Well okay then! I have, as of this past week, just sent off the final batch of chapters for the book I am currently working on (The Art of Fantasy!) That means I am KINDA SORTA DONE! I will probably have to make some edits, and then I will have to write a few intros–which are easier to write after I’ve written the thing being introduced, hee hee!–and then start reaching out to artists for permissions to use their works and then get a lot of rejections and then go back to the drawing board and start researching appropriate imagery all over again…so, yeah. I still have a lot more to do, but the hard part is DONE.
It’s been a bit of a struggle, this latter half of the summer. I did not expect to be writing a book while sick with Covid. Nor did expect that I would ever get Covid. I know, I know–that’s a really naive and privileged thing to say. But being vaxxed and boosted to the max and not ever going anywhere, doing anything, or seeing anybody, I guess I thought I could avoid it forever. Not so. Yvan had to attend a week-long corporate team-building exercise thing, and guess what he brought back? UGH. As I’m sure many of you can attest to, this is pretty miserable stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever been so unwell in my life. I tested positive on the 23rd of August and it was really just this week (the week of September 10th) that I am starting to feel normal again.
…and I just deleted a whole bunch of gripes I have about people’s cavalier attitudes about all of this, because you know what? Typing it out was really getting me wound up and upset and furious and that’s not what I wanted to bring here today. I realize it’s my blog and I can write about whatever I want…but all things considered, I don’t actually want to dwell on that. I have a habit of feeling some kind of way and then just stewing in it, really settling into a swampy morass of fury and resentment. It’s not good for me and it’s just a GROSS feeling, and I am not going to do it. I wanted to write a little blog post about how I had just finished something that I was struggling with, how I was feeling better after some “health challenges,” and now I am feeling pretty good again and want to do all the things!
All of the AT HOME things, that is!
A home in which we have lived for five months now! I get that to some folks, settling into a new place is a really exciting venture, but to someone who craves stability and doesn’t love change, these past five months have been weird and unsettling (ok, maybe a tiny bit exciting too, I am not a total monster.) But coupled with having to head back to the old place every weekend to fix it up for sale–which is a four-hour trip total, but in some instances, we just got a hotel and stayed the whole weekend–and then the frustrations of trying to sell it, well, it’s been a PROCESS. I don’t know if it’s indicative of the market or if our house just wasn’t super appealing, but we put it up for sale in May and we’re finally closing on a sale right now, the second week of September. OOOF. That took a while, but…I think…we are done!
So, this summer I had big plans for ~tending to and treating my inner child~ but I didn’t always have the time and energy to devote to it. I’m putting together a more detailed YouTube video about this, but here are a few things I did in service of little Sarah: we got the Jem and the Holograms rockstar hair we’ve always wanted; we’ve been wearing fantastical clothing all summer long, tops and dresses that make me feel like I’m in some sort of fairy tale or enchanted garden, or napping on top of a treasure chest, helping a dragon guard their loot–this magic sword top above is by Jordan Piandedosi; aaaand I have been doing so much reading! Nearly 30 books in the past three months! I think that definitely gets all the sticker stars on my Book It! pin (IYKYK) and so therefore I most definitely deserved a personal pans pizza. And if you are curious about all of the titles that I read, I hope to be sharing that here on the blog as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s the recipe I used, which I think is extra cool, because the person narrating the voice-over sound pretty young (and bonus-bonus! I think they live in the same town I moved to!) Anyway, if you are interested, it came out PERFECT but be prepared to spend five hours making it and five minutes snarfing it down.
Here is a very crooked photo of what one would see if they were to walk into the front door of our home! Yvan’s mother painted this adorable gnome couple for us as a wedding gift, and we wanted it to greet people as they walked in! The only problem is, no one really ever uses the front door, we all come through the garage, hee hee! At any rate, the underneath of the painting was looking pretty bare and we found this small table at a neighbor’s house. She is getting ready to move and had just sort of…invited the neighborhood to come in and poke around? I felt a little nosy, but I recall more or less doing the same thing when I left NJ. It’s the perfect space to display my sunflower bouquet from the day of the wedding!
Here’s another few pieces that my mother-in-law painted and which are hanging in the kitchen! I hope to have a whole freaking gallery in the next few years. She paints the sort of storybook canvases that I just want to crawl into and wander around in for a while. Maybe dangle my feet in the sea, hang out with the fisherman’s wife who is yelling at her husband to not forget his lunch!
