Saturday, February 3, 2018

Ramen & my newly developed K-Drama addiction

First... The Ramen

I don't know if it is the passing of the holidays, or the 5000 units of Vitamin D I've been taking, but I've been feeling something closer to normal these past few days. And that means I am starting to get back into the projecty mode I am usually in, where I find some random thing I want to do and then do it. Yesterday, I wanted to make Ramen. I thought I'd wing it.  I had a big huge pork bone left over from a Pernil we had recently. It was in the freezer calling my name. So yesterday morning, before I packed the kid off to PreSchool, I threw it into the oven frozen on a piece of foil and took off to take Alex to school.

When I got back, I realized that the kitchen and most of the rest of house is still crushed underneath the layer of unwanted clutter we acquired or brought out during the holidays. So I had to give the kitchen a bit of a cleaning just to undertake the project. I wrote for a bit, and then just before I went to pick the kid up, I threw a full pot of water on the stove with water, some tops and bottoms of celery, an onion, some coarsely chopped carrot, and the last four cloves of fresh garlic I had left. I also threw in the now browned bone that had been baking in the oven.

We got home to the house smelling delicious already. So I let that simmer for HOURS, and the son and I instead endeavoured to make the noodles.

3.5 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of water
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blend until it's a kneadable dough. Make a ball, flatten, cut in four wedges, and plastic the others as you work each quarter.

The KitchenAid is my most precious kitchen implement. I got the standard 4 liter one with the tilty head for a wedding gift, and I adored that one. But then my friend Stephie gave me a Professional model a couple of years ago. And that one is THA BOMB. I replaced a few parts on it. And it has worked its ass off for me already.

I'm lucky to have a few pasta attachments for it. The roller, which is essential for not only shaping the dough for cutting, but also for making the dough flexible and delicious. My kid and I processed all four quarters of the pasta in four batches. First we pressed it and smoothened it with setting 1, then we worked up to 2, then 4, and then finally 6. We cut the noodles at the 6 thickness. I also have a spaghetti cutter and a linguine cutter. The spaghetti cutter is perfect.

We cut the spags, and laid them out on layers of wax paper. I used to have a drying tree, but it really isn't a necessary item to have. I just spread the noodles on the wax paper, and then when we were done boiling the half for the night, I just rolled each layer into its paper and threw them into the freezer.

I boiled a few of the last of my eggs from my chickens (they went to live somewhere else on Wednesday).

I spent a little time carefully julienning some veggies (and slicing too). Mushrooms, carrots, celery, pepper, and cabbage. I also cut up a few radishes to give that water-chestnut crunch. I blanched all of those (except the radish) in a few ladlefuls of the soup stock, each in turn, and put them on a platter for placement. I peeled the eggs, and put them out for prep too.

Then I broiled two pork chops with salt and pepper, waited for them to cool, and sliced them up.

I added salt to taste to the broth, to which I added a little water, as it had concentrated a bit from simmering. When the broth was salted and peppered enough, I boiled the noodles in it.

Using tongs, I pulled these super-long noodles out and heaped them into the bowls first, then added the toppings (quite messily I might add). I put a little of each veg, some meat and the egg, as well as some freshly chopped green onion on the pile. And then I ladled the broth over the heap of goodness.

I overboiled the eggs, but that is not a crime. Yet.

It was really good. The only thing missing for me was something seaweedy. Some nori or something. But that's only me. Hubbo was perfectly happy with it. And the amount I made was sufficient for two nights. So we had Ramen again tonight. So nummo!  I will probably do this again with beef, turkey and chicken bone sooner or later.

Next; the K (and J and C) Dramas (and comedies)

I won't lie, the Ramen fix is because of my new addiction. That and my desire to make Bibimbap and a variety of other Asian dishes. You see I got to the point where I watched just about everything worth watching on regular Netflix. One day a couple of months ago, out of desperation for something good, and something interesting, I selected a title that was on the trending list. I had already watched Atelier, which is a wonderful Japanese show about a lingerie designer. So I was getting some recommendations for international titles. I've watched a few both Korean and Japanese, and even a Chinese drama that is a little too saccharine for me in this case.

