Sunday, December 11, 2011

Computer Games 11.02

Well...I know I said I was done with New Vegas, but my boyfriend got me two posters for my birthday that were New Vegas themed so... I'm kinda getting back in the mood for the game now. Near the end I started focusing more on leveling up, fighting, and not really taking time to take in the scenery and ambiance, so I am going to emphasize that this time around. Also, I have played so many times, I have finally gotten down the perfect order to do everything in, and how to approach things.

I like to play with the "Wild Wasteland" trait because sometimes you come across weird things - this for instance.  Hopefully you get the reference.  Poor Indy...

The science poster looks better in real life because I didn't want to take a picture with any glare and so I took it in less-than-optimal lighting.  Anyway, those two are the ones I got - quite fitting.  

In other computer game news, my three best male friends (including my boyfriend, of course) are all on board for two games now, updated from just one before. We added Starcraft II to our playlist - in addition to Left 4 Dead (2). So now in the evenings when I wanna unwind and we can get the gang together, that's our new thing. We will be adding Alien Swarm shortly.  I also just discovered there is a short story that comes with that Amnesia game I finished recently - the pdf is in the download file, so I will have to look through that soon.

Haute Cuisine 1.17

It has been a while since the last Haute Cuisine post, has it not?  Well, my mom recently signed me up for a monthly box of fresh veggies and fruit delivered to my doorstep, so of course this gives me a chance to experiment.  Anyhow, we have a lot of spinach and two fennel bulbs.  Now, I liked my fennel soup that I made before, though my boyfriend didn't like it.  One of the nice things was that it actually used the fennel fronds - most of the recipes only use the bulb (unless it's a salad, which I generally never eat).  Anyway, I am going to re-make the Fennel and Zucchini Soup, then the other bulb I will cut and roast with olives and garlic.

We also have a lot of spinach - again, good for salads but I don't like salad - so it is up to me to find some kind of dish for it.  I thought quiche at first, but most recipes I found involved Swiss cheese, which I don't like.  I didn't want to substitute, so I looked on my two favorite places to get recipes (bon appetit, and whole living) and found these two dishes: Spinach Dill Pie and Semolina and Spinach Gratin.  I want to try the pie most, because we have a lot of fresh dill and I want to use it.  It all depends on whether I can find phyllo dough.  If I cannot find any phyllo, then it's the gratin.

... Fast-forward several hours, I boiled the mustard greens, tossed with my sweet and creamy vinaigrette (custom made...) and just finished making the Fennel and Zucchini soup, and the Spinach Dill Pie.  I will say this right now - I will probably never ever cook anything that requires phyllo dough again.  Of course, I did just open it without letting it defrost first, that was my first mistake.  Then unrolling it and trying to pick it up was my next mistake.  Luckily I managed to get a couple sheets off easily enough to make 3 or 4 layers and make some semblance of a pie crust.

Next I proceeded to saute the onions and garlic in butter on the stove and got the spinach set aside, chopped it.  Eventually added it in and cooked it long enough to wilt.  In the meantime, I mixed the other ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Eventually it was all set to go and I just had to spoon it into the crust.

Once that was in the oven at 375F for approximately one hour until it got browned on the top, I got the soup going - so cut and sauteed the zucchini, fennel, and onions, and sauteed the tomatoes.  Added the fennel fronds to the tomatoes, blended the veggies in the container, and voila.  

Now that this is out of the oven, I gotta say it looks really good.  The crispy perfectly golden-browned top looks great.  I was worried I was gonna burn it by approximating one hour but it was pretty much on the dot. Now it's cooling and we shall eat it later tonight!  I'll probably include a cross-sectional picture once we cut it out.  Hopefully the dough turned out okay, the edges are probably more singed than ideal but whatever.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Creative Projects 7.07

While on my Raleys trip today, I also got some fresh herbs!  Dill and Sage.  I got them all arranged and put in the plant press.  Since I didn't really show pictures of the process, here you go!

