Quick Review of Gravity + Link to Vidcast Discussion

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Movies, Podcast, Too Long For Twitter

 

I saw Gravity in IMAX 3D specifically for a Google Hangout with friends where we planned to geek out on it and other stuff. I highly recommend it in that format if you can swing the funds. I have been (I know, I know, I brought it on myself.) spinny and nauseous since about 5 minutes into the trailers (that was hours ago. *burp*) with a migraine bearing down, but it’s totally worth it. If you can’t swing the funds, please, see it on the big screen however you can. I think it really matters on this one. 

The giant wall of blackness and silence in the theaters as you feel like you sit amongst the stars. I caught myself at one exciting moment having to force my hands to stay down, so strong was my urge to reach for hands of the actors as they swung around in space, desperately seeking purchase. The movie immediately immerses you into what truly is (as expected) a breath-taking movie with a beautiful story.

Seriously, beautiful. There’s no feel of a “Wouldn’t that be cool visually? Yeah, let’s write a script to explain THAT.” I just hadn’t heard about the emotional punches to the throat, other than those expected by knowing the premise from the trailer. But, WOW. I finally like Clooney again and Bullock outdoes anything I think I’ve ever seen her in. And I’ve seen a lot of them (fan girl). She is amazing in what must have been a solitary and physically taxing role, and her face frequently made me forget that behind her there were sights of Earth and space that should have held my attention over anything else. 

Take tissues – you have been warned. Your mileage may vary, but this movie was heartbreaking for me and I want no bitchin’ later. 

Per minute entertainment may have been pricier for the IMAX 3D price tag since it’s only 90-ish minutes, but we also saw the Ender’s Game trailer, standard, (which is coming out on our 10th anniversary!)
AND
The Hobbit:2 trailer (in 3D) with a December release date. And I don’t feel cheated either. I’m just super glad the Furlough ended so we could finally expend the funds to see it. Don’t get me started on the furlough… 😉

If you’d like to hear a lengthy discussion, where Chooch, some friends and I attempt a Spoiler-Free(-ish) chat, followed by a Spoiler-Rich segment, check out the following deets:

WARNING: I say attempt, because we’re not vetting each phrase and sometimes we realize too late that we’re in Spoiler-Rich territory. No bitching, you’ve been warned.

For the vidcast, you can catch it now at the SpecFicMedia YouTube channel.

If you’re audio ‘cast only, then there will be a wait as the audio gets spiffied up for posting, but you can grab previous episodes (this was number 10) at the site, in iTunes or whatever witchcraft you use for your RSS goodness.

To the ER! Again? Ehh…

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Health

Another month, another ER trip. Worried because ankle is still excruciating after sprain last month and YES, I know I overdid it. That’s part of the price of going to CA. Want to spend ALL the time with everyone. Also, I suspected some sort of sinus infection/bronchitis. All is well, home now. Love the staff at Inova Loudoun hospital. Ankle still not broken despite my best attempts, lulz. Osteo dude next week with a dash of antibiotics and a trip to an ENT for my sinus issues. Thank Glob for good insurance! And thank Glob for Chooch for providing it!

It’s a beautiful, warm-ish winter day in Virginia and I’m tucked back in bed with my flannel Tink jammies. Hubby is hard at work on a day job project by my side. Smiling as I view my friends’ photos in Facebook at all the love there, and must send blessings and protective vibes to ALL! Even if you think such things are fufu dust, you are still under my protection! MUAHAHA, you can’t stop me!

Miiiiiiiiissing our sons and hoping their weekends rock! xoxoxo Brush your teeth *muah* No texting at the table (((hugs))) Love you!

And yes, pain killers. In case you were wondering. Vicodin.

Weird revelation? This was the first medical emergency thing that I didn’t pray to and focus on my Mom. Even weirder? Tomorrow is the 6th anniversary of her death. Don’t know how I feel about either part.  That I didn’t reach out for her energy or that I was avoiding the acknowledging the anniversary.

