goblins, quests, and my gentleman.

You may have seen his photo on here before.

surefire_eb1old_cartoon_camera

html_codingHe also founded/contributes to/works on this:

rotary house experimental – it’s his awesomely creative publishing house.

you should investigate.

This clever & handsome gentleman and I officially met at work, but it wasn’t until a work happy hour that we actually spoke to one another. We didn’t start speaking regularly until one day soon after, a group of us were walking to lunch and Matt noticed I was purposely avoiding walking on the storm drains.

cartoon_storm draincartoon_storm draincartoon_storm draincartoon_storm draincartoon_storm draincartoon_storm draincartoon_storm drain

{Matt didn’t yet realize it, but it was only a matter of time until he succumbed to my charm. and overactive imagination}

Several weeks later, Matt had lunch with a friendly squirrel named Jerry. Jerry is oh-so-much more than just a squirrel – he is in charge of protecting the portal which leads from our world into the squirrel kingdom.

black_squirrel{look at his golden tail – serious business}

Obviously, Jerry guards the portal for a reason – and over the next couple months, the truth came out. Our worlds are on the brink of an enormous goblin/squirrel war, and Matt and I had been recruited to help.

First, however, in order to make sure we were worthy of entering the portal and joining the squirrels in their fight, we had to complete quests of Jerry’s choosing. Jerry would meet with Matt, and pass along important quest details: maps, locations, objects to find. The two of us would then traipse off, clutching our maps and lists, off to find and defeat goblins.

Once, as we were trying to collect goblin currency, we were attacked: Matt brained a goblin* with a rock and I stabbed it with a tree branch.

{*Matt would visit the pre-determined location beforehand and plant paper goblins in bushes or trees, then be ‘surprised’ when we discovered them hours later. He’ll never admit to it, though : ) }

goblin_drawingOur outings were serious adventures.

On our first actual date, we drove around for hours on a warm summer night. Matt’s plan was to get lost, and get lost we did. We had a lovely time – peering out the car windows into creeks we drove past, looking for frogs with a flashlight; stopping at an old horse farm to investigate their hollow pillars and horse statue; finding old dirt roads to drive on under the moon. It was fun and silly and romantic.

I started writing this post about a month ago, and the original ending was this:

The rest – well, the rest leads us to today, several days past our seven month anniversary, and we are completely, enormously, head-over-heels happy.

that’s not the end of the story.

on the very day I started writing this post, January 21st, Matt and I had a date night.

A very special date night.

proposalproposal

proposal

proposalproposal

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cartoon_love

katie

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lemon soufflés with raspberry sauce

Happy Vegetarian Monday!

The following recipe is probably more suited for summertime, but it’s equally good in the dead of winter. Surprisingly easy, too – I’ve been scared of soufflés, hearing they fall and are ruined quite easily, but these were fairly easy to make and they turned out beautifully: light, fluffy, and delicious.

the INGREDIENTS:

for the raspberry sauce:

8 oz. frozen raspberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp lemon juice

for the ramekins:

2 to 3 tbsp butter, softened
3 to 4 tbsp granulated sugar

for the lemon pastry cream:

4 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 oz. (1 tbsp) butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

for the meringue:

8 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 oz (1/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar

the RECIPE:

  1. Make the raspberry sauce first – you can simmer it while you make the lemon pastry cream and meringue. Combine the raspberries, lemon juice, corn starch, and sugar into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. The original recipe called for it to cook for only 1-2 minutes; I cooked mine down for 20 or so. Either way, it’ll turn out well.
  2. Get the ramekins ready! Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter the inside of eight 6oz ramekins (or six slightly bigger ones). Coat the insides with sugar, knocking out any excess.
  3. Make the pastry cream. Whisk together the egg yolks, milk, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and salt in a saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk until the mixture starts bubbling. This should take about 5 minutes – don’t worry if it’s still lumpy. Continue simmering and whisking until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla until smooth. Take your saucepan and place it in a larger bowl full of ice water, and whisk often until the mixture is cooled to room temperature.
  4. Begin making the meringue while the pasty cream is cooling. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer) on high speed until foamy. This should take 30-45 seconds. Add the cream of tartar while mixing, and continue beating until the bubbles become smaller and the whites start to form soft peaks, which should happen after another 30-60 seconds. With the beater still running, start adding the confectioners sugar 1 tbsp at a time and continue beating until the egg whites start forming glossy, pointed, stiff peaks when you remove the beater. This should take an additional 30 seconds or so. After this, if your egg whites still aren’t forming stiff peaks, finish whisking by hand to avoid over-beating. Stir the pastry cream with a silicone spatula to loosen it, then stir in a third of the meringue until combined. Gently fold in another third of the meringue by starting at the edge of the bowl and slowly bringing the spatula up through the middle of the pastry cream and then back to the edge of the bowl, rotating the bowl and repeating this motion until the meringue is mostly incorporated. It’s okay if there are a few white streaks at this point. Add the remaining meringue and fold until just combined, leaving no white streaks visible.
  5. Assemble soufflés. Divide the soufflé mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins. Put the ramekins on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center of a soufflé comes out with just the tip still wet. Serve immediately with the sauce.

