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Hot Toddy

Yesterday, I was stuck at home with a horrible cold.  Sniffly, sad, and pouty.  I laid on the couch, surrounded by rumpled kleenex and supervised by the dog.

A friend sent me a hot toddy recipe with the promise that it would make me feel much better.  I tweaked it (for science!) and I must admit, she was right.  I did feel better.  Enough to mooch around the block with the dog and then sprawl on the couch again.  And if it doesn't make me feel better per se, I certainly care a lot less.  Heh. 

In a mug, mix:
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Good for what ails you. 


today's to do

1.  Get up extra early to drop mom off at her car.  (done)
2.  Take shower. (done)
3.  Pick up meds. (ran out of time, must do later tonight or tomorrow AM)
3.5 Gather photo ID, backup proof of address, voting locale roll-call sheet, etc.  (done, stupid new voting laws)
3.75 Get soothing mocha/coffee product. (ran out of time)
4.  Vote. (done)
5.  Work. (in process)
6.  Refuse to read web/listen to radio/watch tv until it is all over.
I do not like eggs.

Not even a little bit.

In fact, I hate eggs.  I won't eat them, unless they're heavily disguised in a bread product.  Eggs are the only food that I refuse to eat (except for things that I'm allergic to, which doesn't count). 

When an angry friend who thought she was God's Gift To Cooking decided to serve tofu, dredged in yellow cornmeal and then 'fried' in Pam cooking spray on a non-stick skillet until the tofu got kind of funky tasting and the cornmeal bits turned sort of black and charry, accompanied by Uncle Ben's instant, frost-burned microwaved wet and slimy broccoli, I actually consumed that food with a pleasant smile like unto a statue.  I wasn't happy about it, but I did it.  I put that food in my mouth, chewed, swallowed, and finished my serving. 

But if I am served with a plate of eggs, I have to look away.  

They are gross, creepy weird things, and I do not like them. 

Which brings us to this evening.  The Pook's ultra-natural single ingredient special dog diet was delayed because of the storm, so he's been eating nothing but rice and yogurt for the past few days. Yogurt is one of the few proteins his IBD digestive system can have.  Normally, he likes the occasional yogurt meal, but this morning, he sighed over his dairy product and looked peaky.  The only other proteins are venison, duck, and....eggs.

So tonight....did I?clicky clicky for the pollCollapse )

can't remember the last time I posted.

Here's a few things:


I forgot to bring lunch the other day.  I'd heard that Taco Bell had released a new Chipotle-knockoff.  It was supposed to be as good, but much faster and much cheaper.  I don't normally eat traditional fast food, but about once a year I head out and try it.  So I wandered off to Taco Bell.  Ordered the chicken bowl and a backup Mexican pizza.  Good thing I got the pizza, because the bowl was horrible. 

It's supposed to be cilantro rice, roasted corn salsa, marinated chicken, lettuce, actually avocado guac, and lemony dressing.  It was, as far as I can tell: reconsituted Uncle Ben style instant rice, weirdly wet (saline injected?) chicken with dark brown marks that are almost certainly from a painted on marking rather than any kind of 'charring', weird frozen corn, some sort of deeply slimy....green....stuff, and tangy dressing with oddly gritty texture.  The lettuce was sad and limp. 

I ate the Mexican pizza gratefully.  It's salty and greasy and terrible, but it does not pretend to be anything but what it is.  Greasy salty Ameri-Mex fast food. 


I joined a sock club again this year.  It started out great, as I mentioned, but it has since crashed and burned.  It's really depressing me.  The July shipment sock patterns still have errors, the September shipment went out in mid-October, the September shipment's sock pattern has errors, the mystery pattern not only had a major error but its update is now almost a week late, and the designer is basically off the grid.  I'm not naming names publicly, because I don't want to hurt the designer's rep, but it's really bumming me out.  It was really expensive, and while the designer did eventually say she had some life stuff happen, she also launched two other businesses this year.  I think she's just disengaged totally and kind of mentally 'moved on'.  Which I can understand, but at the same time, it was one seriously spendy club, dammit. 

My tomatoes were still producing when we got what I suspect is the first big killing frost of the season.  We wrapped them with sheets, but I suspect it got cold enough to kill the main vines.  If they didn't croak last night, they will for sure tonight (it's going down to 26).  I'm going to take them into the garage and hope for the best for the last tomatoes hanging on the vine.  I also put in over a hundred bulbs in the back yard and another mumblety-mumble are on their way to my house for planting out front.  *rubs hands together gleefully*  My roses are still performing, and my Jayne Austin has yet again hoofed up to at least eight feet (!!!). 

quiet whine

Work is moving to a new payroll system.  It is not going well.

