Friday, January 23, 2009

simon says suck it up.

in times like these (times of destitution, of sinusitis, and of undesired weight gain) i try to find humor wherever i can. i may have mentioned that most of my reading material has consisted of books on food ethics and nutrition. they are informative, provocative, and challenging; but sometimes all i really want is to read something that would make me laugh at the trials of life and remind me things aren't always as serious as they initially seem. kind of like the literary version of teen wolf or romy and michelle's high school reunion. i picked up a copy of ant farm, by simon rich, a year or two ago and loved it. i was on the floor laughing at the soon-to-be-divorced man who comes up with the names for crayola hues. or the man who tries to impress a girl when he lists his three desert island items and then wakes up to realize he was hitting on a government researcher who puts him to the test. most of the stories are between one and four pages, so it is the sort of life intermission that won't deter you for too long. i passed ant farm along to a friend who needed it more than i did at the time, and he returned the favor by picking up rich's second collection, free-range chickens for me as a christmas gift. it's the same sort of dark humor; concise, relevant, and hysterical. i finished it the same day he gave it to me, even after a few too many lively pints at the bar (he lives in alaska and we rarely get to see eachother anymore). there are a few excerpts on the ever watchful mahschpace for your previewing pleasure, but i have a feeling that you will not be disappointed.

and my musical ear says that the new dungen album 4 is not nearly as good as ta det lugnt. more pansy, less psych. i'm not digging it. but on a bright note, goblin cock will be coming 'round next month! huzzah!

and also, today was my kitchen triumph day, yes. and triumph i did with my homemade enchilada sauce. and again, yes, i forgot to take pictures. but i will be posting the fabulous recipe soon! and keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow, i have a job interview. i even dyed my hair back to a normal color so i don't look so much like a gutter punk.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

it's a beautiful things.

i've been lax in my communications, apologies all around. a bit financially stressed and snotty. between that and this weather? yuck. i've been doing nothing but eating butterfingers and neglecting to brush my teeth. oh, but i am moving on up and out of these depths! i am planning on buying a neti pot soon and have a job interview coming up. huzzah! to make it up to myself and both of my faithful readers, i will post my rants and raves this week (a day late) on my scheduled day of rest. and where was my craft on tuesday? what did i make? i'll tell you: i made it through one more week without decapitating myself or anyone else and sometimes that's all you can hope for. so here we go, my foray into hate and happy:

this is old news, but there is a remake of ayn rand's (lengthy but mind blowing) novel atlas shrugged in the works. i may be in the minority when i say that reading ayn rand made me the person i am. people either love her or loathe her, but most people i have talked to cannot stand her. that isn't the point of this, though. what i really want to know is who the dumbfucks are that decided to cast angelina jolie in the role of dagny taggart. really? isn't it bad enough that every reporter that interviews her strokes angie's ego like it's the head of baby jesus? and yes, we all know that you're beautiful, brad is beautiful, babies of every color are beautiful, your family is better than all of us, and you give great bitchface. but do you, saint angelina, veiny armed goddess of orphaned children everywhere, have to accept a role in which the character you are playing is, for all intents and purposes, a selfish bitch? you may have the bitch persona down, but selfish people don't become UN ambassadors. ayn rand has just died another death. angelina says she is a fan, but i have to know if she has ever read any of rand's novels? a hedonist and an objectivist are not the same thing.

and i'm so excited about this future rant, so here is a little preview...why does a woman's (or man's, though much less often) body have to be used to sell something? is that all she (or he) is really worth? coming soon, it's going to be a biggie.