Step 1: Pick out some kind of plant or flower that you want to preserve and press - lay it out on a thin sheet of paper, in the arrangement that you like

Step 2:  If you have a functional pressing board, you can do what is recommended and place between some cardboard, place between the boards, and tighten the screws until it is night and pressed.  However, the boards that we got are kind of...well...shitty - the wood started to crack when we tried to screw them together, so I decided a better way would be to take one of my medical tomes and place it on top.  So first we put it between several layers and between the boards, then I place the extra materials on top, and then place my huge book on top.  It worked great for the thyme, and you can press different plants if you use different layers so now I am pressing two plants at once!

I am looking forward to seeing how they look.  It was originally intended to combine two of the herbs that my boyfriend wanted to show, because he wanted 5 and I got a quad frame, but I think we may just have to get a new frame for one of the remaining herbs.  Which should get it's own frame... Rosemary or Basil...  I'm thinking Basil because it is one of my boyfriend's favorite herbs of all time - and it deserves to be showcased solo.  

Self Improvement 10.04

Well I know it's too soon to say the sweet potatoes are helping (my skin has been doing better it seems), and I know that it's bad form to add another variable into the mix, but while I was at Raleys I remembered that they might have flaxseed oil and that is good for skin, eyes, cholesterol, etc.  So I found some in the refrigerated natural foods aisle (took me a while to find it) - and when it's refrigerated you know it's legit - and got myself some.  Before I had gotten some flaxseed oil which wasn't refrigerated from Safeway, and used it on sliced whole wheat bread and it was tolerable - an acquired taste, I came to like it.  I tried some of the new refrigerated kind today on my bread - it tasted amazing!  SO much better than the other stuff - the room temp stuff from Safeway had this kind of acrid olive oil-like flavor to it - this was wonderful, and significantly healthier than butter so I think this shall replace my toast cravings.  Expensive stuff, but delicious.  Since the fortified one was the same price as the non-fortified, I got the fortified.  No harm.  Soooo good though.  

I am going to run today, I think since the jog before was so easy that I will jog an extra 10 minutes today, making it 4 miles instead of 3.  I also have to walk to and from a BART station to get to the hospital I am rotating at so that adds some good exercise to my day.  I am also mixing in my pilates video for days where I just don't feel up to running or my ankle is killing me or something like that.  Good times!  I also got a lot of errands done today.  Until I run, I will do some studying, snack on some berries, maybe an almond or two (I limit myself to 10, because my jaw joints are not so good and ache a lot after chewing tough things, and also because I don't want to just eat them like candy - they are pretty nutrient dense, and that includes calories!)

Cocktails 12.01

Okay, so I may not have mentioned yet on this blog but I ADORE making cocktails - the more colorful, creative, and esoteric the ingredients, the better!  Anyhow, I recently went through a St. Germain phase - it is a French liquor, ends up being about $35-40 dollars a bottle depending on tax, and is from Elderflowers.  The taste is difficult to describe - it is flowery, tropical, fruity, also with a hint of tea flavor.  It is a rather delicate flavor, and the proof is low enough that you can drink it on the rocks really easily.  Speaking of rocks, I think my order of stone cocktail rocks just arrived!  Can't wait to put those to use!  Anyhow, I was making tons of cocktails with it - the cocktail that started it all had rose water, grapefruit juice, vodka and St. Germain liquor in it and was absolutely wonderful.  Tasted it for the first time on my trip to Portland, OR.

Anyhow, that phase was fun, and I will certainly get some St. Germain again at some point in the future, but for now I'm thinking of holiday-themed drinks.  I know there are a million out there, mostly mixing eggnog and rum, or brandy, or anything to get you liquored up enough to stand being around tons of family members you haven't seen in forever who annoy the crap out of you, or children who are incessantly begging you to give them stuff or pay attention to them.  I know I say that like someone who may have been there but I really haven't - no children of my own, essentially no extended family (you'd be surprised, besides my mom, dad, and sister, I just have one grandma, one aunt, and a cousin's family who has two kids and I see them once a year, and not on holidays).  My boyfriend has added his family to the mix now, however, so that shall be quite interesting.

