Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buy Buy Buy Ay Ay Ay

Only another couple of shopping days left! Borrowing from an article I wrote about this time last year, I'm thinking gadgets again. Not that I'm going to buy any myself. This year for inspiration, I looked to three local advertising inserts, accompanied by web searches. This article can serve as a mini-shopping list to keep shoppers out of the malls, which I imagine are crowded. If you're cybershopping, it's another matter. If you're bricks-and-mortar shopping, get thee out there!

To provide some mystery and also avoid appearances that I'm pushing specific b&m places, I'm omitting store names. Let's say two of them are drugstores (pharmacies, apothecaries, mini-marts that coincidentally also dispense prescription drugs in teeny corners, …}. The third b&m place is a stand-alone electronics store that seems to have gotten on the holiday-gadget bandwagon. My table format has a heading row for places identified as "A", "B", and "C"—followed by rows for items and prices. To view images of items, copy and paste the item names in Google image searches.

The price focus is for items priced $19.99, $14.99, and $9.99. I listed one notable exception because the item looks so cute. The 99¢ price ending is no accident. My article "The 99¢ Effect and Other Saver Thoughts" includes discussion about the psychology of the pricing something just under the next dollar threshold.

One electronics store that I patronize places those impulse-buy snacks near the bank of cash registers (typical merchandise location). The price signs show the dollar and cents values with different type size. Not that I can recall at this moment, but it seems the cents value is about one-fourth the size of the dollar value. Anyway, happy celebrations of whatever you're celebrating!

Pillow Pets $19.99
34" Jumbo Teddy (bear)
Fushigi Magic Gravity Ball $19.99 $19.99 $14.99
Big Box of Fuzzoodles $19.99

Homedics Neck and Shoulder Massager $19.99

Dr. Scholl's Full Cushion Massager $19.99

Homedics Hand Sanitizer Dispenser $19.99

EnviraScape Home Fragrance $19.99

Dr. Scholl's Foot Spa $19.99

Paper Jamz Guitar $19.99

Paper Jamz Drums $19.99

Shake Weight $19.99

Belly Burner $19.99

Discovery Kids Motorized Pottery Wheel
Discovery Kids Adventure Play Tent
Mister Steamy (dryer ball that you put water into) $14.99
Yoshi Blade (Looks like successor to Ginsu knife) $14.99 $19.99 $14.99
Amazing Wand $14.99
Total Pillow $14.99

Chef Basket $14.99

Snuggle $14.99 $14.99 $9.99
Pet Zoom $9.99

Finishing Touch Personal Hair Remover $9.99

Handy Caddy $9.99

Cami Secret $9.99

Might Fix It $9.99

Pasta Boat $9.99

Dropps Detergent $9.99

Voice Recording Photo Frame $9.99

13 in 1 Pocket Tool $9.99

Golfer's Tool $9.99

2 Pack LED Book Lights $9.99

Open It! Any Package $9.99

Sara Peyton Wand $9.99

Sarah Peyton Two Headed Massager (!!) $9.99

Homedics Foot Massage Pillow $9.99

Homedics Mini Bath $9.99

Homedics Exfoliating Shower Massager $9.99

Wexford Glass Personal Scale $9.99

Emerson Triple-head shaver
Emerson wet/dry shaver
Soft-Sided Pet House
Doggy Stairs
Discovery Kids moon lamp
Money Farm piggy bank
Slap Chop

Anti Static Dryer Balls

Wonder Hanger

HD Vision Ultra Sun Glasses

Slippers $9.99

Rainbow toe socks 3pr/$10

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Convenient Ganachey Icing

I don't have a good name for my hybrid icing, so I'll refer to it as ganachey icing. Ganache is a term for a chocolate icing with two main ingredients—chocolate (squares, chips, candies, etc.) and heavy cream. The white icing equivalent is white chocolate and heavy cream. A typical ganache to me is the chocolate icing on Hostess cupcakes.

My alternative to heavy cream is canned frosting. The convenience is microwaving two items and not having to boil cream. Anyway, the ratio is typically half "candy" and half frosting, by weight. For cupcakes, I tend to use 8 ounces of candy (Wilton, chocolate or other flavor chips, candy bars, "bark", ...) and 8 ounces of frosting for a batch of cupcakes cut into 48 halves.

You can be as flexible and adventuresome with icing flavors and cake shapes as you want. For that matter, the ganachey icing is good also on cookies and rice crispy bars/squares. I have not ever tried icing a whole cake because I tend to make bite-size desserts.

Melt the candy in a microwave. Follow instructions for melting if the package has them. Otherwise, microwave a minute at a time, using a spoon to test for meltedness each time. When it's melted, spoon in the frosting, stir, and microwave the mixture until it's a syrupy texture. Spread or dip items as desired.

