26 January 2013

Blog hiatus! Obviously.

29 March 2011

Cats I Know

Here are two neighborhood cats I've befriended! We spend a little time together every evening on my porch, catching up.

The black and white character is Honcho, and his goofball kitten sidekick is JJ. They wander the neighborhood together, causing mischief.

Our Sammie is strictly an indoor cat, but he peeks out the window at these two when they're chasing each other around our yard.

I like to think he wishes he could run around with them. They'd form a little gang of cats - the Grayscale Crew!

06 August 2010

Everybody frieze!

Hey Arrested Development fans, remember when the Bluth family participated in the Living Classics pageant, where actors were painted and posed to look like works of art? AKA tableaux vivant, if you want to get fancy about it?

I thought it was yet another event invented by Arrested Development writers to convey a sense of, "Ha ha, look what rich people do for fun!" but apparently the event was based on a REAL THING: the Pageant of the Masters!

...Is Motherboy real too?!

Aubrey passed along two free tickets to PotM to me this week, so C. and I made the trip to Laguna Beach a few days ago. We went with basically no idea what to expect. People acting out paintings on stage? They stand still and pretend to be art? For two hours?

It turned out to be really impressive! 30+ works of art, ranging in time from 5th century BCE to 2008. Sculptures, ceramics, prints, and jewelry pieces, but mostly paintings. The curtain would rise, or the audience's attention would be directed via spotlight to different parts of the stage and surroundings, and there would be a posed, painted and framed scene. There was much golf clapping. The orchestra played, as accompanying narration tied the work into the season's theme of Eat, Drink and Be Merry. The script was scattered with terrible jokes that the audience politely tittered at. "A reference to In-N-Out's 'Animal Fries'? How droll!"

A few times they turned the stage lights up just enough to let the audience see the sets and actors moving into position, for a behind-the-scenes peek. I brought along binoculars to get a close-up look, which revealed that the sets were intricately composed of disguised cutouts and hand- and foot-holds. For example...

In this Bon-Ton Burlesquers poster, the martini glass in the dancer's hand was attached to the scenery as a handle, and her feet were supported by narrow platforms. The dancer was the only actress in this piece.

The narration also pointed out how a large part of the illusion was careful stage lighting to eliminate shadows which would ruin the 2D look. They had a strict "no photography" rule, which was probably a good idea because hundreds of camera flashes would have really ruined it.

My favorite pieces were Gaston Doin's Carnival-themed oil painting, Reginald Marsh's Depression-era Breadline etching, and Carl Larsson's Brita, a Cat and a Sandwich, because a cat and a sandwich makes me pretty happy, too.

The most bizarre event was when the series of Mardi Gras scenes ended, culminating in a weird live parade of people dressed as food, winding their way through the audience. An old man dressed as asparagus danced with a young, lithe bunch of grapes, feet from where I sat. Bewildering!

22 July 2010

Air plants

We have a wee air plant garden in our living room now!

With a big nudge from this air plant chandelier DIY project, I ordered an assortment of Tillandsia from Air Plants 4 U. So pleased with this shop and my new plants! I ordered 12, received a bonus 13th, plus a tiny little one that snuck in unnoticed, tangled up in another plant.

I keep the little plant on the windowsill in the bathroom, masquerading as the hair of kokeshi doll who is the size of my fingernail.

The plants came with paper tags, carefully hand-labeled with the species. After a few weeks the paper started to wear out, plus I was never a fan of the way the large white labels stood out against the greenery, so I decided to make my own small, sturdy, clear plastic tags.

First I ate some leftovers... then I washed the #6 plastic container the leftovers came in. Then I cut out some labels from the flat parts of the container, about 3 times as large as I wanted the finished products to be, punched holes with a regular hole-puncher, and wrote the plant names on with a Sharpie.

Then, I applied some MAGIC, aka 350 degrees in the oven for less than 2 minutes, on a foil-lined cookie sheet. At first nothing happened, then suddenly the tags started to curl up and look terrible and made me briefly question the choices I had made in life. Moments later, they shrank down and flattened out, and I was left with these cute little tags!

