Life, Left Over

It’s Monday again! At the beginning of each week, we here at Life Left Over take a quick break and head over to my other site, Textbook Leftovers. We’re reading through the Norton Anthology of World Literature, and no, it’s nothing like a dry old literature class.

We’re up to Book VI of The Odyssey, entitled by our translator “The Princess by the River.” It’s a short one, in which Odysseus is naked, and Nausikaa makes an idiotic choice. Come see what’s going on!

Sorry for the unexpected week off! I wasn’t intending to do it, but with the Halloween party, and all the other holiday festivities, and the cleaning and the start of NaNoWriMo, I was just swamped. I’m back this week, although I’m not sure if a Tutorial will be forthcoming for tomorrow. 🙂 Time will tell.


Yeah I have like NO time for this. Haha. I wanted to feature a recipe for Stuffed Shells today, but that didn’t pan out. Here instead is another pictureless copout. It is DELICIOUS though.

Fast and satisfying, this recipe requires only three ingredients and is utterly idiotproof. We make them frequently in our house. A+, all the way.

Brown sugar and/or Vanilla


The Process:
I make this recipe with 2 bananas and end up with about 4 cups at the end. This can serve two, but usually just one. 😉 Adjust your amounts accordingly!
Peel your banana and break up into 2 or 3 pieces. Put in the blender with a cup or two of milk. Let the blender chew on that a little to break up the banana.

Add a bit of brown sugar, or vanilla, or both. I prefer brown sugar – I feel like it adds a “darkness” to the final drink, and adds just a hint of sweetness. If you’re watching calories, vanilla will help kick the flavors up a notch. Adding both is even better. 🙂 I’ve literally never measured the sugar – just do it to taste. I wouldn’t add more than 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla though. (If you’re a big fan of bananas, you could skip the additions altogether, but I never have.) Please don’t add plain white sugar (even the organic kind) – it will taste grainy. I’ve never tried any sugar substitutes – let me know if you have success with one!

Add milk and blend that all up until it’s at your desired consistency and taste. I like it a little on the chunky side.

Pour it into a glass and enjoy heartily. Refrigerate the leftovers, if you have any (you won’t).

My Thoughts:
Like I said before, we make this a LOT at our house. It makes an excellent late-night snack, with the sweetness of a dessert and none of the regret of a sugary treat. It’s even better with bananas that are starting to get all brown and mushy, but not quite far enough along to make banana bread. It’s light and banana-y, and easy to make it to the texture you prefer. A+, forever.

Do you have a go-to snack for the middle of the night? Which end do you peel bananas from? Will you be sad when bananas go extinct? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

This week, I’ve got 298 subscriptions!
I’m running a little behind again, but I think I’ve caught most of the good stuff. 🙂 Seems like it was an off week, though, it’s looking pretty scant around here.
Without further ado, here we go!

Crib bumbers are officially OUT. So stop wasting your money on them! (via Momformation)

Daleks everywhere! Exterminate! (from Errantry)
Beautiful art AND a great message about the nature of Halloween (from Lucy Knisley)

Apparently I saw no good food this week? How SAD.

This hoodie looks super comfy. (from CRAFT)
I’m planning to make some felt coasters soon. I like the detail in these. (from CRAFT)
Guitar string bracelet! I like. (from Recyclart)
Mockingjay pumpkin carving pattern (via The Mary Sue)
Acorn cap candles. I wish there were acorns here… (from Re-Nest)

Cool Things
Got geeklings? Read this. (from Geekmom)
A lot of people really need to read this. Clutter is bad for you. (from Zero Waste Home)

TV/Movie News
Warner Brothers is putting Harry in the vault! Beware! (via The Mary Sue)

LOL of the Week
Just a little rhyme (via Set Phasers to Lol)

Life-Affirming Tidbit of the Week
You might start out as the unwanted companion, but you’ll soon become The Last Centurion. (via SPtL)

Did you see anything cool this week? Share it in the comments!