I am just back from a visit to family down in Mexico (long story).  Still jetlagged.  Did get to eat some amazing food. 

There is still sewer water in my basement.

I have a headache.  I want to use the sink.  I am going to have a soothing lie down Real Soon Now, dammit. 

But for now?

Coffee is as good as it gets. 

Vom's Theory of Art and Hatefest essay

As part of Hooded Utilitarian's blogiversary, Noah's running a Hatefest.  He invited us to write about the comic we thought was most overrated, that we hated the most, or that we found the worst in whatever way.

I chose Alex Ross and wrote four thousand words about why I think it's terrible art. 

(If you are uncomfortable with negative type reviews, this probably will not be something you'll enjoy.)

Sunday supper soup and bread

For [personal profile] coraa 

Vom's Sunday Supper Chicken Soup. 
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Serve with homemade no knead challah (recipe here!  pretty good!) and some butter. 

For the ultimate in Sunday decadence, I made baked apples for dessert. 

small batch misir wat recipe

This turned out rather well, so I thought I'd share.  It's vegetarian and can be made vegan (just substitute oil for the butter).

I had a uniquely difficult day.  It resulted in me eating very little because of an upset stomach and when I'd gotten home and calmed, I made a late night snack.  (I'm going for Ethiopian on Sunday with a friend, but sometimes a girl needs some wat Right Now.)  If you have berbere on hand and spiced butter, your own recipe is likely to do you better.  This is a makearound for a late night snack or an inexpensive adventure.

You will need:
1/2 package frozen onions
Most of a stick of a butter (you don't have to use that much, but me and my not eating meant I was happy to use as much as I saw in the more generous recipes).  You could also use oil.  Ideally clarified spiced butter, but I didn't have any, I love butter, there you go.  
1/2 cup red lentils, WELL WASHED and make sure there's no gravel in there
1 tablespoon cheapish Hungarian paprika (the kind in the red can)
1 tablespoon ancho chili (I ran out of aleppo)
1 tablespoon really good sweet paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
a few fenugreek seeds or a pinch of fenugreek powder
An inch of peeled ginger, finely chopped or grated
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
Salt, the saltening, added later
3 or chopped tomatoes
Water, various amounts

In a large pot, melt the butter and toss in the onions, heat on medium while you wash the lentils and gather the spices.  You can let the lentils soak a bit after washing them a couple times.  That helps get whatever weird stuff is on them off again.  Or not.  Up to you.

When the garlic is chopped, add it.  Ginger, ditto.  Then let those cook a bit.  You want the onions to cook to a mellow stage.  Frozen onions are usually sharper, ime, and mellow after cooking. 

Add the powdered spices and cook for a couple minutes. 

Drain your lentils and add them.  They should be thoroughly stirred in so they get coated and cooked in oil.

I then added about 2 and a half cups water and then add the tomatoes.  Bring to a gentle boil and then lower to a simmer for about thirty or forty minutes, stirring only occasionally (they'll be soupy for about this long).

As they get mellower and soak up liquid, they will get stickier, so you'll need to stir more often. 

I like mine very very soft, so I cook them over an hour total.  At this point, add some salt to taste.

When they're done, you will need to stir each time to serve, as the oil separates a bit.  OK, a lot. 

Serve with flatbread, toast, rice, pita, injera, etc.  This is not terribly spicy, because it's paprika instead of, you know, actual berbere.  Adjust to your own palette.  If it's a bit spicy, eat with cottage cheese, a traditional way to mild things out. 

Or you can do as I did, which was add some additional grated ginger and salt, and then eat it with a spoon.  


Summer's zinnia
droops her head, like a lady
tired of parties.

quick art prompts?

My amazing new paints arrived today.  They're mica filled acrylics and similar to Twinkling H20s.  The paints are called Silks and I'm taking an class on them in late August!  (Super excited about this.)

Anyone want to toss a prompt my way?

These are very experimental, so it's likely to turn into conceptual, abstract, or meaningful flower paintings more than traditional figure work. 
Driving out to work, past Evening Star Road
What should be green is gold
Honey brown waves upon our hills
Whose sky starts low and goes high, high
What should be green is gold
Sharp-toothed combines shining outside John Deere
Dust hanging above every white gravel road, haunting forever
In the valley dips, sharp bladed plants are only waist high
What should be green is gold
The corn is dead.

