sienamystic: (Be More Awesome)
This coming week is going to be on the rough side, stress-wise. I'm doing some stuff at work that is Big and New and I am hoping I have organized everything but of course am scared that I haven't remembered to do something important that will screw things up. Plus it's stinky hot out, the kind of heat that just wears you down and makes you want to crawl inside and hug an air conditioner, and it saps the will out of me. Oh! and of course I'm crampy and irritable and hormonal as well.

I hope I will feel much better by Friday, and that everything goes smoothly.

Bemo's birthday was yesterday so we had chocolate cake and ice cream and friends brought over port and good chocolate and we played Cards Against Humanity and were happily raucous.

I'm also trying to nudge myself into writing more,but not fic. Instead I'm trying to work on the original book I've been trying to do for years now, but always find myself stalling out on (I hate plotting.) Maybe I can get something going with it finally.
sienamystic: (horse)
Back from my four days in Toronto. I'm footsore, having tromped through most of the area right around my hotel, but I also relied on the pretty great public transport the city offers. I was in a very central location downtown which meant it was pretty touristy in spots but tourists were just sort of the background parade of bustle. This is different from DC, where in certain spots locals are outnumbered by gangs of roving tourists following guides waving umbrellas, and you have to elbow your way through them to get from point A to point B.

My current city just has to put up with football crowds, which are easier to avoid.

Anyway, my time in Toronto was marked by a lot of eating wonderful food. The biggest thing I miss living in a smaller city is not just having access to different types of cuisine, but having multiple choices for every type that are all good. That was certainly the case here. I could have eaten dinner at a different Chinese place every night and not had to walk too far to do so. Or ramen, or roti, or bibimbap or specialty burger joints, or whatever. I didn't even get to the pierogi, sadly.

I spent most of my time along Queen West, which was fun and funky, and also in Chinatown and around the Kensington Market. The city itself felt like it had mostly been marked by big growth in the 1970s, and everything was a little grubby and cementy and worn and I suspect it's not a great place to be in the wintertime. Very grey and dingy, I imagine. (I think somebody told me there is a maze of underground tunnels and shops and things so you can stay out of the weather, which makes a ton of sense.) But everyone I met reinforced the stereotype of nice Canadians, and it was a thorough pleasure to be in a place that's so deeply multicultural. People-watching was magnificent, especially since there were tons of twentysomethings rocking fashion that I could never pull off but can have fun looking at.

On one of my days I went out to a little boutique for plus-size clothing and spent some serious cash (for me) on some clothes. If I were to describe my clothing style to you I'd usually say "jeans and some sort of t-shirt" because I am unimaginative and also I like jeans and think I look good in them. But I was seduced into buying some wonderful flowy tops in breezy cuts, including a watercolory print kimono throw and a truly outrageous paisley fringed thing. I'm afraid they all say "art teacher" kind of strongly - my mistake perhaps for saying that I worked in a museum - but then again, maybe it wasn't a mistake because I think they look great on me. So, I guess I'm embracing a stereotype of Older Arty Lady? Maybe the little purple fit and flair dress I bought will help keep the Older bit somewhat at bay. Or maybe before I know it, I'll be moving to Taos and will start to throw pots.

Oh, and this is completely petty of me, but the salesfolk took my photo in said purple dress, and also the photo of a woman trying on clothes in the booth next door, and said they were for Instagram. I was simultaneously flattered and worried that I was too sweaty and un-made-up, but they coaxed me into it, but I think I was right because the other woman's (very cute) photo has appeared and mine hasn't. I can't decide if I'm disgruntled or not. I don't like to think that I bought more clothing from them that I otherwise would have because I was feeling happy and flattered, but I guess if I did, good for them, they did their job well. And really, I'm not very photogenic and had just spent an hour on public transport to get there, so it's probably for the best.

While flying home I got to witness older American businessmen being really rude to gate agents, which was obnoxious. Actually, since my hotel catered to the business trade, I was kind of surrounded by them all week, and being forced to eavesdrop as they sat in the bar and in the lobby and barked things into cell phones. It was all Very Urgent. But all my flights for the trip turned out to be pretty smooth and I got to sit in the exit row on the tiny plane for my last leg back, so hey, surprise bonus.

I'm going to miss the food. I already do.
sienamystic: (tempt me)
Have just frosted a chocolate cake that I stress baked this evening. It's not bad - the cake is a bit undersweet and the frosting is a bit oversweet so they work ok together, I guess? I'm stress baking because I'm trying to get stuff done at work that's been left undone for too long, and when I do that I start tail-spinning into an anxious fret. So, distraction via melting chocolate in a makeshift double-boiler.

