lydamorehouse: (??!!)
We spent a lot of time baking this weekend.  Shawn made pumpkin & cranberry muffins, some pecan pinwheels.  I made cinnamon swirl bread, pizza dough, and French bread.... Oh, and we both made a blueberry pie:

blueberry pie with a moon cut-out

The artist flair happened when I realized I'd cracked the pie crust. So, I decided to repeat the design intentionally around the crust and then add the moon cut-out. As my friend [personal profile] jiawen says it's sort of a reverse eclipse pie.

I do a lot of things like this when the politics suck. Remember how right before the election I spent days and days on lawn care? Well, it's been raining here a bunch (though nothing like Houston, HOLY SH*T) and so I couldn't get out to do any weeding or mowing or raking. Thus, much baking.  This current administration is going to make me gain five thousand pounds.

On the flip side, the house smells AMAZING. And there are a lot of leftovers.

The other thing that happen is that on Friday, a gift arrived in the mail! At CONvergence, I promised my friend in Oregon,[personal profile] offcntr ,  that I would send him a signed copy of Seanen McGuire's Rosemary and Rue.  In exchange, he offered pottery.

handmade poetry, looking down, with a falcon visible painted in the well of the bowl

This is what I got!  Lovely, isn't it? It is now displayed prominently in our dinning room next to my stamping things.  A place of honor!  If you like the look of this, you should check out the rest of Frank's wears at: www.offcenter.biz !!

The other stuff that happened this weekend is that Mason went to the State Fair with his friend Rosemary.  Rosemary and her mom always run the 5K "Milk Run" at the crack of dawn (sometime after 7 am?) and Mason is their official "purse holder." In exchange, they get him a free ticket to the State Fair and they all hang out together for as long as my little extroverted introvert can take it.  Mason is extroverted enough that he likes going to things like this, but he's an introvert at heart and he leaves the party early with decreased energy, if you know what I mean. When he came home he had to hide in his room for several hours just to recharge his people-battery.  We had been hoping to hit the Munchkin Tournament  at Mischief Books & Games, but Mason just could NOT any more people.

This ended up working out just fine for me, because we had planned a big Sunday roast chicken dinner, and the timing would have been difficult if we'd run off to do the tournament.  The food was amazing. The French bread and blueberry pie, both HUGE successes.  I tried a simple roasted Brussel sprouts recipe that was... okay. Both Mason and I like Brussel sprouts, but I have been struggling to find a recipe that's tasty.  I swear I make them differently every Thanksgiving. Everything else was delicious. Shawn is only moderately fond of mashed potatoes so we ended up having hominy as our other side.  It worked pretty well, but I missed having an extra thing to slather with gravy and so had to do with extra helpings of "gravy bread."  :-)

So. Many. Extra. Pounds.

Though, if they all come from such good food, I will pat my round belly and sigh in happy contentment.  


lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 Look, don't judge, okay?  Sure, it's 9 am, but I've already been up for four hours and borscht looks really good to me right now.  I'm sure there are places in the world where stew for breakfast isn't _that_weird. In Japan, I could have miso first thing in the morning and no one would blink.

When I have borscht again for lunch in another few hours? THEN you can judge me.

What can I say? I really like beets. And cabbage.  But, especially beets. Borscht is one of the few times in my life where I look at a stew and think: "Are potatoes REALY necessary???" (If you knew the depths of my love of potatoes, you'd be pretty shocked right now.) I've also accidentally made this particular borscht recipe without cabbage and I still loved it.  I don't even put beef in my recipe, so it's just kind of a giant mess of beets and spices.  

Okay, I'm judging myself: pathetic beet lover.

If you're curious, I got this recipe from the St. Paul Farmer's Market Produce Cookbook, 2005 edition. It's from Evelyn Kaiser, and it goes like this:

5 cups of water
1 1/2 cups beets, peeled and diced
1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, peel and diced
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp utter
1 onion, chopped
2 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of green cabbage, shredded
1/2 put of tomato, chopped (or one can of diced tomatoes -or- one can of tomato sauce. Not being a huge tomato fan, I use either of these.)
1/2 cup beet, peeled and grated
1 tsp. dried dill (and a sprinkling of fresh, if available.)
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
salt and pepper (I add a beef bullion or two instead of the salt, because I like the meaty undertone that gives. Plus any bullion is super salty so I can skip any of the added salt.)

The rest reads:

Bring 5 cups of water to boil ad add diced beets, potato, carrots and salt (or bullion, in my case).  Reduce heat an cook covered over medium heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.*

In saucepan, heat butter and sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add the cabbage and sauté for 3 minutes. Sir in tomatoes, grated beets, and remaining ingredients. Mix well. Add sauté mixture to boiled vegetable. Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. 

