Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oh Anders

There were a few let's call them changes for one favorite Dragon Age Character from Awakening to DA:2 and while I understand and agree with them I still always have this response in the back of my head while playing:

I just realized I also never showed you all my finished map complete with tea stain and burned edge:
I actually stuck it up for sale in my Zazzle store so I could get my own copy of the poster. Now it lives in my painting room.

My Favorite Mac & Cheese

My idea of comfort food tends to steer a bit away from the traditional american fare - hotdogs, chicken nuggets, the orange neon radioactive noodles from the blue box - and to german influenced pound a piece of pork flat, dredge in flour, fry it up and cover in unctuous brown gravy. So I don't tend to go out of my way to remake the classics but better.

Then I went and got married to an occasional Catholic and suddenly this Lent thing meant needing to think of non-meat dishes for Friday and pretending I thought of something really good to give up. (For old readers this should seem old hat, what can I say three years blogging there's bound to be repeats)

Thus began my attempts to find a good homemade baked macaroni and cheese that does not put one in mind of ground up cheetos. My first attempt still reigns as my biggest kitchen disaster, it called for onions a lot of it too, and there were complications. It wasn't creamy just a large gelatinous blob of what was once cheese with some noodles clinging desperately for life encased within.

Next lent I tried again and stumbled across what is possibly the ambrosia of Mac & Cheese and also one of the quickest and easiest recipes in my arsenal.

You need

1. 8 ounces of pasta (It doesn't have to be elbow, I've done bowties and penne before)

2. 2 cups of cream

3. 1 & 3/4 cup milk

4. A crap ton of cheese. I prefer Cheddar (the kind that tries to bite your tongue back) and Emmentaler mostly because it's cheaper than Guyere but that and Swiss work just as well.

You will need to start the night before, which I rather enjoy. Take some time, make a big mess and then leave it for the morning.

Boil the pasta but only for 4 minutes. You'll want it very very al tooth.

While that is quickly boiling, grate cheese. I like a lot of cheese. The original recipe calls for one cup of each but I always do two and then throw in some shredded for a touch of color. Save back about a cup for the topping in a separate bowl.

Into the large bowl of grated cheese add the cream, the milk, the still hard pasta and some salt and pepper to taste. Then put that in the fridge to sit overnight and suck up the creamy goodness while you save Hawke's butt from getting killed by Qunari (or whatever it is normal people do).

*waves magic fairy wand*

It's tomorrow which means preheat the oven to 400. You'll also want to pull out the pasta bowl so it gets to room temp.

Dump the cheesy pasta into a 9X9 baking dish. Mix 3/4 cup of bread crumbs with some butter and the leftover cheese for that oh I think my taste buds exploded topping.

Now put your casserole dish into the oven for 15-20 minutes and voila!

My favorite oh my god this is so rich I can only eat a few bites before passing out in joy mac & cheese recipe. The fact it's so easy a focused gila monster with a culinary degree helps.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What the hell does :(->: mean?

I have been harboring a deep dark secret that brings shame not only upon me but my family, my dog and for some reason my refrigerator (it's a very empathic food vessel).

You see, I am *gulp* an emoticon illiterate!

Having grown up with the IM computing age I have no plausible explanation for the fact that a series of random punctuation and letters that so many can read instantly as a mood or passion is a block of squiggly lines for me. If there are little icons, small green or yellow faces shaking in pixelated fury then I understand but the core essence of greater than, hyphen and colon's and I'm lost.

Here for your amusement is how I read those squiggles when talking to someone across the vast intertubes.
How an emoticon illiterate sees the world:

;) = I lost my contact

;O = I took out my contact and shoved it in my mouth

:) = a banana and two peas

........:P = a man with 8 nails in his head

:[ = space invader

:{ = cookie monster

o:-) = lobotomy

<:-( = lobotomy with a band saw.

|-I = Cylon

|-O = lobotomized cylon

;-> = pac man eating a one eyed ghost

l:-0? = now you're just fucking with me

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Painting fog

When not trapped in the time swirling vortex of playing Dragon Age 2 or wandering around in a fog I managed to find a bit of time to create a new painting (okay so it was while my husband was playing).

It's been rather strange in that I really like this one but it hasn't caught much attention. I just have no idea what anyone likes anymore.

Well it's up for sale along with all my others because I don't keep anything in the house.

I've actually finished DA:2 and am ruminating on it but expect a long thoughtful(ish) post on it soon.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Forgotten Forest Path

One of the more enjoyable parts of being in Detroit (aside from the show itself and getting to meet all those crazy people I assumed up until that point were really monkeys that got themselves iPads) was the Institute of Arts.

I haven't been to many art museums in my life, in fact this last visit would make two. The other was the Chicago one when I first started dating my husband and long before I ever took up a brush with some crazy idea to create my own "masterpieces." So I was a bit excited, giddy even dare I say to wander the halls and stare at paintings understanding more than I ever could have before. (Mostly in how people either like painting landscapes or people. Also hands suck for some and hair for others).

