Category Archives: Books

A Major Award

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Edit: I totally fixed the ginger! My problem was trying to skimp on the sugar (I think? I don’t actually know why it came out the way it did, but I did use less sugar), so I just had to bring balance back to the universe. Next time I’ll plan ahead and make lemon sugar, but this time around I just used regular.

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Shona from Absolute Frankness nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award (thank you Shona)!

So here’s the deal:

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1) Post eleven facts about yourself
2) Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create eleven questions for people you’ve nominated
3) Choose eleven people to give this award to (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post
4) Go to their page and tell them

That’s cool and all, but as I’ve mentioned in a previous post (that includes a picture of Lancaster, so now I’m a little sad), I don’t play by the rules (because I don’t have 11 blogs to nominate). I will answer the questions though, because I love questions, and I’ll come up with my own that people can (and should) answer in the comments.

Facts first:

1. I’m eating chicken and carrot sticks for dinner, and I’m eating dinner sitting on my bed because my roommate is sitting at the dining room table.

2. I walked out of Mass this morning after the priest used the phase “promoting sexual confusion” about Maryland legalizing gay marriage.

3. I went out two nights this weekend, and it was great.

4. I haven’t been to contra dancing in more than a month and I totally miss it. I might go this week though, since I don’t have clinical on Thursday.

5. I leave water glasses all over my room.

6. While I was leading a group at my psych rotation about dealing with stress one of the patients suggested that a good response to being upset by messy roommates is leaving another mess so they’d see how annoying it is. I outwardly acted like this was a bad idea, but I’ve done it before. I’m kind of doing it right now actually.

7. I had half of my leftover burger from last night and a mug of hot chocolate for breakfast today. It may sound weird, but it was really tasty and surprisingly good fuel for when I worked out later.

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8. I left a jar of yogurt and berries in the fridge at the hospital and I’m sad because they’re probably going to throw it away and I really liked that jar (it was from cookie butter. I guess now I need to buy more…).

9. There’s a house near my apartment that decorated for the holidays by putting up a plastic nativity scene that includes a big green alien. It’s kind of awesome.

10. I still haven’t hung my Picasso poster yet-it’s been in the same spot against my wall since the day I moved in.

11. The other night I was overcome by the need to move to Rochester. I seriously felt like it was Fate, and that if I didn’t I would miss out on something huge and important. That feeling has since passed, but I kind of wonder if it had to do with this random guy that I only barely know but still kind of think I’m fated to marry. Wouldn’t that be cool? It would make life so much easier.

And now questions!

1. What’s your favourite smell?

This one is really hard, and I’ve been thinking about it since I saw my nomination. I do love the smell of coconut a whole lot, and bread, and citrus, but the first thing that sprang to mind was hot pine needles, so I’m going with that. You know the dry ones on the ground in the forest during the summer? That’s a heck of a good smell. Baby smell is also nice, and I’m partial to men’s deodorants.

2. Would you rather go to Swansea or Portsmouth?

I’m guessing these are Swansea in Wales and Portsmouth in England (as opposed to Portsmouth in Virginia or New Hampshire)? Tough call. I don’t know a lot about Wales, but Doctor Who seems to go there a lot, and he’s never all that happy about it. Google Images shows castles though, which I imagine are nice. Portsmouth seems to have a big curvy tower though, so it’s really hard to pick. I’m going to say Portsmouth though, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

3. Savoury pancakes or classic lemon and sugar?

Lemon and sugar. Well…I do love a good cheese pancake actually. Both. Savoury for dinner, lemon and sugar for dessert. And then a stomachache!

4. What did you have for lunch today?

A tortilla. Isn’t that sad? I was working on making candied ginger (it didn’t come out right, but I have loads of it, so I’m still giving it for holiday gifts) and cooking tends to kill my appetite.
5. What was the last book you read?

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I picked it up while I was home on break, but I was so busy socializing with my family that I didn’t really read it until I came back to Baltimore. I had read it before, but it holds up well.
6. Would you live in an Enchanted Forest?

An evil one? Who am I kidding, yes.

7. If you were a Fairy Queen what would you be queen of?

The Enchanted Forest. Or midwifery. I know Queen Mab is the fairy midwife, but aren’t fairies created by babies laughing anyway? I bet that happens often enough to keep us both busy.
8. Would you like to live in the countryside or the city?

Countryside, but a special countryside that also has Trader Joe’s and Carbon Leaf concerts.
9. What’s the best Christmas movie?

Muppet Christmas Carol. Bar none.
10. Do you wear hats at all?