Back to the cocktails - I subscribe to the free weekly newsletter from The Spirit, which is a website devoted to liquors, cocktails, they have a magazine, and the website has a really nice design, which is one of the main reasons I like it, to be honest.  They also have tons of pictures.  Anyhow, below is the ingredients for one of their seasonal cocktails I saw in their thanksgiving newsletter.

Serving Size: 1 

1 ¾ oz Bulleit or Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1/8 oz St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
2 tbsp pumpkin spice puree
1 egg, whites only
½ oz marzipan syrup (2 cups water, 5 oz marzipan paste, 1/8 cup sugar, melted into milky syrup)
½ oz fresh squeeze lemon juice

Place liquor, thyme, pumpkin, lemon, marzipan syrup and egg white into shaker and shake vigorously for 20 seconds without ice. Add ice and shake again for another 15 seconds. Fine strain into a coup glass and serve as is. 

Pumpkin Spice Puree

1 14.5oz can pumpkin puree

1 ½ cups water

1 cup white granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground, dried ginger
1 tsp molasses (optional)

I made the cocktail - here are pictures of the more challenging parts

Step 1: Pumpkin puree with added sugar and spice (and everything nice - haha, I kid) 

Next I cut the marzipan paste (which comes in a quantity of 7oz) into 5/7 so that I could get 5 ounces, then broke it into pieces to increase surface area and thus decrease dissolving time in the water-sugar mix.  Below you can see that it did eventually turn into (as described) a milky fluid.

Here are all my new fluids that I purchased - the bourbon and the kracken spiced rum were for the great pumpkin cocktail (I couldn't find the all spice dram, so I used spiced rum and added a dash of allspice) and the apple cider and brandy were for a cocktail of their own.  The ginger beer and sarsaparilla was for the kraken rum, because on the website the kracken rum goes with coke, ginger beer, ginger ale, and root beer/sarsaparilla, so we tried that and everyone agreed the flavors all complemented each other very well.  Tonight was a fun night of cocktail experimentation and fun with friends.  We are planning to do a truffled mac and cheese with kielbasa night on Wednesday, and my boyfriend and I will be going on the Napa wine train on next Friday!  That shall be amazing!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Creative Projects 7.06

Since I am relatively certain my boyfriend's parents do not check my blog, I shall post the latest creation of mine.  I was at Michael's a while ago trying to figure out a present for his parents, who I am visiting for Christmas.  Last year I got each set of parents (his parents are divorced so there are two couples now) a nice bottle of wine.  This year I was thinking of making a Christmas ornament, something fancy.  As I walked around the aisles, I came across some glass etching patterns - you get a pattern, put it on something made of glass, put this paste on that corrodes at the surface, wash it off and voila, a lovely professional looking glass etching.  There were some with letters and with grape designs, so I figured I could put the names of his parents on the glasses and decorate with grape stuff.  

After getting the kits and the corrosive paste, I ordered some nice cabernet sauvignon glasses online (they are fans of cabernet).  The glasses arrived a couple days ago but I hadn't gotten around to doing anything with them. I started a new rotation today and had a fair amount of time so I figured I would do that today.  It took 3 hours! I was surprised.  First I had to cut out and duct tape the designs (with their protective plastic) onto four glasses.  Then I had to use a popsicle stick (essentially) to grind the pattern onto the glass - this is just the stencil, mind you.  Then I had to carefully remove the protective plastic and re-duct tape around the stencils to ensure none of the corrosive paste could mess up the design.  After that I added the paste, waited 60 seconds per glass, and washed it off.  I ended up with some very nice looking glasses - better than I had expected, actually.  Also, I was surprised that the etched part didn't have a rough texture - it feels essentially as smooth as the original glass.

Another project I have been working on which seems to be ready is the pressed plant project - I think it has been two weeks since we placed it in the press, so I shall now check it...and it looks great!  Just fitted it into the quad - need to start pressing other plants now - he wants dill, sage, rosemary, and basil, so we will have to combine two of those into the larger quad space. 

