Finding Nayru’s Flame

If you’ve not yet played Skyward Sword, or haven’t played far enough, this won’t make much sense to you.

I was playing through the Sand Sea area again the other day and thinking about blogging when I realized “hey I could blog about this!”  So I did.
I write my own “playing guides” in notebooks, so it was hardly any task at all to blog it.
The Sand Sea area is my absolute favorite of the game (followed closely by the Ancient Cistern, which immediately precedes it), and I hope you love it too. I’m gonna place the guide behind a cut, so it’s your own fault if you click and see spoilers.

I’m scheduling this post to appear at roughly the time I’ll be arriving at the hospital for surgery. Please play nice while I’m unavailable.

Before I begin, I want to make it perfectly clear that Skyward Sword is the property of Nintendo, not mine at all.

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Web Weekend #5

Hello again! I know I missed last week. I wish I knew where all my time has been going.
Heads up – I’m having a surgery on Monday. I’ve got no idea how this week will go in terms of blogging. So please bear with me. :) I’ll be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, please follow me on Pinterest – I pin as I read my subscriptions, so it’s like having Web Weekend every day!


Heroes. (via EpicPonyz)

Things

Constellations on your bedsheets. (Apartment Therapy)
Macrame bangles (Craft)
Patchwork Key Fob (Craft)
Pretty ruffly fleece scarf (Craft)
Simple, organic, DIY lip balm – and cheap too! (Curbly)
No-sew pencil roll (Apartment Therapy)
Nessie thumbtacks – WANT (Laughing Squid)
Gorgeous stained-glass-style Zelda embroidery (The Mary Sue)
Magnetic nail polish – I have this exact one. It’s awesome. (io9)

Ideas

Use a spice rack to store small craft or office supplies. (Apartment Therapy)
Nine cute and easy art DIYs in one place. (Apartment Therapy)
Turn a book into an organizer! (Craft)
Repurposing alphabet blocks (Unconsumption)
A pair of patterns to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (Feeling Stitchy)
I really love this set of samplers (Feeling Stitchy)
How to grow air plants! (Treehugger)
Rake jewelry display (Recyclart)


See also: none of the above. (via Laughing Squid)

Food

Apple Cake! (Simple Organized Living)
Broccoli and cheese soup – I’m making this tonight! (Comfort of Cooking)
Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps (Pioneer Woman)
Jalapeno ice water? (The Kitchn)

Articles and News

France has removed “mademoiselle” from official documents. Hooray feminism! (Jezebel)
If this were widespread, there’d be a lot of bigots getting haircuts in their kitchens. (Jezebel)
5 ways to promote healthy body image in your daughter (or niece, or whatever) (Mommyish)
Do you like voicemails? (Apartment Therapy)
Five essential woodshop tools. I don’t have the circular saw, and I’d recommend a sander. (Apartment Therapy)
Should we grant dolphins rights? And do we even have the language we need to do that? (Treehugger)
Do you think you could “quit” multitasking? I couldn’t, but it sure would be nice… (Real Simple)
Re-reading a book is good for you! (The Mary Sue)
Do you remember Executive Order 9066? (More Art Less Housework)
Letter to the Editor (Everybody’s Leftovers)
Hilarious blog about cleaning (BlogHer)
Ingredients to avoid in beauty products (Blisstree)

Entertainment News

JK Rowling is writing an adult book! (The Mary Sue)
The US Army is on Pinterest. Whaaaaa? (GeekMom)
And now we know why the Oscars are so awful and predictable (Gawker)


Truth, amirite? (via Literate Knits)

Art

An amazing chromatic typewriter (via DesignMom)
Calvin and Hobbes tribute (Charles Santoso)
This princess can save herself (via The Uniblog)
Fourth Pony (My Junk Drawer)

Weekly Greatness:

Julie Andrews is awesome. (Literate Knits)
Genderswapped Ponies (The Uniblog)


Party hard, my friends. (via The Uniblog)

Did you see anything cool around the internet this week? Is there a blog I should be reading? Share your own thoughts and links in the comments! Make sure to follow me (here, there, and everywhere) to get more updates!

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Are you ready for another entry in my “Essential Recipes” series? This one is one of my favorite meals, hands-down, with the added benefit of being quick and easy (and vegetarian!).
You can certainly just pop a can of Campbell’s in the microwave and call it a day, but let’s aim a little higher. You can make Homemade Tomato Soup with things that you probably already have in your pantry and/or fridge.


Bananas are, again, irrelevant.

Here’s what you need for the soup:

  • Tomatoes, either a can of diced and two cans of sauce OR approximately 3 palm-sized tomatoes (I pictured both above)
  • Tomato paste, 1/2 a can
  • Broth. I used chicken here, but you can use veggie broth or water if you’re looking for vegetarian or just don’t have it
  • A bit of oil
  • One onion
  • Two ribs of celery (more or less)
  • Sugar (just a few pinches)
  • Herbs as desired
  • Garnishes – I like Ritz crackers and some cheese


I got these weird brown tomatoes because they were the same price as the on-the-vine ones. They were pretty good.