*adding the potatoes at the same time as beets often ends with completely mushed potatoes. I would recommend dropping them in 10 minutes later or so, IF you want firm and not completely pulverized potatoes. I suspect this is why the recipe suggests peeling them. I'm usually throwing things into the pot that I've gotten from the farmers' market THAT DAY, so it seems silly to peel the potatoes.... until I forget i should have waited and end up with mush attached to skin. The other option is to skip them entirely, of course, though, despite all this, I rarely do that.  Probably because I feel guilty admitting that what I really want is a giant bowl of boiled beets and the potatoes makes me feel like I'm making a stew.

:-)

I have served this to others and have been met with mixed results. Beets and cabbage are definitely an acquired taste.  It's hard for me to tell if this recipe is as good as It think it is, since literally it could read: peel and dice beets, boil until tender, add salt, and I'd be like WHAT IS THIS WONDEROUS CONCOCTION??

Milage may vary.
lydamorehouse: (Renji talking smack)
 We went to Whole Foods yesterday, thinking to have a nice lunch after soap shopping. It was a disappointment.

I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but Mason had been looking forward to samosas and chicken marsala, both of which he's had before at the Whole Foods deli and really enjoyed. They didn't have any samosas and their chicken marsala was watery and the chunks of chicken were so big that they didn't absorb very much flavor.  It was kind of a bust. (My sushi was good, but...)

We did manage to find some fun soaps, however. There was even a scent called "dirty hippy." Mason was surprised when I guessed that it was basically patchouli.  He didn't buy it, but I could see he was tempted just because of the name. 

Since we were out driving around, we decided to head out to the Ramsey County Library to pick up the books that had come in for me. I requested the first four volumes of Pandora Hearts, which is an anime I started watching.  I figured I might actually be able to plow through it a little faster if I read it.  I'm not very good at binge watching, alas.  Binge reading? Yes. Watching, not so much for some reason. At any rate, I picked them all up and also found a few more on the shelves, so now I have the first seven to read.

From there, Mason talked me into stopping at Game Stop and picking up "Street Fighter" because we've been looking for a game that we can play together. I really like racing him in Mario Carts, but I think he feels bad for me because I'm SO TERRIBLE at it. He'll come in #1 and I'll be dead last. The point is, even though *I* found that fun, he really wanted something we'd be more equally matched in. "Street Fighter" totally works, because a button masher like me can totally win.  In fact, I easily won half of the time.  I think we've found our game.

Because Mason really craved samosas, we managed to talk Shawn into going out to the Indian place for dinner last night. (We like "Taste of India" in Maplewood.) Mason tried vindaloo chicken, Shawn had her usual chicken marsala, and I had curried veggies.  By chance at the restaurant, we ran into our friends Sean Murphy and Katherine Carlson who were coming back from Mankato, after having, unsuccessfully, tried to get into see the Viking's training camp.  They'd also stopped at "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store" on the way back, though Katherine thought the amount of candy on display was almost "obscene." I'm not sure I disagree, but, for me, that's half of the fun of that place. (I'm guessing they managed more virtue than we did. We left with a huge bagful, which was pretty obscene all by itself, after all.)  So we kind of chatted over the booths for a while, but we'd gotten there earlier, so we left after a few minutes.  Still, it was neat to see them. It's been a while, and Sean is one of my very best friends. (I was reminded, seeing him, that we still haven't made it to "Spider-Man: Homecoming.")  

I think I fell into a food coma after that.  I read a little bit in bed, but next thing I knew it was morning.  :-)

Tonight: Twins Game! We should have good weather for it. I will take a lot of pictures.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Saint Paul did not close its schools.  So guess who was up at o'f*ck o'clock shoveling the sidewalk and unburying the car?  That's right. THIS GIRL.

I was so irritated by St. Paul that my chiropractor literally pulled me aside to talk to me about my shoulder tension.  I resisted screaming into his face, "BLAME THE ST. PAUL SCHOOL SYSTEM!" Because, okay, yeah, I'm probably unreasonably irritated about having to get up early and shovel, but what made my shoulders that high was having to drive on half-plowed street with my family in the car.  Myself, alone, maybe I wouldn't be so tense.  But, with Shawn AND Mason along?  Yeah, no, that's a lot of responsibility and I really don't want to be responsible for having killed them, a pedestrian, or another driver and/or their family.  Yeah my shoulders were up over my ears. I was lucky they weren't higher.

Now the sun has come out to mock me.

I kind of wish that the skies had dumped an extra fifteen pounds of snow on St. Paul's head so I could self-righteously shout: "HA!"

On the other hand, because I was up and about early, I stopped by Whole Foods and picked something for the crock pot for dinner tonight and made myself a very early lunch (technically brunch? Maybe breakfast with lunch-related food?)

