jmc_bks: (GK_Not Impressed)
- After three years of successfully resisting being saddled with a crackberry, I lost the fight today.  A BlackBerry Torch was delivered to me at work.  My argument was that in the event of an emergency, the bb was useless -- I could respond to emails but every program needed to do substantive work requires a Citrix secure login.  Alas, I have been overruled.  It's shiny and pretty, and the touch screen is going to be scratched or marred very quickly because it didn't come with a case or any sort of protective covering.  Why?  Who knows.

+ Apparently I *am* hosting dinner on Friday.  I guess that means I should figure out a menu?  Maybe beef stew again, since it turned out well the first time and is pretty simple.  I can pick up the ingredients that afternoon or even on Thursday.

~  First batch of no bake peanut butter bars is done.  Now I need one loaf of banana nut bread, at least two batches of cracker candy, and then one more batch of PB bars.  Guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow night and Wednesday evening...

-  Why isn't Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy playing at the Landmark near me?  Do people really still want to see the Bella/Edward trainwreck?  Ten screens and only one movie is playing that I'd be willing to pony up for (The Descendants).

:/  The hospital "informational statement" (not a bill to me yet, but what was sent to the insurance company) arrived for my surgery and hospital stay.  More than $20,500.  For the second iteration; the bill for the first hospital stay was already billed separately.  Holy crap!  Once again, I am thankful for my insurance.
jmc_bks: (Ray in b&w by meeks00)
The new Harris Teeter opened in my neighborhood.  Well, the next neighborhood over, really, Locust Point.  But it's within walking distance and closer than Whole Paycheck. It'll probably replace WP as my grocery budget buster. (Although WP's prepared food section seems better at first glance, HT's produce section is better by far.)

Yesterday I bought stew meat at the butcher stall at Cross Street, but forgot to stop at the vegetable stall, so I walked to HT and bought the veg for stew and then puttered around while it bubbled away on the stove.  Will I ever remember that mixing flour and water for thickener works better than sprinkling flour in directly?  Probably not.  Instead I ended up stirring like crazy to get rid of the lumps.  It was pretty good for a dish I haven't cooked in nearly 20 years.

The cracker candy and peanut butter bars that I planned on making...did not get made.  It'll have to be tomorrow evening, I guess.  All the ingredients are on the shelf, I just felt like I'd used all my interest in domesticity by cleaning out a cabinet and making the beef stew. 

This afternoon I flipped between Star Wars IV: A New Hope and Kissing Jessica Stein and football.  (FWIW, The Empire Strikes Back is on SpikeTV right now.)  I love both movies for very different reasons.  And I was looking for updates on the Packers-Chiefs game.  While I'm sorry the Pack lost, at least all the hype will go away now, leaving them to concentrate on the next couple of games and the post-season.  They play the Bears at Lambeau next week, and I'm expecting lots of trash talk from The Boy Uncle, a die-hard Bears fan.

I've invited Mom, T, bro, and SIL to my house for dinner on the 23rd if that suits.  They are welcome on the 24th, when I originally planned to invite them, but there's a game at 12pm that day, so parking will be horrendous in my neighborhood.  Haven't figured out the menu yet.  Maybe more beef stew with salad, rolls, and some type of dessert?  Must consider.  I'd like to do a turkey breast maybe, but am not sure I can get one from the butcher -- he was going to check and let me know but I haven't heard back yet.  Whatever I cook, mashed potatoes and gravy must be on the menu, otherwise it is not really dinner for T.

Must motivate myself to wrap gifts -- everything that wasn't shipped directly is sitting on a bench in my living room, waiting to be wrapped or bagged appropriately.

I feel like I'm forgetting something, something major, but can't figure out what.  I'll probably remember when it's way too late.
jmc_bks: (meninas)
My travel budget is allocated for the rest of the year:  Texas in October and November, then I'm homebound until 2012 unless I use miles/points for hotel and buy cheap bus or train tickets by booking way in advance.  Which is probably what I'll be doing, because I want to see these shows on Broadway or Off Broadway:
  • Seminar (November through March)
  • The Book of Mormon (probably not until January)
  • Bonnie & Clyde
  • Chinglish
  • Richard III (not until January)
  • King Lear (October or November)
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (October or November)
Unrelated:  my current favorite dish at the local?  Tempura asparagus.  Yum.