It’s healthy, right? Because it feels disloyal.

Recuperating with Finn and Jake. A fave eppy: I Remember You. Brings a tear to my eye hole, it does.

Later, mang.

All Hail the Cinnamon Distraction

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Family, Household

Like nearly all humans, I have a conflicted relationship with my family. They build me up, they break me down, yadda, yadda, yadda. But in times of desperation, when reaching for truth, they come through with the giggle making.

I give to you the word for word accounting of an exchange in Facebook with my sons and siblings regarding a recent discovery. Names changed to protect my family from our own silliness.

Note: If you aren’t familiar with the Cinnamon Challenge, search it out on Youtube. I won’t link here because I will not be held responsible for copycats. Swallow at your own peril.

…That’s what she said.

Also, I’ve thrown the cinnamon away. I will not cook with something that was that close to airborne fecal contaminants.

On to the discussion surrounding this photo:

  • <Me>: “My sons have some explaining to do. I’ve been looking for this for over a month, only to find it in their bathroom cabinet. (Naughty Bear)? (LT)? Who wants to confess to this one? Should I search Youtube for evidence? Mommeh no likey.<Longtime Family Friend/More Like a Sister> likes this.
  • <Naughty Bear>: Was not me, <LT> kept trying to get me to eat a spoonful. I’ll rat him out idc.
    • <My Sister/Their Aunt> likes this.
  • <LT>: Uhh.. how did that get there…?
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <LT>: It was <His cousin, Roboto Dude>’s idea!
  • <My Bro (and RD’s Dad)>: <RD> said nay!!!!!!!
  • <LT>: Alright, fine. It was my idea. But <RD> did it with me!
  • <My Bro>: AHA!!! He had already left for school when I posted that…AHA again I say!!!
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <My Sister>: This picture and entire thread crack me up. God I love my family ♥
  • <Me>: I love my kids and family. I decree there shall be no punishment! The entertainment value more than suffices for the loss of half a gigantic bottle of cinnamon.
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <Me>: Wait, you did it? Pix or it didn’t happen.
  • <My Sister, misunderstanding>: Who me? Psssh, yeah right, I’m not nearly that brilliant. I just liked your decree.
  • <My Bro>: Still, that stuff isn’t cheap. kids these days need to be taught that cinnamon does not grow on trees!!!
    • <I> like this.
  • <My Sister>:  Hahahahahaha!!!!! Again, I love my family!

Double Rainbow Cake Guide and Party Fun

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Dessert Hacks, ExperiMENTAL, Friends

Here are photos we took from the actual birthday party for Chad and Jett. The frosting is a new recipe that I found, since the birthday girl wanted a cherry frosting. Having never had it, but instantly loving the thought I hunted a promising recipe down, and think it turned out pretty tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes yellow cake mix
  • Eggs, oil and water as required by mix
  • Gel food color
  • 2 10″ round pans
  • Parchment paper or foil circles cut for the bottoms of the pan
  • Pam spray
  • 12 glasses
  • 12 spoons
  • Rubber spatula
  • Mixer
  • Cherry frosting
  • Chocolate frosting
  • Large strawberries, for structural integrity

I used the 12 glasses, six for each batch of batter, because I wanted to try and make sure I had similar amounts and similar colors mixed in the two cakes. I’m very glad I did this, as I think it made a difference in the final result.

One issue I had was the shape of the cakes. Typically, when a cake rises up in the center as these did, you slice off the offending bump to make it even for frosting. I dreaded doing this and losing any of the color I worked so hard for, so decided to use some internal supports. Having been informed that chocolate frosting would be a suitable replacement if I was unable to make the cherry frosting happen, and that strawberries are a favorite fruit, I decided to go for broke.