When Shawn was recovering from gallbladder surgery, a friend of ours, George, brought over his guaranteed vegan, all-the-fiber stew, which was basically: garbanzo beans, tomato chunks, and various veggies all simmered together.  It was super simple and he kept apologizing for it not even being a particularly tasty batch, but I LOVED it and now make a version of my own on a regular basis--mostly for myself, because my family is a bunch of unrepentant carnivores.  So somewhere around ten am, I stuffed my face with bean/tomato/potato/mushroom/okra/carrot stew.

Being irritable takes a lot of fuel, apparently.  




lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 ...OFFER JAFFA CAKES.

You _can_ find them, occasionally, around these parts, but Jaffa Cakes are kind of a UK thing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaffa_Cakes. I fell in love with them only recently when my friend in Wales randomly stuck a box into a care package of other things.  Shawn doesn't particularly like them.  Mason thinks they're pretty okay, for cookies, but I'm CRAZY about them.  

CRAZY.

As an example, Maggie (nee Jackson) and her new husband Ogie brought me about five boxes when they came visiting for Thanksgiving and there are now only three and a half boxes left (these are double boxes, at least, so I'm not panicking yet, but I'm going to be out of Jaffa Cakes before Christmas, guaranteed.)

I'm sure when I go to the doctor later this week, she's going to give me a look after I hop on the scale and mutter, "Thanksgiving, eh?" And, I'm going to be like, "No, Jaffa Cakes. Entirely Jaffa Cakes."

Speaking of doctors and things, I'm happy to report that I'm nearly pain free. The only concerning thing that remained is that, while I've gone down to a muscle ache I can cope with, I'm now experiencing numbness in a couple of fingers on my left hand. When I told my chiropractor about that last Wednesday, he asked if we'd done X-rays.  I said that we hadn't and I was actually going to ask him if I should ask my doctor to take some.  But, apparently, Charon Chiropractic has a X-ray machine right there, so they took a picture of my neck and shoulders.  Yesterday, he showed me the film and we talked about it. He was so relaxed as we were headed in to look at them, he was saying, "Oh, the films are so much better than I expected," and I thought, "Okay, great, so maybe it's all just muscle related...."

And then he starts talking about how your spinal bones are all supposed to make this nice line where they all match up, so the spinal cord continues uninterrupted, and he starts drawing down with his finger to show me on my x-ray and then... his fingers jog over where there's this sudden.... break, a shift to the left for two of the bones, and then back to the original line.  It's very clear; even to me, that that's not right.  He looks at me and asks, "Have you been in a car accident?"  

I'm like, "No.  Seriously.  I told you.  I literally woke up with this."

He says, "This is an impact injury.  This is a MAJOR impact injury."

So, I'm thinking about it and I say, "Okay, so... a couple of years ago, I fell down the icy concrete stairs outside my house.  I didn't have medical insurance at the time, so I just kind of shook it off.  I'd whacked my elbow pretty good, but otherwise I didn't think much about it, because I'd rolled in a way that felt like I'd protected my brain, you know? So now I'm thinking: I protected my brain all right, but NOT my neck."

And he nods, "That could be it." (And, then, being the helpful guy Dr. Matt is, goes on to tell me that I probably could have gotten the money to pay for medical expenses out of my home insurance because it doesn't have to be a stranger who hurts themselves on your property, it can be the owner.  Sometimes, anyway.  He thought I should check my policy, because, you know, insurance guys don't want to tell you that stuff.  Have I mentioned much about Dr. Matt?  He's like that jolly wrestling coach from your high school, if that guy was a lot smarter, way more interesting, and slightly better socialized.  He'll talk to me about golfing and ski chalets and his opinion on the current Pope.  This conversation led him to telling me all about the time his house got robbed, twice--all while he's cracking my joints and stuff. I kind of love him. Of course, I told him I was a writer right away and gave the office copies of my novels. So maybe he's just open with me because I am with him. Plus, I came on a recommendation of someone from his former church....)

Anyway, so as far as we can figure, I've been living with this major impact damage for years and, when I was lifting the loom and whatnot the weekend right before I woke up in pain--even though I never felt like I strained anything--I must have finally jiggered the wrong thing loose, and WHAMMO.

But, it's the sort of thing Dr. Matt sees all the time, and, as he kept stressing, not nearly as bad as he thought it was going to be, so that's all to the good.

I have to have faith considering that he's taken me from constant 24/7, screaming agony to "meh, it's the end of the day and I feel like I've been punched in the back a bunch times.  A couple of aspirin ought to kill that."  I mean, that's fantastic.  As I told him on Monday, I can live with this.  It's not ideal, but I can cope, you know?  

And, of course, Dr. Matt just smiles ands says, "We can make it better than that, Lyda.  See you next week."





