blackbird

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Scrabble Macot Bracketology- Final Four

OK, so my first round of bracketology my way was not a rousing success, however even the people who used scientific and statistical methods failed miserably, so I don't feel so bad. For the final four I am going to use a method I call, "Scrabble Bracketology." Now I'm not going to do anything fancy such as triple letters or double word scores, because I could easily manipulate the outcome. The points will be broken down to the simplest of values as determined by letter tiles in the game Scrabble. The final four will be decided by the school name and the highest amount of points - wins. The championship will be decided by the amount of points given to the letters according to the mascot names. So I do still have faith in mascot bracketology  - I'm just going to change it up a bit.
So, here's how it plays out:

Duke  9
West Virginia  21

Butler  8
Michigan State  20

Mountaineers  14
Spartans  10


So by my guesstimation, the winner of the NCAA Championship for 2010
West Virginia

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Yeast Cinnamon Rolls - YUMMY!! - Tiara wearin' good.

Why is it that a rainy, dreary day makes me want to bake? Maybe because baking or cooking in general makes me happy. I love it. One thing that I don't love is cleaning up the mess. So with that in mind, it's easy to understand why I don't just whip up a batch of cinnamon rolls every weekend for the family. As you can see by the pictures below, I seem to make a huge mess with these, but they are so good, sometimes ya just gotta do it. SO, today was the day. Try them yourself, when they come out perfect - OMGOSH - they melt in your mouth. Now I'm not gonna lie and say every time is that time, because I have created some real duds....but just like with anything baking......alot depends on the weather and other conditions, but when it's good, it's reeeaaal good. I wish I had a smell widget because the smell of them baking cannot be described or imitated and there is no candle in the world, that, well,..... holds a candle to it. 

So carve out a little time and dress for the mess, then, prepare to impress. And then wear the tiara, because by golly, you've earned it.



In a large bowl, mix
1 c. Dry Milk
2 Qts (8 c.) Flour
1 TBSP Baking Powder
1 TBSP Salt

Mix in bowl and set aside 10 minutes:
2-3 pkgs Yeast (5 tbsp)
1 Qt. Lukewarm water

Cut 1 c. Shortening into  the Flour mixture. Make hole in middle and pour yeast liquid, it will be very sticky. Turn onto floured surface. Dough will be soft, knead a few minutes. Pat or roll dough into a  flat rectangle approximately 1/2 inch thick. Spread softened butter thickly over dough.
Then sprinkle on a mixture of:
1 c. Brown sugar
1/4 c. Cinnamon  (I don't even measure I do what I need to liberally cover the dough)

Roll up tightly, pinch ends and cut
into 1 1/2 inch thick rolls (I use thread)
Let rise 45 minutes or so in a warm place.

This is what my shirt looks like when I'm done----------------------------------------------------

Bake 375 25-30 minutes.

 After rolls are cooled, melt together:
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. White Sugar
1/2 C. butter
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 c. nuts (optional)
After that is melted together add 1 c. of powdered sugar, then pour over rolls.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Horn-Rimmed Dreadlocks

I am sure you are saying to yourself, "Horn-Rimmed Dreadlocks? Whaaaat?" This is my son Brett and his friend Sammy. We have the State Fair in our town and it is quite a big deal. On this particular day, Sammy and Brett decided they were bored, wanted to go to the fair and had no money. With neither having a "real" job they opted that the best idea was playing music for money. Now on the surface this may not be such a bad idea but it would definitely help if either of them could sing or play the pictured ukulele.........   but not to be deterred by their lack of skill,  the two donned their best jamaican-type outfits and formed a little duo they called the Horn-Rimmed Dreadlocks. They took their show first to the mall and sat on a bench and played and sang (not songs that anyone would know - matter of fact, songs THEY didn't even know).....songs made up on the fly.....  They did manage to draw a small crowd and even made approximately 35 cents. But soon the fun was over when mall security informed them they could not "perform" there. SOOOOOO, they took their little dog and pony show (you decide which is which) to the state fair, found a bench and proceeded to "entertain". They were drawing small crowds and the old men seemed to love them but it was not a big money maker. I think at the end of the day they managed to make enough money to buy them each a snow cone and a corn dog. Every time I see this picture it reminds me of how important it is to not be afraid to take chances, put yourself out there even with the risk of ridicule and reach for your goals - even if that goal is simply a little pocket change for the fair.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hitler finds out KU lost to UNI in the 2010 NCAA tournament

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.......

