marnanightingale: (Default)
Last call for music, y'all. Probably going to take it down in the next 48, unless I get a serious rush of interest.

ETA: 48 HOURS. Not 48 minutes, sorry about that.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
Back, or trying to be, this time with a playlist.

In which we put paid to the notion that Marna only listens to SRS MUZIKS. Because I like pop music. I like pop music a lot. So here are my favourites from the slightly over three decades of pop music released since I began to like it.

With a hat-tip to Jarrow's awesome vid Give It Up, which everyone should go watch Right Now.

Dance Your Ass Off (Shameless Pleasures) 378MB, zipped, please comment if you grab it..

Alison Krauss & John Waite: Missing You

The Bangles: Going Down To Liverpool

The Bears: Aches and Pains

Berlin: Sex (I'm A...)

Blue Peter: Don't Walk Past

Bryan Ferry: Slave To Love

Cheap Trick: I Want You To Want Me (Live)

Cobra Starship: Good Girls Go Bad

Coldplay: Viva la Vida

Cyndi Lauper: Iko Iko

Cyndi Lauper: I Drove All Night

Depeche Mode: Shake The Disease

Devo: Working In A Coal Mine

Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians: What I Am

Eric Carmen: Hungry Eyes

Fall Out Boy: My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)

Fleetwood Mac: Second Hand News

Flesh For Lulu: I Go Crazy

A Flock Of Seagulls: I Ran

fun.: Carry On

Gene Loves Jezebel: Desire (Come And Get It) (12 Inch Remix)

Giorgio Moroder & Philip Oakey: Together In Electric Dreams (Extended Remix)

The Go-Go's: Our Lips Are Sealed

The Go-Go's: We Got The Beat

The Go-Go's: Head Over Heels

Gowan: Moonlight Desires

Hey Ocean!: Big Blue Wave

The Hit Nation: Too Much Time On My Hands

INXS: Need You Tonight

Jane Siberry: Mimi On The Beach

Jann Arden: Could I Be Your Girl

Jimmy Eat World: Electable (Give It Up)

Joe Jackson: Is She Really Going Out With Him? (Live)

LaTour: People Are Still Having Sex

Madness: Our House

Marc Cohn: Walking In Memphis

Marillion: Kayleigh (Single Version)

Martha And The Muffins: Echo Beach

Michael Penn: Someone to Dance With

Moxy Früvous: The Drinking Song

New Order: Shellshock

Nicki Minaj: Starships

The Northern Pikes: She Ain't Pretty

Oingo Boingo: No One Lives Forever

OK Go: A Good Idea At the Time

P!nk: God Is a DJ

The Payola$ (with Carol Pope): Never Said I Love You

Prince: Raspberry Beret

The Proclaimers: King Of The Road

Psychedelic Furs: Pretty In Pink

Pukka Orchestra: Rubber Girl

Pursuit Of Happiness: I'm An Adult Now

Rihanna (with Fall Out Boy): Shut Up and Drive

Rough Trade: High School Confidential

Sarah McLachlan: Building a Mystery

The Spoons: Old Emotions

Starship: We Built This City

Steve Winwood: Back In The High Life Again

Supertramp: Take The Long Way Home

Suzanne Vega & Joe Jackson: Left of Center

The Thompson Twins: Hold Me Now

Violent Femmes: Blister in the Sun

54-40: I Go Blind

ETA: It became apparent while I was playing this over supper that I had missed some Very Important Songs. Have a CanCon Supplement, 32MB

Barenaked Ladies: Pinch Me

The Be Good Tanyas: Light Enough to Travel

Bruce Cockburn: Lovers In A Dangerous Time

The Lowest Of The Low: Rosy and Grey

Tom Cochrane & Red Rider: Good Times

Crying Shame: Wild Strawberries

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marnanightingale: (Default)
ETA: IF YOU SEE THIS AFTER YOUR SCHEDULED TIME COME BY THE ROOM, WE'LL WORK IT OUT AND GET YOUR FACE DONE.