Bloodlust 2.05

I suppose this has become more of a Halloween/bloodlust post stream rather than just plain bloodlust, but anyhow, I shall continue.  The wig I ordered came today - I tried it on, and I think it will do nicely - of course it will look better when I'm wearing the costume and do makeup and such, but here it is.  It looks pretty much how I pictured it would - there were a few other ones that I had read do not come out looking as nice as pictured.  Wigs can be tricky, they aren't very easy to keep nice.  

I think this will be the last of the bloodlust posts until Halloween comes around, unless I decide to do some photo manipulation or drawing or something along the bloodlust theme.  Until then!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Self Improvement 10.03

My ankle has been bothering me when I run lately - my left ankle on the medial side and it's only when my foot lands a certain way.  It feels more ligamentous in nature, so I am not sure what the problem is.  I've started taking Glucosamine since I'm worried about wearing down my joints, and I tried running on the treadmill today since it's just straight running and I could evaluate whether my gait or just running in general was the problem.  As far as I can tell, it's my gait.  Some good news though - I set the pace on the treadmill for the same speed I go outside, about 6.0 (so about a 10 minute mile) and I was able to just keep going - no problem.  It was fun - relaxing.  I then just speed-walked for the rest at 3.5 and listened to a medical lecture on my phone.  I think I'll stick to the treadmill until I don't notice my ankle pain anymore then go back to trail running.  They are very different experiences - trail running the scenery changes and I keep changing direction so it's a little harder to daydream, but it's more fun because there's more variety and beautiful sunsets - also half the time that I run outside I have my best friend join me, so there's that.  

As far as eating healthy - that has been going well as well.  I am still eating half a yam a day - my skin is doing better but I will wait a month before making any judgement one way or another.  Also, I got the Black Malva shampoo and conditioner - as well as a color protectant leave-in product.  I like the products, but I've only been using them for a few days so we shall have to wait and see if it makes any difference in color.

I have also been splurging for blueberries, so I can snack on those.  It's expensive...but I'll do it.  Then greek yogurt, avocados, almonds, various other fruit like Japanese persimmons, and various types of brewed tea for my drink.  I feel pretty good - nice and healthy.  Most of what I eat when I eat out has been sushi.  Today is my birthday so I went out with my best friend for some Japanese food - tomorrow I'm going to get sushi again with my boyfriend.  Should be delicious!  

Bloodlust 2.04

So I was going to grow my hair out, but my boyfriend doesn't really want me to - so it is unlikely I will just grow my hair out for next Halloween.  I looked for some wigs, and eventually found one that looked to my liking.  I ordered it after much deliberation, so in a bit I will have my costume complete for next year.  I was thinking of another costume for next year, maybe Sarah Kerrigan the Queen of Blades from Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm, or Chell from Portal 2 - Chell would be the easiest costume but I would really need to make a Portal gun prop.  Kerrigan would work if I only did the version of her after she becomes less Zerg-y in the soon-to-be-released sequel to Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty.  Since I have all the materials for my geisha samurai girl, that will be next year's for sure, but I can still dream of other costumes!

One reason I like this wig is because it has red in it - and it's not just short, it's got other stuff too.  Looking forward to getting it in the mail - I may post a picture with it on!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Computer Games 11.01

I didn't want to include this, but considering it is one of the biggest addictions I currently have, I must.  Most recently I essentially finished my course through Fallout: New Vegas.  It is an amazing game, set in the Mojave and Las Vegas, NV in a post-nuclear holocaust world following an alternate timeline that split off around 1910.  Naturally, there are robots, laser weapons, mutants, and music from the 40s and 50s, as well as western swing.  Not music I would normally listen to, but it suited the world quite well.  It is made by Bethesda, and is technically a role playing game, but you do not interact with other real people, just with characters programmed by the game designers.  Also, it is an open world format, meaning you can essentially walk in any direction you want - there is no place you can't really go, so no conventional 'levels'.  It is great but after a year of non-stop playing, and re-playing, and even downloading user mods to make the game more challenging and add new quests, I think I have reached the end of it.  