Anyhoodle, it is September 18th and fall is hopefully just around the corner and perhaps next time I check in I will have some more interesting things to share. Or, at least I won’t be so hot and sweaty when I am sharing them!
Just a series of impressions and lists from the last month, which seems like a blurry dream thing that never really happened, and yet here we are…
⌛ I think I finally have my desk the way that I want it. Except for that old fossil of a work phone, which, unfortunately, stays until I am no longer working my day job. Which you know, is what pays the bills, so I kinda need it for now. UGH. I do want to add a little plant propagation station and this adorable mushroom lamp. I am afraid I may be unduly influenced by mushroomparasol’s Instagram account.
⌛Speaking of Instagram, I am finding that place profoundly depressing lately. I hate complaining about likes and views and “engagement” but man oh man. I have almost 12K followers over there. 11.8K, to be exact. I have been hovering at that number for the past year, and I have had that account on Instagram for over a decade now. TikTok, on the other hand, I have about 10K followers there and I only created that account a little over a year ago. So I have gotten nearly the same amount of followers in one tenth of the time? Huh.
And as of the beginning of June, my account seems like a frigging ghost town. And I have to ask myself, is no one seeing what I am sharing, or is it that I am really boring and no one cares? I mean, I get it. You can look at stuff on these platforms but you are under no obligation to like it or comment on it or interact with it at all. So no, just because you’re my friend, or just because you generally enjoy the things I talk about, that doesn’t mean you have to “heart” everything I share. Of course not. BUT man. It’s weird. My earnest posts usually, or at least in the past, get around 100 likes, and my stupid jokes or memes usually get like 500+ (so frustrating when people pay more attention to the thing you only gave half a second’s thought to as opposed to something you spent time on or care about, but whatever.) Anyway. This week? Posts are getting like, 20-40 likes. Even a BOOK post! ALL of my friends love books! I don’t get it! I’ve heard it’s an algorithm thing, and I don’t know exactly how that works, but ugh. This is a bummer. And I am not even trying to make my living off of what I am posting there! I imagine full-time artists and writers and small business owners and people who provide services must really be feeling it. Influencers, too.
But fuck those guys. I don’t give a shit about influencers. So. I don’t know what to do about any of that other than start spending more time elsewhere. So if you are on twitter or TikTok or Facebook (yes, I am still over there) feel free to say hi!
⌛ Two things I have watched lately and really enjoyed: Severence, which apparently is nothing like Succession. But I had lumped them together because they had similar sounding coporate-speak names. And which I had no interest in until I realized that Severence is actually a sci-fi tinged psychological thriller. And it is GOOD. (Still don’t know what Succession is, but I also still have no interest.) Also, Shining Vale, a horror comedy starring Courtney Cox and which was a ridiculous delight. If I am being honest I have never given a thought to Courtney Cox (I’m sorry Courtney Cox) but man she was a hoot in this. Also I don’t even know where Warwick Castle is but because I am me I had to find this shirt that she was wearing in a certain scene from a certain episode.
⌛ We’ve gotten most of the wall art hung up in the house! Here are a few peeks…
⌛At long last, we have a proper guest room! With a proper guest bed! And now that William Morris bedding is finally getting some use! I bought it a few years ago and then we promptly went and got a bigger sized bed. Le whoopsie.
⌛I have been looking for the perfect canisters. A sort of vintage situation, enamel, with rosemaling or some sort of Scandinavian floral motif art on them. I found them on a site called Chairish and I am sure I overpaid for them, but that’s okay because they were –exactly–what I was looking for.
⌛ I have been obsessed with the idea of the grinder salad sandwich that’s all over TikTok but then I saw that someone skipped the sandwich part and just turned it into a salad and we have been eating some version of this every single day for lunch.
⌛ I’ve really been excited about getting titles from NetGalley, where you have the opportunity to obtain advanced copies of books that haven’t been published yet, for review purposes. I’ve gotten some really excellent ones that I was really looking forward to and some really incredible things that I never even would have heard of! Well, at least not until after it had been published, and then people got excited about it, maybe. At any rate, MOTHERTHING hadn’t been on my radar but I got it through NetGalley and now it might be my favorite book of all time.
⌛Yvan and I have been walking in the mornings. This is such a lovely neighborhood to walk in, with lots of trees and birds and bats and even some hills (in FL!!!) and a view of the river. We’ve been waking up around 5:30 and making a circuit of two miles or so. Not a lot, but enough to wake us up and sort of give us a feeling of “well, even if we get nothing else done today, we did THAT.” But on the days we do it, we both remark throughout the day how much energy we have, what a good mood we’re in, etc. I know it doesn’t cure all ills, but man. Walking. I love it.