The outside of the cake is frosted with the cherry frosting, but the layer between the two cakes is frosted with a homemade chocolate frosting with large-ish strawberries around the edge to provide the support needed to make the cake level and prevent it from splitting in half. Yes, it’s somewhat absurd, but I planned on laying the slices on their sides so the middle layer could be dodged if undesired. Happily, I think the birthday girl liked it, and it probably made the cake better for Chad since he’s a chocolate fan. I just wish I could have found cherries large enough to do the job, for flavor consistency across the cake.

I was concerned about the structure since the strawberries kept wanting to slide out through the frosting, but they behaved in the fridge while we went out to lunch. It was a great time, as Jett’s parents, Jett and Chad themselves and Paulette joined Chooch and I. We headed back to our place to relax, chat, and later have cake.

After the cutting and eating, the cake was deemed extremely sweet. No big surprise there, but the squeal of joy from Jett during the cutting made it WELL worth all the effort. Everyone enjoyed the spectacle of it and the taste was pretty darned good, too.

Thanks to Cheryl and Bob for letting us host the party, and for the lovely flowers and lunch! You are far too kind, and we’ve loved every visit with you guys.

Happy Birthday to Jett and Chad! It’s an absolute blessing to count you as friends! And that Scott Pilgrim viewing must happen SOON!

ExperiMENTAL Foods: Double Rainbow Cake Test

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Dessert Hacks, ExperiMENTAL, Firsts

So, I’m having fun playing with desserts. I’m finding that people love when I show up with some tasty new variation on an old dessert, but are also happy when I leave and make me take it with me. Conversely, I’m trying to leave the sweet temptations behind and they frequently end up in the garbage. I have no problems with this, as I’d rather it go to the landfill then attach to my ass.

Besides playing with variations of cheesecake flavors and cake frostings, I’ve been attempting to bake vegan and also more things from scratch, I became fascinated with the Cherpumple phenomenon which resulted in customized Pi-Cakes. I fell in love with friend Andrea’s Dessert Enchiladas to the point that if her husband doesn’t treat her right I’m ready to propose on the spot.

The newest thing I’ve been working on is for my dear friend Jett Micheyl’s birthday. A month ago, she tweeted this:

I want this cake for my birthday -> http://trunc.it/dy7lw
The link went to this insane creation:

You guys should know by now that I loves me a challenge! The cake in the photo has one layer with colors in rainbow order, and the other layer is in reverse order. Well, I decided to do both layers in rainbow order so I could call it the Double Rainbow Cake. (Title inspired by the Double Rainbow hippie dude videos.)

And so began the testing…
Last weekend I did two test cakes, because I wanted to test my procedure and also decide which cake mix to go with. Yes, I cheated and used cake mix. There were already too many variables in play, and I wanted to ensure that the cake would actually taste GOOD.

For the test, I tried a white cake mix and a yellow cake mix, since I found conflicting information on the internet on which provided a better looking end result. I also used a different technique in that for the white cake mix I evenly divided the batter across the six glasses, and with the yellow cake mix I used a graduated amount for each color. Red being the outside color needed more batter, violet being the inside color needed less batter. I varied the amounts based on location in the classic “ROY G. BIV” rainbow order between red and violet.

It’s pretty easy to tell that the white cake mix created more pastel colors, which were beautiful. But Jett is more vibrant than that, so I went with the yellow cake mix base and got much brighter colors. The trick will be getting the violet without making it quite so dark. I also preferred the result with the graduated amounts so decided it was worth the extra trouble. The flavor was remarkably similar, with the white being MUCH drier than the yellow. We decided yellow was the way to go for both vibrancy and moistness.

These photos are from the tests I did, using 1 box of cake mix in each 10″ cake pan. I intended that solely for the test, but decide to go ahead with the size for the final cake.

Check this space tomorrow for the final cake results.