Not really. I have a bunny hat with floppy ears, but it has to be pretty cold for me to wear it. I love hoods though.
11. Would you have brought the ring to Mordor or let Sam do it for you?

Did Sam ever offer to go by himself? It seemed like it kind of ruined Frodo’s life, so that’s a point against going, but it also really cemented their friendship, and Sam would be a good friend to have. I’d go. I have such a yes-bias that Sam would just have to offer and I’d agree because I didn’t have anything better to do (excepting homework, but I’m usually ok putting that off if a friend wants to hang out).

And now my questions to YOU!

1. Where should I move next year? (Seriously. Tell me.)

2. What do you want for Christmas?

3. If you were hosting a theme dinner party what theme would you use? (cost is not an issue)

4. What movie are you most looking forward to seeing?

5. What was your favorite ever New Years Eve?

6. Would you rather have a corgi, or a Great Dane?

7. What was the last really delicious thing you ate?

8. How do you think Gossip Girl is going to end? (just in case anyone watches. My only friends who like the show aren’t caught up yet and I want to talk about it.)

9. What’s your favorite bar food?

10. If you could commit a crime and get away with it what would you do?

11. Can you fix candied ginger that caramelized instead of crystallized?

Stormy weather

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School was cancelled again today (even though it’s barely even raining at this point), but I’m happy to curl up under the covers with some nursing homework, so no complaints here.

Sandy was mostly talk in Baltimore as far as I can tell- we had wind and rain, but mostly what we had was an excuse to plank around and use stuff in the freezer in case we lost power (which we didn’t). My roommates actually invited me to go with them to the store yesterday, so I bought some candles (they were out of emergency candles so I was extra glad we didn’t lose power because our apartment would have stunk to high heaven if we had to use the scented ones for light), glowsticks, and more importantly, wine (for making beef stew) and beer.

I’ve had the Flying Dog Raging Bitch IPA before, but it was my first time trying The Fear. I like pumpkin beers, but this wasn’t particularly pumpkin-y. It was good though, and worked well with all the chocolate and beef stew I was eating.

The stew was exciting-I had been planning on making it for a dinner party, but the storm pushed that up a bit (I invited some friends over, but no one felt like coming through the rain). I didn’t really follow any particular recipe, but I browned the meat, and then added onions and baby carrots, wine, beef stock, flour, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper, and edamame, and potatoes.

I ladled the stew over kale, and it was delicious.

One interesting thing about my otherwise largely uneventful storm experience was that I actually hung out with my roommates. We went to the store together, and then while I was making the stew they came downstairs to make their dinners, and we all just got to talking. We ended up hanging out for almost three hours, and it was surprisingly pleasant. Granted, I don’t think things would have gone nearly as well if we hadn’t all been drinking, but that’s ok. I don’t know if it’s going to change things in the apartment at all, but we had a pleasant evening of talking, and drinking, and sharing food, and that’s enough for now.

Things will return to normal tomorrow, so I’m trying to soak up every relaxing rainy day moment that I can, while also keeping up with school stuff. It’s working out pretty well- I’m under a blanket with a cup of tea, and An Unquiet Mind (I have to read it for psych class, but at least it isn’t a textbook).

Saturday noms

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I had a perfect plan for last night- ice cream and 50 Shades of Grey (I know, I know, but I don’t care. I’m in school eight hours a day, I get to read rubbish if I want to), but my dad pointed out that I can act like a 55-year old when I’m 55, so I went out for a stroll and ran into a friend of mine and her husband and hung out with them instead. It turned out to be a pleasant evening, and I didn’t have to spend any money, so you can’t beat that.

A lot of my classmates seem to be living a much more opulent lifestyle than I can afford, and I’ve been falling into the comparison trap, and thinking that their spending should have some effect on mine, but that doesn’t make any actual sense, so I need to stop. Just because some people buy lunch at the school cafe every day, or go out to bars and restaurants every week doesn’t mean I should, but it’s easy to feel a little jealous and wish that I could afford more luxuries (including ice cream and Twilight-inspired erotica). It would have been irresponsible to spend $15 on frivolities last night, especially because I had next to no food in the house, and those were dollars that were better put towards groceries.

For whatever reason I felt especially broke this week, so today’s trip to the market was less exciting than last week’s impressive haul. I averted my eyes from the beautiful cherries, and tried to content myself with the incredible smell from the strawberries, and took a chance on the $1 pound of kale (the vendor was set up across the aisle from the $6 half pound of kale people, which gave me pause, but c’mon! A pound of kale for a dollar! It’s so much kale! If it’s terrible I’ll turn it into kale chips, but I had some tonight and it seems fine), even though that vendor sold me disgusting carrots last week. I didn’t get rhubarb, or rhubarb rum jam, and I almost didn’t get hummus, but it’s an essential part of my diet, so I caved on that point, but otherwise I was very disciplined and proud of myself.

