Present skills

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Apparently word has gotten around that when I was little I could unwrap my presents, play with them, and rewrap them without anybody being able to notice.  I was challenged to see if I was could demonstrate that skill last night…I’ve not gotten rusty in my old age,  so the above gift is what appeared next for me this year, puzzle lock and all.  XD

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Errands

I think today finally was the last of the errands that needed to be ran before we travel south for the holidays this week.

I picked up Mom’s necklace from the jeweler and he did a lovely job with hanging it.

I ran by the candy shop to get a “Dirty Santa” gift…and somehow escaped without buying a thing for myself.  I hate that gift giving concept but Logan said I had to participate, so now at least there is a pound of chocolate I like under the tree if all else fails.  Logan said he’ll be gunning for it too, though. XD

I fought what felt like a hoard of rabid baboons at Lens Crafters to get my glasses fixed.  It was crazy busy and people have zero manners with jumping in front of others that have been waiting.

I grabbed a bottle of local McIntosh wine for Mom at our little liquor store.  She likes sweet wines and those are her favorite apples, so I hope she’ll enjoy it.

I picked up special treats for all five dogs I’ll be hanging out with on Christmas.  Treats are important, you know, especially when two of the dogs are super old now. <3. I try to get them all of their favorites: a big yucky meat bone for Thorin, freeze-dried chicken for little Levi, Bella gets a rawhide variety pack that I’ll make into peanut butter lollipops before giving them to her, and Mitzi and Buttons both get lamb and duck pate stuffed with sweet potato…Buttons goes absolutely wild for sweet potatoes and Mitzi has to have whatever Buttons does or she gets jealous.

…and then we braved Target for toilet paper, toothpaste, Logan’s deodorant, and cat litter.  Four things we unfortunately couldn’t go a day without.  Insanityyy!  It was so bad thst in the toiletries aisle we encountered a toddler having a full meltdown because he thought he and his Mom were lost in the store forever. I admit I laughed hysterically.  The worst was when we were leaving, only a few registers were open (WHYYY) and the lady in front of us price checked everything, returned half of it, left a quarter of it in her cart or on the check out counter…then couldn’t pay for what she had.  She was using an EBT card and only had $64 on it and couldn’t figure out why she could get $68.74 worth of clothes and make-up using it.  I didn’t know you could use your EBT for such things, but whatever…A manager ended up being called over to deal with her.  The whole time, her youngest kid was screaming about wanting to eat at Subway and McDonalds.  She finally had the manager work back dollar by dollar, running the card each time, until the card was accepted, then her older kids paid with a stack of gift cards that had less than a dollar on them.

It almost rivaled getting stuck behind the lady at the Dollar Tree last month that had 98 items and wanted them all wrapped in paper.  98 items!  Dollar Tree!

I also got a crazy surprise in the mail. I ordered a butter dish off eBay yesterday.  It arrived in today’s mail…from Amazon.  Talk about confusing and fast service!

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The photo is from the manufacturer’s website.  I’m not that fancy.  😛

The dish is perfect, though, and should keep Joule out of our butter.  I like to keep it out and noticed distinct kitty lick marks on it a few days ago.  Tsk, tsk.

I need to find a way to keep her off the counter but at least for now, she’ll be kept out of the butter.

Passing the time

Logan has asked me to take on the monumental task of digitizing our music collection and collecting what’s already digital all in one location.  Eep!

We’re showing our old and rigid ways; we still purchase CDs, which essentially makes us dinosaurs in this digital era.

He wants a backup in case something tragic happens (some of the discs are almost two decades old now and others are impossible to find) and I’m okay with that…other than having to sit at my computer, bored out of my mind while they rip.  I like to organize and create insanely detailed lists — I’m looking at you, budget! — but this one is a little out of hand.  I honestly don’t know how many CDs we’ve collected over the years, much less how many hard-drives our digital collections are scattered across now or if I even want to find some of the old stuff Logan listened to.  Sorry, not sorry.  ;P

…so since I’m stranded at my desk, I figured I would blog to pass the time.

Joule is pouting, as she tends to do, when she doesn’t get her way.  Last time she hid under a blanket on the bed, growling, after I shooed her out of my crafting room until I let her back in hours later.  Then she was back to being Miss Rainbows and Sunshine.

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Today she was on my desk, playing with a pair of plastic elephants I found hidden in a hole in the floor — my glasses broke last week and the lens disappeared into a hole under the heater and I found it after hours of searching, along with the elephants and a lot of dust — and, being a typical cat, she knocked it right off into the trash.  Not really wanting to keep the elephants, I left them in the bin.  She tried fishing them out and then started fussing at me when she couldn’t, but I ignored her…so now she’s blatantly ignoring me and sulking under Logan’s chair.

