beloved character.


THE RUNDOWN

Doctor: Second
Companions: Jamie, Victoria
Episode: #40, "The Enemy of the World," six parts
Adversary: Leader Salamander
Classic Lines: Victoria: "Perhaps we've landed in a world of madmen?"; the Doctor: "They're human beings, if that's what you mean."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: Patrick Troughton plays both the Doctor and Salamander.
Next Up: "The Web of Fear"

February 7, 2017

Grandmom's forgotten cookies

Last weekend I made forgotten cookies for the first time, using my grandmother's recipe.


They're called forgotten cookies because you stick them in a preheated oven, turn off the oven, and forget about them. They were so easy! You can't see them, but there are chocolate chips in there.


They were also delicious. Amazing delicious. I took them to a family gathering, and they were a bit hit. My cousin said they tasted the same as Grandmom's, which was pretty great.
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