***************EDIT******************
I’m including the link to the “Double Rainbow Cake Guide”.

World Nutella Day: The Reckoning

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Chooch, Cooking, Dessert Hacks, ExperiMENTAL, Friends

Events were such that we actually cracked open the Nutella tub on Friday night. I baked some yummy vegan brownies (Thanks, Andrea!) to take to Chooch‘s band practice. (He’s the super sexy bassist for Ditched By Kate, dontchaknow!) While I’ve had these brownies before, I’d never made them so I took the Nutella as insurance against failure. Sure, Nutella isn’t vegan, but I didn’t spread it on the brownies. Rather I just set it beside the brownies for folks to use if they liked. Needless to say, the pan was empty before we left for home and the Nutella was a hit.

Too few hours later, World Nutella Day had officially started so I broke my fast with Bloom bakery croissants that I lightly toasted in the oven. I spread Nutella on top and it was crispy, gooey and heavenly. I had hoped to make crepes or waffles, but just didn’t have time during this super-full weekend.

Lunch found us at a dear friend Grailwolf’s birthday party at Hard Times Cafe somewhere in Maryland (Chooch drove). I brought along my trusty tub of Nutella and cookies to set out for folks to enjoy. Lorna Doone’s were my favorite with Nutella, but the oatmeal chocolate chip and chocolate graham crackers were also enjoyed. It seems the hands down favorite was the Nilla Wafers, especially in the “Reverse Oreo” configuration that Andrea invented – Nutella sandwiched between two wafers.

At dinner (and after a tasty cocktail), I felt a bit more adventurous and decided to push the envelope of my pledge to incorporate Nutella into every meal. Pre-dinner nosh included blue tortilla chips, and being a lover of pretzel or potato chips with chocolate I couldn’t resist. It was pretty good, but nothing I’d specifically seek out. I have a feeling that Nutella covered pretzels would be much better and will be testing that theory at a later date.

During dinner itself, I mixed a small amount of Nutella in with fettuccine noodles. The noodles were un-sauced, and I’d enjoyed chocolate pasta in the past. It’s a bit odd, but as another carbohydrate-Nutella-delivery-system it served well.

I then pushed beyond the limits of decorum by spreading Nutella on garlic seasoned broccoli. Judge me all you like, but I was not alone in thinking it was not unpleasantly interesting.

I redeemed myself at dessert, having prepared a cupcake bar of sorts. Chocolate cupcakes, which I hollowed out the top for filling with a small variety – cherry preserves, Nutella (natch), banana slices, chocolate frosting and a last minute addition of peanut butter.  Several iterations were created, but my very favorite was a smidge of Nutella on a banana slice inside a cupcake with a thin layer of Nutella on top.

I’d say the day was a success, except that I got on the scales this morning and am dealing with a Reckoning of another sort.

Nutella Day (Don’t Judge Me)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Weight Loss

I love Nutella. It’s a recent favorite, as I first tasted the insanely delicious chocolate and hazlenut spread about 6 or 7 years ago. If you haven’t tried it, think peanut butter, but sweeter and deeply chocolatey. In fact, it’s typically stocked next to peanut butter in the grocery store. It’s also pretty close calorie and fat-wise, but the sugar is much higher in Nutella than in peanut butter.

I occasionally buy a jar, but it’s a dangerous purchase since I’m the only one that likes it. Because I’m focusing on eating healthier I haven’t had it for awhile, and the craving has grown to obsession. Did I say obsession? I meant to say OBSESSION.

I’ve decided the only solution to purge this frantic desire is to have a Nutella free-for-all. One day where I can have as much Nutella as I want until I’m sickened at the sight of it. What? It could happen.

I’ve chosen this Saturday since my regular weigh-in day is Friday. That allows almost a week to undo all the damage a 20 ton vat of Nutella will do to my weight loss efforts.

I was debating writing this post in order to proclaim Saturday, February 5th as Viv’s Nutella Day and invite folks to indulge as I am. But I hesitated because big girls don’t like to trumpet their fatty-fatty-bo-batty indulgences. On a lark, I did a search and discovered that there is already an established Nutella Day. In fact, the 5th World Nutella Day is … wait for it … Saturday, February 5th! The same day I’m doing mine! How could I not post and encourage folks to join me?

