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Friday Fun! (February: DC Trip and Winter Activities)

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment
Walking in just one of the many lovely snow-covered parks in Boston.

Walking in just one of the many lovely snow-covered parks in Boston.

Hello my lovely readers!

It was quite the busy month for me.  Early in the month, I went on a business trip to Washington, D.C.  I was sent with a friend and co-worker to go to a training at the National Library of Medicine.  We just barely managed to take off in the middle of one of the many storms that hit Boston this month.  We flew right out of the storm and into a chilly, but snow-free DC.  In the limited free time we had, we saw the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum and the Botanical Garden.  I had never been to DC before.  My impressions were that everyone is quite friendly and talkative.  The city is surprisingly empty with things spread further out than I was anticipating.  The architecture was interesting, and I enjoyed the museums (and the fact that they’re free!).  I’d like to go back to visit in warmer weather when the plants are in bloom.  Perhaps more as a stop-over on my way someplace else, though.  I can’t imagine spending an entire vacation there!

In the middle of the month, I of course opened my new Etsy shop.  I’m so excited to have another creative venue!  I’m still doing some stitching and art just for fun and for friends and family too, though.

Baking a loaf of bread every weekend is now a thing.  I also made an apple pie to try to beat back the winter doldrums.  I started doing more yoga as a home practice, since it gets me moving but I don’t have to brave the cold to do it.  I also did my taxes, and I’m pleased to say I’m getting a refund!  I finally completed the first step toward getting my driver’s license in Massachusetts as well.  I went to the Social Security office and filed for a replacement card.  Bafflingly, in MA, you have to have your social security card in addition to a photo id to get your learner’s permit.  You aren’t allowed to even just give them your social security number.  So, although I know my number, I still had to file for a replacement card.  But that step is done!

I’m pleased to say my reading pace has been going well.  I’m actually ahead of the one book a week goal I set for myself.  I’ve also so far read 2 books for the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge, as well as 2 of the 12 review copies I accepted for review here this year.  There is a giveaway still running for the second one, the horror book The House of Azareal, if you are interested in entering.

I must admit, February can be a bit of a depressing month for me.  I’ve noticed that pattern over the last couple of years.  But my partner has been very supportive, for which I am truly grateful, and that along with yoga, books, and snuggling our cat has helped make the month pass.

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (January: Freezing Cold and Baking)

February 1, 2014 1 comment

breadHello my lovely readers!  I hope all of your new years started off well.

I’m sure most of you are aware of the intense cold snap that hit the United States this month, and Boston was certainly no exception.  There were a few nights where, even with our heat cranked all the way up, it still wasn’t exactly what you’d call warm inside our apartment.  The few times it did warm up, we got snow.  In fact, the month rolled in with quite the blizzard.  I got to get some exercise in shoveling out our steps and portion of the sidewalk, not to mention my boyfriend’s car (obviously, this was a joint venture).  With it being so cold and me having a 30 minute walk as part of my evening commute home from work, I’ve had to get creative in how I bundle up.  My dad had bought me some fleece-lined tights, and those have become my base layer.  So cozy!  Like wearing your jammies under your work clothes (but looks professional).  However, when I tried to get more, I couldn’t find any for less than $20 plus shipping, so I’m stuck washing them a lot.  Thankfully, today was our first warm day in weeks (43 degrees F!!) Yayyyy

Since it’s been so cold, and also since my dad gave us a Kitchen Aid for Christmas, I’ve been doing a lot more baking.  Basically anything that will let me run our oven for justifiable reasons, since that heats up our studio apartment.  I’d been struggling with getting my bread to come out right, so when we visited my dad back at Thanksgiving, he went over the process with me and caught two errors.  First, I wasn’t letting the yeast grow enough before adding the flour (I’m an impatient person), and second, I wasn’t kneading it long enough.  Well, the second problem was easily addressed with the Kitchen Aid.  The first was addressed by setting a timer with a set amount of time to wait before adding the flour.  My first loaf done with these tweaks and the Kitchen Aid came out perfect!  I was very excited.  Another recipe I finally perfected this month was vegetarian Thai red curry.  I read a tip that combining soy sauce with seaweed replicates the flavor of fish sauce better.  I also started using full fat instead of low fat coconut milk.  It came out much more authentic.

