Tephie's Personal Bombshelter MarkII

Just how many journals am I going to end up with?

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Skipped Back 20

March 18th, 2014

Impressing Myself

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I started this in December, not long after I saw the still from Catching Fire that made all the knitters on the internet want to knit That Sweater.

Talar - Mockingjay Front Talar - Mockingjay Back

Every single stitch in everything but the white ribbing is twsited, both knit and purl, including decreases both left and right leaning. For the knitters that will mean something; everyone else: suffice to say that it slowed me down a bit.

I'm so happy with it that if I had other colors of this bamboo thread I'd be seriously tempted to start another one.
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January 10th, 2014

Slow cooker cheesy garlic scalloped potatoes with ham

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I basically smashed together bits from a few recipes with my general cooking knowledge for this one. We had half a bag of potatoes and some leftover ham to use up.

The amount of potatoes and ham are approximate; this filled a 6 quart slow cooker about half way.

7 medium potatoes, scrubbed or peeled as you wish, sliced about 1/8th inch thick
1 medium to large onion, sliced about 1/8th inch thick
1 pound cooked ham, cut into bite sized pieces

Butter your slow cooker crock or use non-stick spray. Layer 1/3rd of the potatoes, half the onion, and 1/3rd of the ham in the bottom of the crock, repeat, and then finish off with the last of the potatoes and ham.

Make the sauce:

1/4 c butter
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c flour
1 & 1/2 c milk
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper (I use a five color mix and fresh grind it)
2 c shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack)

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the minced garlic, stir until it is fragrant but not browned. Add the flour and stir until it makes a smooth paste. Whisk in the milk slowly to avoid lumps. Add salt and pepper and stir until thickened (it won't take long). Turn off heat and add the cheese, stir until melted and well incorporated. Pour garlic cheese sauce over the layered potatoes and ham, aiming for an even coating of the surface.

Cover and cook on low about 8 hours.

November 30th, 2013

Not dead yet

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I haven't written anything here (whichever journal service you're reading this on) since... June. I'm getting progressively worse at keeping these things up to date.  :(

I'll skip the knitting update, it will give me something to do later; hopefully not six months from now.

So, since last time I wrote:
  • I went to Anthrocon and had a good time.
  • I visited family, which involves driving 888 miles one way, seeing all the relatives, and driving 888 miles back.
  • I received a very generous and very early Christmas present after I returned home; that will get another post.
  • I honestly can't say where several weeks went.
  • Some of them were spent going "will I or won't I" in regard to NaNo.

2013 NaNoWriMo WinnerYes, I did NaNoWriMo again.

It actually went very, very much better than last year.

I had to restart it. My first attempt would work better for an opening to a sequel, which I don't have a plot for, so that was a short road to nowhere.

I managed to get to about 35k on my second attempt before getting horrifically stuck. I flailed around for a few days and ended up writing out a time line of events in the two locations which helped a lot, largely by making me go "but why did they do this/did that happen".

Eventually I realized I had started at the wrong point in time again. So I jumped back and started writing another beginning, but this one should hook up at some point in the middle of the story to my second stab at the idea. 

I still have a list of "why" to work out, but it's not the worst 50k I've ever written.

June 17th, 2013

I am a crafting machine

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Well, not really, but I sure did increase my output there for a bit at the end of May. There was a doll meet/party at Mint on Card, a doll store in Traverse City, and I wanted my girls to look their best so I went a bit nuts for a week or so beforehand.

In more or less chronological order... Photos under the cut. )

Proto Snow Kaver - Side

I love this shot. Therefore I am leaving it out of the cut. Back to the photos and stuff. )

One last thing finished before the party and not photographed, a new case for my camera because the original one is all icky nasty with age. I knit one of out cotton in linen stitch with a velcro closure on the flap.
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May 11th, 2013

In an attempt to ignore the view out the window....

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The aspens/poplars have leaves the size of quarters, the delphiniums are about eight inches tall, the grass is green, and it is snowing.

So, as I sit facing a window that shows me this all too clearly, I will do a knitting update and silently think a stream of profanity to make a sailor blush.

I have been really bad about documentation for the last year at least but here's some attempt at catching up with photographic evidence. Lots of photos under this cut. )

For those that remember my ranting about my craft blog, Omnifariously Knotty, well it's still lacking OpenID... but there are posts! Not many, but there's actual content. To be specific I put up a post on what I did to make Namid's white top (seen in the lace stole photos) from a baby top/dress pattern as well as a post on how to modify my shorts pattern into capris.

