jinian: (bachelor's button bud)
Want to join me this Thursday night? If you haven't just gotten an email, respond here or contact me for info!
When I say I'm interested in local candy, people keep trying to give me Necco wafers. I know they're from around here, but you can actually get those anywhere for some reason, and, more importantly, they're terrible.

Zagnut bar
Hershey Co., Hershey, PA

Hershey is distributed all over, of course, but this one isn't found in the West for the most part. I've heard of it a few times in books, so I was interested already.

Okay, I admit that on opening this I was completely expecting chocolate. Nothing about the outside of the package says anything about chocolate, but it's a candy bar! They have chocolate! Instead there's a malty-tasting, slightly crumbly coconut coating over... what is this stuff? It's like a mildly coffee-flavored version of the inside of a Butterfinger, only in plates instead of thinner layers... with salty peanut butter in between. This is all so confusing.

Confusingly delicious. Yum. Gonna buy this again sometime.


Clark bar
New England Confectionery Co., Revere, MA

This is also a Butterfinger, but a weird Butterfinger. Chocolate coating, peanutty crunchy sugar interior, more like one hard crunchy layer than multiple layers at all. This is too close to one of my favorite candy bars and as a result just tastes off. I'd rather have the usual, thanks.

potshots

Jan. 31st, 2016 11:58 pm
jinian: (black and white)
Been making things! A few people have asked about how pottery is going, and the answer is, extremely well. I'm very happy with my instructor and the fact that he's now teaching on Saturday mornings instead of when I ought to be at work. Last term I lost a few pieces in new and interesting ways, but I did come out with one pie plate of the three I threw, plus a few other things I liked pretty well.

This term I'm focusing on wall thickness, which I thought was my weakest point during the last class, and experimenting with some new decorating techniques. It's entirely possible that I'll demand my birthday-dinner guests take bowls away with them, since I am making many ramen bowls! So far I'm happy with their improved lightness, and I'm making them in some shapes that I wouldn't otherwise have explored. I tried a stenciling technique yesterday that worked extremely well, so that's exciting too.

Some photos of the many glaze interactions )
jinian: (grumpy)
I've had sinus stuff since at least the beginning of December. Two rounds of antibiotics, ups and downs (a norovirus is actually great for clearing your nasal passages), but still a problem. I'm on the verge of getting an ENT consult, but I realize that what with feeling terrible most of the time I haven't actually managed to do all of the palliative/slow-healing recommendations at the same time, and that that might be important.

I now have a 13-item checklist of what to do daily. I'll try this for a week and then get the probably useless referral. (Lots of stress and worry in having recurrent sinus ick for me; this is why I had to leave undergrad the first time and I'm very scared of it now.)

checklist for future use )
Hey locals, any interest in going on a snowshoe expedition? Weekends are best for me, but I have no particular plans. Some nearby location ideas.

And is anyone free for dinner on my actual birthday 2/18 (Thursday)? I want to have a movie/game party too, maybe the following weekend. Let me know availability if you're going to be close enough!
jinian: (learning kyo)
Despite being pretty tired from getting up early, doing work all day, and talking about the worst thing that ever happened to me in therapy, I went down to Boston Common tonight with [profile] ryfkah and [personal profile] genarti and J and L to have dinner and skate upon the Frog Pond. The rental skates were tricky on my narrow feet, but once I got them warmed up and cinched down I managed some reasonably competent forward motion. No actual falling! It was lots of fun, the new people were lovely to meet, and I am expecting to be very sore tomorrow. Here's hoping I make it down my third-floor apartment's stairs in the morning without losing my feet entirely.
jinian: (mokona dessert!)
Some might say that when bacteria are lurking in one's sinuses making one's life miserable, it's not the time to feed them additional sugar. Those people (1) are not as miserable as I and (2) probably didn't just get second-tier antibiotics to help kill this thing.

My interest in local confections was seeded by growing up in Aplets and Cotlets territory* with occasional treats of Mountain Bars** and abetted by Steve Almond's fine book of candy Americana, Candyfreak. Somehow, despite seeing local candy now and then around here, I hadn't gotten around to trying any. In my last sickie trip to the Market Basket, though, I had to get enough stuff that I couldn't go through the express lane as usual, and what did I see in the impulse rack but two different kinds of unfamiliar candy bar?

Milk Chocolate Mallo Cup
Whipped Creme Center
Boyer Candy Co. (Altoona, PA)

Although this was the first time I had seen this candy, it looked very much as if it had been there since 1974, as a delicate brown piece of cellophane curling at the edges clung to its retro wrapper. Well, I couldn't very well turn that down.

To the eye, each paper cup is the same diameter as a Reese's cup, but they're definitely deeper. Their chocolate coating is blobby and uneven, but shows some of the same appealing, delicate corrugated edge as a Reese's. The first one I pulled out had leaked "creme" onto the wrapper, though, and was difficult to extract.