I've belatedly discovered yet another cop show, Rookie Blue.  A lot of the acting is horrible, and the scripts are cliche-ridden.  And yet I've watched most of Season 2 online.  Its only distinguishing features are its setting -- Toronto -- and one of the actors.

I've got a bunch of books waiting to be read (as usual) but feel no urge to pick any of them up.  Instead I've been paging through AO3 for fanfiction in my favorite fandoms that I may have missed or ignored.
jmc_bks: (GK_Not Impressed)
~  Amazon sent me a list of the Top 10 Romances of 2010, presumably based on my buying history.  Of the ten books on the list, I've read (or tried to read) one, Kresley Cole's Pleasure of a Dark Prince, which was...not a keeper, let's just put it that way.  The others look heavy on the European historical or just looked pedestrian to me.

~  Pumpkin walnut bread is baking.  I need flour, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and chocolate chips to make cookies and candy.  Also need to find the recipe for potato chip cookies so I can test them out.

~  Started telling The Biochemist my Brad/Ray plot bunny by email, and she wants the next installment now, so I guess I'll have to get cracking on that.  The eggnog cookie I plotted out for a comment!fic prompt still hasn't made it onto paper or Word, and it'll probably need a beta or at least a proof read by someone to tell me to stop attempting to write Brad/Ray before I post it publicly.  Anonymously, I think.
jmc_bks: (GK_Bradabs)
+  \o/ for the Senate voting to repeal DADT

+  Check out this interesting discussion about whether language shapes thought.

+  Every time I've gone to B&N lately, I've bought things other than books.  When I look at books, I end up putting them on my wishlist or downloading a Kindle sample to decide if I really want the book or not.  Obviously B&N is still making some money off me as a consumer -- bought Elf on the Shelf, a puzzle, a Moleskin notebook, holiday cards, etc. -- but if I'm not buying their books, what does it say about their success in their primary market?

+  I'm contemplating writing fan fiction for the first time ever.  There's a plot bunny bouncing around my head and it just won't die.  Not even an emailed exchange with my sister got it out of my system.   I blame this tumblr.

+  Mailed a package to Texas today, and it should arrive in plenty of time for the holidays.  The line to mail packages?  Only three people long.  The line to pick up packages at the other window?  Wound around the waiting room and out the door.  Fortunately for me, all the packages I ordered were delivered by UPS and my neighbor signed for them (he's retired, and takes deliveries for several neighbors).  

+  Saw an intriguing recipe for potato chip cookies, must find it again and experiment tomorrow.  Must also go get one last gift -- a gift card to a restaurant, because I'm stumped for a better gift for my brother and SIL; I did send them doggie cupcakes from here, but wanted to give them something more.

+  I've been pretty good about not buying paper books, or any books except pre-orders done pre-holidays, but I broke down and finally ordered a copy of Yo, Juan de Austria from Abebooks.  I should have bought a copy when I first saw the book more than a year ago, when I was in Madrid, but I assumed it would become available sooner or later in the US and didn't want to add it to my luggage.  Mistake.  Still not available in the US yet or translated. (TBH, I doubt it will be translated, since I'm not sure that Juan of Austria commands a great deal of attention from English speakers/readers.)  So I ordered a copy from a Spanish bookseller online.  The ridiculous.  My own fault.
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
It is Monday again, the first Monday of November.  Don't forget to vote tomorrow!

For SBD, I have a hodge podge of things to share.  A melange, if you will.

First, saw Next to Normal last night.  Well-acted, great set, great music, yet I did not love the play.  I think in part because of the subject; without spoiling the plot, I'll just say that it deals with family trauma and fracture.  It does so with humor and sympathy, but I generally avoid books, movies, etc., that focus on that subject.  Having said that, I really like the song Super Boy and the Invisible Girl.  Also had dinner with The Biochemist -- we met after our respective matinees ended :P  [Okay, in AI, Favorite Son was totally ogling Tunny in his boxer briefs.  And Stark Sands blew a kiss to the audience at the end of the show -- is that normal? And Tony Vincent's St. Jimmy is more threatening than Billie Joe Armstrong's, edgier and sort of self-mocking and loathing too.]  We picked a random restaurant on Ninth Avenue based on the menu -- ghoulish ginger carrot soup + watermelon martinis.  Yum.

