Recipe – Crab Rangoon aka Cheese Wontons

They may look a little overcooked but my family likes them crispy.

Crab Rangoon

Cream Cheese 12 ozWorcester sauce (dash) (optional)
Crab meat (or imitation) up to 8 ozBlack pepper (dash) (optional)
Green onion x 2 stalks choppedSalt (dash) (optional)
Soy sauce (dash)Sugar (to taste) (optional)
Minced Garlic (to taste) Cayenne (dash) (optional)
Toasted sesame oil (dash) (optional)Wonton Wrappers
KetchupBrown sugar
Sirachi Hot SauceRice Vinegar 

For sauce which is optional, mix last four ingredients and set aside.  Mix all other ingredients except for wonton wrappers – place in fridge to chill if desired but not necessary.  Add spoon of filling to middle of wrapper and moisten edge of wrapper using water and fold into triangle or other desired shape. Fry in 350 degree oil for 3 minutes until golden brown.

All of these measurements are approximate. I left some measurements off so you can experiment with what works for you. I normally experiment with ingredients and ratios to find the right balance my family likes.

Toasted sesame oil is optional and should be used sparingly – a little goes a long way. It’s best to have just enough you don’t recognize that it’s there but it’ll give it a slight nutty flavor. It’s easy to get too much and overpower the rest of the flavors.

You may want to keep a wet paper towel over the stack of wontons while you separate and prepare to fold the ones you are working with. This keeps them from drying out. They can be annoying to peel apart and fold until you get used to it but if I can do it anyone can. You can watch some videos on youtube to see how it’s done but I find that just folding them over once into a simple triangle works well then you don’t have to use much oil and you can flip them over easily.

trying out two new abstract art programs

There was a time in my life where I had no idea what the word mandala meant. But enough about yesterday let’s focus on today and this totally weird application called Inspirit. I did the middle part of this image with Inspirit which lets you create mandalas. I then copy pasta’ed it into a program called Flame Painter 4 and did the outer swirls. I got them from a previous bundle on the cheap from a site called HumbleBundle.com (no longer available there). It’s a great place to get cheap software but the bundles only last from a couple of weeks to the occasional four weeks so you have to act fast to get them. The software is sometimes a prior version but you save so much money, it’s totally worth it. I left the edges of one of the layers visible on purpose because it reminded me of a splicing effect in some Nasa photos where they pieced images from satellites together. Yeah, I’m geeky like that. It also gives it a flawed look like I don’t know what I’m doing which is usually a safe assumption.

If you’re into art whether digital or physical media don’t forget what that silly guy Shia says. “Don’t let your dreams be dreams, Just Do It!” Translated – stop procrastinating and grab your favorite art set and blow the dust off of it and open it up. Don’t have an art set, use your kid’s crayons, markers, or a pencil or pen. Don’t worry about being perfect just put <insert favorite drawing thingy device here> to paper. If digital art is your thing then use an art program and if nothing else use Microsoft paint or whatever came free on your PC. Just look around and draw something you see in the space around you or first thing comes to mind or if you’re too skeerd just scribble and mix colors – go abstract. Draw the kind of thing you made fun of other people who call themself artist for doing. You know the ones that just threw paint in random splotches against paper or canvas. Go fer it. JUST DO IT…

And dont’ forget about the legendary one and only you know who?

Ha. Sorry about that Mr. B. Seriously this time, here he is in all his glory. The real super hero…

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxcnsr1R5Ge_fbTu5ajt8DQ

And not that you should be but if you’re intimidated by the master then take a pill or better yet don’t forget you have the power of the Internet at your finger tips and there are tons more how-to videos on youtube for painting instructions on all levels just a simple search away.

Still think art is a waste of time. It can reduce stress which is something I think we can all use this day and time. If none of this interests you then grab a coloring book (normally just a buck) and some color crayons or colored pencils or markers (2 or 3 bucks usually) at the dollar store and if they ask tell them you’re buying them for your kids even if you dont’ have kids – they’ll never know. It’ll be ok. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and have a little fun drawing and/or painting. Hey, you never know it may wake up some primal gene inside of you that you inherited from your cave painting extraordinaire ancestors.

Enjoy.

some tunes for trying times

It’s been a few months since I posted some music. I know everyone has different taste so if these aren’t your style feel free to skip them. Actually, I would be quite shocked if they were anybody’s style but mine. I personally listen to practically all genres. But even then I still feel kind of guilty mixing country and these others in the same list. LOL. I tried to start it slow and slowly build up the tempo.

Ok. I know that I can’t say anything about the current times in the US without sounding biased and preachy but that is really not my goal here. And I practically never talk about politics on my blog and almost never on my fb page. I’m quite an anomaly when it comes to American politics. I went from growing up in poverty and becoming a high school dropout at a young age to later in life taking out a fortune in student loans and earning a graduate degree. On most political tests I score a perfect 50/50 for liberal and conservative. I always took that to mean I’m equally hated by both sides. I’m not going to take a political side here but I will take the side of humanity and compassion at least as far as advocating for them for what its worth.