  • The first batch of images show icing one mini-cupcake. Coverage should be about 60 (one cake mix box recipe). YMMV for how many bite-sizers you ice.
  • The second batch of images show icing a sheet of chocolate rice crispy treats, then cutting and arranging the squares into a container. Yes, that's a squeegie handle I use for spreading the warm ganachey icing—clean!

In case mentioning Hostess cupcakes triggers a Pavlovian response and you want to try making your own, do a Google search for "homemade hostess cupcakes recipe". Of several recipes I've viewed, these bakers are serious scratch-recipe people! One recipe that is particularly eye-catching for details and pictures is Faux Hostess Cupcakes - Childhood Lunchbox Memories. A secondary source for reasonable information is Homemade Hostess Cupcakes.

I myself would probably just be casual enough to bake from a box cake mix recipe, squirt in canned frosting, pour and spread my ganache recipe, and draw the squiggle with more canned frosting. Wouldn't these cupcakes look cute as mini versions?

Visit my other baking recipe articles:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Post-TDay Travel--Part 3 of 3

YouTube playlists for this article (1, 2),
playlist compilation article

This article is the third of three parts of the Thanksgiving week travel theme. In the first article, I wrote about songs about planes, trains, and cars, based on the movie title Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. As I dove into writing about other travel modes, I wandered around from song to song. I concluded I have enough material for three parts. Part 2 is about water travel songs—boats, surfboards, submarines, ….

This article covers the rest of the travel modes I can think of. I've listed songs, artists, lyrics sites, and video sites (if possible). Take another trip down memory lane.

One Foot in Front of the Other
Song Artist(s) Lyrics Video Comment(s)
Walk, Don't Run Ventures NA V
25 Miles Edwin Starr Click ES
Stroll Diamonds Click D
Hitch Hike Marvin Gaye Click MG

Non-car Wheelies
Song Artist(s) Lyrics Video Comment(s)
Surrey with the Fringe on Top Various Click BD, GM to SJ from Oklahoma play
Bicycle Song Red Hot Chlit Peppers Click RHCP
Bicycle Race Queen Click Q
Bicycle Built for Two Various Click Chipmunks, computer
Acoustic Motorbike Luka Bloom Click LB
Little Honda Hondells Click H, [imagery] 2nd video—montage
Highway In The Wind Arlo Guthrie Click AG
Motorcycle Song Arlo Guthrie Click AG Significance

Mass Transit (of Sorts)
Song Artist(s) Lyrics Video Comment(s)
Bus Stop Hollies Click H
Magic Bus The Who Click Who
Another One Rides the Bus Weird Al Click AY parody of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust"
Promised Land Chuck Berry Click CB Prominent in MIB w/Tommy Lee Jones singing with radio while driving upside down
Convoy C.W. McCall Click CWM, [imagery] 1st video—movie trailer w/complete song, 2nd video—montage w/twist on lyrics

Clippity Cloppity
Song Artist(s) Lyrics Video Comment(s)
Over the River and Through the Woods Various 1, 2 Chipmunks Lyrics for Thanksgiving, Christmas refs
Horse with No Name America Click A
El Paso Marty Robbins Click MR Performance from father, then son
Ghost Riders in the Sky Johnny Cash, Pukipu/Ramrods Click JC, P/R 1st video—Johnny Cash
2nd video—Pukipu/Ramrods

Up in the Sky (Not Planes)
Song Artist(s) Lyrics Video Comment(s)
Superman/Can You Read My Mind John Williams composer Click JW
Up, Up, and Away 5th Dimension Click 5D
Yellow Balloon Yellow Balloon Click YB
Magic Carpet Ride Steppenwolf Click S
Whole New World Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle Click PB&RB

Up in the Stratosphere (Also Not Planes)
Song Artist(s) Lyrics Video Comment(s)
Rocket Man Elton John Click EJ
Fly Me to the Moon Frank Sinatra Click FS
Star Wars John Williams composer NA JW
Star Trek Various NA classic, Next Generation
Telstar Tornados NA T Trivia: Band member George Bellamy is father of Muse’s Matt Bellamy.
Martian Hop Ran-Dells Click RD
Bennie and the Jets Elton John Click EJ All these years, I never knew it was Bennie, and Bennie’ a she. ("She's got electric boots a mohair suit")

Just Moving On
Song Artist(s) Lyrics Video Comment(s)
Wayward Wind Gogi Grant Click GG
Travelin' Man Rick Nelson Click RN
Ramblin’ Man Allman Brothers Click AB
The Wanderer Dion Click Dion
Different Drum Linda Ronstadt, Michael Nesmith Click LR, MN Lyrics link plays LR's song immediately.
1st video—LR, as part of Stone Poneys
2nd video—MN (ex-Monkee), DD writer
Me and You and a Dog Named Boo Lobo Click Lobo
On the Road Again Willie Nelson Click WN
On the Road Again Canned Heat Click CH
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