Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Blueberry Muffins? A case in poor product packaging and cooking instructions

I love blueberry muffins.  I almost never allow myself to make or buy them because I'm constantly in danger of switching my entire diet to consist solely of those delicious little baked lumps of heaven.   This week, however, as I was strolling the baking aisle looking for some vanilla extract, I passed a little packaging of pre-made blueberry muffin mix for $1...and I couldn't resist. 
Just add water?  I can do that!  Blueberry goodness, here I come!

Well, my husband and I had a pretty late night last night playing Dead of Winter, a zombie survival board game, with my brother-in-law.   If you're a total geek like us and you like both The Walking Dead and ridiculously complicated, fantastically exciting board games you should really look it up.  It's addicting.  Anyways, back to the story at hand!  We had a late night and I can't sleep in much, no matter how late I'm up, so this morning I woke up and immediately thought, "Oh! Muffins!"

Little did I know...

I'm really not a great cook.  I want to be, but I always have to follow the directions for just about everything I cook.  So, I whipped out this little bag of mix and started looking for instructions.

Ah, here we go!
Ok, so, I need 1/2 cup of water... Wait, where does it tell me how much mix to use?  Oh, Ok, I guess I can just look at the serving size, right?  1/4 cup mix.  That seems like an awful lot of water for only 1/4 cup mix, but I trust you, Betty Crocker.
Um... no.
This is clearly wrong.  These muffins are not only so watery I can basically see through them, but when I was pouring them into the tin all of the "blueberries" ended up in the top left muffin.  -.-
Betty Crocker, seriously?  Also, those pellets are not blueberries.

For kicks and giggles I baked them anyway, for the suggested amount of time.
So... Delicious?
(Note only one muffin has "blueberries")
Well, clearly that didn't work.  So, in order to get my fix and have some actually edible muffins, I fixed the ratio from 1/2 water: 1/4 mix... to the exact opposite.  Guess what!
They came out perfect!

As a side note, the packaging very considerately warns:
"Do not eat raw muffin batter"
Well, sorry, Betty Crocker, but you also told me to bake the worst muffins ever.  I'll take my chances.
Don't tell me what to do! 
Sorry for the terrifying picture, my morning has only consisted of making "muffins" and blogging so I haven't tried to tame the raging sea that is my hair yet.

And now it's time for tea and muffins.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dream Home

My Mr. and I often discuss the house we will eventually build together.  It's mostly hypothetical, fantastic ideas left unbridled by the restraint of finances but, in reality, we have a secret understanding of which suggestions are too big for our dream house unless some financial miracle takes place. 

We dream of vast stone fireplaces and exposed beams in the ceiling of our vaulted living room.  Of course, our living room comes complete with cat-walk that leads to a small reading nook in the large second-story window which looks out across the wooded drive leading up to the house.  Our house is secluded, but not out of the way, friends come by often to spend late nights in our game room laughing, adventuring, and rummaging through our walk-in closet full of the most wonderful board games, cards games, and video games imaginable for we are the most happy when we are at our nerdiest.  There is a table against one wall with five seats at it, this is where we play League until the early morning hours.

Upstairs there is a library with floor-to-ceiling shelves stuffed with leather bound books we've collected over the years. There's a fireplace, of course, and a cushioned window seat between two tall, dark shelves.  This is the room for snowy days when you want to stay warm and be whisked away from it all.  There's even a rolling ladder on the far wall, like the one in Beauty and the Beast, so vertically challenged people, like myself, can reach any book their heart desires.

The kitchen is grand.  Marble counter tops, floors of stone and wood together, industrial piping snakes out of here and there providing towel racks, shelving, or just ambiance.  The kitchen feels like the heart of the house.  It's heavy and bright all at once.  A large window above the sink looks out into the little orchard behind our dream house where a bear of a dog sleeps in the shade of the trees.  In my dream house another large, sleeping dog lies in the corner of our kitchen on a mat we've placed there for him; he's not allowed inside... but I break that rule often because I enjoy his company.

In our dream house, the stairs are carpeted (in spite of my protesting) because little feet travel them often and old dogs can make the climb to sleep in the arms of a little one after a bad dream. 

Often our bed is full by day break in the dream house.  Little bodies crowd between My Mr. and me, and the dog, who's sneaked in during the night, is snoring soundly from the foot of the bed.  Our room is bright and warm and full of giggles. 

The dream house is busy.  There's always someone bustling or scurrying or dancing; it's a good kind of busy.  There's a small barn out back for a little herd of sheep and a chicken coop beside that.  Even on frosty mornings I wander out to greet my little friends and feed them.  There's a spinning wheel in the living room beside the fireplace.  In the spring I spend most of my time in the shed cleaning wool, getting it ready to be spun, and the rest of my time is spent up to my elbows in dirt planting this years gardens.  During the summer I always have purple fingers and a clothesline of rainbows strung up across the yard.  Inside, the kitchen is steamy and sticky with jams, juices, and jellies being canned.  In the fall, our pantry starts to fill up with canned goods from the garden and the kitchen now always smells of cinnamon and cloves.  In the evenings there's almost always some kind of bread being made and the delicious scent fills the house with a warm, comforting tone.  Winter is spent beside the fires or kicking off the drifts from snow-caked boots while tossing the damp, homemade scarves, hats, and socks into our simple laundry room to be cared for later.  There's always hot chocolate in the winter.  My Mr. makes the best hot chocolate and there are always little fingers, red from the snow, warming themselves against the mug as he sneaks them another marshmallow and warns them, with a wink, not to tell.

In the dream house, there are walls covered in pictures.  Smiling faces, past vacations to strange new places, friends, family, old, new.  There are drawings and doodles and crafts strung up in every room; creativity comes naturally there.  There's a craft room, in our dream house, with a rainbow wall of yarn.  It's as if all the colors or textures of yarn you could dream of can be found on that wall.  There's a loom in the corner and mannequins here and there dressed in costumes and armors from past cosplays.  The craft room is hap-hazardly organized because one can, almost certainly, never keep up with all the projects going on in the dream house. 

There's a patio out back, with a stone fire pit built in, and a grill.  We spend every night during the summer there.  There's a tree house, just far enough into the tree-line that it feels secretive, but close enough that little ears can hear the call for dinner even from their magical worlds far away.  A hammock is strung between two trees not far from the patio and when you lie there you can drift into daydream with the sound of the wind in the leaves.  There is serenity in the evening breeze at the dream house.

The couch cushions are often rearranged, in our dream house, into tents or castles or even shields.  Pillows become swords and blankets are reimagined as capes, dresses, and even sleds.  Giggles fill our home as My Mr. drags little souls around the scarred wooden floors on their quilted bob-sleds.

There is always music.  Always.  Whether it's My Mr. gaily playing a rag-time Fur Elise, or little fingers plinking at the keys in a music only they can understand, or a classic Mo-Town mix playing through the house speakers, or lullabies whispered to a little one, there is always music.  As often as there is music there is dancing.  Little toes on the tips of My Mr.'s shoes, boogying to our favorite tunes, practicing for a recital, or just to express wordless emotions. 

We dream often of our future home and the life we have ahead of us.  Perhaps it's not so much a dream of the structure we'll build from wood, nails, and brick but a dream of the home we'll create for each other and the ones we love.