I may be going back to New York for work in the near future.  If so, I really want to see The Merchant of Venice and Driving Miss Daisy.  And still haven't seen Avenue Q or Billy Elliot.

Third, I enjoyed MoMA, despite my general preference for art produced between the 16th and 19th centuries, rather than modern art.  Oh, wait, except then I remember how much I enjoy Monet, Van Gogh, Seurat, and others, all representated in MoMA.  Particularly enjoyed the furniture exhibit (like Gaudi's prayer bench), and Van Gogh's The Olive Trees, which look like to me like the blurry view out a train window heading south out of Madrid to Andalucia.  And Steichen's photograph of Rodin, The Thinker and sculpture of Victor Hugo is fascinating.   

By Edward Steichen (Camera Work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I have consumed too much pop culture. When looking at Steichen's photographs of Rodin's hand sculptures, my first thought was Oh, Han Solo at the end of The Empire Strikes Back!  And then I thought, oh, creepy and threatening and desperate.  This is the only one I can find online, but the other ones were much more striking, IMO.

Next, imagine my \o/ when I got home and found the new In Death book waiting for me!

And lastly, for the book related thing:  

I finished an eARC of a book due out tomorrow (I think), and I'm kind of confused about it.  The book, or rather novella, since it was fairly short, was a pleasant read and I think it was steampunk or supposed to be, but I'm not sure what was steampunkish about it other than some advanced science/tech.  I thought the point of steampunk was to look at changes in society that result from the new tech, to show variations to what that historical period might be.  In this book, not so much.  Any steampunk aficionados reading my LJ?  Can you make me smarter about steampunk so I can reread this book with a better filter?
jmc_bks: (Nadasco - 08 Spain Davis Cup)
My crush on Nathan Fillion grows ever larger.  Between the hammy reading of Richard Castle's book at Comic Con; the whole Mal Reynolds Firefly/Serenity thing and now this?  I'm all *hearteyes*.  Read this bit of information over at ALA's website and then tell me that he isn't a thousand times sexier for being a supporter of reading.

The first few chapters of Bujold's new Vorkosigan novel, CryoBurn, are available at Baen.  If the direct link doesn't work, click on the Webscription link at the top of the main Baen page, which will take you to CryoBurn's ARC page, where there is a link to the chapters.  I haven't read them yet, but am somewhat intrigued by the book summary.  Of course, it'll be an autobuy for me just because it's a new Miles book.

I ordered a case/cover for my refurbished Kindle (known as The Hairball, because for some reason my cat loves to lay on it, which leaves it covered in cat hair).  Anyway, it's been more than two weeks since I ordered it, so I poked the vendor.  Oh, sorry, busy.  Okay, but if it was going to be delayed, just say so; yes, you risk losing a sale, but with adjusted expectations, I would be much more inclined to leave positive feedback for you as a seller.

The Legg Mason Tennis Classic is on.  Have tickets to the Round of 16 on Thursday.  Don't need to go to the semifinals and finals on Saturday and Sunday, right?  Right?

Picnic at Mom's yesterday.  Her deviled eggs are the best ever.  Something about the ratio of bacon bits to relish to seasoning just rocks.  Nana's Chocolate Cake, too, yum.  And steamed crabs.  Brought some home and picked them this evening.  Crab cakes for dinner tomorrow :)
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
Random pieces of information:

+  Went to Let's Dish with M this weekend.  Before starting on the new dishes, I needed to cook the last remaining dish from our last visit, shrimp & corn chowder with cornbread.  The cornbread is a little...weird, in terms of texture and taste.  There's bacon in there.  It was probably supposed to go in with the vegetables and shrimp, but there may have been a little confusion (and too many cooks involved in the measuring and mixing).  

+  Someone keyed three cars on my block on Friday night.  Including mine, dammit.  Back door and back quarterpanel on the driver's side.  I'm hoping it can be buffed out but am afraid it may be too deep for that.  And I'm not sure I want to put a huge amount of money into the cosmetics of a 10 year old car.