lemon_souffle

train vampires.

I was on the train the other morning, riding to work. The woman across from me was balancing her bag, papers, and a laptop. She’d set a travel mug on the floor between her feet. When the conductor came around to look for tickets, she began frantically rummaging through her bag. As she was looking for her ticket, she accidentally knocked her travel mug over, and I leaned over, picked it up, and set it upright on the floor again. She thanked me.

All of this is very normal.

What wasn’t normal was that my fingers came away sticky from where they’d touched the mug – and when I’d been setting the mug back on the floor, I’d noticed that the rim was red, like she’d been drinking juice. Or blood.

The second I thought it, I became obsessed with it. I thought, no, I was convinced the woman across from me was a vampire. I started watching her closely (not at ALL creepy), waiting for her to open her mouth so I could see her fangs. I tried to discreetly look at the mug again. I wished I had a mirror so I could point it her way and see if her image reflected back at me. I was so occupied with these thoughts that we arrived in DC in no time, and I hastened off the train before she could sneak up behind me and bite my neck.

What if vampires take the MARC train? What if sunlight doesn’t affect them the way legends and Twilight portray? What if they are walking among us even now, working at regular jobs, drinking blood from their travel mugs?

vampire_travel_mug

saturday.

The Saturday swine will not be appearing on the blog today, as he is away on a mission. He snuck out in the dead of night, so we’ve no idea where he is or what he is doing. He is so secretive, that swine.

Instead, for today’s post, I invite you all to enjoy this drawing I made of DANI:

cartoon_fox

Why did the fox cross the road?

To get to the chicken.

ba-dum-tshh

happy saturday!

DIY magnets.

Magnets are important. They’re fun. They hold things. Best of all, they’re easy to make.

You will need several things before you can begin:

  • paper
  • drawing instruments
  • clear marbles, with flat backs (any size)
  • magnets (base the size of your magnet on the size of your marbles)
  • glue – one that dries clear.
  • and scissors.

I got all of the above supplies from Michaels, minus the drawing instruments (a gift) and the paper (taken from Dani’s sketchbook).

The saturday swine was not about to be left out of such a fun project, and so he convinced me to use him for a ‘demonstration’ magnet.

DIY_magnet DIY_magnet DIY_magnet DIY_magnet DIY_magnet DIY_magnetA quick and easy project – kids would probably enjoy it, too. Of course, you’d have to keep them from eating the glue …

goodbye, 2012!

It’s been a great year for us senoritas, full of pretty awesome things.

1. Our trip to Mexico ….

dani_bradford_katie_bradford_dos_senoritas_mexico

… where I accidentally mixed up the words for ‘shark’ and ‘shit’ in Spanish, and Dani amazed us both with her motorbike skills as she zoomed us around Isla Mujeres.

2. My new job (a technical writer/editor under contract with the FAA) …

technical_writer_cartoon

… where I’ve learned more about acronyms than I ever imagined possible.

3. Several months of us commuting together to DC, in which we learned the metro is run by shrieking eels, the MARC train breaks down frequently, and there are always people who get caught in the metro doors and frantically shriek for help (once, I was one of them. Luckily, Dani was there to both help and laugh at me).

