Tuesday, September 16

Polyvore Tuesday: Shell Shocked/Mikey

Today's Polyvore set features Ninja Turtle Michelangelo, who generally goes by "Mikey."  His mask color is orange. The set features an all leather outfit a girl, wanting to theme her attire on this Ninja Turtle's fun skateboarder style, might choose, including Vans shoes. Since, in the movie, Mikey is wearing a necklace comprised of Cowrie shells, I located a pair of Cowrie shell earrings to put in the set.
This Ninja Turtle is really into skateboarding, pizza and orange Crush soda and his weapon of choice is a pair of nunchuks.
As a character, he's the spontaneous guy, the guy who's all about fun. Trivia: Mikey hates to see anyone around him down or sad, so he'll go to great lengths to try and cheer them up. He also looks up to big brother Raphael. Mikey really doesn't desire a leadership role personally, but tends to get caught up in imitating whatever his brothers are interested in and if they're interested in leadership, then so is he.
Mikey's unique signature is printed style rather then cursive and he'd prefers to use his nickname, because it's just more fun to write something quick, then something long.

I actually have fond memories of skateboarding.
Not that I've ever skated myself, but my hubby's son, but during the years when he was a teenager and visiting us, was BIG into it. That was the late 80's, the era of skate greats like Tony Hawk and Mike McGill, were just starting out and still in their 20's.
Believe it or not, I used to know every part of a skateboard by name and most of the skater terminology, like "ollie," etc. 
Our son's friends had a home-made plywood quarter-pipe they'd bring over and skate on and we'd rent a VHS movie camera from the VHS movie store and film them skating.
(Ahem...that was before DVD's. Unfortunately, the tapes were damaged or lost, so none are left.)
And, because we wanted our son to listen to positive music rather then secular metal for skating to, we tried to get him into the various Christian metal bands of the day, such as Stryper, Bride, Guardian, White Cross, X-Sinner, Bloodgood and so on.In the end, we ourselves got hooked on it.
Back in the day, Hubby and I had even had a chance to speak personally to both Scott Wenzel, lead singer for White Cross, and also  Dale Thompson, leader singer for Bride.
So, to this day I have a fondness in my heart for skateboarding stuff and I still love the old Christian metal.
Of course, some of those bands disappeared over time, while others adapted to the changing music styles and they live on:
Here's a few, if you're interested:
Bride's official website, where you can see a selection of their videos on You Tube if you like. 
X-Sinner official website
Bloodgood official site
Stop back tomorrow to see what's in the garden!

Monday, September 15

Good Eating Monday: M&M chocoate Oat Bars

My hubby had a bad night recently and spent it running repeatedly to the bathroom. Something he snacked on just before just didn't sit right. Finally, he took an anti-diarrhea pill and finally got to sleep.
The next night I said to him,
 "You know what an anti-diarrhea pill really is, right?
"What?" he asked.
"A cork," I replied.
He laughed and laughed.
(Well, I used to be a medic and, as a result, developed the dry, slightly twisted sense of humor that comes with the job.)

Anyway, today's Good Eating recipe is one I intend to try this week: M&M Chocolate Oat Bars.
The Hubby brought home 3 large bags of various M&M's that he got on sale at the BX that I now need to do something with and this recipe will be good for some the plain M&M's.
Plus this is a bar cookie, which I prefer so I don't have to mess around dropping globs of dough on a cookie sheet.

1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup butter melted 
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 bag milk chocolate chips (I used dark)
                                    2 Tablespoons butter, softened
                                    1 cup M&M's
* Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and 1 cup softened butter with a spoon. Remove 1 cup and set aside.
Press remaining mixture into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan.
* In a small pot, melt condensed milk, chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons of butter over low-medium heat. Stir constantly until chips are melted and everything is mixed well.
* Pour chocolate chip mixture over the bottom layer and spread evenly. 
* Sprinkle leftover cup of oat mixture over the chocolate. Top with M&Ms and bake for 20-25 minutes. 
*Let cool completely before cutting.
This is a recipe I found in Pinterest, so I'll have to report back on how it came out!
What's your favorite type of M&M? 
(I like Peanut best.)