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus, but he is not delivering KU as Champions........heck, the dream of even going to the sweet 16 has been dashed........

It took a couple of days, but the pain has started to subside.......and I am trying to see purple, but so far the only shade of that color are the bruises on my heart from the painful pounding Northern Iowa gave my dear Crimson and Blue. Oh well, although my bracket (as well of millions of others) is totally hosed, my other final four picks are still there, so overall...... with all of the upsets considered, not so bad.

My son sent me a you tube video, and as a KU fan, it made me actually laugh out loud. It just shows, we are not alone in our surprise, dismay and absolutely F├╝hrer or Furor or even Fury that KU lost.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uejv2zz6bU

And come closely and listen because I will only say this once.........
GO WILDCATS!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bracketology- My Way







Well, well, if it isn't March Madness time. I find it extremely amusing how people....(mumbles under breath).....men, get so pumped up around playoff time, doesn't seem to matter what the sport, when it comes down to the ultimate final battle and they seem to be propelled forward by the smell of the competition.

Now, I don't generally get all hyped up over the "big game" but let me put this into prospective for you, I am the only female in a house full of testosterone. And when my television viewing list includes, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN College and an occasional smattering of Dirty Jobs, Pawn Stars and Myth Busters, I am bound to soak up some of the tournament frenzy. I also find myself interested in this particular round of games because  of the Kansas connections. Both my sons attend college at the University of Kansas, so I feel a bit of loyalty to the school that so happily takes all my money. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

So when the brackets come out, and everyone sits down to fill theirs out, I find myself looking at it thinking, I know nothing, I cannot go by wins/losses, tough schedules, player on the injured list.....none of that, so how do I participate? I find a different method to pick my winners.....no scientific method necessary. I have used various methods in the past and it always makes my family laugh ..........until I do well, then I'm the one laughing.....

I decided to totally mix it up this year, kind of a crazy quilt of selection methods........so hang on, the random circles of thinking may very well cause bouts of vertigo.

Round 1- Mascot Bracketology
I base this mainly on which mascot could either, A) eat the other one,  B) is just not a stupid thing for a mascot or C) my own personal preference......because I can, that's why.
Midwest -
Jayhawks-Mountain Hawks.......Duh, fictional character trumps real life every time, I mean how can you defeat something that doesn't exist?
Running Rebels-Panthers-seriously? 
Spartans-Aggies- Spartans....because it makes me think of Will Farrell from Saturday Night Live.
Terrapins-Cougars- now, most people would choose the Cougars because of their ferocity but I've been bitten by a turtle and I'm thinking they are a dark horse among mascots.
Volunteers-Aztecs- Think about it.......this land functions because of volunteers, enough said.
Hoyas-Bobcats- Hoya?.....really? I vote for them simply because the name alone should make them want to fight.
Cowboys-Yellow Jackets-one word, sqoosh.
Buckeyes-Gauchos- I'm pretty sure this line of logic would lead me to the Gauchos, since a buckeye is basically a tree seed, however gaucho makes me think of a drunk cowboy and I'm thinking a well placed tree seed could cause them to choke.

West-
Orangemen-Catmounts- Fictional.......remember?
Bulldogs-Seminoles- Well placed arrow.....no problem
Bulldogs-Miners- Miners? like on Snow White, Hi Ho, Hi Ho it's off the bracket you go.......
Commodores-Racers-this one was tough, but then I saw that Murray State has a competitive Rifle Shooting Team, so they win.
Musketeers-Gophers-gophers look like giant rats......
Panthers-Golden Grizzlies- golden grizzly? sounds like a vegas act.......rawr......I pick the panthers.
Cougars-Gators-no question
Wildcats-Eagles-cats eat birds