When I got home I made a bowl of oatmeal with milk and (not local, but much much much cheaper) strawberries. I don’t usually eat a lot of oatmeal, but it’s delicious, and relatively quick, so I might start featuring it more often. Today’s bowl was certainly delicious.

I also had a cup of tea, and I still felt hungry after my oatmeal, so I toasted up a flat bread and had that with my new hummus (honey sesame flavor this week. I’m experimenting with the sweeter flavors, but I’m not quite ready to take the plunge with chocolate hummus just yet).

Thus fortified, I spent the day cooking and going over last week’s patho notes. I made a giant batch of yogurt (I’ve decided to go back to gallon batches, but my goodness that is a ton of yogurt!), two loaves of zucchini bread (I froze one), and started a loaf of rosemary bread. In between cooking and studying I also cleaned the kitchen floor. One of my roommates is coming back soon, though I don’t actually know when to expect her, so I’m trying to make the apartment look as nice as possible to make a good first impression.

Lunch was a salad of CSA greens (we got a bunch of herbs in our basket this week, hence the rosemary bread), the last of my sugar snap peas from last week, and another bread with hummus (this time it was the end of the salt and vinegar flavor, which I thought was kind of meh. It wasn’t bad at all, just not as salty or vinegary as I would have liked).

I had planned on going to Barnes and Noble after lunch and reading 50 Shades there, for free, without any leaving any incriminating evidence, but apparently the Hopkins B&N is too cool for lowbrow smut, because they didn’t have it. Instead, I started reading Never Let You Go, which I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. I’m actually more interested in seeing the movie than finishing the book, but it was a nice way to pass the afternoon, and there was free air conditioning, which is important on days like today when it’s a million degrees out.

Dinner was a real treat tonight- I made zucchini fritters (they had enormous zucchinis at the market for a dollar each, so when I grated one for bread I had lots left over)! I was inspired by this recipe, but I did mine a little differently, with a chopped onion instead of scallions, and minced garlic. I hate frying things because it makes the kitchen super smokey, and I’ve been burned by hot oil too many times to count, but boy oh boy were those some tasty fritters. I had them with another salad (lettuce and kale mixed this time. A pound of kale is a lot of kale!), and some leftover quinoa.

I thought I might watch the last episode of Sherlock tonight, but I’m still not ready. Instead, I’m hanging out, and enjoying another beautiful evening in Baltimore (we have lightening bugs!).

All the books

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I don’t know if I got a good or bad deal, but I just bought all my books for the semester (and some for the fall) from another accelerated student, and now they’re in a stack on my floor (I’m also, coincidentally, really kind of wishing I had a bookcase right about now). They weigh about a kajillion pounds, and getting them home was a challenge, but now they’re here, right at my fingertips, waiting to be read, and that’s what matters. It’s a huge relief.

I’ve gotten into a cooking routine, and I have to say, I really enjoy it. Soon school will start, and I’ll have to make sacrifices to fit everything in my schedule, so today I made a point of cooking, because next week will probably involve a lot of hurried meals and leftovers. I was limited by what I had in my food stores, which is frankly kind of boring staple stuff while I establish a base, but I wanted to use my lemons because they were starting to look a little desiccated, and that was a jumping off point. I still don’t have an oven (but I will soon! The new, better, non-emergency handyman said he would get me a new oven!), but the phrase “lemon rice” jumped out at me, so I decided to improvise my own version of that. I needed something to eat with the rice, so I also cooked up a giant batch of lentils (I don’t really know what I was thinking when I made all the lentils ever. Maybe that I could eat them next week? Whatever it was, I made a ton of lentils). I don’t have a ton of experience cooking lentils, so I just made them plain, and then stirred in some basil, salt, and pepper. They were ok, but they needed something, so I opened a can of crushed tomatoes and dumped most of that in. Unfortunately, the tomatoes had basil in them, so the result tasted weirdly like Spaghetti-O’s, so I compensated by adding more pepper to combat the sweetness. Did I mention I made a ton of lentils? Because now I have all my lunches and dinners for a week. I’m embracing it though, it’s hearty, simple, healthy food, and you can’t beat that.

The rice came out very nice, lemony, and refreshing. I wish I had more in the spices department, but I like how un-muddled everything tastes when you can identify every flavor. I wilted some CSA greens in the microwave, and everything was ready.

I’d like to try my hand at dal, but I might never want to see another lentil again after I finish off all of my leftovers.