 
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Shawn rarely likes to go to movie theaters any more. Mostly, because of the crowds, but also because the convenience of the small screen. You have have bathroom breaks without missing anything. Sit on your own couch and only be interrupted by the annoying comments of the people you love. I ended up seeing Avengers, Age of Ultron in the theater with my Marvel friends, but it recently was released to DVD, which means: time to watch it again with the family.

If you're going to watch Avengers, it seems only right that you serve shawarma.

Now, I've never had shawarma before, so I have no idea how this recipe Shawn found actually compares, but my family LOVED it. The original his here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spicy-chicken-shawarma, but I made a few changes so I thought I'll write them out here.

We've been on a budget lately, so the first big change was that I what I had for chicken was some skin-on, bone-in breasts that had been on sale. I cooked them up ahead of time in a pot with some onions and garlic and kosher salt until tender enough to pull apart with a fork.

Then I mostly followed the recipe, except where I didn't have what was called for.

---

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons, finely chopped fresh parsley (check, got some from the garden)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
1/8 teaspoon of ground coriander (nope, didn't have, so I substituted a dash of Penzey's Balti Seasoning, because the first ingredient listed was coriander.)
5 tablespoons of low-fat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (see above)
1 tablespoon tahini (believe it or not, we usually have this around because we've been known to make our own hummus from scratch. But, since I didn't have it, I ended up skipping making the sauce entirely.)
4 (6-inch) pita's halved
1/2 cup chopped cucumber (Mason isn't fond, so I stuffed his pita with lettuce)
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato (skipped because everyone in our house hates tomatoes)
1/4 cup pre chopped red onion (used white, because we had it to hand)

Preparation:
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon of yogurt, 1 tablespoon of juice, and two garlic cloves. Add chicken; toss to coat. Heat oil on a large non-stick skillet (I just always use our cast iron) over medium-high heat (which I actually adjusted down to low to compensate for cast iron and also, I hate the taste of burnt garlic and since the chicken was pre-cooked all I needed was to have things at sauté temperature.) Add chicken mixture to pan, cook until browned and done.

As noted we skipped the sauce. If you want it, you can go to the original recipe and follow the directions there.

Divide chicken evenly among pita halves. Fill each pita half with cucumber/lettuce/onion.

Serve.

....And feel very Avenger like while watching Avengers.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Mason and I have been playing tourist in our hometown. With what remains of the summer, I'm hoping to take him to a lot of the free/cheap things to do. But, yesterday we decided to try out the food trucks that congregate around Mears Park in downtown St. Paul. There were a number of choices: Asian Invasion, Gogi Bros., Twisted Fork, and Tiki Tim's.

We checked out all our options, considered prices (we only had a little over $6 each to spend), and finally settled on Asian Invasion. Mason had the pork dumplings and I had the Vietnamese pulled pork sandwich:

food trucks 004

food trucks 003

food trucks 002

Mason's big plan for this outing was to sit on a park bench, eat fun food, and read. So I brought along the book I've been re-reading (Sujata Massey's FLOATING GIRL) and we ate, read, and were harassed by aggressive birds.

food trucks 006

Mears Park is beautiful. It's tiny--really no more than your average city block--but it has a man-made stream and waterfalls.

food trucks 008

food trucks 012

food trucks 005
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Shawn is home from her conference in New Orleans. My happy house plant managed to be coaxed away from the hotel a couple of times and actually managed to see the French Quarter and the famous Café du Monde. She brought back this:

beignet 001

So, I read the instructions and bravely gave them a go

The batter was simple. Two cups of the mix and add water. The only tricky part was that I was meant to add 7 fluid ounces. It took me a bit to figure out that meant a little less than a cup. Luckily, I had one measuring cup that showed ounces. I wasn't sure what size to make them and I'm terrible at guess what two inches looks like in real life, so this is what I got:

beignet 002

beignet 004

beignet 003

The final product (with chicory coffee), which Shawn said was a pretty good recreation. I guess next time we'll try making them a little bigger, but they puffed in the middle like they were supposed to. And, of course, enough powdered sugar makes everything tasty!

beignet 005

The coffee was pretty gross, though, if you ask me. I'm glad I tried it, though.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Mason and I had big plans for Friday. They were going to involve a massive amount of Bleach watching in an attempt to do more catch up. (My Bleach knowledge is spotty. I've got some holes in it because we're watching the Anime so slowly, yet I went ahead and started reading the latest stuff in JUMP. So, I don't really know much about what happens after Aizen's defeat and before the Thousand Year Blood War arc, or whatever they're calling the current thing.) At any rate, we got to the end which was tremendously satisfying, and then Mason got really disheartened when it looked like we were faced with yet-another-deadly-never-ending filler arc from hell.