East-
Wildcats-Tigers (and bears oh, my!) - sorry my Kansas is showing......toss up
Longhorns-Demon Deacons- Demon deacon? contridiction in terms, they lose
Owls-Big Red- I looked it up a bear of some sort.......probably with cinnamony breath
Badgers-Terriers-we don't need no stinking badgers........but terriers? woof, woof, no way.
Golden Eagles-Huskies-Huskies.....made me think of the chubby little boy in the 6th grade.....always felt sorry for him
Lobos-Grizzlies-sharp teeth to the fleshy neck area
Tigers-Tigers- hmmm, what does one do? pick the more manly of the tiger depiction (and as a KU fan it pains me but.....Missouri)
Mountaineers-Bears- I'm thinking a pick axe to the forehead.

South-
Blue Devils-Eagles- once again fictional prevails
Bears-Cardinals- birds, not just for breakfast anymore
Aggies-Aggies- this was another tough one......they both sound retarded......... but let's go with Texas at least they have the word Agricultural in their name.
Boilermakers-Saints- a train will do serious damage when coming into contact with a saint.
Fighting Irish-Monarchs- sorry, can't quit picturing a drunk leprechaun......
Bears-Bearkats-ok, history tells me the early sport teams were called "The Normals"
Spiders-Gaels-seriously, are they going to dance on the spiders?
Wildcats-Colonials- you get a wildcat going and he is going to rip that powdered wig off and it won't be a pretty sight.

Round 2- Team Color Bracketology
Basically this round was picked on pretty colors........I am not fond of the color orange, so if you were a predominantly orange team.......done..........and I like blue, so if you had blue.........you are in..........if neither of those determining factors were present, I picked the prettiest colors in the logo......
So it all shook out like this:
Kansas
Maryland
Georgetown
Ohio State
Florida State
Butler
Xavier
Kansas State
Kentucky
Wisconsin
Washington
W. Virginia
Duke
Texas A&M
Baylor
Villanova

Round 3- this round was picked by my son when I would thrown out the teams I had in my bracket. What he had to choose from only caused him to shake his head at me a couple of times.

Kansas
Georgetown
Butler
Kansas State
Wisconsin
W. Virginia
Texas A&M
Baylor

Round 4- Coaches Age Bracketology - youngest coach
Bill Self/40-John Thompson III/43
Todd Lickliter/55-Frank Martin/43
Bo Ryan/62-Bob Huggins/56
Mark Turgeon/44-Scott Drew/39

Round 5- Kansas Connection Bracketology- the team must have some connection to Kansas, because I said so.
Kansas University
Kansas State University
W. Virginia (used to coach at Kansas State)
Baylor -  Scott Drews born in Kansas City  (although Mark Turgeon coached in Kansas, I like Baylor Better)

Championship- Totally gut Bracketology
Kansas vs. Baylor

and of course, my jayhawks for the title
KANSAS!

Friday, March 12, 2010

25 Moments When A Woman Should Be Allowed To Wear A Tiara

The other day I was thinking and came to a realization. I had a day that was totally crummy, nothing had been going right, a big project was due and from the beginning it had been one obstacle after another. After struggling through the day and finally getting this accomplished on time and then it turned out better than I could have imagined, I sat back and took a deep breath and smiled. I had that momentary feeling of attitude and could actually feel my lips pursing and my eyes narrowing and quite possibly a slight bob of my head. Grinning to myself, I thought, if I had a tiara I would wear it because today, right now, I am princess of all, I have EARNED the right to wear a crown.

Now there are moments such as homecoming queen or pagent winner that a woman is issued a crown and can wear it without judgement but if I were to walk into my local Walmart wearing one, I can without much hesitation predict that heads would turn and there would probably be much muttering.

I can't say if guys have this, but I know, we, as women, have these moments throughout our lives, some are small accomplishments, some are huge ordeals but they all evoke the same basic emotion. One of success, victory, conquest, power, or pride. Feeling on top of the world and nothing can knock you off, as a matter of fact, you OWN that world. I asked some of my friends to help me with the list of 25 moments that we should be able to wear a tiara and not be judged. The list is in no particular order and by no means conclusive but I hope it brings a smile to your face. I also hope that if not today, some day soon, you have that shining moment and you don that tiara- virtual or real - and you wear it with attitude and pride acknowledging your royal awesomeness. 