⌛ We’re still working on getting the old house ready for sale, so we haven’t really spent most weekends in the new space. I can’t wait until that’s off our plate. Maybe this new house will finally start feeling like home, like I really live here, when I plan to go nowhere and do nothing and finally have a proper FUCK OFF WORLD! weekend. Fingers crossed!
Welcome to our new place, our gnome sweet gnome if you will! Here’s a peek into some spaces, some more tidy and interesting than others, as we still have a lot of boxes and moving-related junk cluttering up the place.
We moved about an hour and a half or so north, to be closer to Yvan’s parents, as they’re getting on in years. We’ve been a bit resistant to the idea, locale-wise. We’ve been wanting to move to the Pacific Northwest for quite a while now, but hey, this is just a stop along the way, we’ll get there eventually! In the meanwhile, it’s definitely good to get away from our old place, which was sort of falling apart around us, and our old town, where we’d both, more or less, grown up. Although we didn’t really know each other until we moved away and come back!
Where we are living now is much closer to a bigger city, and has interesting things and groceries and restaurants…for example, there was a Sprouts less than ten minutes away (the closest one before was over an hour’s drive) and a very cool nursery five minutes up the road! We are practically right on the river and this new neighborhood is shaded by lots of enormous old trees, so even though we are still in FL, it definitely feels cooler and breezier, and and just…different.
So, it’s all a work in progress but right now I am making my first loaf of bread in this house and in the three weeks that we have been here I have already read four books, so it’s finally starting to feel like home!
This weekend I married my comrade in adventure, my ally in mischief, and my kindred spirit in silliness. We are each other’s no. 1 biggest fan in all the best ways and none of the Annie Wilkes ways! And though we’ve been together a decade now and really, marriage is not going to change anything all that much…still…everything does feel a little different now, somehow?
We did it up very small. Just a backyard ceremony at his parent’s house with five other individuals in attendance. And a dog and some ducks and a big bumblebee which landed in my bouquet!
I didn’t want anything too overwhelming or to have anyone (including and especially me) to put too much work into any aspect of this, and this extended to what I wore. I think I kept it fairly simple. This pretty olive green linen dress from Of Her Own Kind, a pair of little brown boots that I purchased used, a straw hat with an Anne of Green Gables vibe, some shawls that I knit myself, and a bouquet that I made from some grocery store sunflowers.
And for perfume? I wore Rose 31 from Le Labo, a rose blurred from the edges completely inward by woodsy aromatic mosses and sweetly musky resins. Yvan once told me that he thought it smells like his childhood Mossman Masters of the Universe toy and I smile thinking about those fuzzy green muscles, every time I spray this subtle elegant scent.
It was a beautiful day and I never actually thought I was going to get married (it sounds pitiful, but I had convinced myself that I wasn’t the sort of person that people want to marry) and so…of course, I had to make a How To Wear ensemble for it. And with a few exceptions, this is indeed what I wore.
I envisioned a Ghibli-inspired wedding with flying machines & enigmatic ghosts & adorable monsters & artful nostalgia & enchanted worlds within worlds…but as I mentioned, I don’t want any work or fuss and I didn’t want to spend more than $15 on this stuff so I just wore my cute straw hat and pretended.
I do love a good putter. I might suggest I am in fact the Queen of Puttering. I can draw a chore or a task or an errand out for a good length of time, and I enjoy taking my labors slowly. But there’s something to be said about getting all the stuff that you need to do, even the stuff that you want to do, out of the way early in the day to clear up your schedule so that then you can do absolutely nothing.
I hate the term hack. So let’s call this something else. Call it whatever you like! My trick is this: wake up as early as you can handle on a Sunday morning and get everything done in X amount of time. After that, the day is yours. On days when I’m really out of sorts, but I know having done something will make me feel better, I give myself an hour. On days when I’m more motivated and energetic, I might say, “ok, I’m up, it’s 7am, I will give myself till noon to do all of the things I can fit into that time, and then I am DONE!”
Last Sunday I was up by 6am, I scraped my overnight-risen sourdough into a boule and into the refrigerator for a cold ferment, I soaked some dried black beans, I dumped all of the vegetable scraps into a pot to make broth, I made two Pullman loaves of white bread, I pinned out a shawl, I started the black beans on their all-day cook, I folded laundry, and I made a chopped salad for lunches during the week. I made two casserole dishes of mac and cheese. I tried a new thing, a Japanese paper marbling technique called suminagashi. And at noon I called it quits and then I read and watched movies for the rest of the day.
