Wow. Hi there. Hello. It’s been a while. Last I checked in I was feeling mopey and melancholy, for reasons, I suppose, that have much to do with Florida’s eternal summer…and not having much else going on, I had a lot of time to brood.
Time seems to have sped up exponentially since August. It’s already less than a week until Thanksgiving, and I barely have time to reflect on how busy these past few months have been. Although, to be fair, anytime I have a planned event or excursion– that is to say, singular, just one– I feel like, “omg, I’m so busy! such a whirlwind of things! hooo-whee boy I am I exhausted!
The end of September saw me getting dressed up as if for an autumn day in layers, dark stockings and boots (it was actually close to 90° outside, and I was dying), to see one of my all-time favorite bands, with some of my very favorite people. First we dined at Morimoto and that was…not great. But I am pretty sure that since this location is nestled into Disney tourist central, they probably cater to the broadest, blandest tastes possible. I hear that Philly Morimoto is pretty amazing, so I’ll just chalk our experience up to location.
The Decemberists always put on a fantastic show …and I’ve seen them twice now so obviously that makes me an expert! And now I finally get the appeal of The Mariner’s Revenge song, so I will never cut out early before the finale again. I am not sure I’ve ever heard lyrics that provide me with such a sense of joyous, demented glee…
“”Find him, find him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave”
And since we mentioned Philadelphia…shortly after our evening with evening with Colin Meloy & Co., I journeyed back up north to visit with my BGF again. I had some semi-plans in early Autumn to either visit Salem again or else visit my youngest sister in Indiana, but both of those ideas came to naught. When BGF wistfully spoke of my visiting her in Philly in order for us to experience autumn together, I jumped on the idea and we made it happen. Well, mostly. I flew up there and had a fantastic visit, but the weather up there was not overly cooperative either, and there was not a fiery falling leaf in site.
Delicious foods eaten: Dan dan noodles, brazilian cheese bread, french toast donuts, soup dumplings, smoked old fashioneds.
80’s movies watched: Pretty In Pink (which I had never seen!)
Oddities shops visited: The Creeper Gallery in New Hope.
Enormous pieces of still life bricolage art featuring flora and fauna and various pieces of natural ephemera purchased, for which I have no room to display: Let’s not talk about it.
More concerts! We saw The Secret Sisters and Ray La Montagne at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando, and I wore a very low-cut dress. This two things are not necessarily related, but I thought it worth mentioning. As my late Mawga would say, the “boobers were floppin'”. As a bit of an aside this is a tunic dress from City Chic and it’s just got the most marvelously unique shape to it, and they come in all kinds of gorgeous floral prints and I love it. Also, it’s 50% off right now!
Anyway! The Secret Sisters were amazing, they were an absolute joy to watch and their harmonies really just blew me away. If you like melancholic blue grass and murder ballads, you definitely need to check them out. Ray LaMontagne, well, he was a bit of a snoozefest, but I wasn’t really there to see him anyway, and I knew what I was in for, so I’ll not complain overmuch about what I am now thinking of as “an evening of naptime with Ray”,
I have been making lots of lovely Japanese-style breakfasts lately, with rice and miso soup, broiled salmon, homemade pickled vegetables, and tamagoyaki (rolled japanese omelette). I’ve never been much for pancakes or cereal and sweet stuff in the morning, and there’s something about this combination of foods that is wonderfully savory, and perfectly balanced to fill you up while at the same time you feel like you are eating something light.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes for creating such a meal:
I have also lately found myself craving kimchi jjigae, a Korean dish which my BGF made for me ages ago, and which I have found myself thinking of frequently now that the nights are getting darker earlier and the temperatures are (slightly) starting to drop. I think at its most basic it’s just a stew with kimchi and pork belly, but then to that you can add all sorts of seasonings and extra spices and wonderful things like green onions and tofu and rice cakes. Most recently I think I probably cobbled together two or three different recipes and made sure to include sesame oil, garlic, gochujang (red pepper paste),gochugaru (red pepper flakes), scallions, tofu, and rice cakes. Not too many of the little rice cakes (or “rice tubules” as I like to call them) because you’ll probably want to serve this stew with/over rice! I haven’t made it often, but I get the feeling that it’s hard to mess up, and you’ll definitely want to make enough for leftovers, because it is even better the next day.
In searching out youtube videos for various recipes, I came across honeykki’s channel; she makes the most peaceful, soothing videos of the recipes that she prepared and eats each day, so if this is a thing that appeals to you, I highly suggest you take a peek at her beautiful meals.