I found tiny bits of something in the chocolate, texturally much like crushed Kit Kat cookie. Presumably this is the coconut from the ingredients list. I am not a connoisseur of fluff, but I would say the cups contained ordinary marshmallow fluff.

The bottoms were paper-thin and the fillings well off center -- I'm not seeing great production values here, Boyer. Overall, though, the flavor was good, nice chocolate and more satisfying than expected.

Sky Bar
Necco (New England Confectionery Company, Revere, MA)

This one I had seen before, but been dubious enough not to ever pick up. It's a Hersheyish chocolate coating, neatly pressed into four sections with ridged semicircular designs, which I tasted separately.

Caramel: good, thick and not runny
Vanilla: fondant scanty and gooey, more vanilla than a creme egg but not good
Peanut: very good, like the caramel but with peanut flavor, well matched with the chocolate
Fudge: the same as caramel and peanut but chocolate-flavored, which I tend to think is inherently gross (cheap hot fudge sauce, ugh), but works in this setting

I might get this again if all the sections were peanut, but as a novelty it held its own even with the inclusion of the subpar vanilla section.

I declare this experiment a success and will keep my eyes open for more interesting local candies in the future.

* My verdict: Ew, nuts. These are basically Americanized Turkish delight, jellied soft blocks of fruit flavors. The nut-free candies from the same company are much better in my opinion. Also, no, apricots are not called "cots" "locally".

** Chocolate mixed with chopped peanuts, creating a rocky texture, surrounding a flavored fondant center. The cherry kind is best.
jinian: (c'est la vie)
I had a nice date tonight, despite still having the last bits of the terrible cold I got on the airplane and having to duck out of the theater for a protracted coughing fit in the hallway, and arrived home to find an awesome Christmas present from one of the people I missed seeing in Seattle. (A set of four botanical fern-motif mugs and a Riot Grrl memoir, it's like they've met me before.) Carol is a beautiful movie which appreciates Cate Blanchett's loveliness of age as it should.

back home

Dec. 28th, 2015 11:12 pm
jinian: (lost sakura)
... back to crying and going round and round in my head. And now my stomach won't quit grumbling.

Maybe I'll take one of Dad's pain pills.
jinian: (no comment)
I'm behind on saying all the fun and horrible stuff that's been going on -- there's a lot of it -- but here is what's happened on my trip so far.

1. Woke up far too early before leaving Boston, and while cleaning out my bag discovered I had a razor blade in it by slicing the living fuck out of my right pinkie. This bled for over half an hour despite pressure, adequately distracting me from useful things like bringing along the key to the storage unit I have things in here in Seattle. I eventually stuck a cotton ball on it with a band-aid over the top, and it had stopped bleeding by my transfer in Dallas (after saturating the cotton ball and making a giant cotton-imbued scab). I ripped most of the cotton off and have been keeping it dry, since it seems to have sealed up all right. Probably could have used stitches, but timing prevented.

2. Too tired to do anything fun after arriving on Xmas eve. Came to Mom's and stared into space a lot, then went to sleep. The ongoing sinus thing was not helped by air travel.

3. Still exhausted on Christmas, but swapped gifts with Mom and cried some, then headed to my cousin's. Three out of five people living there had a stomach bug recently, but BCA swore no one had thrown up in two days and she'd disinfected the house thoroughly, so we got peer-pressured into going. (What did I come across the country for if not to see people, after all.) Had a pretty good time, would have liked to leave after about half the time we spent there as is usual for family gatherings.

4. Relaxing day on the 26th. Went to the hardware store to find paint chips for Mom's bedroom and bathroom now that she's moved upstairs into Dad's old space and planning to rent out the downstairs.

5. At 2:30am on the 27th, I started throwing up. At 4:00am on the 27th, Mom started throwing up. It went on for about 4 hours in both cases. I slept through as much of yesterday as I could, which also meant a good deal of knitting and watching Game of Thrones. Toward evening I managed some broth and saltines instead of just soda and water. (Exactly one person in attendance at Christmas did not get sick. The judgmental people looked with more favor upon those who'd decided not to come after that.) I'd intended to see people, but that was not happening.

6. The plan was for me to leave at 12:40am last night, with a transfer in Minneapolis. I was feeling awful enough that I rebooked a direct flight for this morning instead. I have now woken up far too early, of course, partly due to a very growly stomach. There is nothing in you, stomach, shut it. Feeling acceptable so far apart from that, though.
jinian: (wicked ino)
There will be other posts about the so-called steampunk Snow Queen, I am completely certain, and I will link them here when there are. It was certainly a thing that happened. Theatrical choices were made.

