Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Making progress

Just got back from mailing out the hard copy wedding invitations to family members, and emailing the soft copies out to friends. Now, on to the reception!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Semi-productive weekend

Last week at work was a wee bit hellish. Consequently, I ended up working "overtime" a good amount. This, of course, meant that the chores and errands I had for the week got put on the backburner 'til the next available window of opportunity. I ended up taking Saturday to accomplish the various smaller tasks, while Matt was in Orillia for Paxton's funeral, and Sunday to accomplish a few of the larger tasks.

Amongst other things, I baked a blueberry-carrot cake, doubling the recipe and baking it in an angel food cake pan. After a disastrous attempt to handle the "cake" while the batter was still wet, followed by another hour in the oven, the cake turned out really well. Sadly, the botched first attempt to handle the baked batter resulted in a none-too-photogenic cake, so I won't be posting any pictures of it. Take my word for it that it's really yummy, 'though. ;)

The details for the wedding are almost all finalized, so I'll have the information out to people by the end of this week, as I'd originally hoped. Now to tackle the reception. I think I'm going to need to sit down and figure out what my goals are for the reception, then proceed from there. I took parts of last week to educate myself on the available options, which was helpful, certainly, but left my thoughts in a disarray. I'm going to have to reorganize my brain a little.

Terri is supposed to start working here this week. It'll be good to have a friend around to have lunches with. It's not that I don't get along with my co-workers, it's just that nobody I work with in the Studio seems to have a firm grasp on the concept of socializing with fellow employees. I guess none of them feel overly friendly towards one another.

I seem to have found a "music buddy" here at work, 'though. He's in a band (that I've yet to see, other obligations keep coming up), points out cool tracks to me and shares my disdain of U2, which makes him an insta-fave, in my books. ;)

Aside from him, there are people here I get along with, but I wouldn't call any of them friends. I've been relying on my group of downtown-worker friends to keep me company during my lunches out.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

The Range-Murata Pinkys are finally being released!

Yeah, okay, there are, like, two people in the world who know why I'm excited enough about this to post, but after a 2+ year wait, the Range Murata Pinkys are finally being released. Nazuna/Naduna here is the first of three collaboration-Pinkys which have been scheduled for release since 2004, and have been highly anticipated due to Range Murata's reputation as an incredibly talented illustrationist. Nazuna's release means that Mayura (I love everything about her design) and Kaine aren't far behind. Just trust me, in the world of Pinky collectors, this is a big deal. :)

Photo courtesy of HIRO.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

A piece of (wedding) cake

Aside from a minor hiccup on the weekend (where Matt abruptly decided that he'd be inviting his extended family, after all), the wedding plans have been coming along quite smoothly. I think that's mostly to be attributed to the fact that it's going to be in another country, with the majority of the details falling squarely in the realm of our hosts. It's nice to have a road-trip-style vacation to look forward to!

Matt has chosen to give me most of the control over the "reception" plans (in quotes because it'll occur about a month after the wedding itself), and I'm currently in the process of figuring out just what the hell I want out of it. As it'll probably occur in the month of May, it's not going to be in an outdoor venue, and I'm still sorting out other venue options. It turns out that the condo party room I had in mind can't hold as many people as we're expecting (never mind how many we're inviting)!

I'm also torn between going with caterers who oversee every minute food detail (thereby assuring that I won't have to get involved in those plans at all), or opting for a wide range of simple food that we take-out from various establishments across town. The advantage to this is that it won't cost as much as catering, and the food selection is sure to be varied, but the downside is that the onus is on us to store, transport and -- in some cases -- reheat the food.

I have yet to get around to figuring out how to serve alcoholic beverages!