I must apologize. I do not have a proper tutorial to share this week. When I made this item last night, I didn’t even think to take pictures. I started out just messing around to see if it would work, and then it was half done when I realized it was turning out great! So there IS a tutorial, but I unfortunately have no in-progress pictures to share with you. 😦

My husband is dressing up as the Eleventh Doctor for Halloween, and he obviously needs a bow tie. Bow ties are incredibly hard to find, it seems, though, especially since red or blue would be preferable for the character.
And then it hit me. I had some brick-red/pink tweed left from when I made throw pillows (years ago now)! I dug it out of the fabric box, and set to work. This one is deliberately a bit oversized, so please make sure to use your own measurements and preferences for the size!

a bit of fabric
some thread (color doesn’t matter – none of the seams will show)
some narrow elastic
a snap fastener
scissors, needle, pins, etc

I didn’t even use a ruler for this. I just measured and estimated with my hands and eyes. I cut a piece of the tweed that was approximately 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. (Remember I did NOT measure.) The finished product will be about half the length and half the width of the original rectangle of fabric, so plan accordingly!

Then, I folded it along the length, right side in, and made a seam along the edges, making a long tube. Flip this right side out. Now, arrange it so that , when flattened, the seam is in the center of the back side.

Bring the short ends together now, with the right side in, and sew another seam. Flip the circle of fabric again, and arrange it so that the short seam is in the center of the back, with the seam ends facing in.

Next you want to create a band for the center of your bow tie. I used the tightly-woven bit that’s on the end of the fabric – just trimmed it and went with it. If this isn’t an option for you, cut a nice long ribbon from your fabric (or another one, if you’re into contrasts). You could put a few seams in, but honestly, I’d just fold it so that the cut ends are on the back. A regular ribbon would also probably work. The band on mine is about 1/2 inch wide.

Carefully pinch the center of your bow tie, to create the bow shape. Make sure that you like the way it folds. When you’re happy, take your band and wrap it tightly around. Make sure the end of the band ends up on the back of the bow tie, and put in another little seam to secure it. You’ll only need a few inches here. Mine was about 6 inches long, and I wrapped it around a couple of times.

Now it’s time for the part that goes around the neck. I had found a nice length of narrow black elastic earlier in the day, though. Grab the person who’ll be wearing the bow tie, and measure their neck with your elastic. If it’s long enough, just run the elastic between the band and the bow and move on to the next step. If it does not reach all the way around, you’ll need to lengthen it. I used another bit of the tightly-woven edge-of-fabric stuff (that I also used on the band), running that through between the band, and sewed the elastic onto one end of it. (Alternately, you could probably devise a quick clip-on solution.)

Last step! The fastener. I used a simple snap fastener, and I think it’s probably the easiest option. Velcro is itchy, and I don’t think a button would work at all. Measure your neck-band around the wearer’s neck one more time, to make sure of the placement of the snap, and simply sew the two parts of the snap in place.

Voila! A bow tie. And as we all know, BOW TIES ARE COOL.

It’s Monday again! At the beginning of each week, we here at Life Left Over take a quick break and head over to my other site, Textbook Leftovers. We’re reading through the Norton Anthology of World Literature, and no, it’s nothing like a dry old literature class.

This week, we’re reading Books 4 and 5 of The Odyssey. The highlights? Telémakhos parties with Meneláos, and Kalypso rants about double standards to Hermês! Homer saves his best poetry for the women, and I’m really starting to love that about him.

PS – if you subscribe to either of my blogs, either by email or by RSS, you may have received a bunch of reposts. I sorted and organized my tags tonight, and at least one entry got reposted somehow. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I finished my Nevermore banner! I’m planning a big picture post for this week’s Bonus Thursday, so make sure you come back!
We cleaned out a bunch of stuff from our garage. Lots of clothes and stuff that didn’t sell at the garage sale is now at the Watertown Urban Mission. 😀 Clean garage, yay!