December 26th, 2012

For the knitters that read me

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Tin Can Knits has a special going on until January 1st where you can get any pattern on their site/in their Ravelry store for free with a coupon code.

I opted to get the Photosynthesis shawl pattern, but the Sunflower shawl was a very close second. :)

December 23rd, 2012

Slow Cooked Curried Lentil Stew

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I made this up today and it ended up tasty so I'm noting down what I did for future use. :)

1 can (10.5oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can (6.5oz) sliced mushrooms, undrained
1 large onion, quartered and sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 handfuls baby carrots, cut in half crosswise
11/2 Tbsp curry powder
2 tsp tomato bullion
1 c brown lentils
2 c water

Stir it all up in your crock and let it cook 6 hours on high. I gave it a stir about every two hours, mostly because it was my first time slow cooking lentils and I wanted to monitor the liquid level.

December 18th, 2012

And it started out so well

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Today was "update stuff that hasn't been updated for years" day. It started out well enough, I updated the installation of eFiction on Hafoc's website and things went swimmingly. There's a  major update on that forthcoming, slowly, and I'm sure all the problems I didn't have today will show up then.

Then I went to work on Omnifariously Knotty and pretty much crashed and burned.

My problem there is that I dearly love the layout theme, but it's not been updated in over two and a half years. I've used some tweaks that other people have created, or tried to. One works (the date tabs include year for posts over a year old), but the one I worked on again today worked only partially. It was supposed to wrap the main content under the second column to use some of the wasted space as you scroll down. Well it worked great on the "home" page but when I when I checked it on the Categories page and the About page... nope. The content ran under the second column. No matter how often I look at the assorted template files I can't see why it works on home.php and not on categories.php or any of the other files that I tweaked. It's one line added to them, not exactly a lot of room in that for errors.

There is also a much more annoying problem with that layout. I've installed the OpenID plugin on my instance of WordPress but the layout doesn't display the option to use it. I poked and fiddled with the comments.php file today to try to get that fixed. That also didn't go well. I need to learn how to use php with forms (or at all really) and figure out how to construct the if/else loop in there to drop through the options of having a login account (which no one has other than me), supplying an email address, or using OpenID. Sure, as the site stands now people can use a name and email to comment, but I'd really, really like to have OpenID as an option.

Maybe I should just go looking for a different layout theme. *sigh*

December 15th, 2012

Here, there, and... here

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I've let this slide a lot lately, it's requiring something like effort and I've been putting it off. So, as has become my habit, you get a catch up post of tedious length.

First off, NaNoWriMo.

I only posted once, which is generally a very bad sign. Well I did hammer out 50,000 words and "win" again but it was soul sucking and joyless and the first pass edit took out nearly half of those words. I spent all month restarting the story and getting myself to points where I hated everything about it and restarting it again. I think I can maybe tweak three of those false starts into one timeline but I suspect still more words will be cut out before I even think about adding to them.

So the lesson of this NaNo? If I don't have something I'm really interested in writing, do not do NaNo. Also, if that interesting thing involves any amount of "mystery" to the plot I'm basically shooting my foot before I start the race. I'm just plain bad at writing mystery, probably because I'm bad at figuring them out in the first place. XD

Other things. Well part of the hassle of NaNo was that there was kitchen renovation going on while I was trying to write. We have an awesome kitchen now though. :)

I think I'm down to the knitting portion of our program, so have a cut. Have some knitting related news. )

And that leaves one bit of knitting out from under the cut. Why? Because I actually wrote up the pattern and put it up for sale today.

Burgundy Shorts - Front Burgundy Shorts Too - Back

Modeled on two different dolls. (The booty shot is my new girl, Talar, who also needs a photo shoot....)

As a result of having this pattern up for sale I've been dusting off Omnifariously Knotty. I need to get that site template working with OpenID (the hooks are all there, the layout just doesn't display anything for it) and, you know, put some content in there. XD

November 1st, 2012

So it begins...

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Yes, yes, over-quoted line is over-quoted and all that, but it has.

NaNoWriMo has started and I have 1182 words down so I can go to bed. Less than 500 words to get down tomorrow between scrubbing walls in preparation of kitchen remodeling. Yeah, NaNo may be a bit of challenge for reasons other than writer's block (or writer's general whining) this year. On the other hand, even if I don't get my 50k this year I'm going to have new counter tops and a faucet that doesn't drip! And a dishwasher that is built in, and a garbage disposal, and new flooring, and a range hood.... *ah* :)

October 3rd, 2012

So NaNo is coming....