Also, I cannot lie I was more than a tad excited to see their three Van Goth's (probably due to a combination of a few people comparing whatever falls out of my brain to his and the Doctor Who episode - okay mostly the Doctor Who episode). One, my favorite, was of a pair of people out in the field digging. Another of a postman and the last was the painting everyone thinks of when they try to picture Vincent in his little straw hat.

At about this time my husband gets a phone call and wanders off so I have time to really take in the paintings. This, however quickly turned into people watching as crowds would dash in and snap a picture of the more famous Van Goth before scuttling off to the next room.

It felt like the only way to appreciate art anymore was through the viewfinder of a cellphone:
Which I cannot understand, yes you got that button - the badge for having seen a painting in person but you could have just as easily google imaged it from home and saved yourself a trip. Perhaps it's my own struggles with trying to represent my paintings in picture form so I can sell them but nothing compares to seeing the painting in real life. Especially impressionists work, all of the soul is sucked out.

So with all these thoughts rumbling through my head I sat down, with a small bit of canvas board, and out came this:
Perhaps strangest of all, as I added the last touches I started weeping. No good reason for it, I'm still not entirely certain why. But there's a dark sadness caught up in this painting that makes it both hard to look at and hard to look away from.

I'll be sad to see it go but I listed it up for sale because I simply have no room.

And because I am still me and a bit of a jerk I decided to make a bit of fun of all the other painters that photoshop their paintings onto stockphoto rooms to give an idea of what it would look like set up (yeah, sure it wouldn't) without saying that's what they did:
I might occasionally make sad paintings but I'm still a dork.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cheeping like Royalty

After fighting off a no good very bad all together nasty rhinovirus on Sunday I found myself suddenly feeling a bit better, about the same time my husband scummed to the abomination. But much as one feels the need to stretch their legs and run around screaming "I'm still alive" after battling a debilitating illness I was getting restless.

So in a fit of insanity I grabbed the car (then remembered it'd work a lot better if I drove it instead of trying to carry an automobile) and traveled to Michaels to see if there was anything to keep me distracted for a few days. (I was trying to anxiously forget Dragon Age 2 dropped on Tuesday and also keep my fingers and brain busy). I got some canvas and wandered around the hordes of displaced Highschool girl's basketballers in for state when I spotted it.

Back in the wooden half forgotten aisle it sat beckoning me with a siren call.

I was going to make a castle birdhouse. A quick purchase of the $4 temptress and then a swing over to the hobby store to get a little addition on top and I was ready to go.
Except it looked well frankly boring as sin. There was no life to it, it was machine cut to be perfect which to the human eye screams fake and dull.

Out came my trusty dremel and while spraying sawdust in my eyes and pounding out my ears I sanded down the edges of the stones and warped the sides to give it a wear and tear look:
Now that the stones looked more like classic castle stones comes the fun part - painting!

Always paint the black first, in this case the mortar and some of the more deep scars.
Then I covered the stones in a fairly uniform and boring shade of grey.
Now comes the fun part. Out came my smaller sponge and using a combination of black, white, grey and brown (a very necessary color for stone) I gave the grey and black castle a stone like texture:
But I still wasn't quite done and using my photoshop skills I created two Dragon Age banners for the castle to fly (Yeah I know, I'm an incredibly sad person). And then I hand painted moss, hours and hours of moss for that just discovered out of a swamp look.

Behold my Birdhouse Castle:

To prove that the moss and color goes all the way around here's the back:
And because I'm crazy I added some blood stains on top due to the unexpected dragon attack (the dragon I also painted, it started out purple and green which is no kind of respectable color for a dragon to be):

All it needs is a hook and then I can hang it so my small birds can live in style. Cold drafty, haunted and spooky style.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bring Out Yer Dead

You may have noticed that it's been a tad quiet out here lately. Almost preternaturally Spaghetti Western battle quiet.

That's because I've been off on a mad dash to the Eastern Time zone and back to see just what in the heck is so great about living EST. Over the course of a week my husband and I drove about 34 hours from ol' Nebraska to Chicago where we stopped for a day to watch Spamalot then to Detroit for a super nerd show and a trip through the Detroit Institute of Arts (A very nice art museum if I do say so, they have swords) then back to Chicago where I started to feel kinda funny.

Turns out I had a little stowaway on the trip back replicating away madly in my spleen. Come Monday I wanted to rip my throat out and curl up in a warm bed and die. I had the deadly Michigan Militia Plague! Which meant I was about no help on the long trip back, unpacking or cleaning up the house that go its butt dirty while no one was here.

And of course now that I'm starting to get healthy and be not dead at all my husband is coming down with the nefarious germs. I did, in between blowing my nose and slugging my weight in juice, create two little drawing thingies for my novel:

Now I'm off to battle to the death for more cold medicine. Toodles.