I play my games through Steam, which is a client that manages your games, stores saved games online, and lets you purchase games and download them to play.  On Halloween, Steam was having a sale on 'scary' games, so I took the opportunity to look through their list of games that were on sale and purchased F.E.A.R (1, 2: Project Origin, Extraction Point, and Perseus Mandate), Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat and Shadow of Chernobyl.  

Of the aforementioned, I have played a little of F.E.A.R., which reminds me a lot of the Half Life games, except a little less interesting because it reminds me of Half Life.  I have been playing Amnesia, and that is definitely a game that is difficult to play - not because it is necessarily challenging, but it requires emotional endurance.  The premise of the game is you wake up in a dark spooky castle with amnesia and you find a message to yourself that you must find this man in the basement and kill him.  As you go, you learn there is a "shadow" following you, and you must not let it catch up, and there are notes and messages here and there that you find that give you more pieces of the puzzle.  If you are in the dark for too long (if the oil in your lamp runs out, or there are no candles or torches nearby) then you start to "lose sanity" and your field of vision starts to pulse, you hear the sound of scratching or scraping, and you can't tell if there's a monster nearby or if you're just going insane.  If you do happen to run into a monster that you can see (there are some which you cannot see), then you must hide in a corner and look away from it - looking at it for too long will drive you insane and make it catch you more easily.  If you are familiar with the writings of HP Lovecraft , think of the his stories Herbert West - Reanimator, The Lurking Fear, The Hound, The Rats in the Walls, The Unnamable, and The Outsider, to name a few.  Amnesia feels like you are the main character in one of Lovecraft's stories.  And you almost feel like you are losing sanity points as you play.  I am going to play some more tonight, if I can stand to walk down another dark corridor, knowing any moment I might see...

Other games I have played through adoringly in the past four years include Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Half Life, Portal, Portal 2, Plants vs Zombies, The Path, Starcraft, Starcraft 2, American McGee's Madness, and Alice: Madness Returns.  I will have to do an entry about how each of those various phases went, as they are still very close in my mind, and I did projects at the time for each, including a Bioshock themed New Year's Party, which turned out awesomely.  As for now, I think I have to bite the bullet and load Amnesia...

P.S. Skyrim came out and I am absolutely dying to play it, but I already know without playing that it will be even more addicting than New Vegas - it is from the same studio, and has a setting that I will want to explore even more and has better graphics and there are dragons.  I will never sleep again when I finally get it...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Self Improvement 10.02

I am still running, trying to go every other day at sunset.  I'm a little concerned for my knees and ankles since running is a little rough on the joints - and because I am doing an orthopedic surgery rotation, images of the inside of people's knees keep on popping into my head while I run.  I just picture the bones pressing down, my menisci bending side to side... it's amazing how much wear and tear joints get, and yet considering how much weight they carry, it's also amazing that they last at all.  I think I am going to start taking Glucosamine to preserve my joints (not Chondroitin, which clinical studies have failed to show is more effective than placebo).    

So, running.  That's self-improvement #1.

Also, still working on eating properly - I tend to do pretty well, aside from when my boyfriend cooks a huge meal or I have a really bad craving.  I am doing a mini-experiment.  I like garnet yams, great source of vitamin A - you know that somewhere between 100-400% of your daily required vitamin A can be found in one medium sized yam?  (I tried looking, the numbers were all over the place).  Also a great source of vitamin C.  Now, I have periodic acne, emphasis on "period"-ic.  I usually have one active spot though no matter what day it is, and I am currently controlling it with an antibiotic at night, Skinceuticals 0.5% retinol cream, and Skinceuticals daily moisture for oily skin.  This combination seems to do a good job not aggravating my skin, and I'll throw in the occasional exfoliation when my skin feels congested.  