Here are the shows I've binged (don't judge me) and what my reviews are of them:

Erased - 4 stars. 
Thoughtful and beautifully filmed, this movie is a fantasy where the hero goes back in time to save his mother's life, and ends up saving many, many more, and changing his present. It's a sweet thriller. Definitely compelling and a good show.

Strong Girl Bong-Soon - Five Stars of Fun.
Strong Girl Bong-Soon - I rate it 5 stars. It's hilarious and sweet and funny. I love that she kicks ass, which seems to be a bit of a rarity in the K and J Dramas. Most of the time, the girls are inept and bumbling and always falling for guys who are arrogant and who treat them like shit. Stalking usually succeeds, and they get their man. But only after being humiliated for it. Strong Girl Bong-Soon, she's my kind of heroine. And she rescues her man more than once. A fun fun fun show.

The Many Faces of Ito - 3.5 stars
I probably would have liked this one more if it hadn't felt so truncated. I felt like there had to be more after the end. This is a story of a scriptwriter who derives material from the stories of four everyday women who happen to be dating the same guy.  

My Little Baby - 3.5 stars
I confess I had to struggle to stick with this one, it was not super-compelling. What made me stick with it was the lead, Oh Ji-Oh was so super adorable. OMG, I have a major crush on him, and he shows up in another show I'm watching right now, and he's even sexier. The show is pretty funny and the premise is sweet and cute. He's a kick-ass cop whose life is taken over by his little baby niece, whom he becomes guardian of after his sister and her husband are killed in a car crash. He moves into an apartment with a former cop friend, and immediately finds himself the beset upon by the complex's Mommy club--who are apparently harder to deal with than full on criminals. It's pretty cute.

Let's eat - 3.5 stars
Food is a pretty big theme in all the shows I've watched. Even the sappy romantic ones I purposefully left off this list, because I'm too embarrassed to admit I watched them (and enjoyed them). But the nearly-pornographic relationship with food in K-Drama goes full monty in this one, there are scenes that are minutes and minutes long of people just stuffing their craws with every kind of sumptuous food you can possibly imagine. There's a scene in a shellfish restaurant that almost made me book a ticket to South Korea. LOL.

 I've never seen that much footage taken of people just reveling in the consumption of a pizza or a bowl of mixed rice. But you will in this show. I probably would have given it more stars if the girl had chosen the right guy in this one--at least in my opinion. This show has a sequel I haven't watched yet. I might watch it if I run out of other awesome options, which seem to be plentiful at the moment.

Oh My Ghost - 5 stars
I LOVED this show. I thought it was thoughtful, and the perfect mix of humour and drama. The premise is that a ghost will appear and remain on earth if they have a grudge, and often, it is because they die virgins, so they try to possess bodies in order to get deflowered so they can rest in peace. Chased by a Seer, the ghost jumps into the body of a Mousy line cook, who also happens to be a Seer like her grandmother. Unable to leave the girl's body, the ghost stirs up this meek little girl's life in every way. She goes after the Mousy girl's dream man. The ghost also discovers that her grudge might not just be about her virginity and that she might still be lingering because she has unfinished business with her mysterious death.

12 Years Promise - 4 Stars
This one, I imagined would be a straight romance, but it was more than that, and a pleasant surprise. The story is, seniors in high-school, both with bright futures, a young man and woman have an encounter that ends up producing a child. The pregnancy brings their families (mainly their overwrought and kind of narcissistic and obnoxious moms) into conflict, tearing the couple apart.  Twelve years later, the leading lady returns to work at a department store to find that her men's department counterpart is none other than her teen lover. Both with scars and misunderstanding, they must confront old crushes and still-bitter family in order fix things. I think the only thing that really bummed me out about this one, was that there were so many loose ends left dangling a the end. They left you with an idea of what would happen, but I really wanted to see it.