OK, so I'm at MJ and I can't seem to find Hagiologic, so I'm going to go ahead and say we're doing this in our room.

I'm in 513.

Schedule:

1:00 - hagiologic
1:30 - alasbabylon
2:00 - elucidate_this
2:30 - riverlight
3:00 - raven
3:30 - crowgirl13
4:00 - silsbee
4:30 - zeenell
5:00 - spuffyduds
5:30 - fairestcat

Please comment as soon as you see this so I know you are coming. If you have a conflict, please drop in and see me and we'll work it out.

Reminders:

If you're already all dressed up when you come to be made-up, please bring a towel to protect your clothes.

I have facewash so we can start with a fresh clean face; if you have some you love, please bring it. Otherwise it's body shop tea tree.
If you wear moisturiser, bring that too.

I have disposable applicators and nascara wands and sponges and alcohol for brush-clearing; nevertheless, if you are getting a cold or otherwise might be contagious, please tell me. You'll still get makeup, I'll just know to be extra careful about brushes.

I got some little hair-decorations, flowers and whatnot; I don't do hair but these are giveaways.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
I have a room. I have a schedule. Subject to permission from the room owners, we're running from 1pm to 6pm.

Schedule will be posted from next rest stop; please check back this evening.

Tentative schedule below. If you have conflicts with your assigned time, please let me know asap.

1:00 - hagiologic
1:30 - alasbabylon
2:00 - elucidate_this
2:30 - riverlight
3:00 - raven
3:30 - crowgirl13
4:00 - silsbee
4:30 - zeenell
5:00 - spuffyduds
5:30 - fairestcat

If you're already all dressed up when you come to be made-up, please bring a towel to protect your clothes.

I have facewash so we can start with a fresh clean face; if you have some you love, please bring it. Otherwise it's body shop tea tree.
If you wear moisturiser, bring that too.

I have disposable applicators and nascara wands and sponges and alcohol for brush-clearing; nevertheless, if you are getting a cold or otherwise might be contagious, please tell me. You'll still get makeup, I'll just know to be extra careful about brushes.

I got some little hair-decorations, flowers and whatnot; I don't do hair but these are giveaways.

And in conclusion: SQUEE!

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marnanightingale: (Default)
ObDisclaimer: I was one of the proofreaders of this book. I do not, however, benefit in any way from its sale, except by acquiring more people with whom I can discuss the ideas in it.

This is a compendium of speeches, essays, introductions, afterwords, blog posts, and travelogues, spanning a thirty-year period, covering a wide range of topics, and seriously, I can't remember the last time I had so much sheer fun proofreading anything – probably the last time I proofed a Bujold novel, actually. My query emails back to Lois[1] contained large amounts of unprofessional squee and at least one episode of actual incoherent keyboard mashing.

Because this is one of the smartest books of essays I've read in a very long time. It's funny and thoughtful, it's observant, it's passionate and compassionate ... there's stuff in here I'm going to be going back to and chewing over for a good long time.

Being fairly bad at reviews qua reviews, I will now attempt to sell you a copy of this book by dint of quoting a small cross-section of teasers taken from some of the bits that particularly delighted me, enough so to make me need to stop work and past things to my wife so that we could squee over them together. There were a lot of those: I have restricted myself severely here, to short bits that strike me as being able to stand alone without entirely losing their power.