So, to cheer him up, we went in search of red bean paste at the Hmongtown Market:

hmongtown sign

Obviously this is a stock photo because everything would be covered in inches of snow right now. I love living in a big city just for things like th Hmongtown Market. When I park my car in the muddy/snowpacked lot looking out at the collection of metal warehouses, I like to imagine my blue Ford is actually a Tardis/police box and that when I step out, we've traveled thousands of miles to arrive in an entirely new world. Once we're inside, it's really not that hard to believe. The language changes. The customs change. The food is authentic... and awesome.

hmongtown food

Mason, in fact, got the chicken wing combo from this restaurant and declared them, "The best chicken wings I have ever had" (and he's had quite a lot.) I've actually been craving sesame balls filled with bean paste. If I were a Bleach character, my answer to the favorite food question would be these:

sesame balls

OMG, teh LOVE. (Look! They're even making a HEART-SHAPE at me right now! Yes, Seasme Balls, I LOVE YOU TOO!!) At any rate, I know at least one Hmongtown vendor has them, so after getting Mason some bubble tea--a mango smoothy with "bubbles," I bought a double order. I am currently having a left-over one for breakfast. Yes, *that* is the depth of my love.

But, before we ate, we explored the tiny cramped stalls full of cosmetics, traidtional medicine ingredients, CDs, videos, and toys (saw some plushy Naruto and Pokemon dolls, Mason got a cheap ninja sword, but, alas, no Bleach gear. Not really a surprise, but there were a few Japanese animation videos there and a lot of Jackie Chan/Jet Let Golden Harvest/Hong Kong stuff.) I admired the rows and rows of traditional Hmong clothes, and marveled at the array of shoes IN MY SIZE--if I was the type for glittery high heels, Hmongtown Marketplace would be my source! We checked out the farmers market, which in this season meant they mostly had imports on offer--things like Chinese brocolli, leechies, bamboo, lemon grass, and fruits and veggies I had no idea what they were.

Mason was a little thrown until we got food. I think, perhaps, it was culture shock. I know what that's like. Hmongtown never gives it to me, even when I'm negotiating the price of the ninja sword with a woman with whom I don't share a common language beyond pointing and gestures, BUT, for some odd reason, whenever Shawn gets a craving for El Burrito Mercado on the East Side, I'm overcome by it. It's a weird feeling. It's probably some kind of internalized racism, but I feel very much like an invader on what I see as SOMEONE ELSE'S turf. I suddenly realize, "OMG. I'm white and no one else is!!" (The horror.) But, thankfully, I've gotten over it. Partly thanks to just going there a lot (because life without Burrito Mercado is hardly worth living), but also because of Facebook. I'm friends with El Burrito Mercado on Facebook and I've been utterly charmed by the fact that they woe me to their shop in English and Spanish and that they want me to come and experience dining in their cafe while being serenaded by a mariachi band (how awesome is THAT??) So, whenever I get that culture shock twinge and start to wonder if I'm really allowed/welcome, I can say to myself, "Hey, they INVITED me here. It's okay." It's odd that I don't get it at Hmongtown, nor really in the Samoli neighborhoods. Maybe I feel more privileged to experience Hmong culture for some reason, though I did grow up in a town with a lot of Hmong-Americans/new immigrants. Perhaps I worked through whatever predjudices that might have been lurking in my hindbrain throughout high school.

This is how it works, anyway. One experience at a time. I know that during the 80s and 90s, I was the ONLY out lesbian a lot of people knew personally, and that helped changed people's minds, started to break down the stuff you don't know you have until you face it. Those folks I met at work and whatnot got a chance to get over _their_ culture shock slowly when I made them feel welcome by inviting them to peek into my world just a little.

I'm glad we stayed for food because not only did I get my bean paste, but Mason also got to feel a little uncomfortable for a while. Like I say, it's one of my favorite things of living in a big city--I love to be able to step outside my own neighborhood and walk into someone else's world for a while. It's marvelous.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Right, so I started the Monday after a long weekend WITH NO COFFEE. Then, half-way to school, Mason calmly informs me that we've forgotten his backpack.

Argh.

But, things are better now. I decided since Monday decided to SUCK LIKE A HOOVER, I would treat myself to a stop into my favorite coffee place, Claddaugh, and order a five dollar latte, which I almost never do any more. Claddaugh is a lovely place on 7th Street in the sort of outskirts of downtown St. Paul where you get the occasional crazy person who likes to sit in the warm coffeeshop. Today, as I waited for my to-go order, the crazy person in question shouted at random intervals nonsense about California. I couldn't tell what exactly he was talking about, but he didn't seem happy with that particular state of the union. My favorite part? Everyone ignoring him. I asked Mary, the coffee shop owner about him, and she shrugged and say, "Ah, he's harmless," and the guy sitting at the bar and I got into a discussion about how it's kind of nice the way coffee shops deal with the ocassional crazy. This guy was a regular, and people just sort of tuned out the outbursts. If anything, there was almost an air of protectiveness. "Him? Oh, he's OUR crazy." I told the guy at the bar about the time I was at Madison for WisCON and I was up early, as usual, and hanging out at the coffeeshop, Michelangelo's. A crazy guy there liked to randomly stand up and expound on how communists were in charge of the Interstate system and probably we were all going to hell because of it. Same as at Claddaugh. He was clearly enough of a regular that most people glanced up briefly when he started his speech, but then went back to reading their Saturday newspapers or playing Angry Birds on the iPhones.