Kantaro - Sweet Tooth Salary Man - 5 Stars
I. Love. This. Show. It's kooky and weird and absolutely perfect. Kantaro changed jobs so he could work in sales. Why? Because when he's out on sales calls, he can sneak off and feed his addiction to sweets during the day on the clock. Otherwise, he'd be only free on Saturdays to do that, and who would want to be kept from eating perfect sweets for that long?  Kantaro has a secret sweets blog, where he features his poetic missives about each culinary delight he eats, and the beautiful lady in Online Sales is onto him. But she too is a sweets-addict. I cannot wait when the next season of episodes is released. I hope they are soon. Each episode is short, less than half an hour. It is easy to binge this one. I did sometimes, admittedly, fast-forward through the food-head segments. But Ssshhh.

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories  - 5 stars
This is probably the best Asian show I've seen. It's gritty and really thoughtfully presented. It follows the nightly stories of a midnight eatery in the heart of Tokyo and the intriguing and colourful parade of customers who eat there. There are the regulars, and then there are people who come in with their stories. It is a common dish that gets the conversations going, and then the stories are told, a new one for every too-short episode. It's brilliant. Watch it.

Last but not least:

Momo Salon - 5 Stars
This show was like candy. The episodes are literally less than 8 minutes each. And they are every one a delight. There is probably less than an hour total to binge the whole thing. It's about a hairdresser who opens a salon on her own and follows her as her struggling business grows thanks to her shop becoming a package holding service. In the brief episodes, they still manage to squeeze in a lot of story. And it's just joyful and delightful to watch.

So the lesson is if you think you have seen it all, and there's nothing on Netflix, think again. There's SO MUCH on Netflix. But you might have to deal with subtitles. No biggie. The only downside is that you will crave Asian food like no tomorrow. Maybe my next post will be a Korean dish. We shall see! Portland has a great Jade District with so many Asian grocery stores. I might have to go shopping. :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I know I know, I'm a flake. Sue me. Now let's talk sleeve drafting. And then some.

Yes, I'm alive. Barely. LOL. I'm just trying to recover from a case of bronchitis, nearly pneumonia, which leveled me for this week. I'm on prednisone and antibiotics and slowly feeling something akin to normal tonight.

What brought me out from underneath my damp rock was a question on my most infamous post (the Benefits of a Bib-Front), which still garners countless hits and Pinterest pins nearly eight years after posting it. Always a plus right? Sort of makes me nostalgic for costuming whenever I see the hit counts. After just checking, seems like the old post on stays on the old ORS blog page is also still often-visited. It feels good to know that my efforts are still found useful. I hope to return to these things soon one day. Once my little cottage* is finished and I can breathe a bit. *I'll expound on that in a moment.

The reason for my post is that someone posted a good question. How do I draft sleeves to a Regency bodice?  I tried to answer with just words and it wasn't really working for me trying to explain it without some visual aid. So I uploaded this quick video, very spartan so that it can explain how I do it when I'm cobbling together my various drafted gowns.

If I were smart, I would have made ONE muslin and just used it repeatedly, but I tend to lose my muslins, or I just draft boldly and stupidly onto the fabric itself and then roll with whatever happens. So my advice is, do it in a muslin until it works, and then keep it for future projects. You can add wedges and extensions as you please to whatever basic sleeve pattern you create using my 'technique'.

So that is it. Fairly simple. Center all your measurements on the shoulder mark (top of the sleeve) and it should be a nicely fitted, free-moving sleeve. Add any arc *over* the top of the sleeve, not like how I penciled it, by the way. Seam allowance gives you a little give as needed as well. Wedging in fullness at the top will give you more pouf if that's your cup of tea.