+  Finished Megan Whalen Turner's A Conspiracy of Kings, which was good but not as good as The Thief.  Of course, my expectations were probably unreasonably high.  The lack of Gen's POV was one big draw back for me, and I found Sophos hard to trust as a hero in the middle of the book after how the book began.

+  I just remembered that Carla Kelly's new Harlequin Historical, the third of the naval trilogy, will be out in June.  Which means that the ebook will be available from eHarlequin on May 1st.  Since I have immediate gratification issues, I'll probably download an e-copy, then buy a paper copy in June.  I suppose it's a little early to be asking what Ms. Kelly will be working on next, isn't it?

+  My local Target has remodeled and now has a huge grocery section.  One stop shopping, presumably so it can compete with the nearby Walmart?  The selection isn't quite as good as my regular grocery store, but was good enough for today's errands.  Will still be getting veg from the farmers' market, though.

+  From the dentist:  stop drinking soda, and if I must drink it, drink it with meals only.  Even tea would be better than soda.  Here's the thing:  my diet Coke consumption (12 oz per day, without caffeine) is loads better than it was six years ago (48 oz per day, with caffeine).  I can only drink so much water, juice, and tea before I long for the fizzy stuff.  It's an addiction and I'm not sure how or if I can whittle my consumption down more, short of moving someplace where pop is much more expensive.  (When traveling, I tend to drink no cola, since it's usually more expensive than other beverages.  It's much the reverse at home, though.)

+  Mom emailed me about the upcoming family trip to Ireland.  She's worried about being stranded in New York after reading about the European flights grounded due to the ash spewed by the Icelandic volcano whose name I cannot spell or pronounce (begins with an "e").  I don't really understand this concern.  If the flight (which is more than a month away) is grounded or canceled, we have trip insurance.  And if it's canceled entirely, there are multiple ways of getting home from NYC.  If I were inclined to worry about this (which I'm not, surprisingly, since I used to be a worry wart), I'd be a more concerned about being stranded in Ireland, since it's slightly harder to get home from there.  *shrug*  

+  Dropbox seems to have deleted all the quotation marks from an html document I uploaded.  The punctuation is there in the original when I look at it on my laptop, but gone when I view it in dropbox on my iPhone.  Which is weird, and also hard to read, especially since there are not many dialog tags to mark the conversations otherwise.
jmc_bks: (Icicle)
So, the holidays have come and are nearly gone.  Just a couple days more until the New Year, then the dreariness of January and New Year's Resolutions.  And since I'm sure you're dying of curiosity about how my holiday went...

On the 22nd of December I finally felt a little holiday spirit.  Maybe it was giving away all the goody bags of sweets and treats I made at the office.  Or maybe it was getting my passenger mirror repaired?  Or maybe it was the knowledge that The Biochemist and The Chemist would be arriving soon.  In any case, my goodwill toward men finally arrived.

I baked Nana's Chocolate Cake Thursday morning -- belated birthday cake.  Then I made another batch of cracker candy to take to Christmas dinner and a batch of Cooks Illustrated's soft & chewy chocolate chip cookies.  The dough made only 18 cookies but they were AMAZING.  Best recipe ever, and now the only one I will use to make chocolate chip cookies.

TB&TC arrived *very* late on the 24th -- about 4 hours late due to mechanical difficulties and luggage issues.  His bag didn't make their flight but was put on the next flight.  Since their flight was so delayed, they did not have to wait long for the next flight to arrive and the luggage to be disgorged.  Typically, we go to Petit Louis when they are in town; the food is very good and the wine list is excellent.  The only reservation I could get was a little late (8:30) but ended up being canceled because they were so delayed.  Instead I cooked something light (chicken, broccoli and rice).  We watched The Empire Strikes Back and laughed hysterically at the 7 part review of The Phantom Menace. (Thanks to Carrie Lofty and Kate Rothwell for the link.)  There was much clinging (sis & me) and laughing (all of us, but bro in law at us for our clinging, too).

We headed up to Mom's the next morning, where we opened presents and were gluttons. (Coolest gift ever: WTF stamp.) Then to the nursing home to visit Mommom, who was frail and tired but in good spirits:  she'd been up too long without a nap and with too many visitors, so we didn't stay long.  She loved all of her presents, though, and the attention.  On to Boy Uncle's for the family party, which included a lot of food and noise and socializing.  TB&TC stayed, but I headed back to Baltimore; it was a stressful drive between the traffic on I-95, the rain, and the dropping temperature. The multiple lane lines, painted and painted over, didn't help in the rain.