All of these were things that I actually wanted to do! I just…didn’t want to spend all day doing them (although trust me, I could draw even one of those things all day long) because I also wanted to be cozy and curl up with some stories. This is my compromise.
I’m a bit of a bean snob. I get a little upset when I see people dump a can of plain, unseasoned black beans on top of their nachos to float on top of that beautiful river of molten queso like a bunch of little mouse turds. COME ON! Cook them properly! This is my tried and true recipe, although you can really adapt it and make it your own. It makes for the most delicious and flavorful pot of beans and you if you try it, we can possibly be incensed together when the mouse turds inevitably show up in someone’s vegan nacho Instagram reels.
The chopped salad is a thing I’ve been seeing all over TikTok, it’s basically some veggies in a vegan green goddess type dressing, chopped up all tiny and you scoop it up with tortilla chips. Here’s an interesting variation that includes tahini and feta, which looks good! Anyway if you don’t want to click any of those links, do this: chop up a head of cabbage, a couple of cucumbers and some scallions. Blend up a shallot, a cup of spinach, a cup of basil leaves (I would use more spinach and less basil next time), the juice of two lemons, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/3 cup nutritional yeast, and 1/4 walnuts. I also added a fresh jalapeno! It really made for a lovely lunch throughout the week.
I’m trying to eat less by the clock, and more just when I feel hungry, and less “proper meals” unless I really just feel like it. Sometimes at lunch or breakfast I really just want a snack, not a whole big thing. So I’m trying to pay attention to that! And then sometimes I actually do want a whole big thing, so I am trying to plan for that ahead of time and have things like macaroni and cheese already on hand.
Doing new things is hard! Especially if you see your less-than-perfect first attempt and you tend to beat yourself up about what a moron you are, a dumb-dumb who can’t ever do anything right. So sometimes it’s just easier to not try at all. At least you didn’t fail, right?
Yeah… me too. It sucks!
I have been interested in the art of suminagashi for some time now (here’s a nice video if you want to see how it is done.) One of my sisters got me a little starter kit for Christmas or my birthday sometime in the past year or two, and I stashed it away immediately and have been afraid to even look at it ever since.
I finally gave it a try. I would say “I’m not sure what prompted me,” but I am pretty sure it was Yvan, and I tell you what–it is really good to have an objective party with no attachments to the outcome egging you on and keeping you accountable. Even if it is just to say “are you really gonna let that nice gift your sister got you collect dust in the corner?!”
It was fun. It was fun! I HAD FUN. I can’t even believe it. Dripping that ink in the water, watching the concentric circles grow, and slowly swirling it to watch the patterns change and evolve was meditative and lovely. If you are a scaredy-cat like me who wants to be creative but doesn’t know how and you want to do an art but you don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend giving this suminagashi kit a try.
So…why was I trying to get all this stuff done and clear up my afternoon? Because I have been dying to watch Woodland Darks and Days Bewitched and I knew it was a three hours long documentary! And I also know it takes me twice as long to watch a thing as the thing actually runs…so I really needed to clear some time on my calendar, ha.
If you are a folk horror enthusiast, this is an outstanding resource. It is so well-researched, so beautifully crafted, so very worth every second of that three hours you spend with it. And there are so many films mentioned that I had never even heard of, my goodness! Luckily, some thorough soul has put together a list of every movie referenced in Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched, so now we can work our way through all of them.
In the meantime, unrelated to anything, and I know you didn’t ask, but let me leave you with the best piece of advice I have ever come up with:
“It may well be one of those days when the devil’s gonna try and show you his butthole every chance he gets, but friends the secret is …you don’t have to look”
I’m trying to limit my screen time. Trying to step back for a while. I’m a little burnt out, a little tired, a little sad. None of that properly encapsulates my feelings or reasoning, but I guess I’m feeling like I need to simply exist for a while. And if no one sees me doing, reading, cooking, making–well, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. So much of what I do nowadays, my brain is converting it into blog fodder or some kind of “content” as I’m doing it. And I’m trying to turn that off for a couple of weeks. I suppose I just…I need to sit with myself and see who I am while I’m not expecting people to watch.
Typing that out sounds so ridiculous, I know. I am not an “influencer”, no one is “tuning in” to see what I’m up to. And yet…sometimes I find myself moving through my day like that’s exactly what is happening.