Now, let's talk about THE COTTAGE and its evolution.

Now, everybody who has historically followed this blog knows that I'm a head-case. LOL. I have been stricken with an anxiety disorder that manifested itself on top of a lifelong battle with chronic depression and dysthymia. It has been a huge fucking struggle. I have never bothered to hide it or sugarcoat it, and I will talk about it everywhere I possibly can, because I will not pretend like it's something that I am ashamed of or should be worried might annoy someone to discuss. It is a real problem, and something I have had to take a great deal of pride in accepting. A control freak (who is in essence displaying overt signs of anxiety by desiring to control everything that gives them anxiety) does not like to concede that they have no control over the levels of fear and worry in their own heads.

So I have retreated. I've struggled with a balance of medications, trying to find some measure of normality. But it is a continued battle. I'll have long phases of seemingly normal days and then suddenly have daily panic attacks, some resulting in losing consciousness and striking a great deal of fear in both my husband and sadly, my son, who now has comforting and helping his mother as part of his routine, something no kid should have to do. I found him lying underneath my head once, because I had fallen onto the floor, and he didn't want my head to hit, so he squirmed underneath. This makes me so very sad. But it is my reality now. It has hampered everything I do. And one of the things that once gave me comfort and respite from it, is no longer part of my life. Which is probably a good thing, in the long run, but it means I do not get to see people I became very much attached to over the years.

Oh well.

However, I refuse to go down without fighting. And I don't like the idea that this imbalance of brain chemicals should somehow make me useless. I am a highly creative person, and one that needs many outlets for it, or I will go mad. And my husband knows this, and from the previous post last spring, you can see he cared enough to help me find a place to express it. And he built me my cottage.

It has been slow progress but in the last month, it has sprung forward quite a bit. From being painted up like a lady, to gaining an electrical system with plenty of outlets and light cans, to now being insulated and wall-boarded. The mudding and taping will soon be underway at the beginning of the year, and that will leave only washing up the messy floor, painting, and furnishing it with all my crapola.

Then Feffie's Cottage will be born in earnest. And it will be where I will be vomiting up my creative energy in droves, I hope. From busting out more novels under my Miranda Mayer nom-de-plume to creating more hats and costumes, to returning to miniatures and dollhouses and dollhouse kits, to drawing and making prints and postcards, to fashioning stuffed animals and plushies, to dolls to whatever floats my god damned boat.  And I will sell my shit. Because being an anxious ass doesn't mean that I can't contribute to the household. I will just do it on my terms, without an overarching presence who will set off my anxiety and make me crazy.

I hope you folks will be with me on this journey. However it may end up. You've been reading this blog for god... years now, and I'm still here. Scrabbling along. You were with me from the first office specials, the struggle for pregnancy, the surprise child, the costumes, the drama, the snark. So here I am. Hoping to pick myself up and get back to my Hungarican ways. :) Maybe I'll even post a new recipe or something? I don't want to get ahead of myself. These are no longer the days when I posted my updates on the clock of my job. But maybe this can become part of my job as owner of Feffie's Cottage. Maybe.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Every. Single. Time. Seriously. (not for squeamish people)

I went through another convention (Walker-Stalker/Heroes & Villains Fanfest)  and naturally, this happened. Every convention since 2012, this has happened the night before or during the event. I got my period in the middle of my wedding day. So I came home from the event and was inspired to sketch. Enjoy. 

PS, go to the bottom to see what happened at our booth (hint: it was crashed by Michael Rooker and Brendan Routh...)

Michael Rooker snatched my ukulele which I had brought to manage my anxiety, and 'rocked out' on it. His handler told me I was lucky I got it back in one piece. LOL. 

Brendan Routh (Atom/Superman) -- crashed the booth too.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

HC, where have you been? Dealing. I've been dealing.