TB&TC returned to Baltimore on Monday.  We went over to Max's in Fells Point so TC could try some of their 100 beers on tap and the 1,000 bottles.  Me, I stuck with the Woodchuck Amber on tap.  Then we walked over to the movie theater to see Sherlock Holmes; I went to be social, not being a huge Robert Downey Jr or Jude Law fan.  Was pleasantly surprised by the movie, and expect an explosion of Holmes/Watson slash.  (Also, WTF!?!, Brad Pitt as Dr. Moriarty is just wrong.)  Afterward, TC took a nap while TB and I clung again.  We went to Rub for Monday Night Football.  (Enjoyed the second half, was bored during the first half.)  

They were off, back to Texas, at a beastly early hour (they left my house at 4am this morning).  The security line for the D Pier stretched to the E/International Pier, I'm told.  And the airline was permitting only 1 carry on per person.  And I was off to work in the bitter, bitter cold.  

Got home to find the CD import that was part of TB's gift had finally arrived!  Only a few days late!  It was sitting on the doorstep.  Carrie Lofty's Scoundrel's Kiss was inside, which is kind of freaking me out. Did I leave the house unlocked all day?  Did my neighbor pop in?  Did TB or TC pick it up after delivery yesterday and forget to mention it?  I don't know, and I had to check all the rooms of the house while holding a large MagLite in my hand.

Also in today's mail: the contract for my beach rental this coming summer.  Timely and cheering, considering how cold and windy today's weather has been.

Am currently reading Astrid Amara's Carol of the Bellski's...while I appreciate the Hanukkah theme, the basic set up isn't working for me.  And I'm both entertained and horrified by the disclaimer at the beginning of the book: Please do not try any new sexual practice, especially those that might be found in our BDSM/fetish titles without the guidance of an experienced practitioner.  Neither Loose ID LLC nor its authors will be responsible for any loss, harm or injury or death resulting from the use of the information contained in any of its titles.

Okay, it just strikes me as strange.  Do any other publishers of erotic fiction that includes BDSM or fetish activities include disclaimers like that?   

Uh, that's about all I have to say.  Must go drink tea and eat Nana's Chocolate Cake, then find the liner to my coat and another hat, since I've misplaced my fuzzy purple hat.

Edited for typos.


jmc_bks: (Chocolate)
The Computer Guy does not like chocolate; his favorite sweet is caramel.  A favorite dessert is dulce de leche.  Given a plain chocolate bar, he's not tempted at all.  Give him a box of chocolate covered caramels and he'll pick the chocolate off to get to the caramel.  But he loves brownies. His statement on this paradox: the baking of the brownies and other flavors added make them Not Chocolate, the concatenation of ingredients diluting and revising the essential chocolateness of the treat into something he loves.

Decided that he needed an All Edge Brownie Pan.  Because everyone knows the best pieces of each batch of brownies are the four corners, and the single edge pieces follow that closely.  Ordered it on the 11th.  On the 19th, wondered where it was and checked -- the UPS status said delivered on the 14th.  Um, no.  So I reported it missing.  On the 20th, Think Geek let me know that I replacement would be mailed on Monday by 2-Day Air.  It arrived yesterday --  that's right after only 1 business day.  

I've never had a bad experience shopping or shipping from Think Geek, but this was outstanding.  Think Geek absolutely rocks!

What? Why?

Nov. 16th, 2009 04:43 pm
jmc_bks: (Seagull)
As I walked through the harbor last night, I noticed a sign outside of La Tasca, a tapas place. The sign read, "Because you asked, we now serve FAJITAS."

Okay, what? Why would anyone go to a tapas place and ask for fajitas? That's like going to a sushi bar and asking for pad thai. Different cuisines entirely. Spanish and Tex-Mex are not interchangeable, thanks.
jmc_bks: (Nadasco - 08 Spain Davis Cup)
My personal library is a mess.  Cannot find my copy of Arianna Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death...didn't realize it wasn't where I thought it was until I went to get it to pack in my travel bag Friday morning.  [Yes, I packed at 4:30am when I had to be out the door by 5:30am.  Which is why I forgot pajamas and sunscreen.]  I suppose I'll try to organize the shelves this weekend, unless better plans present themselves.