In Sidelines, Bujold talks about writing, of course, the craft and the business and the travel (I really, really want to go to Croatia now) and the occasional surreality (I can't quote any part of Editorial Dining; it's a piece that has to be read as a whole, but dear God, it is funny) of writing SF and F for a living, but also about reading:

for me, this sheaf of inked paper with the gaudy cover glued to the spine is not the book. The book is not an object on the table; it is an event in the reader’s mind. ...[t]he words on the page are merely the means to that end, a think-by-numbers set, a bottled daydream.


and readers:

Some people have far too much life already, and need to get away from it for a few hours ... I like to think of "Ms. Average Reader" as a children's cancer hospice nurse, home from a particularly bad day at work.


wars in the fictional future:

If geography is the mother of strategy, surely technology is its father


genres:

I expected to learn a lot about romance through writing one, and I did. I was more surprised to learn something new to me about fantasy and science fiction—which is how profoundly, intensely, relentlessly political most of the stories in these genres are ... I had not noticed this the way a fish does not notice water.


and gender:

action-adventure, for a woman [character] with children in tow ... is not fun. In fact, it is a fair approximation of hell.


As of now it's available, for the quite reasonable sum of $6.99 USD, on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. It will be available on iTunes shortly.

[1] "Lois" being a person I sometimes write to, whereas "Bujold" is an author I sometimes write about.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
Which [personal profile] lasergirl has named "Berry Vesuvius". Or Berry Besubius. Or Bear is Dubious. It's sort of half-dumpling, half crumble. Or something. Looks like Ye AntiChrist, is very quick and easy, tastes excellent.

4 C frozen berries
1/2 C maple syrup (or 1/8 C sugar) (optional)
1 capful vanilla

Combine in a large, oven-safe pot and simmer on low until completely thawed and bubbling. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F and combine in a bowl:

2 C all-purpose flour
1 T Magic baking powder *
1 t cinnamon
1/4 C brown sugar (optional)

When the dry ingredients are mixed, add 1/2 C milk and 1/2 C water (or a full cup of water for vegan) and mix. You may need up to another 1/2 cup of liquid to get all of the dry ingredients wet. When you have a thick, lumpy dough:

(This is the only tricky bit: work fast and don't let the dough get hit by any amount of cool air or it will be really heavy)

Make sure that the oven is up to heat and the berry mix is bubbling briskly,
Pour the dough into the berries
Get it into the oven immediately
Leave it to cook uncovered for 45 minutes (which should give you time to eat supper)

Serve alone or with ice cream, or with a dollop of maple butter on the crust.
If you omit the sugar and syrup the texture will be different, but it's still good.

*Baking powders seem to vary; if you use a different one and this comes out heavy or full of airholes, experiment: a bit more, a little less... increments of 1 teaspoon seems to work best.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
[personal profile] elucidate_this
[personal profile] silsbee
[personal profile] raven
[personal profile] riverlight
[personal profile] zeenell
[personal profile] crowgirl13

hagiologic
alasbabylon

Possible: [personal profile] spuffyduds

I think I am closing this offer at 8, so one more slot.. Eight confirmed and a probable, so we're closed.


Please use this thread to tell me what kind of look you're thinking of, tell me about specific tricks you want to learn, tell me of anything on your schedule that you need me to work around, and let me know if you have, maybe, a room which we could maybe use, as my roomates may not, it occurs to me belatedly, be totally thrilled to have the bathroom invaded like this.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
... About fangirls who would like to like makeup but don't quite know what to do with it.

If I brought my full makeup kit to MJ and/or WisCon, would people like me to do their faces before the dances? I've taken two courses in, and have some experience with, theatre makeup and I can do anything from super-subtle to smoky/pinup/sexpot to full on glitter machine. Subject to panel assignments at WisCon and roomies' needs at MJ, I'm willing to spend 2-3 hours each time on this, which is 8-12 faces.

I can do basic FX work as well, but this must be pre-negotiated as I will need to bring quite specific stuff and I may need to send you shopping.

I am also willing, if asked, to talk about what I am doing while I do it.

If enough people express interest that I do pack the whole kit, I will purchase a packet of disposable mascara wands and also one of disposable eye-makeup applicators, for safety, though I am also happy to guide people in buying their own mascara.

Please feel free to repost, etc.

Please note that I think compulsory makeup and compulsory feminine display are abominations. This offer is for people who would enjoy this, and this comment section is not your space to vent about how much you loathe makeup or girliness. I don't loathe it. I enjoy it. I'm a femme, and I don't feel like being beat up for it.