Friday, September 12

Friday Finds: Nickelodeon TMNT at Zazzle!!

Cowabunga, dudes! I've found: Zazzles Official Nickodeon Ninja Turtle Store!
Arranged by Turtle: Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo,  Group Shots & Holiday, it's easy to navigate!

I've observed in Pinterest that Donatello, both cartoon & movie, has a huge following of female fans!
 Loki may have an army, but, apparently, so does Donnie!
So, for ladies and girls looking for a Donnie t-shirt, I've found the perfect one!

(I chose a purple shirt option, since that's Donatello's color, but there's lots of other colors to choose from! Designs of individual Turtles or the whole team available. Pick your fav!)

Raphael has a pretty big fan following, too, so for Raph fans here's a phone cover sample:

(Other phone cases for Samsung Galaxy, iPod and other iPhones are available with individual Turtle characters or group shots.)

For the Leonardo fans, I have a nice poster print. Canvas wraps are also available:

(There's a large selection of TMNT wall art, both poster & canvas wrap featuring individual Turtles or Group Shots!)

And who wouldn't want a skateboard deck with Michelangelo?

Visit Ninja Turtles, here, to see more TMNT products:
notebooks, computer covers, ipad covers, speakers, cards & postcards. 
Zazzle is licensed to print Nick's TMNT characters.
 I hope they'll eventually expand into the movie characters & art! I'll keep an eye out!
Have a great weekend!  

Thursday, September 11

Mama Kat Thursday: The Win

The Mama Kat Thursday blog prompt link-up topic is: 
"You won an award at some point in your life...what was it for?"

I'm terrible at sports. I don't like hitting or chasing or bouncing or catching balls of any sort. I also hated games like "steal the bacon" or "kick-ball."  At the age when one is playing such things in school and developing that skill set, I lacked eye-hand coordination.
However, with age, and eventually a little depth perception correction with glasses, that changed.
I had one occasion to go into a batting cage in my late 30's. Bat in hand, I swung the bat at balls the machine was throwing at me and enjoyed the great satisfaction of actually hitting every one. 
It was a redeeming moment.

But I didn't really find my niche until Hubby and I took a 6-week beginner foil fencing class.

Now, technically, fencing is  a martial art and like other martial arts, it's not about size or strength, but speed, skill--and, most importantly--quick wits.
Luckily, quick wits is something I have in abundance!

The class involved learning the basic sword and movement skills, both offensive and defensive, and proper form.
Then tournaments of student-against-student began. The sole survivor would be awarded a small trophy.
I made it through to the final round against one last fellow student.
He was a big huge guy over 6 feet tall and like 250 pounds and I'm a mere 5 foot 5.
But, as I said, fencing has nothing to do with size or weight, but intelligence.
This guy, when he made his attack thrust, because he was so tall, had a very long reach. I quickly saw I only needed to step close and leaving him no space to make any thrusts at me. (A jabbing thrust is what you use to make a "kill" hit in the chest target zone.)
 It was very frustrating for him, this little bug of a woman right under his nose, stinging him like a bee with her sword.
I scored 3 hits on him and game over. I whooped him and took home the trophy, my first ever trophy for anything. 

It was a proud moment.
And I've kept it because it reminds me that there is always something that everyone can be good at---at least once.

 Thanks for visiting!
And, as a side note, let me say I didn't invest in art of the sword beyond the beginner lessons. I liked tasting it, so I could understand how it worked, but learning the art on all it's levels would have required throwing all of myself and my time into it and I just couldn't give it everything.

Wednesday, September 10

Garden Pic Wednesday: Baby Boxie Taking A Drink!

I have 3 Box Turtles living around my garden this year. One is a Baby, about 4 inches long. The two are mature Boxies: one with an ornate yellow pattern on his shell, which is taller then average and one with patch albino markings on his head and neck, which gives his head a grayish appearance. 
(He was the one eating popcorn in an earlier post.)
It's been dry and super hot here for over 2 weeks with hardly any rain. Then, this past Sunday, a brief rain fell and Baby & Mr. Albino Head popped out to enjoy it.