Ah well, after that's sorted out, the rest of the details should be easy!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Life in general

I ended up calling Steve last night to ask him how he's doing. In a nutshell, it sounds like his condition makes it so that he's been aware of the prospect of immediate death for most of his life, and that things never get better, that he just gets lulls. So when he says that it's never been worse, it's to be expected and may mean he's still got decades ahead of him. For what it was worth, I hope that having a good support system (as he seems to) helps alleviate the stress which is only increasing the aging process. The plan is still to have a birthday celebration for him this Saturday, so we'll be seeing him then.

Matt and I have heard nothing about a funeral for Paxton, yet. I suspect the autopsy they're going to perform, which I overheard Matt telling Steve about, is what's holding things up. For his part, Matt doesn't seem to want to talk about his death any further than he already has. I'm not sure he's done processing it yet.

In work-news, Scholastic's lack of time-management skills is so pathetic is laughable. When I was first hired on, I was given a production schedule for each month, and Wednesday of last week was the original due date for December's project. On Wednesday of last week, I'd already been waiting 1-1/2 days for my first round of revisions to come back. It was returned on Monday morning. I provided the first revised proof for further revision yesterday morning and am not remotely surprised to find that it still has not been returned to me. This, with the editors calling for a Friday sign-off for most projects (not going to happen). It's not like I'm letting it ruin my day/work-experience, or anything, it's just remarkably stupid. The great thing about working as a freelancer is that you ultimately feel divorced from whatever inter-office B.S. you find at each placement. This is why I can sit back and have a giggle about how completely inane the timing is here -- it's their problem, not mine.

Also, if I can find the time this week, I promised Bruce a slice of the chocolate-tofu pie so he can vouch for its awesomeness.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sunday recap...

...It's not good, and it's long

This was the first Sunday in a long while that Matt and I had no plans, so the intent was to laze around, doing nothing.

We had a bit of a blip in the morning when Matt received an unexpected email from a friend of Steve's (Matt's high school friend who lives in town and holds regular gaming days), from his email account, informing us that she was very concerned about him, as his health has been suffering. I like Steve a lot, he's a good guy with a good sense of humour and a bum physiology. For the past month, maybe, his health has taken a definite downturn. He's had to cancel several social outtings that he, himself, planned. I've taken these as a good indicator that he knows his limits. Steve isn't the sort who likes to talk about his health, 'though, and Matt really isn't one to ask, so we know very little about how his health is at any point in time. Steve sent an email following the first, asking his friends to please ignore the one from his "concerned friend". Whatever's going on in his life, he obviously doesn't want to talk about it, so we won't. For my part, I'm debating just giving him a call to let him know he can talk to me, if he chooses to, but am not sure if that would be prying or helpful. I guess I'd rather get that "out there" for my sake, ultimately...

The day ended with Matt popping out of the apartment in the early evening to pick up some take-out, during which time his mom left a message on our machine asking Matt to call whenever he got in, it didn't matter how late it was. When Matt returned, I told him his mom left a message which sounded important, so he called her immediately, to be informed that his cousin, Paxton, and his wife, Lori, had been in a motorcycle accident (each on their own motorcycles). Paxton's condition was bad enough to warrant being airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital. Shari wanted to know if Matt would mind heading out to see how Paxton was doing, and to provide support for his aunts and uncles.

This is where I provide my little rant about how lousy Matt is with his time. After eating a quick dinner, and sitting down to watch a TV-on-DVD episode with me, he left for the hospital. At that, there was something else he was debating squeezing in before going to spend time with his family, waiting for news on their son's outcome. Of course, there are many reasons he didn't rush off -- he hadn't eaten a meal yet that day, he doesn't cope with being in hospitals very well, he was in denial about his cousin's mortality, etc. -- but I'm rather firmly of the opinion that these worries really ought to be set aside to help out the other members of your family who have much larger issues to deal with. For me, it's about priorities, and it's of concern to me that the selfish ones won out for as long as they did.

As it was, Matt arrived in time to hear about how mangled his cousin was, and to be there when his family was told that Paxton had died. He was 34.