ETA: somehow I'd missed that [personal profile] sparkymonster and a few other people already do this at WisCon. Am reaching out to them to make sure I'm not stepping on their thing and see if I can join them. Will update.

ETA2: I'm an idiot. You absolutely do not have to identify as a fan*girl* to have makeup! Makeup for all as wants it!

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marnanightingale: (Default)
Preheat oven to 350F and move bottom rack to second-from-the-bottom position.

Cookies:

1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C salted butter (if using unsalted butter, add 1/8 t salt)
1/4 C white sugar
4 T lemon juice

Cut butter into flour and sugar with a pastry cutter or two knives until you have a sort of pile of crumbs effect; add lemon juice and mix gently until you have a ball of dough.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface and roll it thin (about 1/4 inch). Cut it into interesting shapes with cookie cutters, or just slice it into rectangles if you prefer. Arrange the cookies on a very lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, checking them at 8 minutes in case your oven is a bit too efficient. They are done when they are puffed up and crisp; they should not brown much, maybe a bit goldenish at most.

Turn them out to cool and combine

1 C icing sugar
2 T lemon juice
1 drop yellow food colouring (optional)

Beat until you have a thickish, smooth liquid, cautiously adding more lemon juice as you need to - icing sugar needs what always seems like astonishingly little fluid added to it. When all cookies are baked and cool, apply a thin coat of icing to each with a spoon and leave to harden on waxed paper.

This would double or even triple fairly well. Also, this would probably be good, if less homespun, as well: substitute for 1-2 T of lemon juice in the icing with rosewater. Next time, perhaps.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
Quoted entirely, in the midst of a very interesting and useful post on transliteration of Arabic,

T.E. Lawrence ... in a 1926 exchange with his proofreaders...

Q: I attach a list of queries raised by F. who is reading the proofs. He finds these very clean, but full of inconsistencies in the spelling of proper names, a point which reviewers often take up. Will you annotate it in the margin, so that I can get the proofs straightened?

A: Annotated: not very helpfully perhaps. Arabic names won't go into English, exactly, for their consonants are not the same as ours, and their vowels, like ours, vary from district to district. There are some 'scientific systems' of transliteration, helpful to people who know enough Arabic not to need helping, but a wash-out for the world. I spell my names anyhow, to show what rot the systems are.

Q: Slip 1. Jeddah and Jidda used impartially throughout. Intentional?

A: Rather!

Q: Slip 15. Bir Waheida, was Bir Waheidi.

A: Why not? All one place.

Q: Slip 20. Nuri, Emir of the Ruwalla, belongs to the 'chief family of the Rualla.' On Slip 23 'Rualla horse,' and Slip 38, 'killed one Rueli.' In all later slips 'Rualla.'

A: Should have also used Ruwala and Ruala.

Q: Slip 28. The Bisaita is also spelt Biseita.

A: Good.

Q: Slip 47. Jedha, the she-camel, was Jedhah on Slip 40.

A: She was a splendid beast.

Q: Slip 53. 'Meleager, the immoral poet.' I have put 'immortal' poet, but the author may mean immoral after all.

A: Immorality I know. Immortality I cannot judge. As you please: Meleager will not sue us for libel.

Q: Slip 65. Author is addressed 'Ya Auruns,' but on Slip 56 was 'Aurans.'

A: Also Lurens and Runs: not to mention 'Shaw.' More to follow, if time permits.

Q: Slip 78. Sherif Abd el Mayin of Slip 68 becomes el Main, el Mayein, el Muein, el Mayin, and el Muyein.

A: Good egg. I call this really ingenious.


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marnanightingale: (Default)
4 lambshanks
1 large can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 litre box beef broth
1 t rogan josh curry powder
1 t maharajah curry powder. (Substitute sweet or balti curry for milder, vindaloo for hotter, etc.)
1 generous handful onion flakes

Preheat oven to 350F
Brown shanks in a large ovenproof pan with a lid.