and just a few of my favorite things this week, most of all being my friggin' awesome star trek TNG action figures (pictured above) that my lovely beau spotted for me in the salvation army earlier today! they were mint, still in the box, but i had to take them out and accessorize them. yes, geordi looks like he's sporting a murse, but check those dilithium crystals! and i got a borg! two borg actually but michael grabbed one for his studio. and how huge was my crush on data? infinite, and still is. ahhh, middle school. and look at what else i found! way pricey but perhaps we can band together and find a suitable facsimile? also, these altered books, which i would use as bookends if i could make them. i have neither the patience nor stamina to maim books in such a way. i respect them far too much, but aren't they pretty? and also, these magical rainbow undies! i'm ordering mine when (and it's only a matter of time) i get this job. buy yours too, and we shall have a slumber party! ther are a few other things i saw on the interweb that made my heart all fluttery, but i'm going to try to make them myself. prepare yourself for a brand new episode of "triumph or learn from desiree's mistakes" on tuesday!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

alcohol, broccoli, and the correspondence of one f. scott fitzgerald.

i'm feeling a bit out of sorts today. it was probably the pitcher of amaretto sours that i (over)indulged in last night or perhaps the tequila shot i had (my first ever!). when i woke up this morning i was feeling great and was laughing in the face of a hangover threat. you will not defeat me, alcohol! fast forward about four hours and a cheeseburger later. my stummy is rolling, and i feel like the ice pick we used last night got lodged in my frontal lobe. but what fun i did have! air hockey and guitar hero and knitting and the company of some very lovely ladies. since this is my day of the week to reflect on correspondence, i decided to check out a collection of letters from a very talented alcoholic, f. scott fitzgerald. a life in letters consists of fitz's writings to editors, ernest hemmingway (another of my favorite bottle battlers), his daughter, and zelda. he was a much more productive drinker than i am. (i'm still in my jammies. it's 8pm.) and it's edited by a guy whose last name is bruccoli, which sounds a lot like one of my favorite vegetables. i'm sold.

also, i fail at guitar hero but rule at air hockey. yes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

the sad scone debacle of 2009: or how i learned to stop estimating and love the blob.

yet another jobby job i had a very long time ago was as a barista at an evil barnes and noble starbucks. i cried hysterically on my way home every day for the month that i lasted there. serving soccer moms their half-caf double skinny extra foam sugar free caramel mach-cha-chito (AT 157 DEGREES) and high school girls whose speech consists of 70% giggles made my life a living hell. the only bright spot, the only thing that made this torture bearable, was the blueberry scones. delicious little flaky rounds of soft and not-too-sweet fruity perfection. starbucks has since changed their blueberry scone to some sort of hard and oatmealy thing that is a sad reminder of the impermanence of beauty. no longer sweet and light, it is something that looks like it would come out of my own oven, which i should have realized before i tried to actually make them in my own oven. i'm not going to hypothesize on where exactly i went wrong here, only assume that when the recipe says that the dough should resemble biscuit dough that they are not playing some sort of april fool's joke on you. you cannot always eyeball your cups and teaspoons. or perhaps i should have cut my fruit into pieces rather than having golf ball sized strawberries in there. but none of this explains why the whole damn thing had the consistency of a bready pancake and tasted like a fruit cobbler. maybe the pancake thing, but damn. aren't recipes, like rules, meant to be broken? sigh, the search continues for a bakery that holds the perfect scone.

so distraught by my baking disaster, i could only boil up some store bought gnocchi and toss in in some vodka sauce with chicken for lunch. i am not sure that i have ever had homemade gnocchi and am terrified of making my own, having heard so many defeated tales of an afternoon's worth of effort dissolving in a pot of water. but i think i'm going to try it anyway. this recipe and this one look forward and fool-proof, though that doesn't necessarily mean anything. if i get truly ambitious and brave i could try the sweet potato gnocchi over here. if anyone had any gnocchi advice (or anecdotes), send 'em on this-a way. stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

rants and raves, first edition.

some people call me a professional bitcher. i don't really think i confine myself to bitching really, because i am just as vocal about the thing i adore. i just happen to be very, very vocal. and why the hell shouldn't i be, right? so maybe by getting my gripes out on a weekly and anonymous basis, i will save my friends some eye rolling.