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After due consideration, I think I need a name for a small starship. Writing stuff under here. )

On other subjects, I survived the summer trip to see the family, though I had the lovely adventure of having the exhaust drop on the Jeep while traveling the NY Thruway. Thankfully my AAA membership was current and I was able to get a tow to a muffler shop in Canandaigua that was able to get me a new midpipe and catalytic converter (ouch!) and have me back on the road with only two and a half hours of delay.

There's not really a whole lot to say about the last few months.

I read a lot and despaired for the amount of romance crammed into otherwise interesting books. I read a very good original fiction novel by a fan author I enjoy and wished she had written more in that universe. Tanya Huff got me hooked into another series of hers.

I knitted some, but nothing that interesting since I focused on finishing a pair of socks identical to the last pair I knit except for being half an inch shorter in the foot. I'm currently juggling a few doll projects. One is finished and needs to be dyed and blocked, the others are all still in progress. Since one of those is destined to travel to Utah with the one that needs to be dyed I'm trying to focus on that one. Unfortunately the last couple days have been very, very bad with my hands so the 00 needles aren't fun.

I got an awesome haircut that I need to go have trimmed . I should have about two weeks ago actually. Wish me luck in getting it cut the same way again by a different stylist since the one that did the original is back in Massachusetts. There is one stylist I am pretty sure can do the cut, but I can't remember her name (I only had her cut my hair once before) so hopefully she'll be working and I can get her.

I lost a bit more weight, just enough that the awesome jeans I bought on clearance for $3.60 require a belt. I'm very glad I didn't spend more on them or I would be ticked.

And I think that gets everything caught up. Get ready for the NaNoWriMo spike in postings. :)

June 28th, 2012

Oh hey, did I mention I finally got on Goodreads?

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Kris finally talked me into it. I loaded up my account quickly using the importer and my physical books entered at LibraryThing (those that had ISBNs anyway) and a list of my ebooks that I managed to figure out how to get Calibre to spit out for me (again, those with ISBNs). Between those and the account set up pages of "oh, you like this genre, have you read any of these?" which went on for ages I have a lot of books in there, and I know I'll probably be expanding that when I visit my family and browse the shelves there to remind me of all the books I've read and forgotten.

Before we get to my first review on the site (which is not impressive as reviews go, I'm not much for detail) here's a run down of the Goodreads rating system:
★☆☆☆☆ 1 star "I didn't like it"
★★☆☆☆ 2 stars "It was okay"
★★★☆☆ 3 stars "I liked it"
★★★★☆ 4 stars "I really liked it"
★★★★★ 5 stars "It was amazing"

As a result of this system most of what I read and like ends up with 3 stars. Things I re-read generally end up with 4, and only a very few things get 5 stars. So don't think a 3 star rating from me means it's a bad or even "just mediocre" story, it's something I liked but probably won't re-read any time soon.

The Chinese Maze Murders: A Judge Dee MysteryThe Chinese Maze Murders: A Judge Dee Mystery by Robert van Gulik

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unlike modern western mysteries where the detective has one case to solve in the course of the story, Judge Dee solves several, mostly unrelated, cases. As a result the feel of the story is more "slice of life" than "dramatic event", which I enjoyed.

Potential readers should be aware that the story does reflect the culture of the times, both that of the writer and that of Judge Dee. There is a lot of casual violence in the day to day life of the characters, torture is a valid way to obtain confessions, and any executions will be detailed at the end. The violence is not glorified, it's just what happens, but if someone is flayed until their bones are exposed you will know it.

View all my reviews

March 29th, 2012

All the cool kids are doing it....

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1. Go to page 77 (or 7, or just hit page down 7 times) of your current manuscript.
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 other authors. They've all done it already I think.

You are getting NaNo novels here. Yes, they are all "current", just some are more current than others. :D

NaNo'06 - By Destiny Stained

Synopsis: Read Nightfall? Now imagine that instead of a few hours of darkness that reveals all the stars you get decades of violent weather and dramatic climate change. Also, the most advanced technology in the known world is probably the tiny steam powered toys of that one foreign nation over there.

Nikkol watched Sierna settle into the sand, "You're going to nap? With everything we've heard today?"

"Seems to me that taking sleep where you can get it would be a good habit to develop these days."

The cave was silent for a while. The drone from the harps and the clatter of chimes seemed oddly muted. Sierna sighed softly, "I can't decide if I should tell you to go back north with your people or if I should ask you to stay here."

Nikkol sat up in surprise. "You want me to stay here?"

NaNo'07 - Dead Dolls

Synopsis: Cyberpunk, still without plot. (It's in world building hell stages.)

"It shouldn't take me long, but if the exploding grunts get to you, focus on the wall and the buildings rather than the killing field in between."