Add broth, tomatoes, onion, curry. Cover, bake for four or five hours, until very tender. Serve over rice, possibly with Inauthentic Saag, q.v.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
1 pkt Knorr Vegetable soup mix.
4 C water
1 large can beans, 6-bean mix or great northern or whatever sounds good.
2 large potatoes, cut into 1" pieces.
Dash of cumin, handful of tarragon, handful of onion flakes.

Combine, bring to a boil, let simmer until potatoes are soft. Could certainly add some veggies, frozen or not. Is improved by sitting on low, if you happen to do it early.

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Via [profile] delux_viviens

An open letter to all my relations: On Idle No More, Chief Spence and non-violence.

I am writing to you, all my relations Indigenous and other, because in all I have seen and felt in 31 years, now is the most afraid I have been for you and for myself, the most ashamed I have been of my Prime Minister and of my Governor General, and the most proud I have been of my Indigenous relations and so importantly, our settler allies who have surprised and amazed me. I am humbled by their good words and actions.

I want to explain these statements and to share my feelings with you about the historical moment we are witnessing. In so doing, I speak only for myself.


...

For my non-Indigenous relations,

I do not want you to “go home”; this is your home and I will defend your right to be here. As partners in Treaty with Indigenous peoples, you have a treaty right to be here and I honour that. Feel no guilt about it. I have learned much from you and your ancestors and I am grateful. More practically, through my mother, who is not of Indigenous ancestry, I am you and there are many like me. I honour your presence here.

You, too, must honour mine. That means that you do not get to tell me to live like you, if this is not how I choose to live. Indigenous peoples are not minorities who moved here on your terms. We are not stakeholders. We are not an interest group. We are treaty partners and but for our partnership there would be no Canada today. My relations are buried throughout this land you rightly call home. They lived and died here long before you knew your present home existed. It is not for you or your leaders to decide how a life should be lived for both of us. This is what we agreed to. When your leaders presume to decide how my life should be lived or what values I should have, they have given up representing my interests and they are no longer my leaders too. This is my belief and I will defend it. To the best of my understanding, this is what Idle No More is about. Indigenous Canada wants a just and respectful relationship with the state and with non-Indigenous Canadians, not one premised on unacknowledged and tacitly accepted continuing colonial violence. All my non-Indigenous relations, if you accept less than an end to colonial violence, have you not quietly accepted that Indigenous Canadians are worth less than you?


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marnanightingale: (Default)
Spinach, chopped fine. Fresh, frozen, canned...
1-2 onions, sauteed until clear in a large pan.
Vegetable broth.
Garam Masala paste or powder.
Sweet or Maharajah or Rogan Josh paste or powder.
Vindaloo paste or powder, if you like super hot.

3 T oil or ghee if using curry powder
1 T ground cumin.

Paneer or sauteed mushrooms or diced lamb stewed in broth or diced chicken, sauteed in lemon juice.

Add curry, cumin, and oil if needed to the onions. Add equal parts of each curry paste or powder.

Add the spinach, and broth to cover. Let it all simmer until the spinach is soft. Puree with a stick blender, or mash, or do neither, as you prefer.

Add paneer/mushrooms/meat.

Serve over rice.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
1 lb pecans, in halves.
2 C maple syrup
2 C demerara sugar, or regular dark-brown sugar.
1 C butter.
1T vanilla extract or lemon extract or both.

Toast pecans in a large frying pan over medium heat, stirring regularly. When they look and smell done pour them onto a greased cookie sheet and spread them evenly.

Combine syrup, sugar and butter in a LARGE saucepan with a fairly heavy bottom. This mixture foams as it boils, give it lots of room.