They fed us again at orientation, but I learned my lesson and ate normally, and just stole a bunch of fruit (not the best plan, since I also had to carry all the books, but I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity). I know I just wrote about loving being a person who snacks on veggies, but an apple and peanut butter is good too.

Desert Island

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Digging around the attic looking for my rugby shorts last week I discovered a copy of Cold Comfort Farm with cover art by Roz Chast. Book ownership can be tricky, since they get passed around and shared, and some books can’t be taken from the family home and cast to the winds with whichever daughter lays her hand on them, because that wouldn’t be fair, and we need to think of the hypothetical children that one of us might someday have who might want to have something to read when they visit their grandparents. I know some books are off limits, but they aren’t all, and  it got me thinking about my personal library. Practically speaking, I don’t need to bring a lot of books with me to Baltimore. I’m not going to have time for a lot of pleasure reading, and books are heavy and take up a lot of space, and I don’t know where I’ll be living a year from now, so I don’t want to weigh myself down, and afterall, that’s what libraries are for. At the same time though, I want to have books. How are people who come into my apartment going to know that I’m cool if they can’t look at my carefully organized bookshelves?

After giving it some thought, I decided to bring ten recreational reading books with me to Baltimore (not counting my doula books). I haven’t settled on which ten will make the cut yet, but I’m going into major packing mode this weekend, and I’ll give it more thought then. When are you supposed to start building your library? Accumulating stuff is a slippery slope, but I want to be someone who has lots of books. I grew up in a house full of books, and I think it makes a space look more inviting. A house isn’t a home to me unless it’s chock full o’books.

I missed the original airing of the second season of Sherlock, but PBS is running it again starting this weekend, and I’m not going to miss it again. The first season ended with a great cliffhanger, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to pick up where it left off, which is slightly trying, but might not actually be a bad thing. I used to like House, back before it jumped the shark, but the problem with tv characters like Holmes is that people like them to develop, and grow, and that isn’t in their nature. Holmes should be preserved in amber, and so I think the mini-movie style of showcasing his adventures, where each one stands alone, and he can just do his thing without having to change, is best. It also has Benedict Cumerbatch and Martin Freeman, and I love them.

Bits and pieces

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I’m having a hard time coming up with blog content. Right now it feels like I’m standing on the train platform, the planning part of my trip is over, I’m accepted at a school, and I have an apartment lined up, but it isn’t time to go yet, so I’m all at sixes and sevens. It really struck me last night that I’m moving soon, my days in Buffalo are numbered, but my mandolin lessons are single-digit numbered, and it made me sad. I’ve loved taking music lessons, and even though we’ve talked about Skype lessons, my instructor and I both know that isn’t going to actually happen, and when I move I’ll be on my own musically, at least for a little while. I’ll need to practice and learn new songs independently, and that’s going to take more discipline and effort. I need to learn to read music, and I’ve been kicking myself for not making that more of a priority when I had the time. As my gap year comes to a close I keep thinking about all the stuff I should have done, but I think I used my time pretty well. I didn’t achieve a lot of my Buffalo Bucket List items, but I did a bunch of other stuff, and I feel good about the stuff I did accomplish.

Speaking of accomplishing stuff, I totally wasted a lot of time on Pottermore yesterday. A lot a lot. We don’t need to go into numbers, but if we did, they would represent hours and not minutes. It’s good stuff, but I was sorted into stinky old Gryffindor, when my whole Harry Potter-reading life I’ve known I was meant to be in Hufflepuff. I know it’s just a silly little quiz, and the internet is full of Wht Huose R U In? quizzes, but this one came out of J.K. Rowling’s brain! She invented the Sorting Hat, she clearly knows what she’s talking about, and she says I belong in Gryffindor, so there’s no escaping it. All those times I drank tea and hot chocolate out of my Hufflepuff mug feel like a lie. It’s very sad, especially because Hopkins colors are black and yellow, just like Hufflepuff. Lions are cool though (my friend insists that if I was an animal I would be a lion, even though I feel more like an elephant or a bear because I clearly don’t know myself at all), and I love my red and gold nail polish, so it could be worse, but it does bother me. I’m much more earth than fire.

Only eleven states have official dogs, but every state has a bird. It just seems wrong. Who are all these bird-lovers, and why are they so much better-organized than dog people? Fortunately, Maryland has both, with the state dog being a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and the bird a Baltimore Oriole. New York State needs to get on the ball though- how about a pug? They’re good for city-dwellers, they’re stylish, and “pug” is fun to say. Or, if you want to go in a less overbred direction, there’s the flat-coated retriever, sleek, sporty, and obscure, to appeal to all those New York hipsters. Or you could take the boring but good person-y route and go with “rescue dog” as the official “breed”.