"Exploding grunts... great." Aeryn placed the pod and case on the table and settled into her datachair with an obvious lack of enthusiasm. "I'm tapped," she made a face and small sound of disgust, "in, and can things get any more revolting out there?"

Elyza chuckled, "If we knew what they were revolting against, maybe." She dodged Aeryn's blind swat at her as she passed her on the way to the table.

NaNo'08 - Escapement (Actively current! I was working on this a bit yesterday.)

Synopsis: Steampunk with too many plots. (I'm attempting to untangle them a bit so they make more chronological sense.)

Ian stepped through a door to the left of his desk, leaving Prudence and Sarah to study the strange instrument he had created.

"It looks a bit like an astrolabe," commented Sarah, "or rather, an armillary sphere, though I have never seen one quite so elaborate."

Prudence hummed a bit, "I suppose it's only reasonable, since it's a navigational instrument in some sense. I do hope Ian has written down how the use the thing, since I doubt it would be simple to read and I suspect he's unwilling to embark upon a journey of unknown duration just to read the thing for me."

"While traveling with you would be a delight, I'm certain; I doubt my business would survive my absence." Ian returned to the room with a suspiciously thick book, about twice the thickness of most pocket journals of the size, a small box, and a pair of keys.

NaNo'09 - [Still untitled]

Synopsis: I don't even know. This is the one that fractured and only stayed together long enough to get my 50k for NaNo. I have some ideas about fixing it, but they basically involve lifting out the characters, sweeping everything else away, and starting over.

Apollonia heaved a sigh. Right. Just wanting to be normal. "I hope you're wrong."

"Probably am. You and Abe, you like to ignore that people, any sort of people, can be downright stupid in their actions just because not being stupid is hard." Muriel, now stripped of scarf, cowl, and sweatshirt, sifted some loose tea into the mesh basket of her tea pot. "If I told you I thought something strong enough to hide a shroud from an agent had something to do with it, you would have latched onto that like a bear trap and you wouldn't have paid one iota to the possibility that the girl just didn't want to see it." She placed the now filled pot on the small table and plopped a felted cozy in the shape of a chicken over it. "Now that you have faced the idea that the girl looked the other way I can say I think something was meddling and the girl didn't know." She looked old and sad for a moment, "Well, didn't know for sure. She's pretty sharp that one, might have suspected."

NaNo'10 - Never on a Blue Moon

Synopsis: Well I started out with a problem on the moon base but we never seemed to get there....

She was dressed in business casual, charcoal grey slacks, cream top and a cardigan in a color he thought might be labeled 'old Victorian rose' or something. Her feet were covered in a pair of guest slippers that Kyle kept on hand to protect his floors from the horrors of outdoor shoes. "Doctor Samson-Greer, I presume?" she looked at him curiously, obviously expecting someone looking a bit more mainstream.

Most people expect someone with the title of doctor to wear a suit or look like a stereotypical academic wearing a sports coat and slacks, maybe a button down shirt and a sweater vest, or it if was particularly warm, a polo shirt. While Dan generally did wear slacks and polo shirts, occasionally even the sports jackets, and was not adverse to a nicely tailored suit, that was not what caught people's attention. The details tended to change frequently, but it was his hair that generally made people need to shift their mental gears on meeting him. For the moment he was sporting a mixture of thin synthetic dreadlocks, some were bright lime green, others sky blue, but most of them a shade of purple that looked nearly black. He'd left out the plastic tubing and was relatively sparkle free other than a few crystals sewn in here and there.

NaNo'11 - A Favour Owed

Synopsis: Tatsumi owed his old friend Bennu a favour. She didn't expect him to repay it with a small child.

Jaana blinked at the apparent change in topic. “Last I heard, yes. Complaining that more people call him Opa rather than Onkel these days.”

“You might want to have him over from time to time. If the twins see something then Nehi likely will as well. And of course Karen or myself can also confirm if we are here.”

“I had wondered why you were raising the girl, she has Power then?”

Bennu shrugged, “It’s less about her than it is about a favour owed an old friend.”

March 22nd, 2012

Well, this is surreal...

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Apparently there is a kickstarter for a new steampunk RPG called Tephra. I found this out due to some freelance reporter not bothering to check that the account they were linking in their tweet actually belonged to the RPG.

I've been using the name Tephra online since.... hmm, I think 1996. It might have been '95 but I'm quite sure it was before '97.

Anyway, reading about the RPG is surreal since they just call it Tephra in their ad copy.