Go put on long pants and clear the room of unsupervised small children and pets. Boiling sugar syrup is basically napalm; it sticks to skin and burns horribly. If you do get some on you DO NOT put the burn into cold water: the surface will harden and the inside will cook. As will you. Scrape the syrup off gently with a butter knife and then put the burn in cold water.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Continue to stir and let it boil for 15 minutes or until it darkens slightly or until your candy thermometer says 220 F. Add 1 Tablespoon of vanilla or of lemon extract or both and pour the mixture over the pecans. Let cool completely, break into pieces.

Maple syrup carmelises at a low enough temperature that you can't quite make brittle with it, but this makes a fairly hard candy. You can substitute other kinds of nuts if you like; we just like pecans. I bet salted nuts would be interesting, too.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
If I ever don't make this at Christmas I think [personal profile] fairestcat will leave me.

Pastry: use whatever short-crust pastry recipe you like or find one on the internet or buy Tenderflake piecrust or tart shells if you like. I am not the boss of your pastry!

When I make my own shells I use a mason jar or teacup or mug to cut them and I bake them in muffin tins.
I think putting the tart shells on a cookie sheet would let them brown too much.

But anyway, you have either tart shells or a bottom piecrust, just sitting there. Set your oven to 375F.

Layer your tarts or pie with:

A layer of blanched sliced almonds.
A layer of sliced pear, skins on.
Small dabs of butter scattered on the surface
Small dabs of brown sugar, also scattered. With the butter, this forms a glaze.
A gentle dusting of cinnamon.
Fresh blackberries, or thawed ones with the liquid drained off. Blueberries work as well, and raspberries probably would too.

Bake 30 minutes for tarts, 50 for pie.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
Tsardust seasoning can be bought at Penzeys, or you can do what I did, not having enough on hand, and mix your own from the ingredient list in the site. Though I had some handy to compare with, so. Just keep the amounts in the order given and you'll be fine.

Make two deep slices in your lamb roast and rub in great gobs of the seasoning mix; put a sprig of rosemary at the top of each slice; tie the roast up with twine to close the slices. Note that this will make it cook a bit faster and keep an eye on the thermometer. Scrape out the spice mix when carving; it's too strong to leave in.

Sour cherry and onion sauce: carmelise 6 large spanish onions. Pour one large jar of preserved sour cherries over them, add a tablespoon of Tsardust, and simmer the sauce until the lamb is done. Add about a half cup of meat juices. Serve.

Bourbon brussel sprouts:

This is actually [personal profile] fairestcat's triumph, not mine.

Wash and trim sprouts, boil in lightly salted water until slightly underdone. In a large saucepan melt 1/8 C butter, add 1/8 C bourbon, whiskey or rye, and a pinch of sugar.

Add sprouts and chase them around until they are well coated. Add more booze and butter in equal amounts if the sprouts don't seem covered enough. Serve.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
Ginger spinach:

Dice 2-3 inches of fresh ginger, place in a quart/litre mason jar. Fill jar with sherry, medium or dry. This makes sauce for 3-4 dishes of spinach. Let sit for 3-7 days.

Sautee spinach in a frying pan or chef's pan on medium, with a dollop of sesame oil.

When spinach is wilted, pour on generous dose of sherry, sautee for 3 minutes, return extra liquid to jar, serve. Store jar in refrigerator once you've used it once.

Mushroom gravy:

Slice portobellos, 1/2 per person, fairly thin, and put them on to sautee with butter. If desired, add 1-2 sliced onions.

While mushrooms cook melt 1/4 C (for 8 people; tweak as desired) butter in a saucepan and make a dark blonde roux, that is, add flour until you have a matte paste and continue to cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is a sort of tanned yellow. For vegan gravy use olive oil.

Add sauteed mushrooms and vegetable broth or reserved water from other vegetables, or both, until mushrooms are floating freely. If you want to, add garlic, one or two minced cloves.

Bring to a boil, still over medium heat, stirring continually, to cook flour and thicken gravy.