First a Baby Boxie crawled out onto my cement patio eager to drink from the puddles:

First Picture:
Baby paused and withdrew into his shell a little when I opened the door, uncertain whether I was a threat or not.
A moment of unsureness as I opened the door to take a picture!

Next Picture:
Then, deciding I wasn't a threat, baby put his face in the puddle and slurped away.

Baby Slurping Away!
He would drink, move a few inches, drink some more, move a 
few inches further, drink some more and so on for at least 5 minutes.

Last Picture: 
Finally, his thirst quenched, baby crawled away, heading for the grassy yard.

Baby Leaving

About 20 minutes later, Mr. Albino Head suddenly popped out of the flag iris, making a bee-line straight for the nearby shallow water bowl I have sitting on the ground for a bird-bath and, quite deliberately, I could tell, threw himself into it.
 He then adjusted himself to face the direction he'd just come, stood in the water a few seconds, then suddenly bolted out of the bowl, straight back the way he'd come, back into the flag iris.
I think he just wanted to get his skin wet and have a quick bath.
It was the funniest thing I ever saw. 

(Box Turtles, being tortoises, are not aquatic; they can drown, but they do enjoy a rain shower and, apparently, a shallow water bowl.)
Seen anything interesting in your yard lately?

Tuesday, September 9

Polyvore Tuesday: Shell Shocked/Raphael

Today, another movie Ninja Turtle themed fashion set, this one based on Raphael who's signature color is red and signature weapon is a pair of Sai's.

Like Donatello's set last week, this set features an all leather outfit a girl might wear, if she wanted to theme her style on Raph.
(pronounced "raf" if you don't know.)
Background includes his signature weapons & a cityscape of New York.

Raphael, apparently according to character canon, actually does have a sense of inferiority about who he is compared to his brothers. However, he knows fighting is his strength, so works out and concentrates on being the best, toughest fighter. He has a quick temper, which he isn't necessarily proud of and has a fear of being abandoned. He's also an very talented artist. (That might explain the detailed tattoos that both Mikey & Leo sport on their arms in the movie.)  Trivia: Raph is extremely ticklish--however, try it at your own risk. And he and Donnie both have a sweet tooth.
Raphael's unique signature style is tight and quick, so he doesn't have to spend much time on it, but not sloppy, because he's artistic.

Shell Shocked/Raphael

According to Ninja Turtle lore, these humanoid Turtle Teens grew up in the sewers under Manhatten.
Since I know nothing about the underpinnings of New York, I decided to do a little Googling on the subject.
Here's what I found out: if there were Ninja Turtles living below New York City, they'd find it rather crowded:

1)  Because...utility guys are down in the sewers, checking them routinely. (Not to mention massive new subway construction going on--so loud.)

#2)  Because...there's "Urban Explorers" always wandering around, seeking remote and unique places to photograph and post online, including sewers & abandoned subway tunnels

#3)  Because...there's guided tours visiting certain underground closed & abandoned subway terminals, such as the beautiful old "City Hall" subway.

#4)  And because...there's huge numbers of homeless "Tunnel People" or "Mole People" who've taken up residency throughout the various subway, railroad and sewage tunnels of New York.
A sociologist named, Jennifer Toth, documented them in a fairly recent book. 
According to her facts, the NY Mayor's office in 1989 cited as many as 5000 living down there!

I mean, where's Turtle got to go just to get little privacy around here?

So here we have some actual photos:
First a view inside a real New York Sewer, a photo shot by one of those urban explorers:
Architecturally beautiful and old, such sewers date to the early days of New York. As far as I could tell, having looked over many such pictures, those sewers generally ALL have at least some water in them, since draining away water from surface streets is what they do. (This explorer was down there by permission, by the way.) 
Have you ever been in a cave? Without a head-lamp, these tunnels would be pitch dark!