First, dice your onion and celery (and tomatoes if you’re using them- make sure to retain the juice that escapes onto the cutting board). Put a dab of oil in a 2-quart saucepan and let it get shimmery before you toss in the onion and celery (also known as “aromatics”).


This is after adding the broth.

When the aromatics have gotten soft and are beginning to get a nice brown color, turn down the heat and pour in a cup of broth (or water). Let that simmer a bit, letting the liquid absorb some of the flavors. Then add your tomato products, diced, paste, sauce – all of it.


Here’s a handy tip for you.

Did you notice that I called for half a can of tomato paste? Don’t let the other half go to waste. Use your can opener to cut off both ends of the can. Push half of the paste out, push-pop-style. Cut it off and into your soup. Wrap the other half and freeze it. Remove it from the can, re-wrap, and keep in the freezer for the next soup!


Here’s my fancy organic sugar, but you can use white or even brown sugar if you want.

I always add a few pinches of sugar to the soup. It cuts the acidity of the tomatoes. You can cut it out if you wish. Just let your soup simmer for a while. The tomatoes need to soften and all the flavors need to meld. While it’s simmering, get out your blender. If you’ve got a fancy immersion blender, this is the time. Otherwise, you’ll need your regular blender (and unless it’s gigantic, a bowl for holding the soup since you’ll need to work in batches.)


Wow it looks abnormally orange here for some reason.

Blend, blend, blend. Get it as smooth or as chunky if you like. You could skip the blending altogether if you really like chunks of tomato and celery. Add it all back to the pot over the lowest flame just to keep it warm. Add more broth to thin it – I usually add about another 2/3 cup. Taste it and adjust however you like. I like to put in Herbes de Provence instead of an Italian blend so that it doesn’t taste like spaghetti sauce. I never need to add salt – the celery takes care of that while adding vegetable nutrients as well.

While that’s keeping warm on that side of the stove, step over to the other side and get some grilled cheese going. I really refuse to believe that there are people who don’t know how to make this. Just in case, here’s what you need:


Pretty simple, as you can see.

  • Bread of choice (softer breads work better)
  • Butter or margarine (oil might also work but I’ve never tried)
  • Sliced cheese, whichever kind you want.

Get out your nonstick skillet and butter your bread. Two pieces for each sandwich you plan to make. You may also want to open the cheese envelopes if you have them, for faster assembly.


You may run out of room on the counter for all the bread.

Warm the pan on a medium flame. When it’s warm, toss a slice of bread on, butter-side down. While it sizzles, put on a slice of cheese, and then another bread (butter-side up).


Look at this perfect sandwich.

Knowing when to flip is a skill you’ll have to learn. Keep your eye on the cheese – when it starts to melt is a good indication. Use your senses. You can always lift it up and check a couple times if you need to. When it’s ready, flip it carefully and let the other side toast. When it’s done, simply slide it out and make another. That’s all there is to grilled cheese!


Devour!

Stack your sandwiches (I like them cut into triangles for easy dipping). Ladle yourself a big bowl of soup and garnish it -it goes really well with Ritz and cheese (hey I never said it was a low-fat meal). Mmmm, heavenly. In fact, I want some more now. This soup could serve probably 4, maybe even 6 if it’s part of a larger meal. However, if you really love tomato soup, you’ll probably have very little left after 2 people are full. ;-)

Is making soup easier or harder than you thought? Do you have a different process for making grilled cheese? Is there anything better than hot soup and hot sandwiches on a dreary winter day?

This happened today…

Eventually I’m going to add the bird motif around it, making it the Hylian Crest.

It’s got the fade in the middle on purpose. This was my “inspiration picture” – I like the distressed look.

It didn’t hurt as much as I feared (although the outline felt like a scalpel). The outline stings, the shading burns. Not too bad though. I did it *all by myself* because Jonathan had to go back home real quick and I just didn’t want to wait. He got there just in time for the last bit of shading. He would have missed the whole thing except I started feeling dizzy and asked the guy to stop.

By the way, make sure you’ve got food in your stomach before you go. ;)

Weekend Quickie: Pantry Shelf

I’ve been busy making things and taking pictures this week (and this weekend’s been busy), so my roundup is, once again, tardy. However, I invite you to welcome a new feature: The Weekend Quickie! Just a quick weekend post. This week, it’s a fast & easy home project, but other weeks it may be anything! I created and installed a shelf in an odd spot in my kitchen, giving me a great convenient spot for my pantry staples.


I wish I’d taken a “before” picture – I was in the middle of post-project cleaning.

