#91- Melted

I’ve always been a big fan of crayons, wax, oil pastels and other similar mediums. In the preschool setting, it doesn’t seem like children like crayons as much only because markers give such a more clear and bright picture I suppose.  But this only left me with more crayons at my disposal to work with…. one of my most favorite being crayon melting during the hot Sacramento Summers.  My old bosses used to get their panties in such a bunch when an abandoned crayon was left out and subsequently melted onto parts of our concrete playground but I loved it.  It was bright, colorful and was an excellent lesson for the kids on heat and the making of crayons.

When I first introduced Natalie to the Canvas, it gave everything she did a more mature, classier look I think.  And I secretly have been wanting to do something for her, for fun on canvas, which is why it landed to #91 on my list- create some cool pieces of art for Natalie using melted crayons.  So today we brought out her pack of 96 crayola crayons, stripped every single one of them down out of their paper wrappings and set to work.

Now, this -as you can tell from the pictures- was more of a mommy-directed art activity, but seeing as it was so visually appealing to us both, the next round (I should have bought more canvas) is going to be all her doing. Can’t wait to have more fun with this.

We are both on a Mermaid kick right now.  I blame the near by ocean.  Believe it or not, I don’t own a hair dryer so I wound up melting the crayons on the stove top as we baked cookies (the morning activity)…. but I do think a Hair Dryer would give it some needed precision.  We are still very pleased with the end result!


#56- I miss this girl

I have a few distinct memories of my friend Talitha.

I remember how hard she always tried with a little boy in our Preschool Classroom who was really, just really not emotionally well. I’d see her with him sitting in her lap, consoling him and thinking that maybe she had an honest breakthrough with him. But the next day he’d be back to his psychotic, violent self. This happened almost every day.

I remember walking in our classroom on a Wednesday morning with a smile on my face and Talitha taking one look at me and shrieking, “Oh My God, let me see the ring!” It’s very much like her to take one look at me and know.  She knew he proposed and I never said a word.

I remember waking up one morning with Blake, having him ask me what I felt like doing that day and I said I wanted to go to Talitha’s wedding to Rudy.  Where was it at?  7 hours south of where we were.  We left, probably within the hour, drove all the way there and endured the most AMAZING Best Man Speech ever.  Was it recorded?  I hope it was. It needs to be posted.  But perhaps Talitha burned all evidence.  Let’s just say that because we opted to drive back home that night, the speech forced us to leave before dinner was even served.

Talitha is someone I adore.  For many reasons.  But since she lives down south now, I don’t get to see her too often. She does come up to visit family, and it’s been about a year since I’ve last seen her I think. But time with her is so valuable that if I have a Bucket list every year,  she’d always be on it.

We met at Bistro 33 in Davis.  I may or may not have been hungover, hence the oversized sunglasses indoors. And with my camera being dead from the night before’s escapades, I thank Talitha for letting me temporary adopt her iphone to snap some shots. She is the best!

#14- First Attempt at Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Not long ago I was having dinner at Grange Restaurant in Sacramento, and ordered their special of homemade deep fried buttermilk chicken.  The waitress explained that it was the chef’s old secret family recipe of some sort, and the chicken had been marinating in buttermilk for two days.   I typically don’t do fried foods, at least I try to avoid it unless I am awake at 2 am and for obvious reasons, not of sound mind and craving Denny’s or some other crap place that’s open 24 hrs.

But I ordered the special at Grange, and it was nothing short of mouthwateringly AMAZING. I never set out to replicate it, however it did get me thinking that I’d at least like to try out making fried chicken (#14 on my list of things to do). It’s been kind of an aversion for me in the past because of the very few times I’ve done fried foods before–   the smell, the smoke, the mental image of fat boiling oil, usually led me to wanting to vomit and not being able to eat the final product.

I figured, this time I’d do it right…. maybe even cook it outside so the smell could float off into the coast. But I couldn’t find the right kind of single burner cooktop range to get the job done and I figured if other people do this all the time in the kitchen, then I gotta do something right this time around to pull it off as well.

I found a great smelling & great tasting recipe using buttermilk, cayenne pepper, onion salt, garlic salt, parsley, etc.  Marinated it with some chopped onions for a little under 2 days.  A key note, which I didn’t consider really, is that oils have different tolerances to heat.  Peanut Oil ( which is what I used) is the go-to for fried chicken. It has a high heat tolerance (and has no bad smells!) so the chicken can cook with out smoking.

I did everything to the directions, and the chicken DID turn out pretty good.  The browning was a little uneven but I think I will try a few more times to get that part right.  Some spots were more burnt and some spots seemed really flat (versus popcorn-looking like KFC) but I think I know why, so it will be easier to modify next time around.  The skin, despite its unevenness was soooo YUMMY.

When all is said and done, I think I’d still want to do this outside cause I wound up setting off the smoke alarm twice- even though there wasn’t smoke, and my house is still slightly tinged with a oil smell…

#79- Wine Tasting for Schmucks!

Last weekend, Blake & I found ourselves in Sacramento (not an unusual thing by any means) and decided at the last minute to check out the Sugar Mill Wineries (#79 on my list).  The reason for putting this on my list was simple.

We’ve done extensive wine tasting in many areas throughout California and other states.  The best region in our area is by far Amador County.  We use to live a short 30 minute drive away, and I’d have to say that is one of the number one things I miss about Folsom.  Soooo so many great wineries, with no wine tasting fees and virtually tucked away from most tourists.  Unlike Napa.

But despite being in the Sacramento Area forever, we’ve never tasted at the Sugar Mill Wineries. Lodi, yes. South Sacramento? No.  I’ve always heard nice things about the Sugar Mill. Even drove past it a few times to visit friends in Courtland.

Anyway, as the name might give away, they have taken an old sugar mill and recreated it to house tasting rooms for 8 different local wineries.  Sounds ideal!

Our problem?  Unknowingly pulling in to the parking lot on one of their busiest, heavily promoted days:  The weekend before Valentine’s Day Port Wine & Chocolate Celebration.  Which is why I title this, Wine Tasting for Schmucks.

Only amateur, idiotic wine tasters would purchase tickets for something like this.  It was like 8 different nightclubs, fighting for a dash of wine and having each stop being EXTREMELY frigid on the chocolate.  Rightfully so. It was full of douchebags taking their uncomfortable second-date girlfriends out, single women looking to celebrate GAL-entine’s Day, and your typical trashy winos who like to go just to add to their collection of souvenir wine glasses, get drunk then head outside to fall all over eachother while trying to ‘dance’ to the live ‘blues’ music.

We would have kept driving, but since we aren’t locals anymore and we made it a point to clear our afternoon for it, we decided to brave the event.  It was ultimately ok.  The wine was so-so, mostly. We did wind up purchasing a   2010 Zinfandel from Todd Taylor Vineyards.  Very nice stuff.

It seemed like a place I’d like to enjoy, any day of the week but this day. It was a very nice place, though somewhat gimmicky and designed for special events & weddings. But whatever.  It was cool.