Saturday, November 24, 2012

*Trying On Glasses, Virtually

Me trying out GlassesUSA.com's virtual mirror
I was supposed to start wearing eyeglasses when I was a freshman in high school. I was worried about breaking them and not sure how they'd look on me, so I opted for contacts instead. Wearing them bothered me and I had trouble getting them in, so that lasted for about a week before I gave up. I made it through the rest of school and the next several years without wearing glasses by sitting up front and ignoring the fuzziness, even though I'd sometimes get a headache when I had to read a lot.

My eyesight finally got bad enough that I had to address it in the past few years. First, when I worked for the prison, we had to shoot a pistol and rifle qualification every year and I went from qualifying as an expert to barely passing it. One of the instructors even told me it seemed like I couldn't see the target well at a distance and recommended getting some prescription eyeglasses. I put it off for a bit longer and finally went to the eye doctor once I was getting headaches from reading on the internet and trying to write on the computer, and because it was getting hard to read street signs when I drove.

I'm still pretty vain though, so I opted for contacts again. I did a little better with them, but there are times that glasses are just more convenient and certain activities that it's not good to wear contacts for. My optometrist recommended getting at least one pair of glasses as a backup and they've come in really handle for dry and windy days when the contacts bother me and for days I swim and don't want to keep changing them between driving, swimming, and showering.

There are so many different styles of glasses frames available these days that I don't have to worry about fashion anymore. There are all sort of styles and colors available that will match any sort of style and fit any face shape, even some that work with my chubby cheeks and retro/punk fashion sense.

There is even a virtual mirror online  at GlassesUSA.com that you can try out to see how different frames would look on you, and there's a share feature so you can send it to your friends and get their opinions on them. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post, below the virtual mirror, for GlassesUSA discount codes just for our readers.


STOREWIDE DISCOUNTS FOR MAMARANTS READERS!!
- Take 15% off + get free shipping on your entire order (orders over $50). Code: FS15
- Take 10% off any order of prescription glasses. Code: Blog10

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Twinkie Recipe - Save the Twinkies!


I'll go ahead and admit that I've never been a big fan of Twinkies, but many people love them. With the announced closing of Hostess foods, it appears that Twinkies may be gone forever and some stores have already sold out of them as people have started craving Twinkies like WOody Harrellson in Zombieland.

If you've just gotta have a Twinkie now or in the future, you may want to bookmark this homemade Twinkie recipe or print it out for further reference.

Recipe: Twinkies
Ingredients
  • Non-stick spray
  • 4 egg whites
  • One 16-ounce box golden pound cake mix
  • 2/3 cup water

  • Filling
  • 2 teaspoons very hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups marshmallow creme (one 7-ounce jar)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preparation
You will need a spice bottle, approximately the size of a Twinkie, ten 12 x 14 -inch pieces of aluminum foil, a cake decorator or pastry bag, and a chopstick.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Fold each piece of aluminum foil in half twice. Wrap the folded foil around the spice bottle to create a mold. Leave the top of the mold open for pouring in the batter. Make 10 of these molds and arrange them on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan. Grease the inside of each mold with a light coating of non-stick spray.
Disregard the directions on the box of cake mix. Instead, beat the egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl combine cake mix with water and beat until thoroughly blended (about 2 minutes). Fold egg whites into the cake batter and slowly combine until completely mixed.
Pour the batter into the molds, filling each one about 3/4 of an inch. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
For the filling, combine salt with the hot water in a small bowl and stir until salt is dissolved. Let this mixture cool.
Combine the marshmallow creme, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and mix well with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy.
Add the salt solution to the filling mixture and combine.
When the cakes are done and cooled, use a skewer or chopstick to make three holes in the bottom of each one. Move the stick around inside of each cake to create space for the filling.
Using a cake decorator or pastry bag, inject each cake with filling through all three holes.
Serving Size
Serves 10

Monday, November 12, 2012

On My Way to Becoming a Crazy Cat Lady

Looking outside my window right now, there are 2 feral cats asleep on the rails around my back porch. We also have one inside kitty - she's hanging out on top of out entertainment center, her normal place to hide from the dogs. I'm not a cat person and have never been and neither is my husband, so how did this happen?

It started several years ago. One of our neighbors got several cats and, for some reason, decided to just let them roam the neighborhood. I don't know if this is because of the neighborhood-wide mouse infestation that happened a few years ago or if he originally meant to keep them inside, but he ended up not feeding or caring for them at all and they were mostly living in the woods on the edge of the neighborhood.

We'd see two of them in the yard on occasion and they'd usually run when we got near, although my husband did mistakenly bring the gray cat in once, mistakenly thinking it was out cat and she'd gotten out. For the past couple weeks, a large black cat has been hanging out on the porch, possibly because there are a few warm nooks to sleep in and stray pieces of dog food to eat. I noticed it and started leaving out a bowl of cat food and a bowl of water, and now it's living here for real. I've noticed the gray cat out there a few times as well, so I guess it's moved in too.

From the sound of it, they've been getting under the house at night to stay warm. We can't let them do that because they'll tear up the insulation and the ductwork, so I'm going to try to rig up some of the stuff we already have into DIY feral cat houses. I've seen a few cool plans for making them out of an old cooler, or putting a cheap foam cooloer or foam insulation inside a Rubbermaind tote, but I don't know if Billy is willing to give up either of those to turn into a cat house. In the meantime, I've got the old dog house that our Rottie lived in until she died amnd I'm going to see if I can find some free straw to insulate it with. It's big enough to hold at least a couple cats.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Works In Progress

I mentioned earlier that I was working on some creative things, and I have two main ones in the works right now.

The big one for November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It's a yearly challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Yes, that's very short for a novel and it really means writing part of a first draft, but the point is to get into the habit of writing every day and then work on additional drafts and editing later. Of course, I came up with about 5 different ideas before I started writing, and I'm still considering switching over and working on a different project instead of the one I've started writing. I figure if I come up with even a good idea to build from it's worth it and the extra writing practice will do me good.

The other work in progress is one I started last month and then put on hold to give me time to write. It's a comic strip that I had an idea for. I'm still working on character sheets now - drawing each character with multiple poses, facial expressions, etc. Next will be backgrounds and then putting it all together and publishing. I think I'll do it as a webcomic first then publish comic books once I have enough done.


In other news, the toe is feeling much better. I took rugrat trick or treating (pics to follow when I dig my camera out) and I think the walking around actually helped it. My calves are tight and feel like I walked about 5 miles, but most of the pain in the toenail is gone and my toe is no longer all stiff and achy. I go back to the foot doctor on Wednescday and, if he gives me the all-clear, I'll probably start back on a walking and biking routine again.
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