It's true - #6 plastic is Shrinky Dink plastic. Use this knowledge wisely.

The tags turned out so adorably that I had to spend a few minutes just cooing at them before I could move on. I finished up by cutting all the old paper tags off, and reused the string to tie the new plastic tags on. Ta da!

26 February 2010

Viewers like you!

It appears GHOSTWRITER will be out on DVD soon. (Thx for the tip Marcus). I haven't thought of that show in years, but I was so into it in elementary school! Loved a good mystery, still do, loved the book nerdery - but also, as an only child, I took the idea of imaginary friends pretty seriously. The series spoke to me, and I may have on occasion worn a pen on a string around my neck in solidarity...

A couple of Ghostwriter plots have stayed with me through the years, one of which was the Very Special Episode about DRUGS. I remember not really knowing what drugs were, but having the vague understanding that they were Bad, and so I watched the episode cautiously, thinking I could get in trouble if my parents found out.

It was exciting to be suddenly, vividly reminded of a long-lost piece of childhood. I should check these DVDs out, I thought for a second - but reality quickly set in when I realized there's no way that watching the show today could be as satisfying and entertaining as it had been when I was 6. Nothing... is like it was when I was 6.

Seriously, check out this title sequence for Ghostwriter. I don't remember it sucking, but suck it does. Alas.

Well, looks like this is one show I won't be rewatching any time soon. I probably wouldn't be able to get through it without internally making snarky comments*, tarnishing the purity of childhood memories.


*I'm already doing it: So... the black character's name is Jamal, he has a fade and wears a tank top over a t-shirt? Original. See also Vince from Recess**.

**Veering off topic, but it appears someone is using Polyvore to recreate the outfits of the Recess crew. Huh. Do Pepper Ann next!

30 January 2010

I don't know the name of this building

Announcement: My new and most important life goal is to see R. Kelly in concert with my boy Stu.

What has convinced me to reach for this particular star? It was the following fascinating video clip, in which thespian Aziz Ansari conveys the nuances of the R. Kelly concert experience.

I need this in my life.

15 January 2010


This video of a dog sensing an earthquake moments before it occurs is pretty interesting:

On the 30th of December I felt an earthquake, and after the shaking stopped I immediately looked around to see if Sammie was doing anything unusual or telling of the situation. He was in the bathroom, standing up and playing with the handle of the toilet like he wanted to flush. A sign of the end times? A little unusual for him, but he's an unpredictable weirdo anyway so I wouldn't attribute it to any kind of seismic activity.


My joking around is only incidental to current events. It's been an especially difficult past few days for following the news - CNN's ongoing coverage of the Haiti earthquake.

Help out if you can, there are many ways. Here's a few:
- Red Cross (link for monetary donations, but blood donations accepted in some regions)
- Doctors Without Borders
- Knitting patterns on Ravelry with proceeds pledged to relief
- Craft Hope for Haiti on Etsy, all proceeds pledged to Doctors Without Borders
- Text HAITI to 90999

13 January 2010

Moving (out, in, wherever)

Yesterday C. and I spent our evening in front of the TV, watching Biggest Loser. Instead of our usual (well... MY usual) habit of watching while eating foods embarrassingly similar to what landed those contestants on the show, this time we watched while treadmill-ing a few miles. Yeah, we are motivated to be healthier people... but also we don't have a TV and the closest available one was in our building's gym. And we felt awkward about just sitting there, casually draped across a weight bench while watching people struggle to carry the weight of their own bodies around.

I don't really exercise regularly, I just eat right most of the time, avoid being sedentary, and am blessed with the genes of a thin and long-living people. But I do like walking up a serious incline for hours at a time, on a treadmill or even just hilly urban terrain. The embarrassing but true reason behind this is... Janice Dickinson recommends it in her book Everything About Me is Fake… And I’m Perfect. It's a totally free and easy way to keep your calves and rumpus in shape, OK? Don't look at me like that. It's not like I'm doing other stuff she recommends, like getting botulism injected into your face.