something i've noticed lately is the absolute travesty that is considered fashion. there are hundreds, thousands even, of blogs dedicated to documenting what amounts to a 15 year old girl's overambitious daily outfits. i wanted to put a few links in, but hated to call anyone specific out. some people don't understand that wearing one trend (as long as it isn't incredibly ugly in the first place- put down the neon animal prints! put down the uggs and the jeans that double as leggings! ) can make you look chic and polished, while wearing all of them at once just looks a little sad. kind of like you got lost on the road to making your own fashion choices and threw your hands in the air as a decision to not decide. and really, are drop crotch pants flattering on anybody? is it now a goal to look like a diaper-wearing penguin? i'll stick with my straight leg jeans and chucks, thanks.

oh, there are so many reasons i am glad that we are saying goodbye to george bush. however, some of his idiocy will remain. such as his midnight hhs rule that allows healthcare providers to not only deny access to information and services, but will also let them redefine abortion to include several common methods of birth control. really. this means that a doctor or nurse who does not agree with a woman's right to use birth control can refuse to prescribe it or give her a list of doctors who will provide it. i'm not going to get on a pedestal about any of this, but if you want more information or an opportunity to get involved, visit the planned parenthood website.

also, i loathe driving. and i hate cars.

but on to better and shinier things. i adore the above picture. it, and others like it, can be found at the lovely fotos de almanaque. lately i have been wanting to learn to crochet or knit or sew (all three are beyond me), and it is all because of these dolls and this little guy. they have warmed my heart lately. and beadboard ceilings! actually, i love beadboard on everything! and for when you are feeling bored and hungry but indecisive, there is the noodle oracle. i've already tried a few of these ideas and love them, now if they could just develop a rice oracle...

Monday, January 12, 2009

scrap and button flora. no fauna.

eons and eons ago, i worked in a furniture store. not a stuffy, everything-comes-in-dark-cherry-and-chintz furniture store, but not anything too modern either. let's say it was a furniture store for young, hip families who wanted to push tradition's boundaries and still wanted something comfy for mom to sit in when she came to visit. but that's not the point. the point is, it closed and i ended up with shit tons of fabric swatches. not really enough of any one piece to do anything grand with, but they were big enough to make some fun little accessories or patches (we were supposed to ship them back to the company, but i did what any rebellious crafter worth her fiskars would do and stole all of them). by now most of them have big chunks cut out, but i still have tons of scraps left so i decided to make a "flower" pin for my little grandma cardigan that i picked up the other day. it's pretty self explanatory. cut out some gradually sized circles of coordinating (or clashing, if you prefer) fabrics, layer them, and sew a button in the middle. i hand stitched around the edges for a little embellishment and to stop any hardcore fraying. i don't have any felt at the moment, but i'm just going to sew a pin backing to a piece of felt the same shape as the back circle and fabri-tac it to the back. it's about the size of my palm, and i'm pretty damn pleased with the cool, elderly lady effect.

ah. and now i'm off to break into a pet store, liberate some canaries.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

it's good for you.

i'm going to refrain from getting too schmaltzy and mushy here, but this is a bit of a personal blog which just means you get to know that i am more that an amazing cook who is handy with a pot of glue (ahem). i made a lot of new year's resolutions, keeping up with this blog is among them. so is learning spanish, paying off specific bills (you know who you are and i'm coming for you!), and writing a letter to a friend every sunday. also, perhaps the most difficult, is to try to rebuild my relationship with my mother. you may think that the reason that i haven't spoken to her in over 6 months is because one or both of us are horrible people. not true. my mother is ideal and has always been there if i needed anything. our problem lies in an eternal personality conflict. put us in a room together and there is instant friction and usually we end up ignoring eachother in an awkward silence. so, when i got pushed into a pool over the summer and my phone was destroyed, i simply got a new one and never gave my mother the number. i am a horrible daughter. fast forward through six months of guilt and intense internal and matriarchal conflict. i knew i should get in touch, but with every month it just seemed harder and i kept putting it off until tomorrow. you know how that goes. but the moral of the story is: don't put it off. so i sent my mother an email (yes, a coward's way out) apologizing and letting her know that i hoped we could see eachother soon. i realized how much i missed her when i got her reply and immediately cried and snotted all over my boyfriends shirt. she said i was always going to be her favorite daughter (nevermind that i'm the only one) and that she loved me. so i'm going to work very hard on having the kind of relationship with her that she deserves and learn to let our (many) differences complement eachother rather than do damage. and the second moral of the story is this: make an apology you've been putting off, or forgive something you need to let go of. even if nothing comes of it, i promise you will feel better. enough sap for one day, who needs a drink?