Add pepper, salt, dill, and/or any other desired herbs or spices (I used Ozark Seasoning this time, and if the main dish has rosemary I often use that, and so forth) to taste. If gravy seems too pale add soy sauce instead of salt.

Serve over potatoes or anything else you like gravy with.

This recipe is highly tolerant of experimentation, and of other kinds of mushrooms. I have not liked the texture when I used dried mushrooms, but if you don't mind that or can grind them to powder, the flavour works well.

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Not Ded

Dec. 10th, 2012 01:29 am
marnanightingale: (bear on wheels)
Health: notably improved, which has led to me being very busy playing catch-up with basically my whole life. Now taking Synthroid, love it. Still have specialist appointments to follow up on some stuff, but life is improving rapidly.

Derby: Progressing! I can skate backwards now,and my transitions are getting better. Also Ian gave me wheels for my birthday ans they are AWESOME. Also Also My Jen is back in town so I get to go to skating WIF MY JEN.

Birthday: celebrated with excellent concert (Jeremy Fisher at the Black Sheep) and smashing dinner out, which I should write up with pictures. Short Version: Petite Bill's Bistro, go there, it's completely awesome.

Holidays: Just had early Christmas/Yule dinner with Ontario Inlaws. Cooked and baked All The Things.

I want to post recipes and know I won't do all of them, so I'm taking requests.

So. If you want to know how I make any of the following, comment and I'll write it up.

Leg of lamb with Tsardust seasoning served with onion-sour cherry sauce.

Onion and kale pie with sweet potato topping.

Spaghetti squash stuffed with moro beans, corn, and salsa.

Bourbon glazed Brussel sprouts.

Sherry-ginger baby spinach.

Garlic and cheese mashed potatoes.

Vegetarian mushroom gravy

* * *

Mince tarts

Pear-blackberry tarts

Frosted gingerbread cookies

Thumbprint shortbread cookies with blackberry jam

Maple-pecan brittle

Holidays 2:

I realised earlier today when kibbitzing about what to give my FIL that my theory of gift-giving can actually be expressed as a fairly simple formula. I offer it to that section of the world that is presently staring at a list of names wondering where the Hell to start for whatever it's worth.

Caveat 1: This formula assumes that the people you are giving gifts to basically deserve them.

Caveat 2: This formula assumes that you are giving GIFTS. Not gift cards, not money.

Caveat 3: Anytime I mention time or money I specifically mean "In proportion to your reasonable means." This formula is meant to make list-making simpler and pleasanter for people who have Hell's own time deciding what to give people, not to encourage anyone to break their back or their budget.

Caveat 4: It is somewhat less useful for deciding what to give children, but honestly, I generally give children I don't know well enough to choose for myself whatever their parents say they currently need or like.

Caveat 5: There's nothing especially original about any of this, and I do realise that. I was just feeling very pleased at having gotten it all nicely systematised in my head, and felt like it might be useful for people who hate winging it and like having systems to follow.

Ok, so. You have your list of names, you've set a budget, you need to make some decisions.

The first step is to pick the general type of gift: consider where your recipient is on the continuum between Young and Not Established and Old and Well-Established.

The closer someone is to the "University/FirstJob, First Apartment" end of the spectrum, the more durable the object. The nearer someone is to the "Retired, Smaller House/Apartment/Assisted Living" end of the spectrum, the more ephemeral the object.

Examples:

The four month old on our list got Bunnykins. Bunnykins dishes, as you know, are built to feature in the archeology of the 189th century.

My Father-in-law got some really nice gloves. They will probably last him 3-5 years.

When my grandparents were alive, I used to get them really nice edibles, because not only did they not need anything, they didn't have ROOM for anything.

So now you have a list of names and beside each one it says SOCKS or FOOD or KNICKNACK or DISHES or LINENS or whatever.

The next step is choosing what SPECIFIC thing you're going to give them. Step one, if you don't already have the information you need to narrow things down, is research.