After leaving Claddaugh, I came home to discover a request for an interview in my in-box. So I took a few minutes to answer the dozen or so questions and send it back. I got asked that ubiquitous question, "If they ever made a movie of your books, who would you cast...?" Normally, I hate that question because I don't watch enough TV or movies to even have a clue who's the new hottie superstar. But, I now have a defaut answer! J. Michael Tatum. He is, in fact, the only actor I know. True, he's currently best known as the voice of Sebastian in "Black Butler" and for his work in "Ouran Host Club," but, having met him, I can tell you, he'd make a fine Valentine or Sebastian in live-action. So, ta dah! I finally have a decent answer to that question. Granted, it makes me look perhaps a bit like a super-geek to name an Anime voice actor, but to which I say, "And your point...?"

The fun part of this story was that I was feeling brave so I texted J. Michael himself and told him this (through reasons that still somewhat baffle me, we exchanged phone numbers at the end of Gaylaxicon--apparently I didn't give him the impression I thought I did, which was, "Idiot Squeeing Fan Grrl"), and, anyway, instead of getting back, "And you are...?" He wrote back something very sweet which implied that he remembered me, but also made him seem like possibly the NICEST GUY ON EARTH. It's possible that he stared at his phone and thought, "Who the fuck is this?" but then shrugged and decided, "Well, you know, it never hurts to be nice," and then later went to the Googles to try to remember what possessed him to give his real phone number to someone in Minnesota who wasn't Anton... but, hey, it kind of made my day, regardless.

Thus cheered, I was able to make the return run to Mason's school to deliver the all-important backpack with "big mouth" (their planner thingie into which EVERYTHING OF SIGNIFICANCE goes,) and make a trip to the Ramsey County Public Library to begin to return the six thousand books that Mason took out at the beginning of Thanksgiving break. I also had to pay a nearly six dollar fine, because, well, for us, the break started at the beginning of the month and Ramsey County is evil and actually charges their juvenille patrons for overdue books.

In other exciting news, today is also going to be the day that I do something with all the leftover potatoes. You will be happy to know that I've started some potato bread. I'm a big fan of potato bread myself, even though I suspect my family will think much less of it than I do. It still only uses a cup of the stuff, so I will also be making knefla (a German potato/noodle-thing) for diner. That should take care of most of them. Perhaps I will also have to have one last gravy-slathered pile for a late lunch, too.

Whoot. Well, that's probably all the news that's fit to print. I will have to, at some point, write a recap of our Thanksgiving adventures. Suffice to say there was turkey (24 pounds of it), stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, brussel sprouts, and freshly baked French bread. Our friends the Jackson came so there was Boggle and puzzling and amazingly awesome company for several days. It's been a much quieter, sadder house without them. Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday because we actually have this lovely tradition of celebrating with the family we chose rather than the family we came from. I have no issues with my family of origin, mind, but it's really quite wonderful to gather people you've known and loved for years... people you picked, your friends... and hang out with them for a giant meal.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Its hard to believe sometimes that in high school I was voted "Biggest Women's Libber." If you had told me at seveenteen that, in my forties, I would be a stay-at-home mom who takes a huge amount of pride in the fact that I can lay out an awesome dinner on a budget, I would have said, "Are you kidding me?? I'm going to be a world-traveling poet living in a garret in Paris, who takes many lovers, all of them gorgeous men...." Oh, yeah, seventeen year old, Lyda, did I mention you're a lesbian???

*thud* <-- The sound of younger-me having died instantly of a heart attack from the shock of it all.

I would have believed, however, that I'd grow up to be a published author. I had a pretty powerful sense of my destiny for greatness.

I *might* have been a little horrified by all the romance titles and the psuedonym, but, I was much snobbier about such things back then. I thought Country Western music was for hicks only and I would have told you opera sucked.

Of course, it just demonstrates how old I am by the fact that my high school still had a catagory for "Biggest Women's _Libber_". Who even says THAT any more? We're all feminists now, thank you ver-y much. Heck, most of us are probably post-feminists or something.... I don't know.