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It never fails to amuse me when people who don’t have pets claim that animals don’t have personalities…because they do.  They soooo do.

Our dog, Mitzi, for example, got in a bit of trouble a few nights ago for breaking into the trash can.  She knows the rules of the house.  She knows them so well that she tattles on herself.  If she doesn’t meet you at the door with her head hanging, she’s hiding and is nowhere to be found.  This time, she was missing and there was a bone on the living room rug, so we knew the dogs had been having a party without us.  Thorin pretended he had no clue what was going on, as he always does.  Mitzi, though, was missing.

Thankfully, she’s not that good at hiding.

In fact, she’s hilariously bad at hiding.

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Thorin was cheering us on from the side, blaming it all on her…even though there was also a bone in his favorite chewing spot.  Mitzi may have no dignity, but at least she’s honest.  😛

I’m glad the dogs felt my food scraps were worth raiding the trash and a chiding; I would have given the bones to them to begin with if I wasn’t afraid they would’ve splintered and hurt them.  Logan tried cooking and feeding the squid scraps to them and they turned their little noses up at him.  He was pretty aghast over it.  I don’t blame them though — I wouldn’t have eaten it either and I quite enjoy squid.

Last night I cooked the pork belly I mentioned in my last post.  I decided to make it a bit spicy with a rub and did a honey glaze at the end after it had rendered and crisped nicely.  Logan and I are doing a gift a day this December as a way to spice up our normal Christmas celebration — we’ve mostly done really small gifts but he gave me my large gift on Wednesday since it’s my wet blanket day.  I’m now the gleeful owner of an immersion blender, so I had to test it out.  LOVE IT!  We had garlic-sauteed kale, some sticky cabbage, and some pureed sweet potatoes to go with the pork belly.  Logan was super happy…and since my only job in life is to feed his hearty appetite, I guess the mission was accomplished.

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Logan and I tend to eat a crazy variety of food — I get easily bored making and eating the same things.  It seems not everybody is the same way?  I hear a lot of our friends/family complain about being in food ruts.  It’s easy to break out of it; just cook something different!

Wednesday, I made Kapustnyak (a Ukranian sauerkraut stew) with some soda bread.  The stew looks like any other bowl of soup but Logan thought the bread was worth taking a picture of.  He’s been craving it since our trip to Ireland, so I figured I might as well try to make some.  Turns out it was incredibly easy to make and only took about 45 minutes total, so I’ll be doing it again next time he wants bread with a meal.

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Tuesday, we had a comfort food meal of meatloaf, collards (Logan’s favorite, I think they taste like farts smell), carrots (with cardamom because I like cardamom), fresh pickled beets, and some stove top potatoes…that Logan turned off the heat to because he thought he was being helpful so they didn’t color or thicken right…but at least they were cooked.  Ugh.

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Monday night was…a hilariously horrible casserole straight out of the 70s known as Saucy Twist Pork Dish.  It was my Dad’s favorite meal, competing only with Grandmother’s spaghetti.  When Logan first visited my home in Virginia a decade ago, Dad was still living but not doing very well…and Dad asked that I make Saucy Twist for him — he even used to call me home from college to make it for him.  Who was I to say no at that point?  Saucy Twist looks like vomit in a pot.  Ketchup, rotini, SPAM (no kidding), cheese, canned soup…it’s special.  I grew up on it, I’m used to it.  Lo and behold, Logan LOVED it.  Loves it like Dad loved it.  He asks to have it every week if I’ll put up with it.  I try to keep it down to once a month but it doesn’t keep him from asking more often and begging for the leftovers. 😛

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Whoever reviewed it as having an attractive appearance needs their glasses fixed more than I do.  It looks horrible, especially before it’s baked.  It tastes a whole lot better than it looks.

Tonight it’s either pineapple fried rice with Chinese sausage and shrimp or little handheld meat pies…depends on which Logan wants when he gets home.  I’m leaning towards the pineapple fried rice.  The pineapple I have is HUGE and smells so delightful, I can’t wait to cut into it.

I finally finished the CDs but I had one final thought I wanted to toss out there.

I posted some photos of my sister on her birthday on Facebook.  I tagged my Mom in them so her friends could see them too.  I keep my friend list pretty sparse, so normally don’t receive much of a response to my posts…but this one did, at least for me.  105 reactions and 34 comments as of right now.  Most of the people I found appropriate, but one almost sent me into a rage fest…and it still might.