Snoop shamelessly. Find out their favourite colour, fabric, artist, jam flavour, brand of bath product, scent. Find out what they're allergic to. Ask their friends and family, or make some excuse to ask them, even if you have to resort to saying "I need to know your favourite colour/whether you prefer leather or suede/whether you like roses, lavender or jasmine and *you can't ask me why*."

The last step is Adding Specialness. A gift should be, well, gifty. You want to give them something that makes them feel that you regard them favourably and wanted to make them happy.

The two things that add specialness are

1) Quality. The way to keep this affordable is to keep the size of your gift down. Instead of a six-pack of decent socks, give them one pair of really lovely socks, that will look good with what you've seen them wear, of a quality slightly nicer than they would regularly buy themselves. Instead of an okay sweater, give them a really gorgeous scarf. A small bottle of really amazingly good hot sauce, or And so forth.

3) Effort. Track down the food or clothing or whatever that your friend from somewhere else adores and can't get locally and get it sent. Scour the thrift stores for pieces of your aunt's discontinued china pattern, or the used book stores for the no longer in print first two books of a series your dad really likes. Take a how-to book out of the library and make apple jelly for your mom. Get a friend or the lady at the store to teach you how to cast on and do garter stitch and buy three skeins of awesome yarn from the clearance section and knit your sister a scarf. Record yourself reading a book your grandmother wants to read but can't find in large print and give her the cds. Make a sampler from your music collection and give it to your co-worker with liner notes so she can find the artists she likes and buy their stuff.

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marnanightingale: (Default)
So I feel like The Very Worst Everything, lately.

On the bright side, it's only taken me, what, three months this time to realise that maybe if I, I dunno, tell people what's going on, that might help?

So I'm having more health problems. For which I have many doctor's appointments, do not be alarmed. It is, however, time-consuming and incredibly boring.

The two that are messing with my ability to be there and be reliable for people the most are, I'm persistently seeing double and spending a lot of time wearing an eye patch, (for which I have seen a neurologist and am getting an MRI, also have an appointment with an opthamologist *and* a neuro-opthamologist, ooh fancy).

It did mean I ended up dressing as Nick Fury for Hallowe'en, though. :-)

And I'm having Epic Exhaustion, for which we're testing my thyroid (as well as everything else), and while I am aware that The Internet Does Not Have a Licence to Practice Medicine, I will not be at ALL surprised if that proves to be it, what with the whole epic sleep events, paper-dry skin, perpetually being cold, ability to gain weight while mostly uninterested in food, etc.

I have not turned into whatserface from the Lord Peter story, I just feel like her.

The bursitis is... well, actually it's an unstable sacroiliac, and it's getting better, slowly. Too slowly for my tastes. I would really really like to stop taking opiates. They're much less fun than popular literature suggests. I am getting an SI belt, yay. KT tape is awesome when it stays put, which it does NOT do when deployed along one's waistband-line.

Somehow in the midst of all of this I am managing to help Unfuck the Habitat, though I am much less help than I'd like to be, which is making family life a lot better, and I'm managing to do roller derby, though I miss more practices than I'd like. I'm even trying to make it to, if not the gym, the pool once or twice a week so I can do physio in the hot tub, which is actually really productive. I need to get out walking more, which being cold and tired all the time is rotten for, as is not being able to see properly and feeling vulnerable as Hell in an eye patch.

I got to actually skate up and shadow the refs Tuesday, and MAN do I need to work on my speed and my turns. But I made it through the scrimmage, and I can see the road to where I need to be, and I feel like I'll get there by the start of the season.

But I'm shaky, and unreliable, and kind of curled up inside myself, and sleeping too much and at all the wrong times. It's boring and crazy-making and thank GOD I have spouses who are willing to haul my dippy ass to the appointments I need to make it to in order to get this under control and get my life back.

So if I've neglected you, or flaked out on you, please nudge me. It's not you. It really, really is me.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth. where there are comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there as you prefer.

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