And, since those choices were the most interesting thing about the production, I have decided that what I really want to see is a musical about the making of The Snow Queen.

Selected musical numbers include:

"To Cast a Balding Man"
DIRECTOR: Or how will they know?
That Kai... is really... me?

"This Actress is a Flower"

"Uncomfortable Racial Dynamics"
CAST (staccato whispering): Uncomfortable! Racial! Dynamics!
DIRECTOR (in descant): TO-tally IN-nocent! The man has a talent for daaaaance!

"Accents Make Everything Better"

and the triumphant anthem that pulled the whole cast together to make the production work, "Math is Evil and Snow is Bees".
jinian: (attack zero)
(*n.b. not what it perhaps sounds like)

Have you had a truly terrible day? Do you kinda wish you were dead? Well, when you're done crying for the moment, how about taking a bath? It's cold in here, you do need to wash, and self-indulgence is good right now.

Unpack the plastic container of bubble baths and stuff that you haven't used since moving here.

Oh, dear. Some of these bottles have leaked. This butter rum one smells delicious... but clearly we need to clean this gooey mess up. Well, if we're going to have to wash it anyway, and it's made of bubble bath, let's do this like eleven-year-olds at a soda fountain.

Turn on the bath. When the water is medium-hot, stop the drain.

Rinse off the Peppermint Bark bubble bath bottle.

Rinse off the Eggnog bubble bath bottle.

Proceed with further bottles as seems wise. (Heel cream tube? Sure, that didn't seem to have leaked, also note to self you totally have heel cream, remember this. Nasty bug spray? Maybe we'll wash that one in the sink later.)

Bubbles are present, and you've reached the layer they all leaked onto: the sushi-print shower curtain. Keep it folded, but rinse it off as well as possible for more bubbles, then bundle it into the sink.

Add some more Butter Rum bubble bath, from inside the bottle this time.

Lounge and read in this bath, which smells like you know not what, until it gets kind of cold. Run some more hot water. Repeat.

Shower off and use the honey shampoo you got in Japan, how fun to still have this stuff. Then pull the shower curtain back in to finish rinsing it off.

All done suicide bath! You are warm and clean.

What do you smell like? ... Uh, like vinyl mostly. The shower curtain took some wrestling. But silliness was had, and that's always better than despair. Don't forget your friends love you. Good night.
jinian: (c'est la vie)
If you could move to anywhere, where would you want to live?

(Bonus points if there are jobs there for a plant bio Ph.D.!)
jinian: (black and white)
I wish to celebrate this fucking year's coming to a close, and I wish to Make Stuff. Comments are screened, drop your address if you'd like a card. :)

dyke night

Dec. 13th, 2015 10:10 am
jinian: (birdsquee)
I had a good time last night at Machine's monthly Dyke Night. There are two separate dancing rooms with entirely different music selections, and the cover (which they annoyingly do not post on their site) is $10. Definitely worth it! One of the pole dancers was beautifully muscular and the other had an adorable fat belly.

Neither of the DJs was hitting exactly the sort of thing I like to dance to, so I moved back and forth, spent a while lounging and watching people play air hockey, and admired the very acrobatic person in bodysuit and hot pink skirt who was doing high kicks and breakdancing off and on all evening. I danced enough to need lots of water, though, and while I was drinking it I talked with someone cute and fun whom I will be hanging out with again. (Loves Depeche Mode, cosplays Seras Victoria, adorable bobbed hair. Yes thank you.)

Speaking of music, I'm really enjoying Midday Veil thanks to a KEXP Song of the Day. Their recent stuff is very like School of Seven Bells, only with more synth.

Oh, and, perhaps most importantly, I wore my geometric lozenge dress (cute, swingy, short), black tights, and Docs. I did not need my bomber jacket at all thanks to the unseasonable warmth; must get a wristband or tiny purse or something to carry all my things when I don't have pockets.
jinian: (queen of cups)
Mom wound up having much less energy for doing things than either of us expected, but it was okay and we still had a good time.

Tuesday we got discount tickets for things, and she went on a trolley tour while I worked a bit and hoped my boss would contact me about a Skype meeting. (He did not.) I gave up about four and we went home, read, petted cats, and watched tv. This is when I pointed out my romantic situation and she somehow jumped from my generally-friendly poly arrangement to lesbian drama specifically about the person who was a jerk to her recently and happens to be a lesbian. Sigh.

Wednesday I got a Zipcar and we drove up to Salem to the Peabody Essex Museum, where we vastly enjoyed the Strandbeest exhibit. I got to push one around and make its legs go! (video) The exhibit on Native fashion was also very well done, and we had perfectly reasonable pub lunch once we found a place that was open. Very cool outdoor stick art as well, tall thin nestlike houses.