The lady problems mentioned in my last post, btw, went away with a short course of pills, so for the moment things are kinda back to normal. I'm still wary, and occasionally stare at my midsection with a suspicious expression. But otherwise, hurrah.

In other news, it's weird to be experiencing 63-degree weather in the Midwest in late January while there are epic snow events elsewhere. Hope everyone in that corner of the US stays warm and safe and snuggly with pets and significant others and lots of mugs of hot chocolate. Over here, my boss is contemplating getting her Vespa out of winter storage for the week, cold mornings notwithstanding.
sienamystic: (commedia)
I have been unposty! But I have been doing things! Here is what I've been up to:

- Read The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, which I love love loved, and Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch and I loved it a lot too and just bought the next three books because it's been a while since I was excited by new reading. Oh, also read the newest Harry Dresden book and enjoyed it a lot as a return to form after two books I was really disappointed in. Not to say it was perfect but it made me decide to stick with the series after I was considering bowing out.

- Watched Edge of Tomorrow after all the good word-of-mouth and really enjoyed it. Fun, thrilling, funny, tightly edited, well done, bravo bravo and I don't understand because it apparently didn't do well at the box office? Boo on that, it was great.

- Traveled to Chicago and San Antonio and had a very nice time in both cities while getting some work done there

- Learned the basics of making jam, in a rough-and-ready fashion. Also, brioche.

- Currently entertaining some of the in-laws, on account of a Significant Birthday of my husband (who is not exactly happy about the birthday but it coping with it better than feared)

And that's all I can think of at the moment.
sienamystic: (Default)
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and good wishes to all tonight. It's cold outside, but inside we're nice and warm, and our tiny tinsel tree is glowing invitingly. As is usual for our family, we opened presents on Christmas Eve. This year, since we're far away from family, Facetime was recruited to help bridge the miles, meaning we got to participate in all the raucous laughing and people talking over each other and cheering over gifts that is how Christmas Eve is supposed to go. We have good things for breakfast tomorrow, and will go to brunch with another friend who is in town as well and so pass the day in what I hope will be good cheer. Later, there will be Yuletide reading and freshly baked cookies and contented cats.

It's been a year of ups and downs. Here's to next year being more ups and far fewer downs for all of us.
sienamystic: (tempt me)
Making bibinka (a semi-sweet rice-flour-based Filipino cake that's coconutty and has a sort of spongy, puddingy texture) and buckeyes. The buckeyes are supposed to be rolled in cocoa nibs, but I couldn't get any, so they will not be peanut butter hedgehogs but rather plain old yummy buckeyes.

In other news, my usual winter plague of papercuts due to dry skin continues. Arrgh.
sienamystic: (tempt me)
Went over to a friend's house and baked four kinds of cookies. They mostly came out ok, but none came out quite as awesome as we had hoped. My coconut macaroons were probably the biggest success - really tasty, but turned out shaped like odd little sombreros. My brown butter cookies are ok, but I feel like they have a faint taste of raw flour to them. Co-worker's gingersnaps are mostly molasses-tasting (good for those who like molasses, which I don't, all that much) and her oatmeal chocolate cookies are nice enough but a little boring. Contemplating whether or not to bring them into work tomorrow.

If you have an awesome cookie recipe, feel free to point me towards it. Something luscious but not crazy-difficult would be lovely. I've got the baking fever upon me now.

We had nice weather up until recently, but the worm has turned. It's not chilly anymore, it's outright cold. Brr.
sienamystic: (flowermachine)
So, you know, Thanksgiving and stuff. Husband had a massive ear infection, rendering him temporarily deaf in his left ear and requiring drops and antibiotics. It was a very quiet few days and I was a little bored from time to time but mostly fine.

Have ended up in the comic book shop for the first time since the mid-90s when I was buying every damn X-book there was. What drew me back? Hawkeye, which is funny since although I'm clearly (clearly!) a fan of his in the movieverse, I have absolutely no Avengers comic book knowledge and have no appreciation for comic book Clint Barton, who I suspect is pretty different from movieverse Clint. (No idea why I think this - possibly browsing scans on Tumblr). What lured me in was the look of the book itself - the art, the coloring, the gorgeous limited palette. It's just so lovely and cool toned and I want to immerse myself. Comic book people can tell me if Kate Bishop is as awesome as she seems - I got very attached to her very quickly. Although I don't think I'll end up back in the comics world again, even if it's just an excuse to pet the comic book store's three immense cats.

Going back to the old homestead for Christmas. Excited. Fretting about money, though. I swear to god, I don't waste money on much, but I am hopeless in the grocery store. I can resist clothes or music or makeup or going to the movies, but I will by god pick up food I don't need just because I want it at that particular moment. I need to get a grip on myself.