Now...the rationale behind these treatments (and trust me there is a point to this):

The antibiotic is Doxycycline, a Tetracyline antibiotic, it works as a bacteriostatic agent, meaning it stops them from replicating - it doesn't kill them, but it slows them down.  Doxycycline also has some anti-inflammatory effects as well, which always helps with acne as well, since acne is an inflammatory process.  Side effects include upset stomach (I take it at night now because it'll cause nausea in the morning), cannot be taken any time close to dairy products because Calcium deactivates it, photosensitivity, and it can cause bone deformations in fetuses and children under the age of 8, so only non-pregnant people over age 8.  

Retinol, or retinoic acid, is a vitamin A derivative that, while very toxic if ingested (Accutane, a last-ditch but very effective cystic acne treatment) can increase skin turnover when applied topically.  This increased turnover helps to decrease acne and decrease wrinkles.  Side effects include dry skin, irritation, worst case you can have a severe skin reaction.  

Now, dietary vitamin A is not the same thing as retinol, however it does concentrate in significant amounts in the skin.  Remember people saying if you eat too many carrots you'll turn orange?  Well, technically it's true, just doesn't happen often unless someone goes on an all-V8 diet.  Vitamin A is also an antioxidant, as is vitamin C, which is necessary for collagen formation (think scurvy, or vitamin C deficiency, with bleeding gums and bruising).  

The experiment is this: Will ingesting more dietary vitamin A and vitamin C improve my acne and skin in general?  It is extremely healthy, a good source of fiber, a good source of antioxidants, and tastes good.  I shall be eating 1/2 of a baked garnet yam per day, and in one month if my skin is better then I shall conclude that it may be helpful.  

On another note, I am hoping to get the Aveda Black Malva shampoo and conditioner because it has pigment in it that is supposed to help darken hair - this way I can have darker hair without using harsh dyes, and Aveda products smell pretty great. I used to use Pureology, but they are even more expensive than Aveda - it's on my birthday list, if I don't get it then I will buy it myself. I can't wait to use it!  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creative Projects 7.05

Shutterfly had a deal recently where you could get 40% any photobooks ordered, so of course that gave me the extra push I needed to do the book of me and my boyfriend's pictures from the past 5 years - the highlights at any rate.  I finished that after about 5 hours of work, showed Kit who thought it looked good, and ordered it along with my UCSD album.  I saved about $62 dollars too, just from that 40% off and free shipping on orders over $30.  I am looking forward to having physical books to look through.  I shared the album with Kit's parents and our friends online - for privacy purposes I would rather not just post it on a public blog.  So that's one creative project checked and in the mail.

My next project - the pressed plants - is springing into action.  I bought a flower press at Michael's and some fresh herbs at the market, so when Kit decides what arrangement he would like we will give it a shot!  

Also, I have another project that I came up with as presents for Kit's parents - it sucks when the parents are divorced not only because of the emotional stress it placed on the child, but also because then you have twice as many "parents" to buy things for as normal when the holidays roll around.  I shall be purchasing some plain wine glasses and etching their initials into the glasses, along with a grape design (stencils and solvent material from Michael's - no freehand).  I figure that works for both sets of parents, is personalized, and shows effort.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Self Improvement 10.01

I think it's time to admit that this has become a new obsession - running at sunset.  It's just so amazing.  So so so amazing.  I live about a 2-3 minute jog from a trail that goes makes about a 2 to 2.5 mile loop in a coastal area, so I get a perfect view of the sun setting and the ocean and the sky... it's great.  Below are a few pictures that I've taken on the road and from my apartment right before leaving

The bottom two were taken while out on the run with my Droid Incredible, so it's not as nice a camera as the first picture.  I'm looking forward to going out tonight, as there is a lot of cloud coverage so more to reflect color from the setting sun.  Here are some of my favorite tracks to listen to while I run - an interesting mix, I'm sure.