Friday, January 9, 2009

the beautiful demon that is coconut milk.

ahhh, thai food. what a glorious cuisine. everything is so rich and brilliantly colored and flavored. and did i say richie rich milky coconutty richness saturated fatdom? because yes, that's what it is. 48 grams of fat per cup? and practically 90% of that is saturated? damn. don't get me wrong, i'm not big on going without edible luxuries. i love decadent full fat cheeses, real chocolate, and good wine when i can get them. but this is something i absolutely cannot justify, so i set out to find or create a substitute. and it worked! phenomenally!

i wanted to make a variation of the yummy tom ka soup, but thicker and more like a meal over rice. because i am a little nervous about too many experiments at once i went to the asian grocery and picked up a packet of tom ka paste (a complete bargain at 89 cents!). i know it's got some additives and way more sodium that i would prefer to be in there, but i'll try to make it homemade another day. this is the time for fat attack! i figured that some coconut flavored milk should do just as well as the real thing. and coconut flavored vanilla soymilk would be even better. so i whipped up a little batch, threw in some veggies and poured it over brown rice. so good that there are no pictures of it because we ate all of it. quickly. vague instructions below!

1 can coconut water
1 cup(ish) vanilla soymilk (regular if you want, but i like the additional sweetness it gave)
2 tsp corn starch
1 packet tom ka paste (to serve 4)
a hoopla of veggies, tofu, or meat (i used cauliflower, edamame, tofu, red pepper, spinach, and carrots)
brown short grain rice to serve 4

-pour about 1/2 of the can of coconut water and 1/2 of the soymilk in a pot with the paste and bring to a very low boil, just enough to melt the paste.
-add the tofu or (pre-cooked) meat and simmer for about 5-8 minutes. make sure you stir every now and then, soymilk can get that filmy thing on top.
-mix your cornstarch in with the rest of the soymilk and some of the coconut water (i still had a little coconut water leftover after i was done cooking) and add to the pot.
-throw in all your veggies and simmer until they are at the tenderness you like. i like mine pretty friggin' crunchy, so i left it on only for about 7 minutes.
-pour it over some cooked rice and it's a super delicious, way reduced-fat version of one of my favorite thai foods ever.

the only thing to keep and eye on and use your discretion in is the desired thickness. mine was still a little soupy, but the rice soaked most of it up by the end of my bowl. throw in some more milk or coconut water if you want a soup or use less if you like something thicker. good luck and clear arteries to you!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

french but not elitist, miami but not bass.

i found the contrarily (new word) named san francisco trio french miami on a recent blog search. i have been running out of pleasing ear love, and living with two musicians doesn't help as much as you think it would. french miami has been around since 2006, but i can be a little slow on the pick up. they don't have a bassist but the drums are kicky enough that you don't even notice. add some synths and a dreamy, drone-y (but far from boring) vocal sound and i get taken back to the day when dance music didn't sound like i needed a glow stick arsenal, shoegaze and punk could be thrown in a blender, math rock was just for nerds, and the nerds were the cool kids. if you know what i mean, and i think you do. check out their mythpathe and hear it for yourself. science fiction is a good track, and getting lots of bloggin' between the sheets. i'm keeping an eye on tour dates as well and will keep updates going for you locals. i hope you enjoy dancing in your room as much as i do.

and as far as literary activities go, i'm reading a lot of books on food ethics. they are taking me some time to get through. but on a lighter scene, i recently finished all about lulu by jonathan evison. the story of a rejected bodybuilder's son, his two brothers, and the stepsister he falls in love with. it is heart wrenching and miraculous in a big newsprint jellyroll.