A caution

Jul. 4th, 2012 05:33 pm
sienamystic: (Be More Awesome)
Note to self: when you've previously had chocolate cake overflow it's pans and all over the oven, clean that shit up before trying to cook anything in the oven again. Billowing clouds of smoke plus bits of charred batter on fire in the oven are no fun at all.

In other news, thanks to Ask Mefi, I'm now reading Herman Wolk's Marjorie Morningstar and really enjoying it.
sienamystic: (etc etc etc)
My birthday is tomorrow - looks like my gift from my mom is going to be a new tire. On Friday Bemo was dropping me off and a giant group of high school boys was trooping across campus and knocked over a normally-secured metal pylon. Cue loud yelps, clanging noises, and one big distraction, cue a slightly-too-hard curb check by Bemo, cue a flat tire showing up later that day and requiring a replacement. I am doing my best not to be really surly about yet another unexpected expense. I took out my irritation by cleaning the kitchen - at least all that energy can be harnessed for something worthwhile.

There's nothing that makes me realize how small the world has gotten than texting with my sister wile standing in the prep room unframing paintings, while she is on the other side of the world and about ready to go to bed. She's still on Mindanao, and aside from some mild annoyances with her classmates and some digestive issues and a sore throat, she's having a good time. She's prone to swollen tonsils, so fingers crossed that she shakes off the sore throat. She's already planted rice with a carabao, visited a shelter for young gang members trying to transition out of that life, and talked with a couple doing outreach through art.

Meanwhile, another friend is in Morocco and two coworkers are enjoying two weeks in Spain. I am in full-on travel yearning mode.

Also, continuing to love Legend of Korra, even if the dialogue was a little stilted this ep and I wish they had more time to spin out the story. Several characters are suffering a bit from the pace and the romantic strands of the story aren't being handled very well, but the action sequences are dynamite and I remain deeply in love with Lin Bei Fong.

Got a box in the mail from my mom. As usual, it includes things I wanted (a trashcan from Singapore that I had as a kid, featuring three flamingos, some Chiz Curls from a Filipino market because none of the markets here carry them), some things I didn't expect but were nice surprises (clothing from my sister - we've been swapping things) and some absolutely batshit stuff only my mom would think I want (a busted plastic knight's helmet, some clothing from mom that she knew I wouldn't fit into) and some things I wish she had not seen (A FAN LETTER TO RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON THAT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE READ BY ANY OTHER EYES). Oy.

Am currently watching some track and field events to get jazzed for the upcoming Olympics, which I unabashedly adore watching - not just track and field but a ton of events I otherwise do not follow at all. Am currently speculating that if I were a javelin thrower, I'd set up dummies and pretend to be attacking enemy troops. Meanwhile, a roast is filling the house with a very nice odor of steak and onions and potatoes, and I'm anticipating something delicious soon.
sienamystic: (SPQR)
So I'm back from my work trip which had a lot of leisure time built in, except there was also some stuff that didn't go very smoothly. But it's all been worked out at this point, so hurrah. I got a little obsessive about collecting beach glass on the beach my bed and breakfast looked out onto, and I'll give some to some co-workers who love the stuff, but I should take a photo of the pile before I do. I also ate a lot of cannoli and other Italian pastries - there's a strong Portuguese and Sicilian heritage in the town and I spent a morning sitting at a cafe that could have been in Palermo - great coffee, pastries, and a clutch of gesticulating old men chatting in Italian, Sicilian, and occasionally English, with a lot of enthusiasm.

It's only since I've been going on work trips that I've gotten to know the northeast part of the US a little more, and I really sort of love it. Although I've never seen it in the winter, so. But I've really loved some of the bits of it I've seen recently.

Drivers in Massachusetts are terrible. Saw a lot of texting while driving, driving either way too fast or way too slow, an inability to merge, a misunderstanding of the physics of a semi that would otherwise maybe prevent you from slewing in front of one and immediately slamming on your brakes...

Despite doing well the previous trip, Bemo didn't handle this one as well. He said he cried a lot, didn't leave the house much despite a list of stuff he could do (he likes having the lists, and we used them successfully before) and on the whole seems to have gritted his teeth and endured. It makes it a little difficult for me as well. Hopefully the next time travel comes up for me, he'll be able to deal with it a bit better.

The cats are happy that my suitcase is sitting in the living room, and they have taken turns sleeping on top of it. It's the prize spot at the moment.