Coming up on the blog this month, I’m hoping to read another one of my 2014 review copies and offer up another giveaway (enter the one currently running if you haven’t had the chance yet).  I’m also hoping to read another book for the MIA Reading Challenge.  I’m glad I already got one read for the challenge and enjoyed it!  I’m also hoping to make an announcement this month of another project I’m working on, but I need to finish up some behind-the-scenes work first.

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (Gym, Thundersnow)

October 28, 2011 6 comments

Snow on the ground this morning.

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope you all had nice weeks.  I discovered at my potluck that all of my friends are *amazing* cooks!  We should do this potluck thing more often. 🙂

This week I returned to meeting with a trainer.  In January it will be exactly one year since I started focusing on my fitness, and I’m rather determined to meet a few goals before then.  I figured a trainer would help.  He’s also nice and tough on me, which I enjoy.  I am a bit distraught to discover that I’m still having issues holding a plank for a minute. I make it. But just barely.  Needless to say, that’s one of my big goals for the next two months.

We got our first snow of the year last night, and it wasn’t just snow, it was THUNDERSNOW.  That’s what we call it when there’s thunder and lightning with snow instead of rain.  I loooove winter, and I was happy to see snow this morning, although I must admit that I hope this winter isn’t incredibly long like the one in the Little House books.

I got a lot of library loot last night.  I’m thinking of having my own mini read-a-thon at some point next week, especially since I’m no longer working at the restaurant.  I’m picking up my final check today and handing in my uniform.  I’m happy to have my evenings back to myself, though I will miss the extra money, heh. In any case, let me know if you’d be at all into a mini read-a-thon at some point in the next week.

Happy weekends!

Friday Fun! (The Long Winter)

February 4, 2011 Leave a comment

I keep thinking this week about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Book The Long Winter.  We’ve been slammed with snow, sleet, hail, thunderhail, thundersnow, and more almost every single day this week.  It’s dark.  It’s dreary.  Most New Englanders I know are struggling with the winter blues.  I’ve been taking to snuggling up under my electric blanket earlier and earlier at night, and all this reminds me of reading The Long Winter during the long Vermont winters when I was a kid.

Basically, in this entry in the Little House series of books, Laura’s pioneer family faces one of the worst winters ever.  Excruciating detail about the cold, the food, the clothes, and more go into the tale of how they managed to just barely survive that winter.  I’ll never forget the passage in which they hang their wet clothes out to freeze as a close approximation to drying.  Winter is just something northerners have always had to deal with.  I remind myself that at least I have a lot more entertainment and warmth than Laura did, but Laura also could just stay in the house all winter.  I have to go out and get to work.  Hibernation is just not an option.  Not to mention that it’d get lonely after a little while.

But there’s something comforting in reading about other people facing winter when you’re in the throes of it yourself.  I know some people like to read books set in the tropics in the winter, but personally I’ll always reach for tales of freezing cold and survival against all odds.  There’s a sort of camaraderie to it that only other northerners understand.

Happy weekend all!

Friday Fun! (Thoughts on Community and Environment)

January 14, 2011 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Boston got hit with yet another blizzard, although the real record-breaker was that 49 of the 50 states had snow on the same day (including Hawaii).  The one without?  Florida.  I spent my Wednesday morning shoveling about a foot and a half of snow off of my building’s steps and sidewalk.  Another member of the building did the afternoon shoveling.  It was actually really lovely getting a workout in outside in the snow while listening to an audiobook on my iPod.  🙂  Of course, the afternoon was spent alternating between reading and craft projects.

