pirate Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Here is some background, with links to the Pirate Insult Generator and some handy dictionaries.

Everybody likes a pirate, I think.However, it is also #2 son’s birthday. I have always thought it was pretty cool that he got to have his birthday on Talk Like a Pirate Day, and have made the most of the connection. We have a Pirate Cookbook, and a pirate CD, and have in the past had pirate cakes and humorous pirate tableware.

I have been told that the joke is wearing thin. #2 son still wants to have birthday cake and presents for breakfast, but he is now 15, and too cool to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day along with his birthday.

Oh, well.

I am baking birthday cake right now, at 5:04 a.m., and we have bought a new cell phone, a pull-up bar, and a couple of books as presents.

One is Tales of Alan Quartermain, because #2 son is a big fan of H. Rider Haggard. The other is Cooking Up a Storm, a cool new teen cookbook. This book is so current that the pictures will be funny in a decade, but the food is healthy and sounds tasty. Recipes include things like guacamole and curry and spaghetti, and it has categories like things to eat on exam day and things to fix when you want to impress girls. We haven’t made anything out of it yet, but the ingredients are all real food. It is a British cookbook, but the version available in the U.S is not confusing. No saveloys.

There has been knitting going on chez fibermom.I finished the second Tychus hat. You may recall that #1 son said the first Tychus hat was too long — cuffed hats are Out. He also felt that it was too narrow, and looked pointed at the top. So I made him another. This one, he thinks, is too short and wide.

I tried the first one on for him, because I always think that a hat looks better on a head. “You look like a
Hershey’s kiss,” said #2 son helpfully.

My husband disagreed. “It’s pointy like a scorpion’s nose,” he said.

I must have looked sceptical, because he then reminded me that I had never seen a scorpion’s nose, only pictures, and was not qualified to judge the accuracy of his statement. He does this sort of thing all the time.

I blocked the second hat severely, in hopes that the final shape would pass muster with #1 son. I can see dozens of Tychus hats in my future, each subtly different from the others, and none exactly as he wants it to be.

These odd shapes are bath fizzies. I made them during yesterday’s hour of working on Christmas presents. There is a hemispheric theme going on, I know. These are pale lavender, but on my monitor they have much the same color as the Tychus hats, too.

You might want to make some yourself. Combine the following things:

10 T baking soda
5 T cornstarch
5 T citric acid

That’s the chemistry part. When these things get wet together, they fizz excitingly. The fizziness lies dormant until you throw one into the bath, at which point the fizzing and scent are released by the water. The baking soda gives the bather nice soft skin. I also mixed in some dried lavender flowers from my garden. Not enough to clog the bathtub drain, just enough for a good effect.

Now you get a little spray bottle (little is important, as otherwise it will be hard to achieve enough volume to spray). Combine scented oils, soap coloring, a bit of water, and almond oil if you feel like it. I used lavender oil, peppermint, and a fragrance blend called “herbal garden,” and mixed blue and red colors. This is an aromatherapy combination that is supposed to calm and refresh a person, and it is not too girly a scent. In fact, lavender is really not a feminine scent at all. If you find yourself making fragrance gifts for guys, try lavender with eucalyptus, sandalwood, oakmoss, and other such masculine scents and you will be surprised by how well it gives just a bit of sharpness to the blend.

Spray the combined powdery stuff a few times and mix it in quickly with your hands. You must be careful with this step, since you don’t want to get the stuff wet enough to precipitate a fizzing, just wet enough to stick together. Keep spraying and quickly mixing till the stuff can be packed together like snow or wet sand or shortbread dough (depending on your personal experience — surely everyone has experienced at least one of these things). At that point, pack the stuff into molds. I like to rub the molds well with shea butter. Some people mix the shea butter into the fizzy mixture, but I find that less successful. You just want a little for luxury, after all.

Leave the fizzies in the molds for a few hours, then unmold them and quickly wrap them against moisture. Some people bake their fizzies at a low temperature for an hour or so for a crisp finish, and I have done this in the past, but I didn’t find that it made a big difference. Some people also hide things in the middle of the fizzies — fortunes, you know, or charms.

These make nice little gifts for your girlfriends, and combine well with tawashis, knitted facecloths, and suchlike. If you use a non-girly scent like the one I mentioned, there is no reason you couldn’t give them to a guy, either. You can also keep them for yourself, and once you try one, you will probably want to.