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To give a frame of reference — this is how most of the comments were.  The first comment was from one of our neighbors.  He’s my age and we were pretty decent friends through school, really good friends when we were younger.  He’s always been a nice guy and always treated my sister well.  He sent me flowers at her funeral and every year has sent a message of some sort to me on her birthday or the day she died.

The second comment was from the lady that drove my sister to pre-school for years, so knew since she was a toddler.  She’s also the one who was the dispatcher when I made the 911 call and stayed on the line with me for half an hour, even though she was crying, while I was performing CPR and waiting on an ambulance.

The fourth comment is from an old co-worker of my mom’s.  When we were little, I remember visiting her a few times and she made beautiful porcelain dolls to look like my sister and me when we were in elementary school.

The last comment is from one of my sister’s best friends, “Good Buddy” as they called each other.  I don’t have to say any thing else about her, some friendships are special.

The comments were all from people that knew my sister, knew her well, and have reason to remember her.

…but that middle comment makes me want to rip out somebody’s hair, namely the person that commented and her family.  The lady that left the comment is the mother of my sister’s biggest bully in school.  The girl tormented the shit out of her, made a game out of making her miserable (even when my sister went to a different school for two years), to the point that I had to intervene.  She would tell other kids that they could be her friend if they would stop being my sister’s friend or bully them relentlessly as well if they wouldn’t.  She even threatened her physically — which is when I stepped in and told her I’d be there after school to handle it.  Thankfully the kid was chickenshit and I saw her running out of the school as I was closing my locker at the final bell…but of course, not before she had her older sister confront me about “picking on” her baby sister. At my sister’s funeral, the bully showed up crying harder than anybody else in the room.  I had to leave the room at that point or I honestly could have stabbed her with a flower spike.  Their mom is a complete jerkwad too, though, so I’m not surprised.  I AM surprised she had the balls to comment though and it’s really taking all I have not to spit some venom at her.   …so this is my outlet, for now.   Fuck you, Glenda, and your shithead spawns.

 

A post that’s all over the place

It has been a few weeks since my last post but I haven’t been dawdling too awful much.  Maybe I’ll get back to more frequent updates so my posts are less massive and more on one subject. 😛

Our Asian Supermarket remodeled over the last month and I was like a kid in a candy store.  They have a butcher and a fresh fish counter now!!!  *happy dance*  I now have a resource for almost everything I could dream of, including Silkie chicken (okay so maybe I want them more for pets than food), quail eggs, and pork blood for black sausage!

I didn’t go too far off my restocking list, but I did come home with some pork belly for dinner this week — think I’ll pair it with some sticky red cabbage, sauteed kale, and mashed sweet potatoes, and Logan brought home a bag of fresh squid.  He spent Sunday learning to clean squid.  It was a mess but he loved it, especially eating it after I cooked them up as Korean-style Ojingeo bokkeum.

On Thursday, Logan and I went to NYC and finally saw The Nightmare Before Christmas: Live to Film.  The show was amazing and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Catherine O’Hara and Danny Elfman singing Jack and Sally’s Song

We had an adventure getting there.  We almost missed both of our MTA-North trains…you know, the kind where you dash onto the train and the conductor (as he’s laughing at you) gets on behind you to close the doors and already has everything in motion before you reach any seats.  We live an hour and a half from the furthest line north, so we take the last train on the line.  We would have had to wait another hour for the next train to the city or possibly had to have stayed the night in the city if we’d missed our train home.  Sometimes we cut things a bit too close for comfort.

To add to the fun times, our arrival train lost its brakes approaching Grand Central Terminal.  The conductors’ radios weren’t working like they should so they announced that fact to the entire train to tell one another.  We were sitting across from a screaming kid.  The conductor in our car was cool as a cucumber, though, so we didn’t see a reason to worry about it.  In the end, there was no reason to.

Since we made our train, we got to enjoy dinner at La Vara in Brooklyn.  Logan was especially excited.  He’d never had Spanish cuisine and they’re Michelin starred!  We ate at a Michelin mentioned restaurant in Scotland and the food was so phenomenal that now he wants to work his way up the star chain.  I’ve noticed there’s a bit of a bias towards Japanese and fancy French styles of cooking in the guide, so wanted to try something a bit more off beat and closer to Barclay’s Center since that’s where our show was…La Vara fit the bill.

Everything was served tapas style and was very tasty.  I agreed to eat everything, even things I don’t normally like (olives and cilantro) since the waitress took note of allergies before taking our order and recommended ordering about 5-6 items (minus dessert) for two people.  The chef did a great job — I even liked the olives and chimichurri.  Normally I think cilantro in anything tastes like soap but not this time.

