It's getting colder outside, which means less and less people are out wandering around by GRAM and Rosa Parks Circle. But I'm stubborn, and don't quite feel like spending my lunches in the library yet. So off to the outdoors I went this afternoon.

I chowed down on some random things I'd stuffed in my bag this morning. Hooray for having all types of home made frozen things. I finished off my lunch with a tasty home-made peppermint pattie from Erin. I'm almost sad to see it gone. But my tastebuds were happy. So delicious!

Eventually it's going to be too cold to sit outside. There's going to be snow outside, and that may be beyond my tolerance.
Also, since it's Halloween and we don't have trick-or-treaters in our apartment, enjoy this Halloween-themed screenshot from Guild Wars. Its all I've got people. Sorry.

I got it in my head a few weeks ago that I'd make some Halloween-themed treats that Chris could take to work. I'd bring them to my work but I brought doughnuts once and no one would eat them...

Anyway, I whittled down the ambitious list of cookies, candies, and cupcakes to just the adorable chocolate mice recipe I found online. We all knew I wasn't going to make all that stuff in one day anyway. The Guild Wars Halloween event going on that I need to participate in!

I couldn't find any cookie crumbs or chocolate wafer cookies, so I bought a bag of chocolate oreos and destroyed it. I mixed up some baking chocolate, sour cream, cookie crumbs and let cool a bit in the fridge.
While the chocolate was cooling set up the mouse creation station. Sprinkles, licorice, powdered sugar, hell I even though I'd try to make some coconut-covered mice (side note: that did not work out well).
Once I had everything out I set to creating some little chocolate mice. They're about a tablespoon, rolled in chocolate cookie crumbs or powdered sugar, with almonds for ears. They're very rich and very adorable.
I'd doubled the batch so I ended up with quite a few, as you can see. I hope Chris's co-workers like them!

I also made some lasagna in the crockpot (which turned out better than expected) and some baked zucchini chips (similar to fried zucchini but healthier). So this Sunday ended up being another baking heavy day. Chris is convinced that I will benefit from a freezer chest. I can't wait till we have a house and I can store all kinds of stuff in it!

I didn't feel the greatest most of the day, so I didn't do much of anything Saturday. Although I did run around briefly in Guild Wars to do some Halloween quests with candy corn minions. So there! I did something. an odd thing. They have tasty breadsticks.

Sometimes the cardboard hotel is not enough entertainment.

Leki has a few different poses he repeats over and over and over. One of them is something Chris and lovingly call Batmaning.

What is Batmaning you ask? Why, it's anytime the cat strikes a pensive pose on the ledge of some kind. Not unlike something Batman does. A lot.
Leki's been doing it since he was a kitten, sitting on the edge of something and staring off in a distance. I like to pretend he's thinking deep thoughts, but really he's probably just spacing out.
His favorite place is the window ledge, of course.

Now I realize there's a whole internet meme of people hanging upside down (like bats) called batmanning, but meh. We were calling the cat's behavior that long before the meme showed up. Not changin' it.

Chris's co-workers know how to celebrate a birthday. He came home with stories of all the treats people brought in. I was seriously jealous. I've never worked anywhere that does that.

He also came home with a special package from the awesome Erin. Look at these things! Cake batter marshmallows, peppermint patties, and chocolate-dipped peanut butter krispes. I've only had the marshmallows so far (with fancy sprinkles!) and yum!

Even the cat is a fan. He especially likes the twist ties. They're shiny.

I'm going to have to savor these because seriously - anyone who can make candy is awesome.

Today is Chris's birthday! That means tasty chicken cordon bleu and chocolate cake!

Happy birthday!

Chris's birthday is tomorrow and that means I have a lot of work to do today. I don't have a gift, I don't have cake, I don't have anything!

But first things first. I made breakfast for both of us. I made Chris some cinnamon roll pancakes and I crafted a breakfast pita for myself. I'm really kind of addicted to these things now.
Then it was time to start baking. There's a cake that needs to be made and there's some pumpkin I need to use up. I wanted to make a cake from scratch instead of a box (which is what I always do) so I found a recipe online for a chocolate cake and chocolate frosting from scratch.