Here’s a pile of shawls that I knit! I said to myself, Sarah, I think you’re just hanging on to these shawls because you want to pile them all up and drape them all over each other and see what all that work looks like together, and enjoy the fact that you made these things.
So that is what I did.
The compulsion to draw inward. The urge to dream. The need for silence and slowness and …the relentless fear of those things, too. I go-go-go. But I’m going to stop for a while. And the world will keep spinning and a lot of stuff will pass me by and I am going to worry that it’s stuff that really matters, but it’s probably not.
I think maybe the things that matter are the things that I will find when I sit with myself, away from all the chatter and nonsense for a while. Maybe I’ll crawl deep into the darkness of me and find thoughts and things that were always lurking there, but that I never saw or heard because I was too busy listening to everything else in the world. Maybe I’ll bring a little light. Maybe I’ll find a little light! Who knows what’s down there?
I will probably still be posting over on the blog for the next month or so because I like writing little reviews and sharing my cooking triumphs, and so on! But I am specifically trying to keep off of Instagram. I start scrolling over there and I see people being creative and productive and doing all of the things, and it pulls me out of this “rest and be still for a while” mode because I start feeling a lazy, useless, lump. I’m really trying to sit with these feelings. Like what is my life all about if I’m not doing things while people are watching me do things?
I was sharing this with a friend last night, how there’s probably something a lot deeper here that I need to suss out and sit with. I have some ideas about what that might be, but I really need to take a deep dive. And I really don’t know what that means exactly, but I think cutting out extraneous distractions is a big part of it.
I feel like people talk a lot about shadow work but no one ever gets into what that really looks like or just how you go about doing it. Just tell me how to do it, already! I feel like I’ve read two or three or 4 or 10 books and I still don’t know! But I guess this is intensely private work and it looks different for everyone. I don’t know!
Anyway! Don’t look for me on Instagram for at least a month or so–and if you see me over there, feel free to slap my wrist*. But gently, I am a sensitive soul and you might hurt my feelings! For those of you who peek at me here (see! there I go again! just who is even peeking at me, right?) feel free to stop by, I’ll still be here.
* I am going to be putting together some Stacked book reviews soon and I am making an exception to share those on social media, because that’s part of my little process! But other than that you can metaphorically slap my wrist if I slip up.
Sometimes I want to pour my heart out and overshare and talk about every thought that stumbles through my mind over in this little space…and sometimes I just want to present a photo of a thing that I baked or a book that I am reading. This little life update might be more of the latter scenario.
I don’t want to be one of those people who with every breath brings up the book that they’re currently writing (I’m sorry! I get really annoyed about this! But more specifically it’s directed at writer-twitter, where someone is always tweeting about how they should be writing but they’re not. OK? So? You wasted your time typing that out? Sometimes I think I hate writer-twitter. Or course if you made me laugh because you’re a funny writer who is not writing, that’s different. But being boring and wasting my time is unforgivable.) ANYWAY. That was quite an aside. So. I don’t want to be that person, but I am in the midst of trying to finish up the bulk of the text for book number two, tentatively titled The Art of Darkness, so I am just basically spent and drained I don’t have the energy or the words to blamble blargle about blumbs over here on the blorg.
So here’s some pictures of some things and as few words as possible!
I’ve lately been obsessed with making various spreadables for all of the sourdoughs that I have been baking. Pictured above is the vegan cheese spread recipe from Rainbow Plant Life. Made from cashews and fermented for a few days for extra tang, it’s pretty tasty, though I don’t think it tastes anything like cheese. Actually, it tastes primarily of nutritional yeast because I think I went overboard and added too much. Luckily, we like nutritional yeast, so it all works out.
This next one is a recipe all of my own, inspired by the few stubby, impossibly purple eggplants we grew this year. There is no photo because it’s pretty ghastly looking, but trust me–it’s delicious. I don’t have ingredient amounts, but just treat it like it’s a pesto/baba ganoush hybrid and eyeball accordingly. Roast eggplants and tomatoes until they are charred and molten. Fry walnuts til rich and earthen and toasty fragrant. Blitz wildly with a fat clove of garlic, a green fistful of fresh basil, a sour squeeze of lemon, and salt & pepper to taste. Serve room temperature on every damn thing.
This just in: I have two new favorite tee shirts. The first is a Dolly tee which I found through Fine Southern Gentleman (h/t to Angeliska for secretly recommending them to me! They didn’t exactly tell me about them directly, but I saw their post on Instagram with a new shirt and I could tell it was a subliminal message meant just for me!)