Meanwhile, my sister seems to be getting a lot out of her trip to the Philippines, though it does seem to be pretty exhausting. She's currently in Davao at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute. She got to visit with a couple of the titas, and will have more time with family on the other side of her trip.
sienamystic: (tempt me)
Here it is out of the oven:

out of the oven

As you may be able to see, the top of it got a little fragile, so when I plopped whipped cream on it, it cracked. So I broke it into pieces and served it with strawberries - the inside did, in large part, come out nice and marshmallowy.

with whipped cream and strawberries

It's been voted a very tasty success.
sienamystic: (Let them eat cake)
chocolate pavlova before baking

It's in the oven now. Exciting!


But some occupants of the household don't really care. They just want you to scratch their tummy.

Ratchet doesn't care
sienamystic: (Jareth)
The green curry chicken dish came out really well, including the clumsy but ultimately successful dissection of the chicken into component parts to bubble away in the coconut milk. And the second chicken (what I had taken as a giant chicken turned out to be two more normal-sized ones, tucked side by side...clearly I should have been counting legs) has just been roasted last night and will be turned into sandwiches. And I made another batch of the veggie bacon pasta, which has turned into an old reliable dish. And in-between somewhere there, there was a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

One of my weird psychological quirks is a deep love in preparing food, and then a lot of indifference about whether or not I actually eat any of it (or go have a peanut butter sandwich later). Strangely, my sister shares this quirk, which crops up every once in a while unpredictably. (Certain dishes never trigger it, and the longer a dish is in my rotation the more apt I am to share a bowl of whatever it is on the spot). Neither of us can pinpoint any reason for this weird reason, unless my thesis research on nurture, the woman's role in feeding, and fasting as it relates to female mystic saints still carries over to modern times. Which, I suppose, it may, but I'm damned if I can see how.

So this is all a roundabout way to say that the green curry chicken was great, but I'll probably eat more of it next time when I've had more time to work out my relationship to it, but I've already eaten a bunch of the plain roast chicken because I make those all the darn time.
sienamystic: (outlaws)
I am so hopeless at refusing people who are excitedly trying to sell me things and calling me honey and being super-helpful. Because I went into the Vietnamese grocery and came out with a giant frozen chicken plus all the fixings for twelve years of noodle dishes.

pro/con

Feb. 19th, 2012 08:30 pm
sienamystic: (tempt me)
The good thing about a waffle maker - plenty of delicious waffles
The bad thing about a waffle maker - we're eating too many waffles
sienamystic: (Pete whining)
It's always lovely when the morning brings unexpected family drama, and it's even lovelier when you're the one who inadvertently triggers it. The Facebook "share" button can be a tricksy thing. Thankfully, it's mostly died down, but I suppose it's useful information to know that you're never too old to feel like a hurt little kid. Blast my father and his overwhelming cowardice anyhow.

In other news, I have a three-day weekend to look forward to, which is pretty awesome. And today we had tres leches cake to celebrate a birthday. And I got to see some proofs for an upcoming catalogue that I had some participation in, and it looks pretty darn cool. And my sister and I hashed out a food plan to start getting our respective crazypants eating under some sort of control. And I earned a little money by doing some ad hoc photo research for a London publishing house, very unexpectedly.

Since I had a bowl of the competition this afternoon, have an 1930 ad for Heinz spaghetti inna can.

Heinz cooked Spahhetti ad 1930
sienamystic: (DADA)
Grab the nearest book to you, turn to page 45, and read the first sentence. It will describe your sex life for 2012.
"Spade did not look at the pistol." - The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett.
Uh, let's hope that's not actually prophetic in any way.

Have made chicken chili and served it up with really good cornbread from a Trader Joe's mix (and I even got to use my cast-iron skillet for the purpose.) Pretty good for the day when the weather has turned from an unbelievably nice span of weather to windy and briskly chilly.

Have not yet gotten back in the going-to-the-gym groove. Why is it so hard? It used to be a routine part of our lives, but somehow going back after a long absence is like pulling teeth. We're on for Friday. Thursdays are aikido, and I may start volunteering for the children's class, although I'm not sure yet.

It's hard to type with two cats snuggled against you. I thought I had more to say, but then Fat Orange lay down on the keyboard, so I think that's it for tonight.
sienamystic: (SPQR)
Hanging out at a coffeeshop grading tests and listening to David Bowie (makes remarkably good background music to do this.) Am contemplating a pot of tea, but then I'd really be drowsy and less inclined to get work done than I already do. Outside is a railyard and beyond that, a pretty pink and white and purple sun setting over what was a very nice late-fall day that has included some tasty banh mi from the food truck and some lounging on the sofa before I headed out to get some work done which as you can see, I'm responsibly plowing through.

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