If you have prayers to spare, pray for rain.  We need it.
I've been working hard to do more relaxing things.  These days, when it isn't too hot (we've been in a big 100 heatweave so not those days, basically), I've been going outside in my gorgeous back yard and sitting in the grass under my oak tree to have my coffee. 

I am so glad I bought this house.  It took many years of hard work to get here, but guys, guys, it is fantastic.  

With the help of the neighbor kid, we've built several raised garden beds and as you'll see in the video below, I've put lots of pots on the porch and built a small bed next to the old hot-tub enclosure.  The vines are all rare heirloom beans, by the way, and the big spiky things are zinnias.  The other day I had a yellow chickadee and his mate come and land on the zinnias and pluck at the seeds or pollen there.  So amazing!

We have butterflies of all colors, a yellow and black young garter snake, lots of small chipmunks and squirrels, but so many glorious birds.  The usual loud black-green starlings, sure, but also wonderful robins (including a nest on the garage light and in the rose bush), sparrows, cardinals (red and brown), blue jays, a very much browner dark sparrow-sized fella I'd never seen before, and the shockingly yellow chickadee. 

I wanted to share a bit of the relaxation, so I shot this video yesterday.  It was a spontaneous thing.  I was on my blankie under the oak with my laptop (yes, my wifi carries that far--how awesome is that?) and I saw the Pook laying there, guarding the main entrance, and even with the crappy webcam, I thought, well, why not capture some of this.  

Totally worksafe.vid below cutCollapse )

Lackey post up

I've got a new post over at HU talking about Lackey's Arrows trilogy.  I'm planning to write one about Vanyel, too, eventually.  Come say hi!

so about that Vorkosigan series

I think I may be the only person on the planet who disliked Komarr, A Civil Campaign, and still hasn't read Cryoburn. I adore Ivan, but I don't think I'll get that book. Oh, there was another book or two in there, wasn't there--forgot what they were.

I feel horrible saying all of that. For years Bujold was a favorite. Now I feel traitorous and guilty.


a planting we will go.....

I have eleven roses sitting in a large plastic tupperware in my kitchen. 

....I may have over-ordered during that sale, yo.


There are at least four books in this series.  It follows the adventures of Mags, an orphan raised in a gem mine, who becomes a Herald during the time that the Heralds of Valdemar switch from being trained by individual mentors (as in Vanyel's day) to becoming trained in a Heraldic Collegium, as in Talia's day. 

So far there are three books: Foundation, Intrigues, and Changes, with Redoubt being released in October of this year. 

Cut for length. I tried to avoid major spoilers, but I do cover the obvious points like Mags getting chosenCollapse )

Personally, I'm off to reread  Magic's Pawn. 
Vanyel&Tylendel/Stefan OTP!

This is one of my favorite soups and I have been enjoying it thoroughly.  I wanted to share it with everyone before the seasonal vegetables were out of season!

It is based on some soups I've eaten in Vietnamese restaurants, an old Jaimie Oliver recipe, a collection of Thai online recipes, various of my own mad kitchen experiments, and some inspiration from my garden and my mom's delightful gift of very large bowls for when my girlfriend visited for Christmas. 

The basic soup is vegetarian and can be vegan as well as gluten free, assuming you use the right sort of rice noodles and appropriate broth.  It takes very little time to make.

Basic Version
You will need (per serving):
A very large wide mouthed bowl, the kind that pho comes in
Seven or eight baby bok choy
A serving of wide dry rice noodles (such as the kind used in Pad See Ew)
3 cups of strong broth (I like Rapunzel vegan broth cubes or my own homemade stock)
Two quarter-size pieces of fresh ginger, finely chopped
Quite a lot of fresh basil of various kinds, including Thai Holy Basil, Pistou Basil, Italian sweet basil, random purple basil, etc, ideally one handful of mixed basil per serving
A bit of fresh mint
Two tablespoons of coarse raw sugar (turbanado sugar)
Several tablespoons of lime juice, fresh or bottled
Aleppo pepper flakes (they are not really hot and are very rich and full flavored, but feel free to sub in hotter pepper if you prefer)
Nasturtium flowers or violets
Soy sauce

In a small saucepan, heat the broth to a rich boil.  Add the sugar, chopped ginger, and the rice noodles.  Grind in some black pepper.  By cooking the noodles in the broth, the starchy noodles will absorb the broth flavor and also thicken the broth slightly.  This is all to the good.  Because I like salt, I make my broth extra-rich and salty.  If you need less salt, use no-salt or homemade broth, it will still be good!