The second is a My Neighbor Tortoro tee that I found on eBay. I think it was at one time originally from Hot Topic, so who knows, there may be some more floating around out there on resale sites.
An offering; a heart’s gift (& a bribe) from the dreamer to the do-er. The Face of the Oracle necklace from Atelier Narce via Shop Esqueleto. A treat to myself for completing the bulk of book number two. Or…at least it was meant to be. I thought it would take several weeks to reach me, and by the time it arrived, I will have finished my work and properly earned it. But it showed up a few weeks early. And I am not done.
So…that means that I need another treat, when I actually finish, right? I mentioned this to one of my sisters, and she agrees that this is sound logic.
Current artistic obsession: The disquieting goodnight gazes from these pallid little girls and their uncanny dolls, painted by avant-garde art dandy, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita.
Currently watching: all of the Halloween movies before Halloween Kills is released. I didn’t realize I’d ever seen Halloween 3 before; I think I read the book adaptation when I was a kid, and in my memory that somehow became the same thing. I just looked up the book on amazon and holy moly…folks seem to want an awful lot of money for that little paperback. I wish I still had my copy! I also watched The Abyss this weekend and while I kind of wish they’d amped up the horror elements more (without losing any of the more fantastical bits, somehow?) but overall I really enjoyed it and it made me realize that I really go for tense, claustrophobic movies with a sort of eerie pressurized WOMP WOMP WOMP atmospheric droning score: industrial creaks and groans, the monstrous pressure and eerie whistle of wind through airducts. Strange, hollow sounds reverberating and echoing, a deep bass and unnerving thrum of scenes happening in space, or underwater, Aliens, Event Horizon, Pandorum type movies. Anything else along these lines that I should be watching?
Current miscellaneous things: If you missed it, I was on the inaugural episode of the Fear Is The Mindkiller podcast. Bryan and I talked about favorite books and nightmares and the strange fears that we have and it was such a great conversation. This is my fourth podcast this year and I will say that I was definitely less of a nervous wreck for this one! Speaking of fears, I was quoted a bit over in an article over at Bored Panda this week on the topics of what makes for a good creepy story and why it is that people like to be scared. You have to scroll down to about halfway through the piece to find me, but I am there!
And…I guess that is more or less it for now? I will leave you with this image of me trying on some mid-life crisis hair, via a filter. I think I’m gonna go for it in the next few months or so!
Ugh. It’s getting to be that time of year where my motivation runs low and my well of inspiration runs dry, and I just…don’t wanna. Whatever it is, I refuse to do it. I stepped outside today after what has until now been a very mild and strangely windy summer, and in the still, humid morning my glasses fogged unpleasantly, my hair frizzed frizzily, and I was immediately soggy with sweat all the way to my bones. Nope, I thought. NOPE.
I had a birthday less than a month ago. Apparently, I am now 45 years old. I’ve begun, sometime in the past year or so, to think of myself as old. I hate that. I don’t feel old. But I do feel like if I don’t keep that feeling in check, I am going to do something or say something deeply uncool and get outed as an Old who is trying to be Hip and Young. How embarrassing. It stinks that I even care enough about such things to think that way. But better to just avoid embarrassment and lean into my elderly decline. Grumble about how I don’t understand what young people are into these days. Pontificate about how stuff from way back when (the 90s) was better. Bend your ear about my GERD and achy hip. Push my glasses up on my head so that I can read the fine print, but refuse to get transition lenses or bifocals or whatever. The chin-hair I’ve been cultivating since I was 25 has been longing for this day. Welcome to your future, little guy. It’s old and creaky here.
This is Mallory. She, like me, is also old. I recently spent a week cat-sitting for her while my sister was out of town (yay for finally getting to pack a bag and go somewhere!) and waking up at 4am every morning to begin the cycle of feeding her every five hours was the closest to a vacation I’ve gotten in a year and a half. This particular sister has a swimming pool though, so it was pretty much exactly the opposite of a hardship. Wake up early, exercise on the sort of very nice equipment I don’t have at home, work my job during the day, drink a glass or two of wine in the evening while splashing my toes in the pool and read, knit, watch movies, and eat junk food, and do it all again the next day and the next. It was pretty glorious if I am being honest. I mean… of course, I can do most of these things at home, but at home, I’m constantly distracted by chores and cooking and various projects, and I run out of time for the leisure activity stuff. Absent all of those particular facets of home-life…you find yourself with a whole lot more time on your hands. I finished a sock, read a whole book, watched three movies, and a whole television series.