As you can see, even at 30 I'm not terribly deft with a knife and frosting. Still, it looks close enough to a cake that someone won't be confused. Fingers crossed that it's tasty tomorrow!
I also had some leftover canned pumpkin from last week's muffins, so I sent to making some delicious pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting for Chris to take to work. A part of me is second guessing that decision. I could eat that whole thing before it goes bad, right?
For some reason after a quick break from washing dishes and waiting for the pumpkin bars to cool, I decided  to make some Chinese steamed dumplings. So I started that as well.
After a few hours of chilling things, rolling dough, and then finally steaming, I had some dumplings to try. They're not bad, but they're not like the restaurant down the street. I'll have to continue my search for a tasty replica.

So I'm finally done at 4pm, which is just in time to start making dinner. Chris has assured me that there's no need and I'm certainly not hungry (I had to taste test those dumplings!) so hooray! Now for a nap...

Really though I should go shopping for a gift. But a nap sounds like such a good idea....

Ever since I stumbled across an article with a few upcoming movies I've had the indie flick Pig on my radar. I knew it would eventually be screened at the Wealthy Theatre for their Thriller Chiller Film Festival so it was only a matter of time before a schedule was out and I knew which day they'd be screening it. 
So we headed down to Wealthy Theatre after enjoying a lovely stroll outside and enjoying a quick bite to eat. 

There were a few people hanging out in the lobby when we got there and we even caught a fleeting glimpse of one of Chris's co-workers Dave, who is working on his own short film The Forever People.

All in all the movie was good; I really liked it. Of course, you can't really talk a whole lot about what's a movie like this without giving away the movie. So just trust me when I say it was good, and watch the trailer at their site. 

The movie's producer (Mark Stolaroff) was in from LA and answered any questions the audience had. He also talked a little bit about the screening process and how they got to where they are on some of the elements used in the film. I'm glad we saw it. You should check out some of the trailers and go see if it plays in a theater near you. 

Sometimes no matter where I go the cat finds me. It's like he's stalking me for cuddles. Or at the very least trying to prevent me from reading anything. Stop getting in-between whatever I'm reading and my line of sight! Wicked cat...

Although this sad, kitty-less photo is a snapshot of the last of it. Chinese food, you will be missed.

Day 3 so far with the Chinese food leftovers. There's still more in the fridge.


It's been a long day...

Thank you, trusty Leki, for guarding my leftover Chinese food while I reheat some dumplings.

Even though I haven a bunch of food leftover from all the cooking this weekend, nothing helps take the edge off a stressful work day quite like Chinese food. And since Chris is not a fan, it's all for me. Bonus!

Looking at this photo is kind of making me crave those dumplings. Now I'm hungry again...

I started baking late yesterday, so I didn't have a chance to get the bug out of my system. That means lots of kitchen work today.

Once I made a delicious breakfast pita with fresh veggies and feta, modified from this recipe, I set the bread machine to work it's magic and knead some pizza dough.
I moved on to crafting a delicious and colorful-looking cookie - Colorful Spiral Cookies. The awesome Meghann (whatakuriosgirl) sent me a link to this recipe and I had to make it. (not unlike the tasty Cinnamon Roll Pancakes recipe she sent me last month - this girl has good taste.)

As you can see from the above photo, I ended up with a LOT of extra dough once I trimmed it. I think I will a little over board.
Still, I ended up with a colorful log of strawberry and vanilla swirls, coated in sprinkles. I could see I had air pockets in the cookie roll but the dough was too sticky (probably because the apartment is too warm) to try to unroll and re-roll. 

I also made a extra roll with all the trimmings. It wont be pretty or swirly, but it's still cookie dough. No reason to waste it!
The raisins I started yesterday were done as well. So I pulled those out of the dehydrator and put those in storage for snacking. 

So now I'm waiting for the cookie dough to chill enough to harden and slice. I'm also debating trying to make these Chinese Steamed Dumplings. I have the ingredients..but do I want to work with another batch of dough...hmm...

Update: I didn't make the dumplings but I did slice up the sprinkle log and made cookies. Lots of cookies. 