Take a gander at this awkward spot in my kitchen. It’s across from the door into the garage. My kitchen is narrow and rectangular, with very little counter and cabinet space. The “pantry” is in the laundry room – literally as far from the kitchen as it’s possible to get inside the house.

You may know that I like to buy in bulk and I like to bake, so I always need several bags of flour and sugar. While my brown sugar and “specialty flours” fit into normally-available containers, it wasn’t until Saturday that I finally found some big ones. These 40-cup airtight containers are by Snapware and I only paid 12$ for them (yay outlet mall!). I can’t get the giant industrial-size bags of flour and sugar, but I can at least get the larger-than-supermarket ones at Sams. Also, this is a great excuse to get King Arthur Flour. (Only brand at that size at Sams, lol.)

All you will need:

  • Measuring tape. Measure first. Measure twice. Double check your measures.
  • 1 inch x 12 inch board, cut to your measured length
  • Screws, 1 inch long
  • Screws and wall anchors
  • L-shaped brackets
  • Level
  • Something to mark the wall with
  • Someone to help hold it steady
  • Paint

First, first, first, measure the space you want to put the shelf into. Measure it again. Then go to the hardware store and get your things. If you’d like a narrower shelf, adjust the size of your board and brackets accordingly. If you don’t have your own saw, many hardware stores will cut your wood for you.

When you’ve got all your stuff home, paint your board however you like. Mine is just plain white, but maybe I’ll add a stencil later. Let it dry. Then lay out your brackets, making sure they’re evenly spaced. Screw them firmly into place. If you could look closely, you’d see that mine are slightly misaligned. Be better than me.


I did, in fact, put on the brackets first. I thought I was gonna leave it natural brown and then changed my mind. It’s not a fatal error to paint after attaching, but it’s not “correct.”

Now, get a friend and have them hold the shelf steadily in place. Check that you’re happy with the placement, and check that it’s level. Now, grab your pencil or marker or whatever and mark the position of the screwholes in the brackets, on the wall.

Follow the directions on your wall anchors (I’ve used a couple different kinds, but generally this will involve a hammer), making sure to place them correctly to line up with the marks you made. Double check your marked positions if you have even the slightest doubt.


You can also have your “friend” do the screwing for you. ;-)

Get that friend back and have them hold it again while you insert some screws. One on each side should be enough to hold it securely while you do the rest, so they can rest their arms after that. Make sure you put a screw in each hole for maximum security, especially if you’ll be placing heavy things on your shelf.

You’re done! Line up your containers (or whatever) on your new shelf! Total time involved in this project was about an hour and a half, not including waiting for the paint to dry. I did get a cramp in my hand from the screwdriver, but otherwise this is an easy and painless project, with a highly useful product, especially for those of us who live in storage-light homes!


There is a legit reason why my cardboard and paper bags and plastic bottles are stacked as tall as my microwave stand. I promise.

This project freed up precious space in my pantry, as well as on top of my microwave. It also filled this thus-far-empty corner, making the room look much better. Where would YOU like to have a shelf added?

Chicken Spaghetti

My dear friend Kayla recently made this for a gathering at her house, and we all fell head over heels in love with it. Her Chicken Spaghetti is delicious. To die for. And best of all, easy! Please welcome my first guest poster!

When Jamie was trying to come up with recipes for her “Basic Recipes Everyone Should Know” list, she polled a few of her friends, myself included, for their favorite and fallback recipes. When I suggested chicken spaghetti, she asked if I’d guest post it, since apparently I’m famous for it. It’s quick, simple, and delicious and you only need a handful of ingredients to make it, most of which you probably have on hand.

I forgot the cheese

Ingredients:

2-3 chicken breasts (I use 3 usually)

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

3 cups dry spaghetti (broken into 2″-3″ pieces)

1 yellow onion

2 cups chicken broth (homemade or store bought)

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Optional ingredients:

1 4oz jar of pimentos
1 green bell pepper

First fill and boil one stock pot of water. Add your chicken and boil for a few minutes then simmer for 30-45 minutes. When your chicken is done reserve two cups of the broth that it was cooking in (or use 2 cups store bought broth). Shred your chicken, if you have a stand mixer – USE IT, if you don’t, go ahead and shred it by hand this time but buy a stand mixer before you make this again.

Stand mixer? No this is my chicken shredder

Next break your spaghetti into 2″-3″ pieces until you have about 2 1/2-3 cups uncooked (I suppose you could do this while your chicken is shredding). Cook the spaghetti in the remaining broth (that you cooked the chicken in) until al dente. While the spaghetti is cooking, go ahead and dice your onion.

Looks like 3 cups to me

Don't cry, it really is a simple recipe

When the spaghetti is cooked drain it and dump it into a large mixing bowl (I use a giant snack bowl that I got during Halloween a few years back, it’s the perfect size. I’m sure they sell them during other holidays too). Add the chicken, soup, onion and 1-2 cups of cheese and stir.