Anyway, that's about as exciting as my life is going to get this month. NEXT month is going to be a whole 'nother thing though. I'll be starting school again (I can't find my Pee Chee folder you guys), plus we're moving into our new house. By "new" I mean "old" since it was built in 1913, but by "our" I really mean "OUR" since we're homeowners now!

06 January 2010

Back on the best coast

Heyyyyy it's a new year and I live in a new state! I was living in a new state at the end of last year too, but that was the state of homelessness. The couch-surfing kind though. Not the real kind... with poverty. Although right this second I'm eating a cup noodle with a stolen plastic fork, so you can draw your own conclusions about how things are going for me.

But no, I kid - things are going really great. I live in San Diego now, which is a big enough city that I feel my chances of being stalked for revealing my location are pretty low. Last year I lived in Rhode Island, which I don't think I ever mentioned on here, because the whole state was the size of a jellybean. (Flavor? Coffee milk.) I was pretty sure a stalker could randomly come to Rhode Island and, completely by accident, stumble into my backyard. Then it would have been curtains for me.

Daily, I am adding to a mental list of things that are pretty great about living in southern California. Produce is abundant and cheap - I bought a big ol' onion for 13 cents the other day. Also, avocados at 5 for a dollar is nature's way of telling me to eat more guacamole. Also abundant: sunshine! So much so, that we plan to harness the sun's rays to do our bidding. I was in t-shirts and flip flops for a week when we first got here, in the beginning of December. Winter: no longer my mortal enemy! Thanks, San Diego.

02 January 2010

Lemony goodness

A fascinating true fact about me is that I love lemon. Lemonade is in my interests on Facebook, that's how you know I mean it - it's right there between gingersnaps and salami.

So I am thrilled to be able to announce that I've had success in making one of my favorite combinations of sweet and tart, lemon meringue pie! And it only took me two attempts. The first one was ages ago, and frankly was not very well made. Just all around sad, really. See here? I didn't really understand the fussiness of meringue, which is why you see nary a stiff peak. The lemon filling had cooled and settled before I even applied that pathetic meringue, which is why there is weeping and separating all over the place. Still tasty... but my goal was tasty AND awesome-looking.

This time I did my homework, and read up on the special needs of meringue. I used just egg whites and sugar. Absolutely NO yolk, so each egg should be separated very carefully and individually, so just in case a yolk breaks, it doesn't pollute the rest of the whites. No touching the whites with grubby fingers, because the oils on your skin could be enough to ruin it. Seriously, very high maintenance - but WORTH IT! Behold the beauty of a meringue peak.

Also just for kicks, here's my pie crust. I thought it looked neat.

So here's how you do this thing: make a batch of lemon filling (recipe below), and pour it hot into the baked crust. IMMEDIATELY slather meringue on top, make some peaks by smacking the back of a spoon around on it, then throw it in the oven at 350 F until the top is attractively browned, about 10 minutes. Behold!

Lemon Meringue Pie
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 tbs flour
- 3 tbs cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Juice and zest from 2 lemons
- 2 tbs butter
- 4 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
- 6 tbs white sugar

Bake pie crust prior to starting the filling.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together dry ingredients (1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt) in a saucepan, then stir in water, lemon juice and zest. Stir together over medium-high heat until boiling, then stir in butter.

Beat 4 egg yolks in a small bowl, then temper by whisking in 1/2 cup of the hot lemon mixture. Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the remaining lemon mixture.

Bring back to a boil and continue to cook, stirring constantly until thick. Lower the heat, but keep mixture hot while making the meringue.

In a large bowl, whip egg whites while gradually adding 6 tbs sugar, until stiff peaks form.

Pour hot lemon filling into pie crust, and spread meringue over the top, sealing the edges to the crust. Bake in preheated oven until meringue is golden brown.