My standing in the Google search results for "tephra" have been falling for about a decade since I stopped doing my Paint Shop Pro tutorials and such. Maybe this will push me off the first page, that might be fun for change. XD
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March 19th, 2012

A bit of this and that

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Massive catch up post is going to be massive.

On the knitting front, well I have a lot of works in progress and not that many finished ones. And it took me a while to get photos for those so there's a pile up. Knitting )

I think that caught up my knitting, other than the fact that I finished knitting my sweater months ago and have procrastinated so long on sewing it up the weather has become too warm to wear it. I'll have to sew the sleeves in and seam the sides and find out once and for all if I knit the sleeves too long. I think that's a big part of why I haven't done it yet, I'm afraid I'll find out I need to fix the sleeves. I keep telling myself I'm skilled enough that should the worst happen I can cut the cuffs off and reknit them shorter. If I cut the right spot it will be like grafting ribbing to reattach them. Slightly tricky, but possible.

Onto other things! I saw a video about making a bead ring and had to try it. Rings! )

The ring shots show off the white nails I was sporting for about a week. I had a couple other nail styles since my last post too. )

On the crafty front, I'm pondering Kindle covers. My birthday is today and my present from Hafoc needs a cover. :)

February 7th, 2012

Feeling kinda girly

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There are a lot of hair, make-up, and nail art pins on Pinterest and I think they finally got to me. It's been a long time since I painted my nails (and boy does the lack of practice show) and I've been seeing a lot of interesting takes on the French manicure so I decided to play.

Rose Wine & Cinnabar Chrome

Yeah... I think it's been a decade or more since I did a French, so this is more a "tipped" effect. Oh well, I mostly wanted to test how these two polishes looked together anyway.

[The weird light reflections are due to one being light from a window that looks out on woods and the other being an overhead light fixture.]

Bed color: Sally Hansen "Hard as Nails" in Rose Wine
Tip color: Sally Hansen "Chrome Nail Makeup" in Cinnabar

I like the effect. I also have the Chrome in Platinum and Royal Purple so I may try white with platinum tips later. I'm lacking in purple creme colors though, and I don't think the chrome effect would work next to a pearl, so the purple version may have to wait on me bothering to buy a creme purple for the bed color.

January 20th, 2012

Pony things of amusement

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Especially amusing if you are a fan of both strains of the crossover.

Q assists with an away party in Equestria (click for full size)

GLaDOS writes to Princess Celestia


Well that was easy

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I called in today to find out where I could park for jury duty on Monday, if I had to report in (I was planning to wait until after 5 to call, in case it didn't get settled until late this afternoon). I found out how the parking works, which is super easy, but more importantly I found out that ALL my potential trials have been canceled. My service is complete and all I ended up needing to do is to get excused for last Monday since I was in California.

I am feeling a bit at loose ends at the moment... I had a schedule for the next week and a half. :D

December 25th, 2011

Merry Christmas

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As part of my Christmas doings today, I redressed my dolls. I was just going to redress Rico, into clothing she would not like much I admit, but while I had her down and headless I swapped her neck S-hook for Anjeni's (and tried Namid's on her, it's too large for her head). Then, since I had them all down and headless, they all got changed for the holiday.

Photos under the cut. )

Applesauce Pie

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I've tweaked this a bit from the original, and I'm including some tweaks I haven't tried yet but I am certain will work.

You will need a crust for a single crust 9" pie. I like using a shortbread crust for my sweet pies. The recipe makes enough for a double crust 9" pie but it freezes well, so you can save the second half of the dough rather than cutting the recipe.

Since my crust has a lot of butter in it I omitted the one tablespoon of soft butter that the original recipe requires to be rubbed over the crust before filling.

Pie Filling:

1/4 c + 1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c applesauce

Optional crumb topping:

1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c flour
1/3 c brown sugar
3 Tbsp soft butter*

Preheat your oven to 450°F

Prepare pie filling by blending the sugar and cinnamon together to avoid cinnamon lumps in the finished pie. Beat in eggs, then add the vanilla and apple sauce. Pour into your prepared pie crust. If you aren't using the optional crumb topping, dust the top of the pie with cinnamon.

To prepare the crumb topping combine all ingredients in a small zipper bag (sandwich size works perfectly) and massage until well mixed and crumbly. Sprinkle over the pie filling. Some of it will probably sink into the pie.

Bake the pie at 450°F for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 30 additional minutes.

Cool completely before serving.

* This is the untested tweak. The original crumb topping recipe called for 1/3 cup of butter. The pie with this butter rich version of the crumble is in the oven right at this moment so I can't tell you if it worked yet, but I think less butter would be better in any case.
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