Dinner at The Bombay Club for Restaurant Week.  The menu for RW was a sizable chunk of their regular menu.  Drinks in the bar first (pinapple cinnamon mojito for me, and a drink of pineapple juice and Chambord for L).  Then to dinner.  Appetizers:  mango fish tikka and Bombay sev puri.  Entrees:  mixed grill (salmon, chicken tikka, and a lamb/spice sausage with saffron rice) and taak lamb korma.  Dessert:  chocolate sticky toffee pudding.  It was fabulous, and absolutely worth the RW price.  I'd think about going back for a special occasion, but it was a little too spendy for regular dining on my budget.  The service was excellent -- attentive without being cloying or pushy.

Hello Cupcake gave away 2,500 cupcakes to celebrate its birthday yesterday, including one to me.  The line stretched out the door and up the block to Dupont Circle.  I was entertained and horrified by the guy in front of us.  Entertained as he tried to talk his five year old out of waiting in line for a cupcake by lecturing on the value of time vs. the amount saved by getting a free cupcake -- she wasn't buying that, she wanted the cupcake.  Horrified because he left the five year old and the toddler in the stroller while he scoped out the length of the line around the corner.  Left them unattended on a city street, they were completely out of his view.  Anyone could've taken those kids and been long gone before he got back.

Bought a copy of Written On Your Skin and Greywalker at Half Price Books.  And a third book, but I can't remember what the title was. 

Saw the Terra Cotta Soldier exhibit at the Natural Science Museum in Houston.  Have stuff to say about this, but it's not organized, other than to highly recommend seeing it if it comes anywhere near your town.  Also checked out the gem vault.  A bunch of the settings were designed by a Houston jeweler, and I'm interested in looking him up.  The exhibit includes several items that belonged to the Russian Royal Family, which are on loan anonymously.  Hmm, the reason for the anonymity intrigues me.  I've made all sorts of stories up about why someone would lend pieces to an exhibit but not want one's name attached; there's probably a prosaic reason, but my imagination has run wild :D

At the Austin Museum of Art, there is a piece by Lance Letscher called Red Bar (2002), a collage made of small strips of colored cardboard, heavy paperstock like paperback covers, banded together in columns of color.  (Enlargable image here.)  I could distinguish a Silhouette Desire title among the reds, and an Intimate Moments among the purples, along with older cover art from Harlequin and the old harlequin emblem.  I think the cardboard/paperboard stock was entirely made of old book covers, maybe layered over book pages and magazine pages.  It was fascinating from far away and up close, being a contrast to the newly opened exhibit by Chuck Close (I think) of black and white portraiture, tapestries and daguerrotypes.  And it especially caught my attention in light of the Harlequin vintage cover art, because it looks some vintage covers may have been sacrificed for the sake of art.

Last but not least:  I loved Alex Beecroft's False Colors.  So much that I just want to squee about it and make others read it.  Maybe I'll give a copy away. 

Yes, I think I will.  Just have to decide the best way to do so.

Good eats

Jul. 31st, 2009 04:08 pm
jmc_bks: (Chocolate)

DC Restaurant Week: Aug 24 through 30th.  For $35, the participating restaurants provide a three course meal, drinks, tax and tip not included, of course.

Attempted to make reservations today, aiming toward higher end places that make the fixed price menu a bargain.  (Even so, it's hard to leave without spending at least $120 for 2, assuming at least one drink each plus tip.)  A lot of the places we were interested in are already booked, no surprise there, must be quick at Open Table for DC's RW.

Reservations for:
Rasika (lunch, no dinner left)
Cafe Atlantico (lunch)
...and one other place I've already forgotten.
Bombay Club

Other places of interest that were booked:
Il Mulino
Taberna del Alabardero

Places I'd like to try outside of RW:
The Oval Room

Blue Duck Tavern, Citronelle and Michel Richard's Central were not participating, otherwise they'd've been on my wish list, too.

The participating restaurants seemed heavy both on high-end steakhouses and small plates.