A few weeks ago a co-worker brought me her delicious pumpkin muffins, stuffed with tasty chocolate morsels. It was amazing.

See, I've had pumpkin pie. Traditionally that's what we would have as a family for my father's birthday in early October. And I love pumpkin pie. Strangely, I have not had many other things crafted with this tastiness.

Friday she brought me her tasty recipe, so this afternoon I set to making a batch.

I now have plenty of mini and regular size pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Since Chris is not a fan of pumpkin things, there's more for me!

If you're interested, I put the recipe on google docs. Enjoy!

No matter what your opinion on Occupy Wall Street, you can't deny that it isn't growing.

Here's just one of the signs I've seen posted in downtown Grand Rapids, which also has an occupy movement: Occupy Grand Rapids

Two fuzzy monsters just taking a break.

Chris is off this week, so he took advantage of free time and cleaned up the apartment.

When i got home after work, I promptly littered the living room with toys for the ferret.

I blogged for this blog today...

When I see grasshoppers, I think giant empty cans of Folger's coffee (the metal ones with a thin plastic lid) and the strange faint aroma of coffee.

Why, you ask?

My Grandparents loved coffee. Well,my grandfather did. At least it seemed that way as a kid. So there was always a steady supply of metal coffee tins to run about and collect critters in. Specifically, insects. (I learned later that while I had pet mice as a kid at home, to a man in the country they are no friend.)

As a kid my little brother and I would zig zag around in their backyard. They lived in the country and while they themselves were not farmers, they were always surrounded by their neighbor's crops which provided a healthy supply new things to investigate.

Among the tall grass and cornfields were grasshoppers. Tons of them. So every time we visited my little brother and I were out there scooping them up in the coffee tins and tossing in handfuls of grass and sticks, listening to the poor things bounce around trying to get free. I have no doubt the strange-smelling tin barrels were a frightening experience.

In a day or two, depending on how long we were staying, my little brother and I would release the grasshoppers and start anew the next visit.

And that is why grasshoppers make me think of coffee.

Warm fall weather, sunshine, and a beautiful park. Who wouldn't want to take an afternoon stroll?

...not including those other times that there's a fuzzy orange butt in my face....

Happy birthday Dad! 

I hope you got to do whatever you want today, including littering the counter with newspapers!

Always a fun roller-coaster ride for your feet!

Because right now, it's looking like it should be Monday.

He thinks he's so sneaky.

More please!

My parents and little brother came out to spend the day in Grand Rapids, celebrate a bunch of our birthday's at once (September and October are busy birthday months) and check out Artprize.

Artprize was...disappointing. There are a lot more businesses getting in on the action, as well as charities and other non-profits peddling their respective causes.

I don't have a problem with commercial art or non-profits asking for donations. I do have a problem with them being given venue space in what is supposed to be a fine arts event. I'm at Artprize to enjoy the art, maybe catch a bite to eat, and enjoy downtown. I'm not at Artprize to choose your bank (since you're sponsoring a kitschy photo booth in the hopes that I'll switch from a competitor) or decide that I want to help all the orphans in the world.

Since the venue chooses what to display, I suspect a lot of venues are just happy to loan space to whoever will drive traffic into their establishment. And that's a problem. (At least for me. Maybe other people are fine with it.) They should have more rules in place to restrict the entries like WMU flying a giant banner of horses which happens to be their mascot. You can't tell me that's not an advertisement for the college.
There was a nice ustream critical discourse on the Top 10 entries that is worth watching at least part of. And there's an opinion piece in The Rapidian that has some suggestions on how to improve the event in the future.

This is not to say the entire event is a waste of time and chock-full of glorified lawn ornaments - no. There are some great pieces. One of my favorite so far has been Lady of the Dance, which is entirely sculpted. There is some awesome stitching detail up the side of the woman's shirt that you can't see in photos.

Since I work downtown I have plenty of time over the next week and a half to check out some of additional venues I did not see over the weekend. I'm sure there are other awesome entries just off the beaten path.

Chris has some pretty good thoughts on Artprize as well.