I don't believe I ever met Paxton, so I'm in the strange position of being able to look at his death from an almost completely objective point-of-view. This will, to the best of my knowledge, be the first funeral of a loved one that Matt has ever attended and -- as calloused as it may sound -- I hope he learns from the experience. As it is, I'm worried that his views are so self-centred -- not in the, "He's a selfish bastard," way, so much as the, "He's so wrapped up in what's going on in his own head, he doesn't notice others," way -- that he's missing out on the fact that there are others who could really use his support. I dunno, I guess that train of thought is judgemental, isn't it?

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Who'da thunk?

Making tortillas with a blend of brown rice flour and glutinous rice flour yields a completely non-tortilla, almost shortcrust pastry. Should be awesome! :)


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Nap first, then cook-a-thon

Given how completely, somewhat inexplicably, exhausted I was yesterday -- pulling laundry out of the dryer and putting the just-washed load in took a real surge of Effort -- I decided to take a nap before I got too crazy with my cooking-tasks. When I was peeling pears with my trusty chef's knife (a bit of overkill, I know, but the paring knife was dirty), I was horrified to think what kind of damage I'd be doing to my fingers if I hadn't caught some shut-eye.

Last night I made up and canned 2x1L jars of pear jam and chopped up two whole chickens up for use in some adobo I made, which will ultimately find its way into the Tortilla Strata I'm making for Tim, Laurie and the kids on Saturday. Tasks left to accomplish: 1) make gluten-free tortillas with the chicken fat from the adobo; 2) carmellize the two Vidalia onions I bought yesterday; 3) re-hydrate a pot of black beans, puree, then add the adobo "sabaw"/sauce; 4) cook up a brown Basmati/wild rice blend; 5) layer the ingredients and bake. I'm undecided about whether or not I'll pre-bake the strata on Friday night, but it's likely I'll forgo that step to have a fresh-"baked" dish for our guests on Saturday. I've definitely got more cooking to do over the next two days, 'though.

I'm also going to re-make the adapted recipe my cousin, Marcia, gave me for a chocolate-couscous cake. Last time I tried making this dessert, I attempted to substitute quinoa for the couscous, with tragic results. What was supposed to have formed a cookie-crumb-like base ended up being a helluvalot of completely unusable chocolately-quinoa soup. What can I say? Even pros mess up from time to time. :)

I ended up salvaging the experiment by grinding walnuts in my food processor and using those as the "pie" base. The pie itself is filled with equal volumes of blended, septic-packaged firm tofu (I use Mori-Nu's Lite Firm Tofu) and melted chocolate chips (I use President's Choice brand, because they're dairy-free), plus a little bit of maple syrup/honey. Yes, it sounds really weird, but you end up with something that's got a texture more mousse-like than pudding and has a rich (almost alcoholic -- kinda like Choclairs used to taste) flavour. I thought the walnut crust went really well with the filling, so I'll use it again this time. Matt usually avoids soy products like they're going to disease him, but the last time I made this dessert, he certainly did his part to help me finish this one off!

I'm looking forward to trying some of Laurie's homemade iced tea, and she's supposed to be bringing Jell-O 'cause she has a package of it that she has no other use for, and Matt will quite willingly scarf it down. :)

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Calling it an early day

Well, here I am, 4-1/2 hours into a potentially 7-hour day. Again, with nothing to work on and a small boatload of tasks to accomplish at home. I'm thinking I'll just head home within the next half-hour in the hopes of accomplish some cooking I should take care of for when the Arney/Genge clan come over this weekend.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It has begun.

Sent off an email to my extended family today, asking for mailing addresses. Still trying to sort out how the invitation-process will go, given the fact that the wedding will occur at least a month before the "reception". Suspect non-relatives, at least, will receive an email invitation to Cuba, with booking details, to be followed by a "proper" invitation for the reception later in the year. Since most invitees frequent the blogosphere, thought I'd ask what everyone's impressions are...