I think everyone on both sides should stop and take a step back and look at themselves and their choices and try to remember the importance of being kind to each other and respecting other peoples opinions even if they are different than ones own. The following tunes and videos represent in very abstract ways how I’ve felt over the past year or so regarding the virus, political storms, and my own health problems and pain. Some of the videos also represent how I can imagine others including children feeling when experiencing 2020. In my mind, some references here are serious and some are just playful and some I just threw in because of how the music made me feel. There is no scientific way to analyze the list so just enjoy if you like the tunes and videos. Regardless of which side of the political divide you’re on, I hope 2021 is a better, safer, and healthier year for everyone.

If you made it this far your endurance is impeccable. I ended with Paint it Black only because of the death, grief, and loss we’ve all experienced and with the virus numbers surging we’re not out of the woods yet. I heard on a recent news podcast that the total deaths are nearing the total losses from WW2. Take care of yourself and others. The virus has hit everyone hard in 2020 and is packing quite a wallop in 2021 but we have to continue to be strong. Have a happy 2021. Be safe.

like an artsy challenge? try pixel art

So my first at home game console was tv pong from sears in the 70s. From there it wasn’t long before I was totally blown away by the awesome power and graphics of the Atari 2600. It’s pretty laughable now but during the day it was many many hours of great fun. It was almost like a book with no pictures or should I say it had pictures but of stick men err umm stick people and aliens; needless to say you really had to use your imagination with the games – that’s why back then they focused on the box art so you could see what you were really supposed to be controlling in the game. I developed some video games starting when I was 17 in the 80s and it’s pretty funny but one is on youtube. One day I’ll post it here for everyone to laugh at like I did when I first saw that someone posted it on the Internet. The game posted on the Internet is one I developed in a week that I put an Ad in it for my other games and they took from 3 to 6 months each to develop. It was before the Internet was fully mainstream and I didn’t have any money for advertising my games so that was an advertising model I came up with. I uploaded it to one of the few online services at the time which was called GEnie. It was General Electric’s service that was competing with CompuServe and later with AOL I think – if I have my computer history facts straight.

With pixel art like the Atari 2600 and other earlier consoles, designers really had to reach to come up with abstract art. It’s a different challenge than doing art with modern art programs. I remember a few years ago reading up on a college course for video game development that actually used the specs of the 2600 to have students make a game for the class. This forced students to focus on abstractions and game play for their creation rather than realism. At any rate, if you try pixel art you’ll quickly see the challenge with creating the abstraction. I think abstract concepts are a very important part of art. Here is my little mini project using pixel art.

Cat on a Fence was my first attempt at doing pixel art today.

I was sitting in the back yard today and watching my black cat midnight. He was on his tall feeding platform instead of the chain link fence but in the image i skipped the platform. He kind of looks like a monster instead of a cat and i increased his size at the last minute which probably didn’t help with the scale. But pixel art is pretty abstract and often whimsical. He was sitting down and facing me when i sketched him out. The free application I used is on iPhone called Divoom. The company sells digital pixel art frames and products which I would like to buy at some point. I was waiting for them to go on sale b/c I’m cheap especially with pure vanity items. LOL.

My second drawing was of a tiny horse carousel figurine.

I used a tiny figurine as a reference for this one. Horses can be challenging to draw even if you had a lot of pixels.
The horse carousel figurine that i used for reference is on the bottom shelf on the left. The digital picture frame for pixel art is the one with a whale on it in the monitor image. The Dalmatian in the image is a little wooden 3D figurine project me an my daughter made from scratch using a scroll saw.

If you want to play around with digital art you can download the Divoom app for free and draw and post your artwork online. You don’t have to own any of the company’s products to use it but if you do you can transfer the images to those products. I’ve already got 3 likes for Cat on a Fence. Yay. LOL.

This is what the Divoom app looks like on the iPhone. I think it may also be available for Android.

If you want to try pixel art but don’t want to use the application i mention above you can use many art programs just by setting your canvas size to really small like 16×16 for most art programs. If you need help setting up your art program you can check out videos on youtube. There are many that show you how to use various art programs to do pixel art.

trying out an art set and a new graphics tablet

As it usually happens, Amazon enticed me to buy something from their lightening sale. It’s actually something I’ve been wanting for a while, a wireless graphics tablet for doing art on a PC. I got it for 35% off and it was an older model so cost me $58 instead of $140ish for the newer model. The one I got is a Huion Q11K. Also, it gave me an excuse to open an art set I got from Sam’s club on closeout for $20. I decided I would do a quick simple test drive of each. Here are the results of my little novice artwork adventure. I’ve been watching Star Wars Mandalorian on Disney+ and this is baby yoda (ok not technically his name but that’s what everyone calls the little green dude) from that series. I’m not making any money from this poorly done fan art so Disney obviously owns this character – ok that was my disclaimer.