Will be eating PBJ the following week for make up for all the eating out.

jmc_bks: (seagull)

~ Today's question for the Music Pimp:  "Reinvent Love" as key phrase for Panic at the Disco vs. "Boycott Love" from Fall Out Boy.  Please to be explaining the philosophical approaches of each band as reflected in these phrases. 

~ I want to see "The Hurt Locker" again.  It's a movie set in a war zone but it isn't about war per se; instead it's all about one EOD's adrenaline/explosions addiction.  Well, maybe obsession is a better word, even though he calls is the one thing he loves as he talks to his infant son.  Very high testosterone movie, violent, but not in the way that a lot of blockbuster movies are, with bullets flying needlessly and gratuitous explosions.  The cinematography (is that the right word?) and the blocking (maybe) were reminiscent of old westerns, especially as James suited up and walked toward the potential bombs alone, like the sheriff stalking toward the desperadoes in a show down.  The director also had no qualms *at all* about killing off big name actors, which is different.

~ Yum, fresh tomatoes, just picked by my neighbor from his Topsy Turvy (which he loves).

~ I just read a scene in which the hero's "beard stumble" rasped.  Stumble?  Really?  No proofreading?

~ The convenience of ebooks wins again.  I posted back when Dark of Night was published that I was removing Suzanne Brockmann from the auto-buy category for the next book, Hot Pursuit, because I was not interested in Sam & Alysssa as protagonists in a suspense series.  However, after listening to her speak at RWA, I'm feeling intrigued and inclined to maybe borrow the book as hardback or buy a copy when it is released in mass market format.  Turns out it will be available for $9.99 (and presumably $9.95) in e-format, which I would be willing to pay.  The convenience and pricing of ebooks win again, making a sale where there probably would not have been one otherwise.

jmc_bks: (Chocolate)
Somehow, the dessert doesn't sound so enticing, now that I've read about a guy who fell into a vat of melted/melting chocolate and died.

Courtesy of The Biochemist. 

Of course, after being appropriately horrified about the poor guy's death, we both wondered: what do you do with the chocolate now?  It can't be used to make hot chocolate, since it is presumably "contaminated" for use in food preparation of any sort.
jmc_bks: (Seagull)

+ Baltimore Cupcake Co.'s cupcakes are rich and moist...but the icing didn't work so much for me. The chocolate peanut butter cupcake was a chocolate cupcake with a thin layer of PB covered by chocolate icing (a little too sweet), with a dollop of PB and sprinkles on top.  Eh.  In comparison, the cupcake portion of the Peanut Butter Blossom from Hello Cupcake is a bit, well, average, but the peanut butter-cream cheese icing makes the treat.  Really.

+ It was 60F on Saturday and 70F on Sunday, sunny with just a little wind.  Good days to be out and about, so I enjoyed the walk to Fort McHenry on Saturday and to the Inner Harbor on Sunday.  Tourons (TM WaPo's annual word challenge) abounded.  I like them, I do, but could they cease STOPPING in the middle of pedestrian walkways when there are dozens of people trying to get around them?

+ The neighborhood dry cleaner has two sweaters and two pairs of pants of mine.  No big deal, right?  Except he is moving locations, and has not been answering the phone for a week. I want those sweaters back; the pants, eh.  But the sweaters I must have back.  I've got his landlord's number, who should have other contact info for him.  Grrr.  ETA:  the landlord didn't know the cleaner was moving and is not happy; has left a message and told me to give him a call back in the afternoon.

+  After reading this article at Slate, I bought a copy of Radclyffe's lesbian romance, Above All, Honor, which I finished last night.  Interesting.  I haven't decided what I think about Cam Roberts; she reminds me vaguely of Eve Dallas for some reason.  Blair -- eh, she came across as a spoiled brat.  I can only hope her characterization improves as the series goes on.  But over all, the book was good enough that I'm willing to look for more by Radclyffe.


jmc_bks: (Chocolate)
Yesterday, before the day became totally overcast and rainy/sleety, Mom and T delivered the hutch to me. For years it was a fixture in Mom's kitchen, but since she has had her kitchen redone, it doesn't suit and there really isn't space for it. My uncle striped and revarnished it, and it is gorgeous. Makes everything else in my kitchen look rickety and low quality.