One of my high school classmates posted on Facebook that she just celebrated her six-year anniversary with her fiancée. Six years, is so many years! I know they’re engaged, so it makes sense that they should really get to know each other first, but yikes. My longest relationship was…much less than that. It made me start to think about considering opening myself up to the possibility of dating instead of being a hermit and rejecting human contact because I might at some point want to make life-changing decisions that would require moving across the country/world and I don’t want to just get all involved and then break up. Maybe. The problem is, and I say this without any malice towards anyone I’ve dated/been involved with, but I expect to live for another…sixty-plus years (I have all four grandparents still, so the odds are pretty good I’ll last a long time too), and I haven’t liked anyone that much that I’d want to be with the that long. I’m having some tiny twinges though, as a sort of precurser to the whole Tony-from-West-Side-Story-waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-reaching-out-for-something (cuz that worked out really well). Moving to a new city, starting a new program, I want to be open to new relationships, and that little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m only committed to a year in Baltimore, and who knows where I’ll go after that can just shut up.

May

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“But once there, she lay awake wondering about Baltimore, Maryland. All the words made her think of was a Baltimore oriole. She tried to picture a city all orange and black, like an oriole’s feathers. After a bit she tiptoed over to the bookcase and found The American Family Encycolpedia, Volume One, A- Boon. Baltimore, Maryland, she read, was the eighth largest city in the United States, populationg 859,100. Chief industries, iron and steel, straw hats, et cetera.

She got back into bed and shut her eyes, seeing a sky flaming with the orange of many steel forges, while in the black iron foundries below 859,100 dark figures labored, all wearing straw hats. “Only I should think the straw hats ‘d catch fire,” she murmured to herself. A second later she was asleep.”

Wow

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When I discover something really great it makes me want to fall in love. It’s silly, but a good song, or movie can bring it out, and The Hunger Games series did just that. I stayed up until 2:00 reading again, and I gave myself a vicious headache, but it was so so worth it. It was dark, and exciting, and sad, and romantic, and I loved it. I’m not proud of myself, but because I resolved to wait until I got my applications in (ehh…didn’t really happen. I got Minnesota in, but not Northeastern, but I will! Soon!) I wanted my sister to wait too, and she didn’t want to because she was home all day, so I threw a bit of a temper tantrum (because I am a baby). She stopped reading though (because she isn’t a baby, unlike some people), so I got to be the first to finish first. I think part of me was worried that it wouldn’t hold up. The first two were so great, and there are only three books that I was worried it wouldn’t be as good, and the series would end unsatisfyingly, and if that was the case I wanted to be the first to know. It totally holds up though, and even though it was sad and brutal I loved the series. It never disappointed me.

The Hunger Games

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When the Harry Potter books were still coming out I made sure to get my hands on a copy the first day they hit the shelves (I even went to Walmart at midnight once). I would read them as fast as I could, and then I’d usually read them again to catch any details I’d missed the first time. It was so exciting, and I would tear through them, dying to read what happened next. I love to read, but very few books do that to me. It’s rare to find something that draws you in so completely, and I really missed that feeling when the series ended, but now I have it back. I’ve been meaning to read The Hunger Games for months, but I kept putting it off until my aunt brought me a copy Friday night. I stayed up until after 1:00 to keep reading, I just couldn’t put it down. I kept telling myself “just one more chapter”, and that turned into reading half the book in a sitting. These books are the real deal. I found my eyes jumping to the bottom of the page because I couldn’t wait until I had read that far to know what happened. When I woke up on Saturday morning I knew I had to get the second book that day, because I would be done with the first in a matter of hours, and I would need another fix. They didn’t have it at the local bookstore though, so it was tacked onto a longer list of errands. I wanted to spend the whole day holed up with my book, but instead I read in the car on the way to the dry cleaner’s, and then while I waited for my pictures to be dry mounted, and while I got my mandolin’s action lowered. I read all day, and into the night, and by 2:20 this morning I had finished the first and second books. I actually bought the third as well, but I told myself that I should hold off, and not start the last book until I send in all of my January 15 grad school applications. It’s probably the best motivation ever, because I am dying to read that book. I’ve been thinking about it all day. It’ll be better as a reward though, so this is the best solution. Can I just say though, for anyone who has read the books, I love Peeta. He makes Edward Cullen look like a joke (I mean even more than usual), and I’m really glad these books are so popular, because they are the anti-Twilight, and I’m glad kids are reading about strong female characters and romances that aren’t creepy and unhealthy. That makes me glad.