So if you’re interested in this foolishness, you may enjoy the links I’m providing below:

World Nutella Day Website – includes links to 400 Nutella recipes and information.

World Nutella Day Twitter Account

World Nutella Day Facebook Page

Let me know in the comments if you’ll be indulging in any way on Saturday, as I’m curious to see who else is a fan of the sticky, dark deliciousness that *is* Nutella.

Now, does anyone know where I can find a 20 ton vat of Nutella?

Baking Your Own Cherpumple (or PiCake)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Dessert Hacks, ExperiMENTAL

I wish I’d thought to post this before Thanksgiving, as it seems a lot of folks took the annual American day of unrestrained gluttony as justification for baking their own cherpumple.  While I did not make a full cherpumple for Thanksgiving, I did make two PiCakes (term coined by my husband for the individual cherpumple-like layers). One was the pumpkin pie/spice cake layer, (we’ve nicknamed Spumpkin) and the other was the pecan pie/chocolate cake layer which we’ve nicknamed ChocoCan (pronounced like Chaka Khan).

I’ve previously baked two full cherpumples and 2 PiCakes, starting back in August. I had already forgotten the process I developed through trial and error, so am documenting them here for myself and anyone else that wants to give them a try. I considered taking pictures and posting them also, but I just don’t think they’re necessary as I’ve embedded creator Charles Phoenix’s video instructions at the bottom of this post. It’s the guidance I used to bake mine and while it’s fairly general, it take the mystery out of the process in a humorous way.

Ingredients for full traditional cherpumple recipe:

  • 3 frozen pies – apple, cherry and pumpkin;
  • 3 cake mixes – yellow, white and spice;
  • Ingredients specified on cake mix boxes (you will be following the box directions for the cake batter);
  • Canned frosting – cream cheese (see recommendations below).

My recommendations:

  • 10″ cake pan works perfectly, I prefer the Wilton aluminum pan.
  • Substitution of vanilla for cream cheese frosting, based on the stickiness and unforgiving texture. It may be different with other brands, but the stuff I had resulted in a really rough looking finished product. Swapping the vanilla gave a much nicer-looking cake. The flavor change didn’t matter to me since I don’t eat the frosting, I dive into the layers.
  • Whipped cream for the Spumpkin (Spice cake/pumpkin pie) PiCake. It’s heavenly, but then that’s my favorite topping for both pumpkin pie and spice cake, separately.

Ingredients for PiCake layers are essentially the same as above, except you choose the flavor combinations you want to try. For instance, the ChocoCan PiCake is chocolate cake mix with pecan pie and chocolate frosting.

I’m embedding the slideshow of photos of the cherpumples and PiCakes I’ve baked. If you’ll notice, the first cherpumple (better seen in the video at the end of my slideshow) is not nearly as attractive as the second one. This is for two reasons: One I was short on time so used an 8, 9 and 10 inch pans to bake all at once and ended up with a layered effect. I also used the cream cheese frosting which was unforgiving and nearly transparent. The second and subsequent cakes have been MUCH more attractive.

Here are the steps I take to ensure the best possible end result:

  • Bake or thaw the pies. They will not thaw inside the cake if you don’t, and your cake batter will not cook if you have a cold or frozen pie inside. Raw cake batter is not the goal here since you need the cake structure to support the ooey-gooey pie.
  • Bring the pies to room temperature before starting. You don’t want them hot since you’ll be using your hands to drop them into the cake. I disliked even using slightly warm pie because the whole thing is much more fragile.
  • Set oven temperature to 325 regardless of cake box instructions. Anything higher and you risk undercooked batter or burned cake in trying to get the batter fully baked.
  • Now is the time for putting a sheet of aluminum on the bottom of the oven to catch any overflow. It can happen.
  • Use a 10″ cake pan. It’s the perfect size for the pie, even if one of larger than average. It also allows for all the cake batter to be used.
  • Spray generously with cooking spray.
  • Cut a parchment circle for the cake pan interior bottom. The ease in removing the cake is COMPLETELY worth the effort of this step. Yes, it’s easier to line with aluminum, but my results were tremendously better with the parchment.
  • Spray again with cooking spray. Yes, it’s overkill. You’re welcome.
  • Mix the cake batter according to package directions.
  • Carefully break off the crust around the edge of the pie, but don’t break the top or bottom crust! This step is optional, but preferred. It makes it easier to cover the pie with batter and I just like it better taste-wise.
  • Pour most into the bottom of the pan, reserving about a third for covering the pie after you drop it in.
  • Drop pie and smooth remaining batter of the top, making sure to “seal” the pie in batter.
  • It will obviously take longer to bake than a regular cake. I recommend setting the timer for 45 minutes and doing the standard toothpick test. It’s a bit tricky since you don’t want to go into the pie and distort the results. It usually takes about an hour for it to bake in my oven. Expect it to take even longer if you have more than one layer baking in the oven. The first cherpumple I made, I had all three in there and I do not recommend doing this.
  • I recommend running a knife along the inside of the pan after it comes out of the oven. If there is any cake batter overhanging the cake pan edge at all, you’ll have an easier time when it first comes out than after it cools and hardens.
  • Wait 20 minutes before removing from pan instead of 10. The cake is a bit more fragile with the essentially liquid core.
  • As always, allow cake to fully cool before frosting.

Cherpumples I Have Made


Charles Phoenix Video Instructions

Thanksgiving Eve Thoughts

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Chooch, Cooking, Dessert Hacks, Friends, Health, No Whining, Our Kids

Like kajillions of other folks, I’ll be working in the kitchen today for more than just normal meal preparation. With Thanksgiving already upon us and day two of brain pain, I’m glad that I only have minimal work to do.

I’m not hosting dinner, so we’re only bringing a few sides and two desserts. And while I’m grateful for this lighter load, I’m even more grateful for the company we’ll be in tomorrow.

This year, my baking list includes two PiCakes (PiCakes = term my husband coined describing stand-alone cherpumple inspired layers). I won’t be stacking them because I want to use different frostings on them. The ChocoCan PiCake (Chocolate cake and pecan pie) will have chocolate frosting and the Spumpkin PiCake (Spice cake and pumpkin pie) will likely have vanilla. I haven’t decided yet, as I’m considering leaving it unfrosted for topping by the slice with whipped cream, in traditional pumpkin pie/Thanksgiving manner.

I’ll also be baking a sweet potato casserole. I’d intended on a healthier recipe, but am having second thoughts as I hate to serve an untested recipe at Thanksgiving. I suppose this is the ideal venue for it, as the diners are an adventurous sort and Lord knows there will be plenty of other tasty food to eat if it’s not as tasty as I hope.

Besides beer and wine, we’re also bringing a simple green salad. I’m hoping to find and whip up a yummy mustard vinaigrette to go along with it. I fell in love with it at the Dogfish Head restaurant a few weeks ago and want some of my own. If you have a tried and true recipe that you want to share, please let me know in the comments!

In the morning, Chooch and I will do the annual Turkey Trot 5k race. It’s the third year we’ve been registered, but we had to skip it last year because of my then new-and-unknown illness. Since I stopped waiting around to get better, I’ve been “training” for it for months. Knee and back problems have hindered me of late so I’m not where I’d hoped to be, but I’m still thrilled to be able to do it. Just crossing my fingers that this downgraded migraine will subside and let me actually run it.