It's not unusual for me to go dark around the holidays and come out of hiding come the end of February, but add to that a medication issue, and you've got someone who is high-anxiety, low-spirits and all around distracted and unproductive.

Yes. I'm alive. I have been however, struggling a great deal with my brain chemistry, and in part, it's given me little energy to focus with. I have been writing. That's a good thing. And doing some editing work to finish up the next two books I will be releasing this year. But I haven't done much else except try to take care of my kid and sometimes, even myself.

I started going back to talk therapy for one. And my anti-depressant seems to have hit the two-year poop-out, and stopped working, so my doctor doubled the dose, and I have been creeping out from under my rock to see the light, hissing and scowling all the way. But this week, I've been feeling something close to normal. Which is amazing after having spent the past quarter of a year in depression and anxiousness.

Part of my crash was the significant reduction of a creative outlet. Another part was my removing myself from the Oregon Regency Society, which took a lot (way too much) of my emotional energy, and without that, I sort of got lost. When you've had something like that to keep you focused for ten years, and suddenly there's all this open space in your head where the drama used to live, yeah, it can be jarring. It's been healthy for me to leave that aside. To give me the chance to dream up new ventures without the baggage of difficult, unkind and attention-hungry people.

In the meantime, my husband, who is a fucking hero, was talking about using our tax returns to put together some kind of she-shed for me so I could have space for my sewing, crafting, writing and miniatures without taking over the house, and without tiny fingers getting into all my stuff. It's something I've wanted for a long time. I've literally stopped sewing because it's been such a pain to hear the complaints about the mess and such.

When we realized our tax refund was a tenth of what we hoped, I was a little disappointed but didn't say anything. But hubby, who I think has been particularly worried about my state of mind lately, went without my knowledge and took out a little loan to create this little retreat for me. So this Friday, a troupe of three guys showed up with a double-long trailer full of materials, and five and a half hours later, their assemblage retreated, leaving behind Feffie's Cottage. My little she-shed.

A trailer of bits and bobs arrived at noon.

Leveling took about 15 minutes. The blocks were arranged, and the
floor frame was made in record time.

They built the walls, tyveked them, put windows
in, etc, before they lifted them in place.

They spread the two end walls to make the fourth outside

The bit left unfloord was for the decking.

Wall 4 goes up.

Then it's time to put in the porch wall.

Then one guy goes up and puts in the rafters for
the loft. He did the roof and rafters
pretty much on his own.

Helpers handed up materials.

Sheathing the roof. 

These guys move fast.

Metal was about to go up. Foreman was starting to
do the trim, which meant the project was almost done.

Adding the pre-built railing. Cute huh?

Adding the ridge cap and rake. finishing touches.
Trim is done.

There it is in all its glory. My she-shed dubbed 'Feffie's Cottage'.
Feffy is my nickname.
We went and bought some paint to match it to our house yesterday. It's a little humid to do that today, but it will get done soon enough. It's a dark teal blue. I also got a creamy tan called Crepe for the trim. When I was on the Behr website they suggested a colour story and I'm kind of in love. The house colour will be the Juniper Berries, which is what our main house colour is. The trim will be tan, and I'm toying with the idea of painting the door either the soft bluish white or the track green. What do you think?

This morning, my husband got up early and let me sleep in. We had some leftover flooring from my nesting period/home makeover attack when I was pregnant, so he went ahead and used it up on the floor in the cottage. It's only about 128 square feet of indoor space. Enough room for my cutting and sewing tables, a few chairs, a large IKEA shelf I plan to buy, a small armchair, and my desk and chair for writing. I have them all laid on my floorplan already.

The main 'area' is about 8 x 10 give or take.

This little bay area is about 8 x 5 and it's where my writing
desk will be (by teh window).

The loft is pretty big.

The little porch. :)

So there you have it. If all goes well this will be my creation central from now on. I'll be able to do dollhouses again and sew unrestricted. I'll post progress pics as the Feffie's Cottage takes shape.



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