Anyway, that was just a huge lead-up to the fact that I wanted to shared with you all that I made the most AWESOME buttermilk buscuits last night. Actually, the whole meal was pretty spectacular, as I tried a new recipie for "drummies" as well. (Whiskey/maple syrup coated in the crock pot. Nom. Nom. Nom.) The buscuits came from a recipie that recently appeared in the Star Tribune. The biggest problem I had was making the buscuits the right height. My buscuit cutter has a top and isn't quite an inch, so I ended up making half inch buscuits and stacking them. This turned out wonderfully, as they ended up having a "seam" to spilt.

I would have been starving in that Parisian garret. At least in this post-feminist, buttermilk buscuit world I eat really well.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Crossroads does this thing they call "early release days," which always makes me think of prision and parole. But, what it means is that Mason is off a bit early from school today. When I asked him what he wanted to do with his free afternoon, he told me that he wants me to make a fire in our chiminea outdoors and bring out a big pile of books to read while warming his toes. Doesn't that sound lovely?

Speaking of Mason's school, I need to complain about something. Apparently, this year they're replacing parent-brought snacks with a "new veggie a day" program, where they supposedly introduce the kids to various fruits and veggies they might not otherwise try. They've had things like strawberries and kiwi and mango, which all sound lovely. But Mason reported they also had sweet potato...

...raw.

Who the heck eats sweet potatoes raw??? I mean, I know you CAN, but my response was, "What are they *TRYING* to get kids to HATE vegetables?"

I shake my head.

Well, I should head home soon. I was hoping to make meatballs for dinner tonight and maybe bake up a batch of dinosaur cookies.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Mason's school has this tradition of celebrating the 100th day of the school year. They wear 100 day crowns, and (in kindergarten, at least,) did things involving the number 100. I have never heard of such a thing, but the kids seem to love it. I spent a good chunk of yesterday's volunteering time cutting out 100s and stapling them to strips -- clearly to be made into hat/crowns. Normally, it takes me two minutes to do the folders, and I was there yesterday for a whole hour. Then, since it was three, I went out to the car, plugged in my headphones and listened to a half hour long meditation tape -- which means I fell asleep in my car like a bum. I felt pretty stupid when I woke up all dehydrated and spacey.

It's also time for their annual food drive. Our class -- okay, really just our little clique -- is super competative. There are four of us, and this year we got divided: Henry and Dalton in one class, and Mason and Ava in the other. Well, Henry's parents are notorious for going to Sam's Club and finding large quanities of really HEAVY stuff (the competition is by weight). When our group was all together, this was awesome. We have ALWAYS won the food drive, which means our class gets the pizza/popcorn party.

Since we're divided this year, the heat is on. Ava's dad and I came in the other day to discover that Henry's class was ahead by twenty pounds. There is a poster in the main hallway that tallies the classrooms by pounds, and we stood there open mouthed. I could see the gleam in his eye, and I'm sure it matched my own. I ran out that next morning and bought twenty pounds of rice and beans and cooking oil. I saw Ava's dad coming in this morning with a fifty pound bag of rice and bunch of canned beans. Whoot!

On a more somber note about food shelves, Kowalski's was doing their annual drive as well and they have people that handout slips with the most desired items. I have to tell you, looking at that list always makes me pause for a "there but for the grace of God" moment. Tampons, diapers and toliet paper top the list. I always think how awful it would be not to be able to afford those "luxury" items (they're taxed as such, after all.) Inevitably, I buy tampons, diapers and toliet paper or toothbushes and deoderant for the Kowalski's folks. I tell myself it's my karmic duty. I would hate to be without things. They're the sort of things you need to feel human and civilized, you know?

This morning I got my lab work done through my pay-as-you-go doctor. Now I'm anxiously awaiting the results. Fasting always sucks, though this time my lab technician told me I could have black coffee in the morning. This one bit of news saved my sanity. I like black coffee. I prefer my froo-froo drink, but black coffee is my second choice.

Other than that, not much of note. Mason had a playdate with Dalton the other night. We served hot dogs and potato chips and hosted a lightsaber battle in the backyard (with only one minor injury reported). I think, however, that Mason was really more interested in having Dalton over so that he could borrow his Bionicals book. Mason almost had tears when we told him he had to socialize before he could sit and read the borrowed book.

Love that kid.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
So I (as Tate) posted a very similar "whine" over at MySpace about the article on self-promotion/author websites that I did here, except I asked my blog readers what they were looking for in a MySpace blog. Did they want more content? Did want contests? That sort of thing.

For one, I got a response. Relatively large response, too, give how little traffic the MySpace blog usually logs. Maybe six people answered, and they all pretty much said the same thing: "Nah, don't work that hard. We kind of like hearing about the weather."