There's only about a cup of cheese in here. I don't always measure (shhh)

You’re going to have a thick goopy mess at this point that is going to be relatively difficult to stir. That’s where the chicken broth comes in. Slowly add the broth (starting with 1 cup) until the spaghetti is stir-able but not soupy. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish and top with the remaining cup (or however much you want) of cheese.

Don't forget the cheese!

You can cover it and freeze it for up to 6 months at this point, or refrigerate it for up to 2 days, but I usually want mine right away. Tent the dish with foil (so your cheese doesn’t burn) and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes – until hot and bubbly. Take the foil off for the last 5 minutes of baking et voila – chicken spaghetti! Serve with garlic bread and vegetable of your choice.

Finis!

I stuck mine under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese a bit, but then I forgot about it so I didn’t end up with deliciously stringy melted cheese this time. It still tasted great though!

Web Weekend #4

Hello again! I’ve got 314 subscriptions this week. Where do they all come from?
I’m still behind, but I am reasonably caught-up. It’s as good as it’s gonna get for now.
This week’s offerings here are light on crafts. I’m feeling rather uninspired right now so I felt rather “meh” about everything. To see what you’ve missed, go check out my Pinterest - I shared there liberally throughout the week, bringing pithy commentary and hearty lols as appropriate.


Lol! (Literate Knits)

Things

Some felt fruits. I love these things. (The Uniblog)
Several pretties here, but I love that scarf edging. (Etsy Blog)
Some gorgeous pearl-and-ribbon necklaces. (DesignMom)
Wooden castle blocks (Ohdeedoh)
This 11-year-old has great style. I want all her items. (Mommyish)

Ideas

Knitted Tardis hat. (Copiously Geeky)
Felt Game Boy plush! Going to make this. (Copiously Geeky)
Hardware and Leather jewelry (Thanks I Made It)
St Patricks Day stitching (much more fun than St Valentine) (So September)
A pretty flowery embroidery pattern (Carina’s Craftblog)
A gorgeous natural wood pathway for your garden. (Dornob)
Turn a magazine holder into a clever corner shelf. (Lifehacker)
A wallet made of plastic bags (Recyclart)
DIY pin curls – I did these back in October and it was fun. (The Gloss)

Food

Frosting now comes in rainbow. (Epic Ponyz)
A bread recipe. Haven’t tried it yet. (Jezebel)
Mixed-nut Dark Chocolate Truffles (Lark Crafts)
No-cheese Pizza. Actually does look good! (Carina’s Craftblog)
Those copycats. Here’s a list of 12 basic recipes. (The Kitchn)
Frozen garlic-and-onion puree – a time saving hack for the kitchen (Lifehacker)
Shredded chicken in your stand mixer – yes this really works, it’s magic (Lifehacker)
Steak with drunken mushrooms (The Kitchn)

Lord Ghirahim
I love this character so much. (FY Hyrule)

Articles and News

I love TMS’s Power Grids. This one is about child monarchs in media. (The Mary Sue)
Waivers are being handed out to certain states for NCLB regulations. First crack in the armor. (The Stir)
Old news about parenting styles, but still good to know. (The Stir)
Washington State legalized same-sex marriage this week! It was reported everywhere, go find an article yourself.
The Census Bureau thinks that fathers are only babysitters when they parent. (BlogHer)
Do you make food just for your blog? I think this post is idiotic. (BlogHer)
Got any design pet peeves? I’m most irritated when a married woman decorates her home (especially shared master bedroom) in incredibly feminine colors/styles. (Curbly)
Facts about Queen Elizabeth II. An amazing lady. (TresSugar)
Now *this* is a senator I’d vote for. (The Gloss)

Entertainment News

Harry Potter in 60 Seconds. (The Mary Sue)
Filming of the new season of Who begins on the 20th! (The Mary Sue)
Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are in talks to remake Mary Poppins. If anybody can, it’s probably them (Pink is the New Blog)
Angelina Jolie is reportedly cast as Maleficent in an upcoming movie. I’m excited! (IGN)


Exterminate is magic. No, seriously, I want some of these. (The Mary Sue)

Art

This artist. Everything. I think I faved everything in his DA gallery. (Paper Beats Scissors)
A phenomenal short graphic story. Go read it. Now. (Strangely Katie)
The New (Disney) Girl. LOL! This whole series is great. (My Junk Drawer)

Weekly Greatness:

Ten Greatest Kisses in Literature (Flavorwire)
Unfulfilling Desk Jobs (Twaggies)
LOL, marriage (Literate Knits)

Did you see anything cool around the internet this week? Is there a blog I should be reading? Share your own thoughts and links in the comments! Make sure to follow me (here, there, and everywhere) to get more updates!

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