Instead of going out to a movie, I showed her the Avengers, which she hadn't seen despite liking Iron Man and Thor. She recognized Mark Ruffalo, which as someone who knows him only from the MCU I was rather bewildered by. It's nice that I can just feed my visiting mom leftovers; I know not everyone has this relaxed attitude.

Thursday I had pottery class, and she chose not to come. It ran a bit long, but we managed to meet up at Shake Shack for lunch so I could pass on the gospel of the gingerbread milkshake. Then we went over to my work (one stop on the bus so we didn't have to walk, which gives you an idea of her mobility level) and I showed her my samples, the DNA robot, and the herbarium cabinets and sheets. We were planning on the department holiday party, but she wasn't really up for it and didn't mind not seeing the Natural History Museum (horrifying to me but there it is), so we went home in easy stages of walking and bus.

We talked about how she could maybe get her fitness up, but it's hard to be motivated about this stuff, and she's not sure how much of the problem is left over from her heart attack vs. joint problems. Motivation is even harder when you don't know if the annoying thing will help.

Unfortunately she didn't get to meet anyone except a couple of random co-workers and the annoying roommate (who was at least on good behavior). The roommate I like lent her his bed, so at least she had a good impression of him from a distance!

I'm more worried now than I was, and probably so is she, but I feel like our relationship is all right, so that's an improvement at least. And I get to see her again in a couple of weeks.
jinian: (lost sakura)
Things are going okay with Mom so far. I didn't push her on our pending discussion about Christmas planning mistakes because she told me more about the weekend she just had, which led to a story about being pushed into spending time with a person she was upset with because they broke her trust and led to having a fight with her dying best friend. There was already crying, once a day is enough, we had a nice dinner and watched the Great British Bake-Off.

(The black bean burger recipe is also very good, though I would definitely add the chili powder when cooking for myself. The avocado stuff was still okay having sat overnight, though it was better fresh.)

The worrisome part is that Mom said she didn't remember having planned to visit last September. She said, "But I never bought tickets!" So... there are memory problems here. She knew at the time that she had tickets, she used her frequent flyer miles on them, but at some point she didn't bring that memory with her. And, if I thought maybe that was a coincidence, she was also spacey this morning about our plans for today -- she's going downtown for a trolley tour since I have to meet with my boss*, and we had to go over the plans about four times.

So... I guess I am feeling more forgiving? But also a lot more concerned. She does seem to have a good handle on her work and what she's doing to remodel her house. I guess I can observe and try to get a better handle on how I think she's doing overall during the next few days.

* Hopefully this will actually happen. He is also not telling me whether or when. Why is the universe burying me in these goddamn limbos that I hate so much?
jinian: (king of all cosmos)
I got a text from my mother at 8:10 this morning, finally, after no contact since she blew me off on December 2. All it said was, "Arriving Delta at 5:13. Shall I just cab it? See you tonight"

I wrote back and then heard nothing all day.

...

...

So her flight landed ten minutes ago, and I texted her again.

Oh, hey, I finally got a response. Guess I'm heading home to meet her there. Good to know, Mom, thanks.
jinian: (lost sakura)
The beauty of my situation right now is that there are so many worst case scenarios. It's really impressively efficient.

I did eat one of the things I made tonight, which was Cook's Illustrated sweet potato soup. The shallots softening gently in unsalted butter with sprigs of thyme were one of the best things I'd ever smelled, and the hot-water soak to break down starches is a fascinating idea that seemed to yield all the textural improvement that the article promised. Our blender lid is a leaky piece of shit, but I managed in the end to blend the soup without actually injuring myself. After getting sidetracked into mopping the floor, which is always a good idea when you haven't eaten in an unknown amount of time, I ate the soup with the recommended maple sour cream, and it was delicious.

The black bean burger stuff is allowed to sit hydrating for up to 24 hours, so I will plan to finish making that tomorrow, when my mother is here, or isn't.
jinian: (algae)
I had a fight with my mom recently about her committing me to buying a gift and attending a family event that I otherwise wouldn't have. It's not that I would never have been willing to, it's that she didn't talk to me and then assumed I would go along with her plans. I got pressure but no input. So I called her on that, and expressed my feelings, and then she made another unilateral decision that I wouldn't. Facepalms abound.

Today I wrote to her to say, hey, it felt like you didn't care about my feelings or choices, and that sucks. She came back with "I wish I had more time to respond to you, but it's [event] weekend and I am on my way to the airport soon to start picking up people" and then derailed to talking about helping pay my plane fare to visit there for Xmas, which I had cleverly used to cushion the difficult discussion between yes-I-want-to-see-you positives.

So what I just realized is, this whole thing is How to Suppress Women's Writing. "You didn't say that." "You said it but it's the wrong time so I can't respond." Maybe I need a bingo card.

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hey love, I'm an inconstant satellite

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