Monday, January 5, 2009

jenkies. it's a jewelry thingy.

only lately have i become a fan of cheese (whereas the maiden fan in me has been alive for quite some time). mostly soft, mold covered ones like brie and camembert...and i know you can't get the real thing here, but these impostors just whet my taste for the creamy softness that i read about on the cheese blog that i adore so much. one of my favorite things about these cheeses is the cute packaging. i'm a sucker for neat things that hold other things. mostly because i have a lot of stuff and containers make me feel organized. sadly, my cheese boxes have begun to pile up in a not-so-attractive heap in the kitchen because i refuse to throw them away. solution: upcycle. i made a few of these little bejeweled (be-buttoned, really) little treasure chests, and i really like them on the dresser; in the bathroom; or wherever you may have spare change, bobby pins, or perfume samples that you pilfered from macy's. the buttons add a nice weight to it, so it doesn't feel as flimsy, and it's super easy!

a strip of fabric long enough to wrap around your lid, cut to the proper width
buttons of any variety
spray paint
mod podge

-i spray painted the lid of my cheese box, so any color showing through the spaces between the buttons would be uniform.
-use a brush (or your finger, which is what i always end up doing) to apply mod podge to the outside rim of the container, brush some more on the back of fabric and wrap it around, making sure you press firmly all the way around and let dry.
-grab your trusty e6000 and glue buttons all over the top. i started with the bigger ones as a base and did two layers to cover some of the bigger spaces between the base buttons. i tried doing a mosaic picture with my first one, but it didn't look as good as i had hoped, and i like the randomness of the colors better anyway.


so easy and cute. i think everyone may get one of these for their birthdays this year, assuming i eat enough cheese. who are we kidding, though? everyone's gonna get two of these!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

stamps full sail

stamps often look very generic, and i find that sad. i have only waited in line at the post office a few times to buy the limited first class stamps (once was for the bucky fuller one!), i just rarely see any that i like. i checked the usps stamp page and did not find many that i was enamored with, though the bette davis one is quite thrilling. here is a quick pictorial of stamps that i think are much more exciting!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

faux-shionista for an hour.

yes, this is a survey. but i love it because if you use your imagination, you can pretend that you are being interviewed for an awesome fashion blog or magazine. i highly recommend it.

1. What is fashion/style to you?
it's a wearable expression of who you are. style is something that never dies and never goes away, otherwise it's just a trend.

2. Describe your style.
haha. tomboy chic? i'm a big fan of jeans and chucks, usually paired with a tshirt or loud polyester shirt and a corduroy blazer or vintage cardigan/grandma sweater. it's kind of a mix between a 5 year old boy, a 50 year old professor, and an 80 year old lady.

3. Your favorite look/fashion style/genre.
i love women's fashion from the 40's through the 60's. everything was so structured but still really feminine. i also like the garage band style in the 60's and 70's. tight jeans and tshirts with sneakers or ankle/beatle boots, very laid back and casual.

4. Fashion style/look that you are into lately.
eh. i haven't seen too much that i like lately, but i haven't been keeping up very well. on a lot of the street fashion blogs i look at it seems that everyone is going out of their way to wear the most ridiculous clothes and look like they got dressed in the dark.

5. Your favorite fashion item.
a really great vintage cardigan in a bright color, my favorite right now are yellow and mint green. ooh, and my new spectacles!

6. What plays the most important role when you’re choosing your outfit?
the distance from the bed to the item and if it's clean enough for another day.

7. Least favorite look/style/fashion item.
too much neon, wearing an outfit straight off a mannequin or advertisement. clothes that are way too tight or too big.

8. Does your style change often?
not really. i'm willing to throw a new idea into my regular outfits every now and then, but i usually go back to my staples.