This is just me playing around with the art set – markers and colored pencils.
This is what the art set looks like. It’s not the best quality but for the price is huge set and worth doing simple projects.
This is the wireless tablet which is 11 inches. I used Clip Studio Paint EX to draw the image. I could have used any other art program though including free ones. Clip Studio was on sale around $100 this past Christmas.
This was my first attempt. I made several mistakes with the drawing and color choices.

getting serious about reading

Wow, it’s a new year and with everything that has happened this year there is one good thing I can say about 2020 – I read the most books ever. LOL. I had set my goal to 60 but I read 70 so yay. At least it wasn’t like 2018 when I lost track of my reading time the last few days of the year because of other life happenings and I missed my goal by 3 books (I had read 49 of 52 books) which I could have easily finished the last 3 because at any one time I usually have 30 to 40 books that I’m reading and usually have at least a few that are nearly completed to choose from. This may seem like a lot of books to queue up at once for reading in parallel but I tend to read some art books, cookbooks, self-help, etc. and I don’t usually read those from cover to cover before starting and reading other books. I also read comics but I try to limit those to 1 or 2 a month. A majority of what I read is non-fiction but I do try to read classic literature and plenty of modern fiction and sci-fi too. I have a lot of tricks I’ve developed over the years for memory, comprehension and organization which I hope to write about at some point. I try to ensure that I read some of all genres as well as formats such as physical books, digital e-books, and audio books on many different devices (tablets, phone, e-ink, pc) depending on setting and my hectic schedule. I have developed various methods of taking notes and highlighting important areas across the various formats and devices – whether sitting at a desk reading, jogging, or listening to audio books while working in the yard or driving, etc. I didn’t start out reading 40 books in parallel but worked my way up to that over many years. Here are the results of the goodreads.com reading challenge from my last few years:

So I may regret it but for 2021 my pledge is 100 books. I had some nearly completed from last year so I finished those up today and I have an early boost of 4 books read as of day 1. I have two widgets on the right hand column of this page if you want to check out the links to what I’m reading or what I’ve read. I use goodreads.com for tracking my reading progress.

.Well that’s it for now. I hope you have a safe and happy new year.

recurring memories of art

I find it strange how certain memories from my childhood keep finding their way to the surface over and over. One memory in particular comes to mind. I think I was around 11 or 12 years old riding in the back of an old pickup truck miles down an old logging road, uninhabited and far away from civilization. There were no power lines or houses to be found here and it was late evening. I have always loved art from a young age and on this particular day I had brought an art pad and some pens and markers that I had purchased with money I had made on the farm. It was late evening and I remembered the colors of the sky were a certain vivid purple and orange. I sketched several pages during the hours long trip. All of them of trees and beautiful colored painted skies.

Some years later during the late 80s and my teenage years I bought an early drawing pad for my Atari computer I owned at the time also bought with money I had saved while working on the farm. I created colorful digital paintings using those same colors. More recently, a little over a year ago before the virus, after work I was driving home in the late evening through country roads with miles and miles of peanut fields on both sides of the highway and I saw a sunset painted with the same color palette.

Fast forward a little bit more till today, Christmas Eve 2020, and I saw the same colors and I thought of all those connected memories. I took some photos that I was going to post but the colors didn’t come out right. I may edit the color in the images or paint some new ones now that I have more drawing and painting options than those old days when I worked on a farm. Now I work in technology as a computer programmer so I’m not as broke as the decades I worked on a farm and later the decades I spent in factories.

Metallica: Nothing Else Matters (Piano cover) – YouTube

Hans Zimmer. Amazing Czarina Russel in Now we are free (Gladiator) – YouTube

I just finished a big project at work so I hope to have more time for my hobbies and updating my blog. 🙂 Stay safe and hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year or what it is that you may celebrate this time of year.

it’s late so music…

Like many nights sleep isn’t easy so I figured I’d post some music…

While I generally use this site to post my favorite tunes, I usually arrange them in such a way that hides a personal message in them usually based on what I’m thinking and feeling or it may not be about me at all and may be about a misstep I feel someone else has made when maybe they missed an opportunity to be understanding and supportive of another person . It may be from a recent event or experience or it may have been from a very old memory that I experienced or I observed someone else go through. The meaning may be from a simple interpretation of the title or deeper meaning from the song itself or just how the music makes me feel and almost always the order the songs are in is an important aspect. Surely in most cases you’d never guess or interpret the meaning I’ve hidden but maybe you’ll enjoy the tunes and/or find your own meaning in them. One day possibly on a future post I may do a detailed analysis of the meaning and how I encoded it. It’s really nothing profound it’s just a little trick I’ve used in video games I’ve developed and short fiction that I’ve written and one day I hope to arrange my own music with many hidden meanings until then I’ll take the easier route and just post links to other music videos. 🙂

Hope you are surviving the virus and your friends and family are as well. Be alive, safe and healthy.

lost a tiny and longtime friend a few weeks ago

This was my tiny friend Brownie when he was much much younger.  He lived a full life and our 4 foot chain link fence could never contain him when he wanted to be free and roam.  He would effortlessly climb out one tiny step at a time even when he got old and frail.  Before he passed we had four tiny dogs but when I would sit in the back yard swing he was always sitting beside me without fail.

brownie