Know what happens when I am bored and watch Food TV on Saturday? You guessed it: on Sunday, when grocery shopping, I end up buying ingredients so I can attempt something observed yesterday. This morning I made mac and cheese from scratch and pecan clusters. The mac & cheese turned out pretty well, although there is A LOT of it -- I'll be tired of it in a couple days. The pecan clusters didn't turn out quite so well. They were supposed to firm up really quickly, but nougat/chocolate has stayed fairly runny. Not sure what the problem is -- I used Hershey's milk chocolate morsels instead of Kisses, but the ingredient list was the same, so I'm not sure if that was the difference or not. In any case, I've got a pan of chocolate goop cooling in the fridge. Not sure what to do with it. And after that, I made mini ham and cheese quiches, inspired by Lyvvie but not quite her recipe.

The sleet that coated everything last night and this morning has melted, so it's time for a walk. Maybe down to the fort. Or up around the harbor.


Dec. 8th, 2008 10:26 am
jmc_bks: (Chocolate)

I don't know what got into me on Saturday.  I seldom feel the urge to cook or bake...except when I am either a) starving, or b) required to make something for a party of some sort.  And that's just regular cooking.  The baking urge is more rare than hens teeth.  Other than Nana's Chocolate Cake and the occasional batch of chocolate chip cookies, I couldn't tell you the last time I baked something from scratch.  Maybe back when I had roommates, post-college (10 years ago)?  Until Saturday, that is, when I felt the urge to make cookies.  But I had no brown sugar or chocolate chips on hand.  What kind of cookies can you make without brown sugar?  So I made sugar cookies.  From scratch.

Except I don't own a rolling pin.  I may have once.  Or not.  But definitely there is no rolling pin among my mismatched collection of kitchen implements currently.  In fact, the only people I know who own rolling pins are a) my grandmother, whose rolling pin dates back to the 50s, and b) The Chemist, who could have a second career as a pastry chef.  A drinking glass or soda bottle may be used in its stead.  Or you could be like me, and just press the dough flat using your hands and a piece of wax paper.   Why do I have wax paper if my kitchen is so ill-equipped?  Well, because it was necessary for a craft/gift attempt last Christmas -- chocolate dipped pretzels and potato chips.

So now I have six dozen sugar cookies in the shape of hearts, pumpkins and leaves, all waiting to be eaten, just sitting in a Tupperware (tm) container on the kitchen counter.  And my next holiday party (which I'm actually supposed to supply a veggie tray for) isn't until Friday.

Probably now I'm safe from any domestic urges until 2010.

Also food-related but not cooking-related, I watched the chefs at Matsuri prepare sushi the other day; one of them (maybe the chief chef?) had the job of slicing and arranging the rolls -- he did it perfectly, without ever hesitating or measuring, with a huge, pointy knife.  If roe was involved, he very carefully placed it on the rolls.  It was fascinating to watch his precision and care, especially with the larger roe.  And there was one type of roll upon which he carefully deposited a raw quail egg.  It looked gorgeous.  [But still not gorgeous enough for me to try because I have texture issues with raw eggs.]

jmc_bks: (meninas)
I  haven't read anything in 5 days.  My attention span is at zero. 

Instead, I've watched too much football and two movies:  Quantum of Solace and Rachel Getting Married.  The new Bond?  Well, it wasn't as good as Casino Royale and needed more plot and less fighting/chasing/etc.  But it was still pretty entertaining.  Rachel Getting Married -- was there apoint to the movie?  Anne Hathaway looked all angsty and teary and angry and hurt, very photogenic, but otherwise Nothing Happened.  My tolerance for that in film is kind of low.

Have hooked The Biochemist on Lori G. Armstrong's Julie Collins books.  Yay me.

The birthday booty is very cool -- from Despair.  And the Ferrous Wheel tee and other sundries went over well with TB.  Plus, we had Nana's Chocolate Cake for breakfast and a lovely dinner at Petit Louis.

Have I mentioned how much I love The Quilt?  Especially Cookie Jar.

The funniest holiday commercial I've seen so far is for a game seller.

Transporter 3 is being released tomorrow.  Was a third installment really necessary?  Although, Jason Statham is nice to look at and shiny cars are always watchable (except when they race in circles).


jmc_bks: (Default)

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