9. A girl’s wardrobe essentials?
jeans that fit, a pair of chucks, a pair of peep toe heels, and a great blazer.

10. Your fashion motto:
don't try too hard.

11. Your fashion role model/icon.
i love katherine hepburn. she wore what she wanted and everyone else be damned.

12. Your favorite brands?
i'm a thrift store junkie, so i end up getting whatever fits and looks good.

13. What do you do when you see somebody wearing the exact same outfit that you are wearing?
i've never had that happen. i guess i would laugh and go out to my car where there is usually a second wardrobe in waiting.

14. Do you like to follow the trends often?
not unless i like the trend, which is rare. i did recently buy a pair of leggings though.

15. Your fashion secrets/tips:
wear what's comfortable and what fits; don't wear too many trends at once; and if all else fails, grab a glass of wine and stand up straight, it's instant polish.

16. Your favorite fashion model?
i couldn't name one even with a gun to my head.

17. Favorite fashion mag?
i don't read magazines, but a few blogs i've liked of late are this-a one and this-a one

18. Do you like to give fashion advice to other people?
just the boyfriend.

19. The best look on opposite gender?
i like the old british preppy look. or a striped tshirt and jeans. yow.

20. What is the most dominant colour in your closet/wardrobe?
denim? i have a lot of jeans.

21. Favorite fabric/texture of clothes?
corduroy or sweater knit. (i just wish i could learn to do it myself.)

22. Favorite clothing details?
i like nice buttons or contrast stitching.

23. Favorite print?
paisley or stripes. a loud floral or geometric print on a polyester button up will always have a dear place in my heart.

24. Your favorite no-fail clothing items?
straight leg dark wash jeans, sneakers, and a plaid western shirt.

25. What do you “collect”?
vintage robes and nightgowns. the flowy, sheer, satiny, movie star kind. they make me feel like an extra in valley of the dolls.

26. How do you take care of your clothes?
if i can't throw it in the washing machine, i don't buy it.

27. Favorite shopping spots/places?
good smelling thrift stores, with the occasional smelly one thrown in.

28. What is the oldest item in your closet?
i know i have some items that are from the 60's. they still had receipts in the pocket!

Friday, January 2, 2009

vegan almond butter cookays!

i love to cook. it's probably one of my top five things to do on a day off. and i rarely make a complete blunder (though it does happen occasionally). this is not so with baking. i waffle with measurements and substitute when i probably should not. there was once a loaf of 9 grain bread that was going to be yummy and healthy, until i lifted it from the oven and felt its immense weight. i thought the brick analogy in poor baking was a joke. i assure you it is a real phenomenon. but i am as stubborn as i am contrary, so i tried again. this time with a delicious sounding cookie recipe from a lovely vegan blog i found. like her, i have an abundance of almond butter that, despite my smearing granny smith slices with it almost daily, i will never be able to use. throw in my distaste for eggs and butter, and i pretty much have to rely on vegan baking blogs. my version only had a few minor tweaks to it; i used a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and a 1/2 cup of white flour, added a bit of allspice, and i omitted the almond extract because i'm lazy and didn't want to go to the store in the rain (next time i won't though). buh.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/3 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 tbs canola oil (i also used olive oil, not ideal for baking, but whatever.)

-preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease your cookie sheet.
-combine dry ingredients in one bowl.
-in a separate bowl, combine the almond butter with the maple syrup and extract(s). stir in the oil.
-add the dry mix to the wet mix until well combined (i also added a little more flour because it seemed a bit liquidy to me, just a few tablespoons).
-place tablespoon-fuls of dough on cookie sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes or until deliciously golden looking.

the cookies smelled awesome and were really moist despite the lack of dairy. they don't look quite as smooth as the cookies in the original blog, but i blame the whole goodness of the wheat flour. my roomies said they tasted a bit like oatmeal cookies, and i agree. not quite what i was wanting. i will definitely make these again, but probably use 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup maple syrup. or maybe a bit of vanilla soymilk. i think what i'm saying it i found them a bit too maple-y, but otherwise they had the perfect texture and really made the house smell wonderful on this wet and nasty day. do it, tweak it, perfect it, and enjoy.