My friends Nina and E and I have been spending a lot of time lately discussing big questions.  Maybe it’s because we all went to Brandeis where you were more likely to find huge groups of people discussing existential questions than playing Beirut.  Maybe it’s just the kind of people we are.  Anyway.  Nina is currently on a kibbutz in Israel, and she emailed me asking me what I think makes a community.  I know a lot of people believe it’s your family or your religion or nationality or who lives in proximity to you, but that’s not how I make my community.  I think the ideal community is a group of people who happen to meet in whatever way and who love and support each other unconditionally.  You should be able to trust your community to support you and be there for you no matter how you fuck up or what choices you make.  I’m incredibly grateful to have found that with my current groups of friends.  It’s not an easy thing to find, but I think it’s what works.  I’m a big proponent of creating your own family and often talk with various friends about how awesome it would be to one day all live together on a big plot of land.  A gal can dream, can’t she?

Meanwhile, E and I have been discussing the environment a lot.  I’ve always considered myself a bit of an environmentalist, but I’m continually moving even further in that direction.  To put it bluntly, the earth doesn’t belong to humans.  The earth is its own thing, and if we don’t straighten up, we’re gonna kill ourselves off.  You think the earth cares if we die?  Nope.  The earth will keep on doing its thing and other creatures will take over.  Kind of like how we took over from the dinosaurs.  Still though.  The earth isn’t our.  It belongs to all creatures, and it honestly disgusts me the way humans have been ruining it, not only for future generations, but for current creatures of other species.  So what is a gal to do?  How can I function within modern society and make the least impact?  As I become increasingly aware, I strive every day to make less impact to the best of my abilities.  I keep my heat turned down incredibly low not just for my electric bill, but to make less of an impact on earth.  I’m a vegetarian and am striving to slowly cut down and maybe eventually eliminate dairy from my diet.  I’ve already decided that I’d rather adopt than have children of my own.  Yet every week when I bring out my recycling, I’m shocked that one person has created so much waste.  It’s mind-boggling.

I guess being out of grad school has given me more time to contemplate these core values.  Community.  Environmentalism.  Maybe I’m still a bit more idealistic than I thought I was.  I thought I’d entirely reverted to pessimism and giving up on idealism, but that may not be the case after all.

Wolf Bite Wednesday (Snowbrellas)

February 3, 2010 4 comments

I’m starting a new weekly meme that I hope you all will enjoy.  I was inspired by a comment on my review of the book Ethan: Site 39.  The author stopped by and called it “the Wolf Bite,” which I found hilarious and promptly decided this needs to be a meme.

The meme will be a relatively brief and hopefully humorous rant about something that irritates me.  Hence the whole bite thing.  I will be trying for it to be witty and not whiny so you guys will enjoy.  Crossing my fingers, er, toes since I’m typing, let’s get down to business with the first topic: Snowbrellas!

I was pleased as punch to see snow greeting me this morning when I left for my commute.  Thoroughly enjoying feeling it land on my face and decorate my coat, I walked to my bus stop.  There I was met with one of my prime winter-time irritants.  No, not plow trucks or ice.  The Snowbrella.

The Snowbrella is what I have dubbed umbrellas when people carry them in the snow.  Long I have attempted to figure out what exactly possesses people to carry umbrellas when it’s snowing.  Do they not understand that the snow won’t soak through their clothing like rain does?  Have they never heard of the lovely concept of the winter hat?  Do they think if the snow touches anything but their boots they will melt?  Then I start to wonder if they’ve ever even ventured out in the snow without an umbrella or, god forbid, played in it.

The wonderful winter scenes of falling snow and the various snazzy hats and scarves people don in the winter are ruined by the appearance of these bulky snowbrellas.  They jar me from the pleasure of a season I enjoy with the association with the freezing rain of fall.  Not to mention that I then have to navigate not to get whapped upside the head by a snowbrella, because we all know how bad people are at managing where their snowbrella goes.

What the hell, people?  Acquire a winter hat, leave the snowbrella at home, stop ruining the scenery for everyone else, and enjoy the winter.  You live in New England, for heaven’s sake!  Enjoy it!

Plus, you look like a complete idiot hiding under your umbrella from the snow.