While the noodles cook, pull open the baby bok choy so it's in individual leaves.  Lay the leaves prettily in the bowl and sprinkle with lime juice, most of the basil, mint, and aleppo pepper. 

When the noodles are quite soft and the broth is a bit thick, bring to a very hard boil and then pour the whole thing over the baby bok choy and greens in the bowl.  Garnish with the last of the basil and the flowers.  Serve with soy sauce, additional pepper, chili-garlic paste, chili-oil, extra lime wedges, etc. 

Allow to sit for a minute or two before diving in.  The broth will cook the baby bok choy and greens, but not so much that they get too cabbagey or mushy. 

1.  Use pea shoots instead of baby bok choy.  Really really good, but you pretty much have to have your own garden for this.
2.  Instead of black pepper, grind in Schezwan pepper. 
3.  Add garlic and finely chopped fresh spring onions.
4.  Garnish with chive flowers instead of violets. 
5.  Use green garlic, finely shredded beet greens, some sherry, and orzo, omitting the sugar, ginger, and lime.  Garnish with olive oil. 
6.  Add marinated tofu, cooked chicken, slices of beef, or other protein of your choice.

Small request: My shiso has come up and is growing well.  Does anyone have recommendations for a good recipe to try out shiso?  I can't eat fish or seafood, but am otherwise open....

I am super, ridiculously excited to announce that my comic, the aforementioned Wonder Women and the Space Crocs of Nikszkelion, is now completed.  I have drafted, inked, scanned, cleaned up, and lettered all thirty pages of it.  Actually, I think it came out long than that, as I have vague memories of saving some pages as 16.2, and 16.8, but nevermind.

The main thing is that I am DONE.  And I am so thrilled and so thoroughly overexcited to share it with you all.

*dances around in a nervous but happy fashion*

The Hooded Utilitarian is hosting a multi-week celebration of Wonder Woman classic's William Marston & Harry Peter run.  There's a whole bunch of awesome posts over there and I recommend them to you all.

Aaaaaaaaaand is also has my little comic.  *bounces*

You can read it here!

cannot read Gmail's New Look

Does anyone know of a different email client?

I need the following:
Dark (non-white) inbox, with email messages having a line between them.  (I used to use themes in Gmail to keep the inbox list of messages dark, and I'd like to keep that if possible, so that the only pale color is the message itself--I don't want my entire screen screaming white--it gives me a vicious headache.)
Boxes around conversations, not this horrible swimming white space.
ABSOLUTELY no chipper random icon.  HATE THAT.
No flashing ads, vids, etc. (so, hotmail is a no)
Something that saves my chats in a format that I can search, save, and use (this is how I write).
Words instead of flowers, shapes, or funny boxes on action buttons.

I am happy to pay.

Yes, I asked for assistance on the Gmail help forums.  They told me that the HTML only look would suit me.  It does not.  I said as much and was told that they'd been told it worked well for people with visual issues.  Isn't it nice to be told how well something works when you've just said it doesn't?  Certainly other people know me better than I know myself.  

Wii Fit Plus--Thank you and update

I just wanted to say a huuuuge thank you to everyone who commented on my wii post, offering suggestions, advice, experiences, game ideas, and so on.  It helped enormously!

I bought a wii and balance board a few weeks ago and have begun using it.

I couldn't be more delighted.   As y'all know, I've got some fairly tricksy joint issues, including arthritis, which means no impact no siree but at the same time, I need to keep up strength, body condition, and exercise endorphins per doctor's orders.  

Here's my experience so far:
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Which of these newly acquired books should I read?

Poll #1825030 tell me what to read

Which book should the VM read and take copious notes on next?

The Art of Possibility (recommended by my mom, all about upbeat creative thinking, especially for artists)
Fallen, a trashy teen fantasy novel (impulse buy_
Full Catastrophe Living (HORRIBLE title), about the stress reduction clinic at U of Mass hospital, well-researched, esp for chronic pain, but currently setting off my woo-buttons
Control Unleashed Puppy Program (halfway through my second read)
Same Sex Unions in Premodern Europe
Some kind of silly m/m romance I impulse bought on Kindle. There's orchids and lace trimmed cuffs.
Reread Vanyel. Obvsly.

wii fit plus?

Does anyone have one of these?  Do they like it?

I am still in a holding pattern for workman's comp and I'd like to find a way to exercise that will improve my balance gently but which is doable on my current schedule, aka I work nights so classes are Right Out and many of the exercise videos I used to use are just plain too high impact.

I don't own a wii, so I'd need to spring for the console as well as the balance board. 