I’ve got a lot to do this week, so I’m gonna make a list!
– make practice run of breadsticks (early in week)
– make “pie cookies” to go with the cider (probably make dough around Wednesday, bake on Friday or Saturday)
– make practice run of caramel for caramel apples
– make bow tie for husband
– hem my tunic
– paint my weaponry
– paint kid’s overalls for costume
– prepare husband’s wig
– make breadsticks (friday or saturday)
– make caramel (saturday)
– carve pumpkins (friday night)
– CLEAN (all week, forever)
– arrange dining room
– make deviled eggs (boil earlier in week, finish on Saturday)
– make vampire cupcakes (friday or saturday)
– make cider (saturday morning so it’s warm by evening)
– decorate outside (it’s been raining so it better stop soon!)
– make a “pendulum” – maybe
– decorate the house – spiderwebs on the bookshelves, blood in the shower, etc

…I’m sure I’m forgetting things. 😦

Wow, this week seemed to FLY by! I’ve got a lot to do this weekend, so here’s a quick recipe for you. This one is best as a side dish or appetizer, and is a good way to use up surplus zucchini from the market or your garden. I based these on this recipe at Eclectic Recipes, and made it the day after the Ratatouille (since I had extra zucchinis, and this recipe came to my attention that day). This is a good alternative to deep-fried veggie appetizers (love those, by the way), too. Read on!

Zucchini, sliced into coins
Bread crumbs
Grated Parmesan cheese
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Dried Basil & Oregano
Non-stick spray

drying rack
baking sheet
a couple of bowls
two forks
paper towels

The bananas are still irrelevant.

The Process:

Slice your zucchini (I suspect you could also use yellow squash, or any type of squash, really) and lay them out on the drying rack, with the baking pan underneath. Sprinkle liberally with salt. This will draw out the moisture inside the squash and prevent them from becoming mushy. Let sit for a few minutes, flip, and salt again.

Meanwhile, assemble your coating supplies. Mix the breadcrumbs and spices and cheese. I actually forgot the cheese completely, and didn’t have any onion powder. Feel free to season yours however you choose. Put a small amount of milk in a bowl (only a tablespoon or two). It looks like I have a lot of breadcrumbs here, but I actually ran out of them before I ran out of zucchini, so plan accordingly. Now is also the time to preheat your oven – get that hotbox up to 450°F.

Use a paper towel to dry the remaining moisture from your zucchini, pressing a little to get them as dry as possible. Rinse and dry your baking sheet (or use a clean one, whichever), and spray with nonstick spray. (A very very thin layer of non-aerosol oil would also be fine.)

Dip the vegetable coins in the milk and then coat them in breadcrumbs. This is what the recipe says to do, and that’s what I did, but I don’t think it worked very well. The milk isn’t sticky and the crumbs therefore didn’t stay on the zucchini. Lay out your “breaded” zucchini on the baking sheet.

Pop the pan into the oven and set your timer for 5 minutes. When it goes off, take them out and use two forks to carefully flip them all over, and bake for another 5 minutes.

See? The breading didn’t stick very well.

Let them cool, and serve. I used Ranch dressing as a dippie, but use whatever you like!

My Thoughts:
First, I definitely have to reiterate that the milk was insufficient for breading. The addition of an egg or even some oil to the milk would add a lot of stickiness. I also thought of using something like honey mustard (one of my favorite breading stickers for chicken). So maybe I’ll try these again, redux.
These were easy and quick to make. I sliced the zucchini and let them drain while I loaded the dishwasher, so it’s great if you’re in a time crunch (guests coming over in 20 minutes?). It takes only a tiny bit of space, so it’s cool if half of your kitchen is dirty. You can use any spices you like, and breadcrumbs are easy to make out of the heels of your sandwich loaf, so this is definitely a recipe that you can make anytime – you already have all the ingredients!
The finished product was soft and tasty. For those who don’t like the semi-slimy texture of cooked zucchinis (it’s a good thing I made this on a night when Hubby was not home), you may want to pass on this recipe. These were not floppy, but they definitely had a bit of the mush-factor. I don’t mind that, so I was happy. Despite the difficulty getting the crumbs to stick, the breading was good. Very crispy and flavorful. Ranch was a good companion.
As an alternative to deep-fried veggies, I think this stacks up pretty well. If fried is what you want, it won’t compare, but as far as taste and easy-to-make, this baked version wins. I’m giving this recipe a final grade of B. Needs some improvement, but still good.

Anybody else have picky husbands? Need to cook around the mess in your kitchen? How many people have problems with the texture of foods? Leave your suggestions, questions, and ideas in the comments!

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