Kamelot - Wings of Despair
Portal 2 - 9999999
28 Days Later - In the House, in a Heartbeat
Game of Thrones - Main Title
The Smashing Pumpkins - The End is the Beginning is the End
Rammstein - Du Reichst So Gut
Lifehouse - Sick Cycle Carousel
Eisblume - Eisblumen
Nightwish - Amaranth (Orchestral Version)
Sirenia - Meridian
The 69 Eyes - Lips of Blood

I have multiple tracks by some of the artists, like Lifehouse, Sirenia, the 69 Eyes, Rammstein, Kamelot, but I didn't want to make it too long a list.  After I run today, I'm going to subject my chubby furry black kitty to a bath - she will NOT like it.  I should brush her first though while I wait for the clouds to start turning.  As for safety, since I am running in the evening solo a lot, I do carry a knife.    

Also, I've been wearing my Lululemon jacket while running, with the collar folded in though, since it's a little too high and hits me in the face, but it's super comfy and works great.  I may need to get more stuff from them, like crop running pants.  Very pricey though.  At any rate, time to get ready, brush the kitty, and have some fun!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creative Projects 7.04

I know, I know - I haven't posted for a while.  Here's an update on my various projects:

Samurai girl costume - The sword looks great, as you saw in the last post.  The first place I ordered from I "thought" was a bust, but it looks like it might be semi-legit - after 3 months, with no emails in response to my inquiries, and after my money was refunded by Wells Fargo, the original sword I ordered arrived.  So...two swords for the price of one.  That sword from the "crappy" company however isn't exactly what I ordered - the handle is black, which in a way I prefer, but isn't ideal - and the sword blade isn't as long as the one I ordered off of Amazon.  I try to support a smaller business for once, and it ends up being a crap business, so I guess Amazon will continue to get my business.

Now I would have worn the samurai costume for Halloween, except for the fact that the stockings I bought from the Spirit store refused to stay up.  And were uneven at the top.  Also, the shoes I would have liked to wear did not look good with the costume, so I went on November 1st to get new stockings and shoes from the Spirit store for 50% off, and this will be my costume for next year.  I am also growing out my hair so that I can do a fancier up-do for the costume.

Haute cuisine - I am still trying, but lately I have not been needing to prepare foods for myself because the hospitals I am at tend to have physician lunch rooms that I can mooch some food from.  I have noticed my diet has not been as healthy at home though, because I am not cooking as much, so I am going to get back on it.  More evenings of asparagus, sweet potatoes, nuts, blueberries, and other yummy things are coming up.  It is hard when you have a boyfriend who would love to have meat and potatoes every day.

Also I am still a medical student so life is still a challenge.

Topic du jour - creative projects.  A long time ago I decided I wanted to make my boyfriend four plant pressings of his favorite herbs (he loves cooking and especially herbs).  So, I stopped at Aaron Brothers recently just to see if they had the materials, and the floor assistant was nice enough to refer me to Michael's since they didn't have what I was looking for.  I also looked it up online and found this website.

It has a lot of good information and so I shall be ordering some dye chemicals, adhesives, and paper - I already have a quad frame to put them in.  Hopefully it'll be done by Christmas time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bloodlust 2.03

I know it's been a while since I posted - alas things have been rather busy in my medical world so I have not had as much time for various obsession-y things.  However, my katana arrived in the mail, and here it is!!!

Pretty neat, huh?  Anyhow, I have the costume also, but I need to adjust it a little bit - the sleeves are a bit longer than I prefer aesthetically and I may insert some rips or some holes or artistic slashes.  I will eventually add blood splatter (paint probably) and make fake cuts on my skin.  The best way to do that is get that soft wax, spread a layer in a single line, then make a groove and put fake theatrical blood in the groove, that way the wax looks like your skin bent up around a cut mark.  I'll do that on my face, maybe my leg, maybe my chest.  And I'll have my hair up, I'm letting it grow out for the purpose of putting it mostly up and then having a lock come down on either side of my face.  I also need to figure out some way to tie my katana to my side, since my actual costume doesn't have belt loops.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Haute Cuisine 1.16

I know it's not super creative, but I'm going to do the same recipe from last week - that sweet potato soup is just sooo yummy, has so many vitamins, and it goes so well with the yogurt and curried apples...  I still have part of the honeydew from last week so I'll just get a few more kiwis and use that for my fruit salad again.  So shopping list is 2.5lb sweet potatoes, 3 kiwi, 1 apple, 1 red bell pepper, vegetable broth, another plain greek yogurt cup.  Simple enough.  I've been fighting various cravings, mostly junk food lately.  Not sure why, maybe because I've been eating less.  