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, Matt!

Pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? We hosted a small gathering on Saturday with some friends and an ice-cream cake, 'cause it's his favourite. No plans for tonight, but I've offered to pay for the dinner of his choice. He also gets his present, which isn't big, but which I'm pretty sure he'll like.

In other news, the gheymeh turned out amazingly well. File under: Make this Again.

Chris crashed at our place last night on his way back from Italy to Moncton. Laura called yesterday to say that the past few weeks without him around have been mind-numbingly boring, especially as she's been on crutches and has limited mobility. At least Chris will have returned for tonight. I ought to have mentioned that she would enslave herself to him if he treated her to red meat tonight -- the poor girl has been getting so exhausted just navigating the produce section of the grocery store that she hasn't had meat in the past 2 weeks, give or take a few days. Did remember to send Chris home with a jar of the apricot jam.

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Friday, September 08, 2006


Turns out that rehydrating yellow peas doesn't take as long as rehydrating black beans. Who knew?


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Taking tomorrow off

Decided to take a hard-won and much-needed break tomorrow. Sadly, it's going to result in a lot of errand-running, but the good news is that I'll be able to kick back and enjoy the weekend.

Bill and Jen's second child, Connor, is celebrating his first birthday on Saturday, so we'll be over at their place from noon 'til 3pm to fete the boy. In the evening, Matt and I are hosting a small gathering in honour of his birthday, and also 'cause it's been a while since the gang got together.

It looks like I'm going to try my hand at making gheymeh on Sunday, in time for Chris to pass through our place from Italy, back to Moncton. He was craving Persian food the last time he was in town, and gheymeh is a very tasty (and apparently fairly simple) stew.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Director, Content Management strikes again

You know that project that was due yesterday? The one that I'm waiting on changes for today? I got revisions at 10:30 this morning, then had a quick meeting, and within 5 minutes, Director, Content Management realized that now would be a good time to see it again, for the second time since this project started. You know, three weeks ago? So now I have to wait for her to look things over and make -- yet more -- revisions before I can finish a project that was due yesterday. DCM is quickly jockeying forward into the highly coveted Least Favourite spot.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What's the point?

Why should I bother trying to accomplish things quickly if, 5 rounds of revisions later, the content of everything I've been working on is going to change? Lesson learned: slacking results in less stress at the beginning and just as much of a time-crunch at the end. Way to teach me, Scholastic.


Phew! That was tiring!

Okay, so after noticing that Ontario tomatoes are in stores, and given my recent canning exploration, I decided that this weekend I would can as much basic tomato sauce as I could make with 4 baskets of tomatoes. As it turns out, this is 4-1L jars and 1-250mL jar, plus approximately 8 hours of work(!) and one very messy kitchen.

Sadly, one of the 1L jars didn't vacuum seal, so I have to devise a plan for using that much tomato sauce within the next two weeks. Potential projects: canning chili, ratatouille or gheymeh. The funny part is that I probably would have opened a 1L jar within that time any way, since I didn't sample more than a teaspoon of the sauce while I was making it (I didn't want to end up having an incomplete jar).

Two lessons learned: 1) make sure you have a pot big enough to hold the jars you're processing -- this means I'm probably going to have a ridiculously large pot to stash somewhere in our storage-challenged apartment; 2) consulting a recipe beforehand means no last-minute trips to the grocery store to pick up a vital piece of the recipe -- I'll likely invest in a canning "bible" this week.

The canning tools kit that Emma got me as a birthday present was indispensible (thanks again, Em!).

Since the kitchen was in a shambles afterwards, I took the opportunity to rearrange items in the kitchen cupboards, hiding random things which had been sitting on the counters and pulling others out and into decorative containers. I'm much happier with the way things look now.