I used a balancy board doohickey in PT and it helped me a lot, so I was thinking that perhaps the wii fit would be similar and as you know bob-flist, I am very fond of yoga. 

What I'm hoping for: Tell it I want to work on balance for the next twenty minutes.  Tell I want to do 25 minutes of gentle yoga. 

Will it do that? 

ETA: I am reliably informed that Wii Fit Plus is better, so I'd be getting that. 


Five thoughtful observations

1.  I talked to my dad this weekend.  It was deeply stressful.  When my brother visited the other weekend, it was interesting to hear him talk a little about dad (my brother hasn't spoken to him for nigh on twenty years now) and for his extremely optimistic girlfriend tell me that she'd initially dreamed of convincing him to reconcile and that there could be a happy ending.  Then she heard about a particular story and decided that, no, really, it was TOTALLY FINE for him to never see him again ever.  She leaned in and said, anyone who's had to go through that has the absolute right to make up their own mind as to whether they see that person again.  I quite like her.  She's thoughtful and sweet and I can see why he's head over heels for her.  It's mutual, and very endearing.  

2.  I've been working hard to craft a gentler, sweeter life for myself.  See that sentence?  Feel the irony?  Working hard to relax, baby.  Yeah.  This is how I roll.  I am not good at: taking time off, asking for help, relaxing in general.  So, I have been trying to get myself to take a slightly different approach.  I had a wonderfully healing weekend in Chicago with a great good friend of mine.  We spent most of the time in pajamas, writing fan fic, when we weren't out shopping for homemade pie or giggling over pictures of smiling dogs.  I've started taking a little of that joy and setting aside a little time before bed to listen to something silly or watch a calming movie or take a soothing bath.  My sleep has been more restful.  

3.  I am working on writing up a newly released Super Awesome dog book for some buddies of mine.  It's based on Science and I loff it like burning.  As some of you know, the Pook has a genuine bonda fide anxiety disorder, which is what happens when you take a working line shepherd puppy and abuse him.  It's a good thing I'll never get a chance to meet his original owners.  Nobody likes a felony record.  *cough*  Anyway.  I love this particular system because it works great, it's extremely effective for the dog, and it's easily customizable to each individual dog.  It's also fairly complicated to review because I want to lay out how the mind works and how anxiety functions and how it's usually approached, so it's taking me a little while. 

4.  I have succumbed to a new fountain pen and some new inks and have been writing with nothing but my new Namiki Falcon for three weeks now.  I was fraught when I had to leave it at home to go on the plane.  Heh.  It is so smooth, you guys.  I write with my hand and arm, not my fingers, which is a bit unusual in this day and age.  (Old old handwriting is done with the arm and hand; my mom was taught to write by nuns.  Fortunately, this is very good for artists.)  Anyway, modern pens usually favor a much more upright style of writing and some pressure, whereas I just ghost the pen over paper with nearly no pressure.  My Lamy Safari has always written well as has my old Mont Blanc.  Unfortunately, the Mont Blanc, while lovely, has a steel barrel which my hands react to after a while and the Lamy has this good-for-others but lousy-for-me ergonomic shape which forces my hand to hold the pen in a very uncomfortable way.  So I sprang for the Namiki from RichardsPens, with the idea of using it strictly for drawing, as it is a semi-flex nib.  Instead, I am using it to write all the things and draw all the things and scribble all the things.  I have blown through a pack of cartridges as well as several testers of new bottled ink from Goulet.  Um.  Whoops?

5.  The Pook's health is getting a bit tetchy.  I boarded him for the weekend that my brother was in town, as his girlfriend is phobic of dogs.  As I think I mentioned before, his joint supplement was discontinued and I haven't been able to find him one that doesn't set off his IBD.  My best beloved vet of vets suggested we try him on Adequan injections, and in the last week, he's had his first two.  It's way to early to know whether they will help, but he has been having trouble climbing into the car, for example.  In any case, this weekend, he came down with what sounds to me like a cold.  He keeps sneezing (regular sneezes) and he also did some of that alarming reverse-sneezing that dogs sometimes do.  When I walked him last night, he came in and had what sounded to me like an honest to god asthma attack.  His chest kept heaving and he made truly alarming noises.  He was hunched over, eyes shut, and focused just on getting air in and out.  He leaned against me when I came up, and I could feel his whole body tremor with effort.  It passed, thank god, but dammit.  Thankfully, he's due his next shot today at 10:30, so I'll ask her then.  There is no getting around it, however.  My grand old gentleman is finally starting to show his age.  He's about 93 in human years.