First of all... there are still people on MySpace? Actually, I knew there were. Tate has more MySpace friends, and I have more Facebook friends. I'm not sure what that really means, other than the fact that once I realized that, I started making sure I put up new MySpace content more for Tate. The Lyda MySpace page is really pretty static. Both Tate and Lyda are fairly active on FB. I talk myself, if nothing else.

Anyway, I found that fairly fascinting. It continues to prove my point that what *I* think readers really want from an author's website or blog is just a chance to see who they really are... you know, sneak a peek into their daily life (which is why cat/dog/pet pictures are popular). I know that when *I* google a new favorite author that's part of what I'm looking for. I usually also want to know what else they've written, where I can buy it, and if they have any short stories squirreled away in anthologies I've never heard of... so I can run off and get those too. (Sometimes, admittedly, I google other authors just to see how they've designed their web site an if they seem cooler than me, and if so, by how much.)

But that's just because I'm totally unprofessional like that. Speaking of articles that made me sit up an take stock, [livejournal.com profile] kellymccullough posted this link on Wyrdsmiths to Lilith Saintcrow's blog, and now I'm paranoid that I'm totally "Z." (Okay, not really, but as I said over at my Tate blog, I can completely understand the impluse that produces "Z." I've handed out my share of business cards. I think I'm awfully cool and usually have no compulsion about sharing that fact with everyone I meet.)

Anwyay, I need to eat. My folks are coming up from LaCrosse today in order to take part in "grandparents' day" at Mason's school tomorrow morning. I've mowed and tidied up, but if I don't get food into myself I'll be more of a babbling idiot with them than usual...

Hey, salad anyone?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Right now I'm suffering from a bad sun burn. On Saturday, the family and I went up to Siren, Wisconsin to hang out for the day at our friends' cabin. We had originally planned to go for the whole weekend, but Shawn is off for a business trip to D.C. and didn't want the hassle of packing/unpacking/repacking. (Travel generally makes Shawn nervous. VERY nervous.) So our compromise (I really, really wanted to go) was that we'd head up just for the day. No packing invovled. Of course, Shawn still managed to pack several bags, but, for her, it was pretty restrained, only the swim bag and a change of clothes... oh, and the "bathroom bag" just in case.

Mason and I had a great time kiyaking back and forth across the lake: we did it twice, actually. There's a public beach almost directly across from their cabin, so we kiyaked over so Mason could play on the playground equipment and, weirdly, on the beach. I kept saying to him: "You know, we have private beach just over there." But my little Leo is very social and he really just liked being in the water with other happy, screaming kids... even though they were strangers.

We didn't do anything official for Summer Soltace, although I think getting sun burned is a fine tradition on a solar holiday.

We came back to discover that one of the filters on the tank in the thirty gallon tank quit working. Luckily, I have a smaller back-up filter that continued humming along, so I just left it until this morning when I ungummed the works and got it going again. We have a lot of java moss in that tank and the filter sucks it up on a regular basis... well, enough had gotten wound around the spinner/motor that it completely stopped turning. Anyway, the point is it's going again and I think the fish are MUCH happier. They're goldfish, after all, and they produce copious amounts of waste.

In other news, Mason has some serious garden magic. I told you we started a patch of a "Victory Garden" rather late in the season a week or so ago? Well, everything has come up, even the corn. The amazing this is that I did almost nothing to prepare the soil. I just turned over sod and left it for a couple of days. I didn't even really remove or break up much of the sod. Any seed that Mason touched has totally sprouted. To the point that I'm going to have to thin the rows already if we want anything to actually mature. He's got carrrots, radishes, peas, corn, sunflowers, and watermelon all growing like weeds. In my garden? Real weeds and not much else.

My mother is a good gardener, and I'm beginning to believe the green thumb must skip a generation.

Our CSA box is almost depleted thanks to Shawn's desire to have my "faux restaurant-style salad" for dinner last night. I make it a kind of big meal by adding a grilled bit of chicken (usually cajun spiced) on top, along with a sliced hard-boiled egg. But we snarfed up most of the head of buttercrunch lettuce, some of the green (actually purple) onions, spinach and arugala. All our radishes are eaten, as is the kohlrabi.

We still have a ton of potatoes, though, and one head of brocoli (which I think I may cook up for lunch.) But this is just right for us. Not a lot of waste, and we won't be getting another box for another whole week. (I was REALLY worried about getting more than we could handle, so this is wonderful.)

After lunch here, I'm off to write in the one air-conditioned room in the house. This year, Shawn and I decided (ahead of time, for once!) to put the air-conditioner into our bedroom. Unlike Mason's room, where it has been in the past, it's actually big enough to sleep three in an emergency. Plus, there's a good outlet in there so I can write. If only the big computer with internet connection fit in that room too!

Hope you're all well, and happy New Moon.

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