Also of note: these make excellent, inexpensive spoon rests and I finally got a salt mill.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

FanExpo 2006

Yesterday, Caty and Ken decided to join Bruce, Jess and me for their first excursion to the annual Toronto Comic / Anime / Gaming / Horror convention. Caty was good enough to pick up both of our tickets before I got off work, so that we could meet up afterwards and head right into the convention centre without waiting in the always ridiculously-long line for tickets after 5pm. Bruce and Ken met us, quite by accident, just outside the North building. Caty and I were feeling a bit peckish, so we split a fries and gravy from a chip truck that was parked on Front Street. It was here that I got my first cosplayer photo for the day, of Naruto and Sakura from the Naruto anime and Yuki from Fruits Basket (Caty adores both of these anime).

As this was Caty's first ever "con", I warned her to wear comfortable shoes, travel lightly, and bring as much money as she could bear to part with. I think a bag I saw at one of these events a few years ago summed it up best: "Anime: Crack is Cheaper". Fortunately, the fact that anime has gone a little more mainstream, or at least, has a larger underground following, means that you're not likely to have to spend $40 on a single anime DVD any more.

I'd been wanting to pick up the Cowboy Bebop series ever since Bruce lent it to me (at least 4 years ago), and can happily say that I am now the proud owner of #1-6 of the audio-remastered DVDs. I also picked up the Lain Signature Series DVDs (read: less expensive than the first release, and not anywhere near as rare). Lain is in my Top 10 of favourite anime. Maybe some day I'll sort out what the other 9 are. ;)

Other finds: two really beautiful art prints -- which Bruce has at the moment, because he was smart enough to bring a mailing tube, and I wasn't -- an early birthday present for Matt and the Fables Trade PaperBacks, #2-7 (both Caty and I already have our own copies of #1 -- it seems most people do). Great news, too: the Bargain Gods were smiling upon me yesterday, so I managed to get everything for at least 20% what I was willing to pay for them.

It was another insanely exhausting con, but the cosplayer photo-ops, awesome deals and stellar company made it all worthwhile.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Well, now my breath is going to stink all afternoon

The meagre portion of vegetarian chili I had for lunch today did very little to quell my hunger, so I ended up grabbing a late lunch at 2pm today.

On my way to the nearest bank machine, I passed King Falafel. I've been to this establishment previously, following a job interview I had in the neighbourhood, and remembered that the falafel sandwich I grabbed there was excellent, if the hot sauce was too pasty. I've been more turned-off than usual by high-fat, high-sodium foods lately, so the fact that this place is family-run and the food is freshly made was a big plus. Thus decided, I proceeded to order and consume the small (hardly!) Chicken Shawarma sandwich which came on a thin but tender pita and was topped with garlic sauce, parsley, tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles and pickled turnip, then grilled.

Despite the fact that I'm going to have terrifying breath during the Comic Con this afternoon, the sandwich was probably the most satisfying thing I've eaten all week, at least. I must remember to drag Bruce out there on an extended lunch some afternoon. The only downside: limited, outdoor seating.

File under: Other Eatery Reviews

The Food Building at the Ex has never let me down. On Sunday, I ate lumpia, a veggie samosa, kurma (weird, I can't find an online reference to it), 1/2 of a sausage, a pulled pork sandwich (which was the highlight of the excursion) and some fresh-cut fries with gravy, all as part of my resolve to avoid chain foods. Why people go to the Food Building to eat Pizza Nova or Manchu Wok is beyond me. Naturally, the profusion of fried foods I had is probably partly to blame for my current aversion to salt and fat. :)

Last night, some of the AKA-crowd got together at Alice Fazooli's to celebrate Elsa's termination from the aforementioned festering pit of despair. I'm sad to report that the grilled calamari was overly rubbery, but the brightside is that the "toppings" it was paired with were top-notch. The asparagus that came with Matt's dish were very nicely cooked, but I think the consensus was that it was too much money to pay to eat food that was "alright". At least I finally got to try (and enjoy!) a lichee martini.

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