In other news, went to Napa recently - it was fun - we went to Sattui winery, Artesa winery, and Rutherford bar and grill for lunch - amazing roast dip sandwich - amazing.  I don't even like those sandwiches much, but the bread was soft (so no crusts cutting gums) and the meat was suuuuper tender, and minced to the point that taking a bite didn't involve cutting through large pieces or dragging pieces out.  I myself had the BBQ pork ribs, which were good.  Probably going to have breakfast foods for dinner (bacon, toast and eggs).  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Media Manipulation 9.02

Well, I should have probably been studying last night, but I felt the urge to make a montage of Daenerys from Game of Thrones (y'know, the hot dragon girl) - so I set it to the main theme because I couldn't think of any song with words that would do her justice.  Lyrics always sound so corny, and honestly, Daenerys speaks for herself.  So, without further ado, here is my video.

Also I was out and about yesterday and snapped a nice picture of a spider with a newly wrapped bee which it was sucking dry, and it looked cool so here it is.  I have an insect blog, but I use it for mostly identifying insects, not spiders.  Currently I am too lazy to try to key spiders, and too nice to kill them.

Haute Cuisine 1.15

For my lunch this week I made the same fruit salad as last week, and made one of my old favorites - sweet potato soup with curried apples - courtesy of, a branch of Martha Stewart.  I didn't use the pepper or add much salt actually, and I had leftover chicken broth so I used 1 cup of that.  I also didn't have mint garnish, and didn't really want to add a minty note - I like the purely savory taste, and the apples add plenty of sweetness.  First is the bowl I made, and below is the recipe per the website.  It is really good.

Whole Living
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Curried Apples
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Curried Apples

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Curried Apples

For this recipe, use a crisp, fiber-packed apple like Lady Apple, Cortland, or Gala. The roasted sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene.

285 calories; 7 g protein; 8 g fat; 49 g carb; 8 g fiber


Serves 4 (makes 6 cups).
  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 or 4)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, homemade or canned
  • 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 small tart apple (4 ounce) peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour, turning once, or until potatoes are very soft. When cool enough to handle, scoop cooked potato out of the skins. Discard skins.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add bell pepper, jalapenos, and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add sherry (if using), sweet potato, and broth; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, until flavors have blended.
  3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender. Combine batches in a clean pot. The soup should be thick. (If you prefer a thinner soup, add water or a little more broth.) Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring vinegar, honey, and curry powder to a boil. Add apple; stir for 1 minute and remove from heat. To serve, ladle the soup into warm bowls, add a spoonful of apples, a spoonful of yogurt, and a sprinkle of mint.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Haute Cuisine 1.14

Escargot night!  They were finally ready.  Here they are before the cooking - in their little jar, all sealed up, retracted in their shells the way they are supposed to be when in pseudo-hibernation.  Tossed them into the pot which had half water, the last of a Charles Shaw Chardonnay.  After 15 minutes took them out, removed them from their shells, and put them back into the boiler this time with a fresh CS Chardonnay and water, about 50-50.

After that boiling for about 5 minutes, I was simultaneously melting the other stuff - the butter about 1/4 cup, a spoonful of diced garlic, and a puree of 2 tbsp absinthe (the recipe called for Pernod, I couldn't find it and had absinthe on hand already), a little of the chardonnay to give it some more fluid to blend in, lemon juice, and the parsley.  Sauteed the snails with the chopped mushrooms.  Took them out, served with red potatoes which were baked with olive oil, rosemary, and salt.  Wine served with it was a Sauvignon Blanc from Sattui Vineyard.