25 Moments A Woman Should Be Allowed To Wear A Tiara
1. Accomplishing a huge task and being able to look back and say I did good and this looks spectacular.
2. Getting your driver's license.
3. Sitting in your first apartment.
4. After seeing yourself in your wedding gown on your wedding day.
5. Completely potty training your youngest child.
6. After the birth of a child.
7. Your first paycheck from your first "real" job.
8. Watching your child succeed, whether performing on stage or hitting a home run, to riding a bicycle or tie their shoes.
9. Starting a brand new job, completely different from anything you have ever done, and knowing it was exactly what you were born to do.
10. Paying off a huge debt.
11. Seeing your children adopt your religious views because they agree with them.
12. Your first road trip without your parents.
13. Going to bat and advocating for your child.
14. Signing the final divorce papers and standing on the brink of a new start.
15. Getting your first car.
16. The day your first child starts kindergarten.
17. The day your youngest child graduates.
18. The day you paint a room a color no one else will understand, and you love it.
19. The day your underwear and bra both fit well and they match.
20. Slipping into "those" jeans.
21. After raising your family, going back to school and getting your degree.
22. The first time your mother-in-law tells you something you did is good.
23. The first time your husband tells you, you did something better than his mother.
24. After successfully making bread, gravy, or fried chicken.
25. The first time your child sleeps through the night.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Akvis - Decorator - NEW FILTER!

OMGosh, I am so excited. I just sampled a taste of a new filter. It's by Akvis.com and called Decorator. After seeing this plug in mentioned in an online newsletter from graphics.com, I checked it out. I was really impressed by what it can do. I am thinking there are a ton of applicable uses for this little jewel. When I went to the akvis site I also noticed many more plug ins that I'm hoping they have available to demo.

In decorator specifically, this is what it does:

Decorator v.1.

Resurface and Recolor

Have you ever seen a car made of brick? A statue dressed in fine clothes?
With AKVIS Decorator you can create things that were unimaginable even to Mother Nature.
The Decorator plug-in allows you to change the surface of an object in a realistic manner.
Select a part of an image – a dress on a girl, a car, a piece of furniture, etc, and apply new textures to it. The girl can have her dress painted in gay patterns, dotted or chequered, appear as if made of velvet or satin, or even of wood or candies. There is a great variety of built-in patterns to apply - from fabrics to stones and metal, from food to nature elements.
You can apply your own textures – just save a square pattern as a jpg file and load it into the library.
Unlike the "bucket-fill" tool in many photo editors, the plug-in follows the underlying features of the object, the texture that already exists, and makes the new color or texture look natural.
Applying a snake scale to a car’s surface can be fun, but of more practical use is to apply AKVIS Decorator for design purposes.
With this software you can quickly choose a suitable design for your apartment by playing with different colors and patterns for furniture, walls, curtains, decorations, etc. It’s useful for designers to show the customers the same room in different versions or for web-designers to represent the same items in an online shop (china-ware, blankets, clothes, piece of furniture, etc) in different colors/patterns.
By AKVIS tradition, the program has a simple interface, easy grasped even for newbies. In the plug-in’s window you go to the Texture tab and select a texture from the library (you can adjust its color and frequency of the pattern), press the Run button and get a wonderful result. If needed, you can adjust the brightness and the angle of lighting.
If all you need is just to change the color of the surface, then you go to the Color tab and choose a new color.
The program applies a texture/color preserving the volume of an object, following its folds and creases. The new pattern looks absolutely natural and makes you see things differently. 


Totally cool. Here is a before and after I did.
 
If you look closely you can see, Lady Liberty has on a jellybean robe! New meaning to the words, cool beans, huh? I checked the cost and it looks like a home use license for this program is about $60.00, for business, about $85.00. Since I work in education, there is no extra money, so I will use the demo until they take it away. Maybe if I can produce enough cool stuff in the meantime, my boss will shake loose of a few pesos and buy this sweet puppy for me....... OR the company could send me a copy.......that would be ultra nifty. I'll try to check out the other items offered and give you the scoop.