Next below, is a photo of part the Ninja Turtle set used on the recent film:

This is Donnie's computer station. 
Perfectly dry. It appears Splinter & the Turtle's figured out how to isolate their living area from general flood of wetness that otherwise occupies the sewers.  For example, at one point in the film, behind Splinter, you can see one tunnel archway has been completely walled up with old fashioned portable stereo boxes, so clearly no water has been around. (beat boxes.)
Other clever set design features include Donnie's desk chair, which is made of skateboards mounted on skateboard wheels and a sofa built out of thick stacks of Pizza Hut boxes set in a frame of pipes. Very dumpster dive chic.

And last, a photo of an actual New York "Tunnel" resident in his underground digs:

If you examine the movie set picture of where the Turtles live, then examine the real photo of a Tunnel person's home, what similarities do you notice in the environment? What differences?
For example: both really make use of  lots of "found" stuff.
Hope you enjoyed this bit of trivia! 
Next Tuesday: Mikey!

Monday, September 8

Good Eating Monday: Cocoa

Greetings! Another week in September! Finally got some much needed rain! It was funny, too--all the Box Turtles who live around my garden all suddenly popped out for a drink and a moisture bath! The baby one will be featured Wednesday. A set dedicated to our favorite Ninja Terrapin, Raphael for Tuesday.
And today, tidbits about the benefits of that ingredient so common in baking: cocoa!
And a Double Dark Chocolate Muffin recipe!
But before I get to that, an amusing story from our local "police blotter," in the weekly newspaper:
On August 24, 2014, a group of individuals traveling in a car together were detained at the Eglin Air Force Base East Gate and local police were contacted by base security. Apparently, these people mistook the base gate for a toll booth. (And would looke similar to the uninitiated.) 
On top of that: NOT of them had a valid driver's license either.
They were processed by the local police, then given rides to a local hotel.
You can bet they'll have to find another way home besides driving a vehicle!

Cocoa is the ingredient in chocolate that makes it chocolate tasting---and it's that unsweetened cocoa that's got all the health benefits!
It's full of something called, "Flavanols," which is a plant compound that can disarm cell damaging free radicals in the body, preserve cell membranes, protect DNA, prevent the formation of plague in arteries, improve blood flow to the heart & brain, lower high blood pressure and prevent blood clots.

But there is a trick to getting the best of these flavanols: 
You have to consume unsweetened cocoa either in baking, cooking or in DARK chocolate rated at minimum at 60% cocoa; preferably 74% cocoa. 
These flavanol benefits are NOT in milk chocolate. The milk added actually binds the flavanols. And definitely NOT in white chocolate, which doesn't have cocoa in it and isn't even chocolate at all.
And a process called, "dutching," also  reduces the flavanol, so you don't want that either.

One tablespoon of cocoa powder has about 20 calories, less then 1 gram of fat and approximately 1.8 grams of flavanols.
One can get the nutrient of the flavanols by consuming cocoa and NOT gain weight. This was tested in a study by Yale University on 44 overweight people drinking a cocoa beverage, either with or without sugar, daily for 6 weeks and they didn't gain any weight.

The basic rule with cocoa is: the higher the percentage of unsweetened cocoa, the better it is for you and richer tasting it is!

Double Chocolate Muffins:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar (or Sugar in the Raw) 
1 large egg
1 cup low-fat milk
1 Tablespoon baking powder
                                    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or butter)
                                    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                    1/2 teaspoon salt
                                    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon  
                                    1 1/2 cups Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate                                     Chips.

In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. In a large bowl whisk egg, milk, applesauce & vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry and stir to combine until just well mixed. Fold in dark chocolate chips. Spoon batter into 12 greased muffin pan with 2 1/2 inch size cups. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. With a knife, tip muffins onto their sides in muffin tin & allow to cool. Then once cool, eat or store.  Makes approximately 12 muffins; more if muffin tin has smaller cups.
Eat up, me hearties, yo-ho!