If you’re curious, I read The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, a novella that is both a tribute to and criticism of H.P. Lovecraft, and which is brimming with racism, brutality, and cosmic terror. I watched Saint Maud, which has been on my list for a while, and despite having read reviews and listened to podcasts about it, that ending was still… while not exactly shocking, it was breathtakingly gruesome; I also finally watched Parasite, and I guess I enjoyed it, but I think I had heard too much about it and maybe it wasn’t as twisty or surprising as I had hoped. And then of course the Sailor Moon movie on Netflix. It was fine. I guess I am an old lady who is becoming very hard to impress.
One of the things I love to do when I am visiting this sister’s house is to take a bunch of photos of all of her shelves and corners and art and tchotchkes and trinkets. Though our interests and tastes do overlap somewhat, her home is definitely more vibrant and kaleidoscopic than mine and a million times more organized. It’s always such a treat to peep at her treasures, so I thought I might share a few favorite peeks.
And of course, while I was there, I had to keep up with my daily Midnight Stinks report. I took the opportunity to weigh in on a few of her perfumes, which I found in various places all over the house. Some of them were lovely, and some of them not so much! A mutual friend of ours commented that she didn’t think she’d be too happy with her sister rummaging through her things and talking about all of the things she hated about them, but I am pretty sure my sister is not going to take it personally. And neither, I hope, would you! If I don’t like something you like, well, mine is just one dumb opinion out of millions and you are in no way obligated to take my baloney seriously. My sister(s) certainly don’t!
My favorite room, of course, being The Fairy Wonderland room! Which in the past year and a half has gotten a bit of an overhaul, if I am not mistaken. It’s less a trip to the fairy realms and more a visit to a witch’s cottage. I didn’t think it was possible to love this magical little haven more than I already did, but gosh.
I wasn’t alone with my thoughts and my sister’s stuff the whole time, though. Yvan spent the weekend with me at either end of the week, and for the first time since January of 2020, we went out to bars and restaurants and dined indoors, and MAN IT WAS WEIRD. I think what was weirdest was even though I thought “oh, this is gonna be so freaky and I’m going to be really uncomfortable,” instead it immediately felt so normal, “just like old times” and it was the immediacy of that normalcy that was the scary part. We’ve been fully vaccinated since mid-May, and this was our first jaunt out among people, and I think we’re still analyzing our feelings about it.
Still…it was nice to accessorize with my Gudetama barrettes and my big earrings and play Magic at a brewery for the first time in a loooong time. It’s actually been a long time since I’ve played at all, and I’m finding myself getting kind of excited about it again! I’m not great at strategy (that’s an understatement, I am really terrible) but learning to play Magic was how I got to know Yvan, that’s how we spent a lot of our time on our first dates, and so it’s something that will always feel really special to me. Nerdy romance! Are you a MtG enthusiast? I’m a green/black player, what about you?
I’ve since arrived home and am settling back into my routines which sadly involve neither swimming pools nor cats, but there is one last thing I’d like to share. One of the dishes I make for myself when I’m on my own is this Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, and while it looks like a bowl of slop when it all comes together, well…it’s classy slop.
It’s practically perfect as written, but I do think it could benefit with either a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or a bit of lemon zest, and I suppose if you wanted some extra protein you could serve it with some kind of beans or grilled chicken, but it’s really just fine on its own. What are your favorite dine-alone dishes or meals-for-one? Do you attempt to class things up a bit, or do you make the rapid descent into a garbage trough when no one’s watching? Full disclosure, I only had this pasta one of the nights I was away. The other five nights it was Cheetos and Funyuns. Because I am a trashbag old lady.
The end of the month! Day 28 of blogging every day for the month of February! I’m going to pretend this statue in the photo immediately above is exuberantly rejoicing in my success, but in reality, she doesn’t care. The Lady of The Perpetual Bauble has no time for my literary pursuits, “give me more jewels, dammit!” she snarls, peevishly. Wow, ok lady. I guess I’ll just celebrate alone. Carry on.
As I am pretty sure that I mentioned earlier this month, I was inspired by a fellow blogger, Katie of Wyrd Words & Effigies, to attempt writing a blog post every day for a month. I figured I’d go with February because there’s no time like the present of course, and also it’s the shortest month, so less work, right? Which, while technically true, I’m not sure those two days make much of a difference overall.