4. Dani quitting her job to travel as a freelance photographer/videographer. That’s pretty dang cool.

quitting_job_cartoon

5. Discovering the best way to mow the lawn is to attach a fisher price wagon to the back of the lawnmower.

mowing_the_lawn

6. Roaches. In my new apartment. Dani found one in her wine glass.

cartoon_cockroach(okay, not awesome. but pretty memorable)

7. Dani’s death-defying hang over Victoria Falls in Zambia – seriously. She was at the edge of a freaking gi-normous waterfall, grinning like a loon. How’s that for crazy?

dani_bradford_vicoria_falls

8. My relationship with the most amazing guy on earth. And probably in the entire galaxy.

the boyfriend

9. Dani’s really awesome experience swimming and riding quads at Lac Rose, the pink lake, outside of Dakar in Senegal. Read about it here, on her site.

lac_rose_dakar_senegal_cartoon

10. Scrumptious (adult) beverages, like our watermelon jalopeno margaritas, super sangria, and Dani’s famous pirate juice. We drink a lot of wine, too. We recommend Cupcake wine because it’s inexpensive and delicious.

11. Some hectic animals – I got to hold a chicken, and a goat tried to eat my scarf.

goat_eating_scarf11. Dani moved to North Carolina to live at the beach for a couple months.

outer_banks_north_carolina11. And of course, lots of beaver, who gets a little bit grouchier everyday.

beaver_chronicles_cartoonOther noteworthy items: Dani sold her house. She also ate caterpillars. I went to Vermont (twice) and to the zoo. We went apple-picking and to the renaissance festival, to our grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary party, and out to eat (a lot). We had a photo shoot. We stayed at haunted inns in Annapolis and went on ghost tours. We frequented the farmer’s market. We smoked cigars by the ocean and sat on the beach at midnight.

midnight_beach_photographyIt’s been a year of good friends, food, fun, and adventures (sorry to break the alliteration). We’re eagerly looking forward to 2013, and we hope you are, too. Happy New Year’s Eve!

saturday swine.

can you find the swine?

saturday_swine_christmasit’s the last saturday before christmas! the swine wishes you a wonderful, warm, and festive holiday : )

emperor beaver.

Please hum the Star Wars theme song to yourself while viewing this photo.

dun dun dun DUN dun dundundundundunDUN

Are you humming?

Okay, good.

beaver wishes you all a happy thursday. may the forest be with you.

a glass jellyfish.

Ages ago, I soldered together bits of colored glass to make a jellyfish. I named him Herman P. Jelly, and he hung from my rearview for several years until finally, the solder fell apart, his legs fell off, and all that was left was his body, dangling from a string.

I needed a new jelly.

Here’s how I made my new one:

1. the workshop. it’s located in our parent’s garage, and stocked with everything you need to make things with glass. cutters, grinders, solder, soldering guns, rulers, wire, glue, beads, marbles, a kiln.

glass_workshop

stained_glass

glass cutter

2. after choosing your glass (and deciding what to make), cut!

cutting glass3. the glass had sharp edges, so i moseyed to the grinder, and ground down the edges on all my pieces.

glass_grinding

glass pieces

4. now you have your glass pieces. they’re round, but dirty, so they need to be wiped clean. i used windex.

glass_pieces

5. into the kiln! warning: if you’re using a kiln, make sure the glass you’re using is fusable.

glass_kiln

6. fast forward to 4 1/2 to 5 hours later, and … JELLYFISH!

glass_jellyfish

7. last step – drill a hole in the top. you can use it for an ornament or hang it from somewhere. this little guy will be taking Herman P. Jelly’s spot of honor dangling from my rearview mirror.

the casualties:

1. slipping while trying to break glass along the score line. i added a heart to my band-aid to make it more festive.

casualty

2. spilled glass rods. they look like really pretty pick-up sticks, but are much trickier to pick up since they’re so delicate.

glass_rods

if you don’t have a kiln, call some make-your-own pottery places. they might have a dual glass/pottery kiln like the one i used, and will let you fire your own pieces for a fee.

katie

surprise!

On Tuesday evening, Dani and I had arranged a skype date for 6:30pm, just after I got home from work. She logged on to say hi, then disappeared.

skype

I started picking up the apartment while I was waiting. Ten minutes later:

KNOCK KNOCK.

dani_bradfordSpontaneously, Dani had decided to fly home for the holidays from Lilongwe. Three long, travel-filled days later, she arrived in Baltimore, bedraggled, exhausted, and excited.

I was flabbergasted.

katie_bradfordAfter dumbly staring for a few minutes, I retreated to a nearby chair. And then, suddenly, as if I’d been stung by a bee, I leapt up and we danced around for a few minutes in excitement.

katie_dani_bradfordIt’s going to be a good Christmas!

the senoritas (reunited again!)