As has been the case for the last four Thanksgivings, Mom is heavily on my mind. We used to bake together in preparation for Thanksgiving and knowing that another year is passing without her is not an easy one to wrap my mind around. Hell, as recently as last week, I had to correct myself when I said “… my parent’s house…”.  On the one hand, I know I need to find out how to accept on a subconscious level that she’s gone. On the other hand, I just don’t want to. It’s hard to give up the comforting feeling of unconditional love from knowing that there’s this person out there that loved you before you had a name or even took your first breath. She loved me at just the thought of my existence, and that’s a heady feeling. I’ll be grateful for her for the rest of my life and refuse to let sadness take the day. I instead choose to celebrate her and all that her life meant to others. <3 Pocket Mom!

In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to share some of the things I’m grateful for on this day:
~ That my family is healthy and happy, in spite of the bumps on our paths. I love them all, for their perfections and their flaws.
~ The amazing friends I’ve somehow lucked into finding. Whether its my friend of 22 years or friends I’ve made this year, I can’t help but reflect that this is one of the richest times in my life. I’m inspired, challenged and emboldened by them all.
~ Three handsome boys that break my heart from longing to see them and heal it just by existing. Regardless of the distance, they are the spring in my step and I can’t imagine my life without them in it.
~ My husband, for all that he is and wants to be. I pledge my turtle love. Forever.

Dear Reader, know that whether you are traveling or staying at home, I heap blessings upon you for a safe and happy holiday.

Harry Potter Movie Marathon

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Books, Chooch, Cooking, Exercise, Friends, Health, Movies

Late Friday night, dear friend Jett Micheyl arrived so we could rise early and begin our long planned Harry Potter Marathon in preparation for the release of the seventh installment in the movie series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.

Although it was just the three of us (including Chooch, of course), Jett began long ago planning out theme foods for the weekend. Much to the doom of my health plan, she succeeded in making adorable and delicious sugar mice and horrifically addictive pumpkin pasties. And by horrific, I mean the screams coming from my bathroom scales when I stepped on them this morning. The work she put into them was richly paid off as both her desserts were gorgeous and delicious.

My contribution was a batch of chocolate frogs and pumpkin juice (which Jett ended up doing most of the work on), as well as regular meals. I’ll be honest when I say that I was unfamiliar with all but the chocolate frogs before settling in on Saturday morning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. But we literally squealed with delight when we saw the sugar mice being chomped on by Harry and Ron in the first movie. Later in the weekend, when Jett dropped a chocolate frog she was eating, I couldn’t resist saying “What a shame! They’ve only got one good jump in them.” And I imagined that every time they sat with the orange colored beverages in front of them that it was pumpkin juice. In truth, I’m already eyeing some recipes for butterbeer in preparation of a sudsy beverage on movie launch. If anyone has a recipe they like for it, please link to it in the comments.

Fear not for our health, dear readers, for we planned to counter all this gastronomic delight with a healthful jaunt. We went for a brisk hour-long walk in my neighborhood, on a route I had long wanted to share with her. We braved dogs off leashes and an aromatic gift from Kaylee. We prevailed against these hazards and immediately settled back into the movie marathon, refreshed and ready for the remaining adventures of Harry and his posse.

Having only read the last few books only once each at the time of their releases, I find that I’m really missing that world. The movies are fantastic and truly enjoyable. Particularly in watching the kids grow up in a seeming fast forward effect when watching them all back-to-back. But there is simply no way to pack all the charm and depth of the books into the movies. This is proven by the nearly unanimous acceptance of us devoted Harry Potter fans of the seventh book being broken up into two parts. After all, the one continuing complaint since the movie franchise started up was that the movies were too short and left too much unseen.

I will say that thanks to the tantalizing draw of TuacaCon, created, planned and executed by P.G. Holyfield (with help from Chooch, Rich Sigfrit and others), I understandably missed parts of the movies. I’m tempted to watch them all over again, before the movie is released in theaters on Friday. I would feel that was obsessive if not for the fact that Jett read the entire series TWICE since we started our planning. Time is short this week, with two exams and much work to be done. If only I had a time turner. *sigh*

Judge us all you like, but we had a truly magical time geeking out to our approximately 16 hours of immersion into Harry Potter’s world. And I can’t wait for more!