So, I’ve been diligently knitting away on a few things this year, and because one of them was mega-intense, my finished object pile this year is very, very small. Back in January I started the Ghost Orchid shawl, a pattern by Andrea Jurgrau, which I believe was inspired by the one of the creations of legendary doily master Herbert Neibling. I bound off the last stitch last weekend, blocked the thing with much help from my creative consultant and partner-in-crime, who insisted that we measure precisely and make it perfect because I put so much work into it. I eventually let him take over because I personally think blocking is the worst but he seemed super into it. Win-win!
Additionally, on-and-off-again I am working on this sock yarn leftover blanket, which I plan on giving my youngest sister as a “congrats on your divorce!” gift. She got divorced two years ago, so I’m running slightly behind on this one.
I know I have said over and over again, that I prefer my nails short, long nails are gross, etc, etc. They’re unwieldy, and impractical, and I hate the feeling of the even the slightest dust particle under my nails, so I have always kept them brutally short. I got some fancy nails last year before I visited Salem, but I wasn’t really happy with how they came out (and to be fair I had them done at my regular salon, where the average age of the clients probably range from 65-75, so those ladies were probably not prepared to bring my vision to life.)
I gave it another try earlier this autumn when my sister recommended her new nail lady to me and holy moley! Evee at City Escape Spa is crazy-talented, a consummate professional who is overwhelmingly thorough and knowledgeable, and not only that–she is so much fun to visit and chat with and gives you terrific one-on-one attention while she’s making your nails look magnificent. From the first visit she gave me exactly what I was looking for, and with each subsequent visit she has somehow made my nails look even better than the last time. I believe she really puts in the effort to getting to know her clients and really digs down deep to figure out what they’re into and about, and that helps her hone in and focus and start putting ideas together for you–and they are so spot on!
If you are in the Orlando area and looking to beautify your claws, I cannot recommend Evee at City Escape Spa highly enough. And if this sounds like a review, well, maybe it is. She’s a veteran, minority, female business owner, and I want to see her succeed, so if someone happens to see this and make an appointment because of it, that would be pretty great.
Media/entertainment-wise, I spent most of October working on my 31 Days Of Horror, but I did recently watch a non-horror film (sort of) this past Friday, when I finally got around to watching Paprika, a 2007 anime more or less about technology that can record your dreams, and what happens when someone with less than noble intentions hijacks those capabilities. Visually, I mean, whoa. Hyper gorgeously trippy, delightfully surreal, and story-wise, I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so perfectly capture the utter wacky weirdness of dreams. I have also been watching Better Call Saul, on Netflix, but less because I like the business of lawyers and more because I love watching grizzled old Mike Ehrmantraut.
All throughout October I indulged in various haunted house stories: The Haunting of Hill House and Hell House, which were both re-reads, along with a few others, all of which I go into in our Stacked feature at Haute Macabre. Currently, I am catching up on my non-fiction stack: What The Eyes Don’t See, written by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha about the Flint water crisis; she is the physician who stood up to those in power in order to address a gross environmental injustice and save the city she loved. Dr. Hanna-Attisha writes compellingly, compassionately, and with such an intensity, that you feel like you’re there in the trenches with her, just trying to get somebody, anybody, to pay attention to her urgent findings of the elevated levels of lead in her tiny patients bloodstreams. And any level of lead at all in your blood is bad news!
Alongside What The Eyes Don’t See, I am also reading Floating Gold: A Natural (And Unnatural) History Of Ambergris by Christopher Kemp, and this, too, is a wonderfully gripping, engaging book–but in a very different way. Flint’s children need lead-free water for all kinds of important developmental reasons, etc.; this book is about water and the vital role that it plays in our lives. Floating Gold, however, follows one man’s obsession with ambergris, a substance that is basically impacted dung that is forcefully expelled from a sperm whale and floats in the ocean for a very long time before making landfall. It’s used, or it was used as a fixative in luxurious perfumes, and it’s very expensive–sometimes costing more per ounce than gold. These two books couldn’t be more different, and yet they do have that main/underlying element (pardon the pun) of water in common.
And lastly, here’s some pork shoulder braised in a pumpkin, recipe via Chef John. Ours doesn’t look as good as his did, but it was damn good. No, it was actually divine, even. Sadly, this was the pumpkin we meant to carve on Halloween while we passed out candy to neighborhood kids, but I’d had an awful day and decided Halloween was officially canceled. There was no candy or carving, and this wee orange gourd sat neglected until we hit upon the idea TO EAT HIM. Sorry, little buddy.