As I’ve shared before, I have a full-time job that actually has nothing to do with writing, so it’s not as if I can spend my 9-5 hours writing a blog post. How I’ve managed to do it is by: keeping an ongoing list of ideas, starting a new draft every time I came up with at least one or two sentences for those ideas, and just chipping away at them when I wake up, over coffee, while I’m having my lunch, or after-hours. Somehow I’ve made it work, and I have even managed to schedule some blog posts several days in advance!
What I’ve learned from this is that I should act on more ideas as they occur to me, instead of sitting on them or saving them for a rainy day. And while I definitely will not be doing 30 days straight of blogging again any time soon, I have discovered that I could definitely be writing more frequently than I typically do.
I tend to set a lot of “challenge”-type goals, and I think that’s because it seems like a good way to structure some ongoing and future creative projects for myself. To get myself thinking and working in ways I typically might not think or work. For the sake of some –admittedly arbitrary– goals, with these challenges I am motivated to learn new things and work with new concepts and materials, but because I’ve set some guidelines (blog every day for a month, make a new cake every month, do a YouTube video every month, do a perfume review every day on TikTok, etc.,) I won’t get overwhelmed with possibilities and just either go totally off the rails or decide to not even try at all.
In addition to those cake goals and blog post challenges, I’m also making one soup every month from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. Almost every recipe in this book has been delicious, with the exception of the orzo and pea soup. I probably should have realized this when just looking at those words on the page in front of me made me want to gag. However! Last night’s Ravioli Potage was another absolute winner. The only changes I made were to add some spicy Italian sausage and I swapped out the chervil for tarragon because who even keeps chervil on hand?? Let me know if I am wrong about that, but I don’t think so.
In other food-related reportings, I implore you to stop everything you are doing and make Rabbit & Wolves’ creamy miso pasta with caramelized mushrooms. This may well be the best pasta I’ve ever had, vegan or otherwise. And you people know I like my melty cheese-covered pasta tubules, so that’s saying quite a bit!
If making this recipe, I would suggest preparing twice the amount of sauce you need, and parcel it out to use in the next day or two. At which point, heat it up on the stove, loosen it up with a bit of broth, add a goodly amount of nutritional yeast and some diced, pickled jalapenos– and then you will have the best vegan nacho cheese sauce of your life.
Here is the second finished object of the year: the hellebore-inspired Winter Rose socks. This beautiful pattern is by Helen Stewart and the wildly vibrant fuschia/magenta yarn is from the inimitable Astral Bath Yarns.
Currently working on: the Wild Oak Socks by Virginia Sattler-Reimer in even more gorgeous Astral Bath yarns, although I don’t think I successfully captured the lovely colors or the wonderful pattern in the photo above. I also broke a needle while I was trying to take that photo, ugh!
I continue to keep up with that wily sourdough starter and am making this sourdough loaf recipe just about every week now. We really love the version where a few capfuls of everything bagel seasoning is substituted for the salt, so that’s what I am sticking with for now.
I hit upon the genius idea to make several batches of naan to freeze for future-us on an evening where a nice curry might call for naan we don’t have on hand or have time to make, but, surprise, we do! Because past-us made a bunch and froze it! I may have shared this recipe before, but I use this one, which calls for sourdough discard and yogurt.
I’ll mention a few changes I made to the naan recipe, for those interested: because I use fat-free skyr instead of yogurt, and I never have milk on hand (as called for in the recipe) I just use water for the milk, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil to make up for the missing fat in the milk and skyr. I also let the dough sit in the fridge overnight. Sometimes it is just easier on your schedule to make the dough the night before and then cook it the next evening…and it’s fine. Didn’t affect the end result at all.
Some new books! Yes, yes, I am still reading all the old ones, but don’t you dare judge me! I know you’re probably doing exactly the same thing, so I do not want to hear it. Included in this mini-haul are:
Bonus: the BEST new snack to pair with any, all, and every book. Takoyaki Balls! I ate a whole bag at once, immediately felt sick, and yet still wanted more. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.
So…that’s my February. Between blogging and TikToking, having my poem published, doing my first podcast, and some plotting & planning with my publisher for the possibility of something new (!!)–it’s been a busy, and, I might even say, a pretty crazed month. I’m worn out! So if my little space here gets a little quiet over the next week, I think you can guess as to why. I’ll just be taking a moment to breathe. Probably while inhaling some more Takoyaki Balls. They’re so good!
How was your February? What did you get into/up to/around to?