I agreed that I’d remember what we ordered if Logan would take the pictures.  So we ended up with the a free little fried olive in a mint yogurt sauce as the “Amuse”.  Then we started off with the Croqueta Del Día which were serrano ham. Soooooo good!  Next was Sobrasada con Miel which was a Menorcan spreadable sausage and honey foam on charred bread (sadly, my personal favorite — that combo was to die for), followed by the Pulpo — grilled octopus with a spicy ink sauce and a garlicy sauce over white beans.  Next we had Conejo en Escabeche, stuffed rabbit loin in a tangy onion vinaigrette with prunes and onions, which was Logan’s favorite even though he’d sworn never to eat rabbit.  Our last savory plate was Cochinillo which was a crispy suckling pig with a rose-quince sauce and, of course, chimichurri.  Desserts were Egipcio and Budin — the first was an orange blossom, walnut and date tart (reminded me more of a shortbread, though) with lemon curd and cream, the second was a super awesome bread pudding with a cinnamon cream and blueberries.  Can you tell which I liked more?  😛

All in all, I’d recommend stopping by if you’re in the area.  It was a cute and cozy restaurant and a not a bad walk from the nearest underground.  It also wasn’t busy when we were there — but we went early so we could go to our show — which is a huge plus for me.  It was filling up fast by the time we left.  It also wasn’t nearly as expensive as I thought it would be — our bill ended up being just a bit over $100, for eight plates of food.  Logan is a heavy-hitter when it comes to meals and we did -not- order cheap plates.  Here at home we can rack up $80 bills at our Chinese restaurant if Logan is in the right mood, so considering this was NYC, I was really pleasantly surprised.

Crafting wise, I’ve been working on the endless RPG scarf (I’m on Chapter 6 of it, so just two more left, I think?) and I finished my end of Mom’s birthday gift!  Her birthday is two days after Christmas, so it adds to my crafting mayhem for this time of year.

Is it time to finally reveal what it is I’ve been making for her?  Sure!

When we were in Northern Ireland, we visited the ancestral castle of her maternal family.  It’s in ruins now, but we still hopped a fence and explored around as much as we could.  It was spooky and lovely and one of the most fun things we did in my opinion.  Mom’s too, if I had to guess.  At least, I hope.  😛  I’ve had this gift in the planning works for a while now.

The whole castle is enveloped in ivy now, completely swallowed by it except for one little corner.  Even the inside of the rooms are draped with it since the roof has long collapsed.

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I pinched four leaves of that ivy while I was there and smuggled them back with me.

Once home, I’ve been slowly coating them with a PMC3 slip — a silver clay.  I finally got them all up to the proper thickness last week and started torch firing them since I don’t have a kiln.

I’m glad I was smart and brought back four.  The first time, my butane torch (using the same one I use for plumbing, not food) was too hot and I melted the damn thing right at the end.  Three left and they fired fine.

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After being fired and the charred leaf remnants removed — ivy is oily so didn’t burn completely

Three left and then I had to drill a hole in them so I could turn them into jewelry.  Of course, one didn’t get along with the drill and cracked.  Two survived.

Two is good.  One for Mom, one for me, if they survive.  I scuffed off the clay residue to expose the silver with a stainless steel brush then burnished them just a bit to give more of a mirror shine on some surfaces so the leaf veins and textures would be a bit more obvious.

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I dropped them off a few days ago at my local jeweler to add a jump ring — they need a large one due to size and weight — and I knew he’d do a better job and for cheaper than I could get the materials.  I was right, of course.  He’s charging me $15 for the work when I can barely get the solder I need for it, much less the boric, the jump rings, the pickle mix, etc… for that price.  I’ll save myself the panic and headaches and let him do it.  If one of the leaves survives for gifting, I’ll be happy.  I also went ahead and ordered a chain from him while I was there.

I hope she likes it!  At least it will be something completely unique.

To finish off the post, I can’t leave without mentioning today would have been my sister’s 30th birthday.

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…and yes, I chose this picture of Pissant for a reason (no, I have no idea why I called her Pissant for most of my life, but I can remember doing so even when I was really little).  It absolutely encompasses her personality.  She was absolutely full of mischief and “fuck you” attitude.  Life has a funny way of building character.

I’m doing my best not to be a complete wet blanket over my missing partner in crime, so I’m going to go finish sewing some pillow cases — 30 for her 30th to donate.  I just have 4 more to finish!  I still haven’t decided if I’m giving them to our local Ronald McDonald House or the local charity for children in crisis — they’ve went viral this year with their Christmas wishes, so they may be a bit swamped right now.  I have a soft spot for both.  We stayed at RMHs a lot growing up and I know (and worked with years ago) quite a few kids that went through the foster system.  Maybe I’ll split the difference and give to both?  Time will tell.