Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spent Part of the Day at RavenCon

Some people love spring because it's a sign of rebirth, and everything turns green and fresh again. Me...I realize it's the beginning of the con season! :) This weekend's con was RavenCon.

RavenCon is a 3-day event that covers everything you love about science fiction, fantasy, and horror.I spent part of the day up there yesterday at the Rebel Legion table. It was a good day, with some fun pictures to be a part of at the RL backdrop of the Tantive IV. But this time, I only took a few pictures myself of the other displays and cosplayers.

There was some group selling birds (dodos?) dressed as various Batman family characters. One of the girls there was giving out ribbons to various cosplayers that said, "Dodo Approved Costume." I ended up getting one but I'm not sure what it meant. She said something about supporting women in cosplay.

After arriving, this dalek was actually controlled from the inside by an adult woman.

Female Klingon.

Steampunk R2-D2: I really wanted to jump in front and have someone take my picture with it, a la Princess Leia, but it was super crowded over here. Maybe they'll be at Tidewater ComicCon and I can do it then.

This TARDIS belonged with the steampunk group. I was going to ask if I could get my picture taken, coming out of it, but there was actually a baby napping inside. I should have yelled, "The Doctor has regenerated again, and this time, he's even younger!"
I also met the guy behind "The Adventures of Baby Skeletor": I am eeevil! Newly reborn and stuck in baby form! But that won't stop me from exerting my treachery everywhere I go until I rule all! This is funny as shit! And BTW, I want that damn Baby Skeletor toy for myself now and they are impossible to find!

I also met Michael A. Ventrella, author of Bloodsucker: A Vampire Runs for President. This sounded like a fun book so I had to pick up a copy of it. Michael even autographed it for me. :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Galacticon in Virginia Beach

Galacticon is a science fiction and fantasy convention held in Virginia Beach at the Virginia Beach Central Library, also known as the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library. It was held today and the Rebel Legion had a table there. Since everyone else was busy that day, I was the person who staffed the first (Han) Solo event...see whut I did there? :)

It was a very small area for the vendors, but there seemed to be good foot traffic in here.

Star Lord was there with Rocket. He actually showed up with Captain America (I'd actually first seen him at Tidewater Comicon last year) and Spider-Man.

There were two Star Trek fan groups there: one that seemed more original series-based, and one that was more Klingon-based. (I got a photo with the two Klingons there but it's a printed photo and I need to scan it.)
I liked this: "Deactivated Borg tribble sentry drone."

I brought my laptop to bring up some Star Wars videos on  You Tube, but the table to the left was the Star Trek table, and they were showing DVD's, so it would have been a little too noisy.
It's a super goofy picture of me, but it was crowded and quick, but I had to get a picture with Spidey. :)
And damn it. I really need to work on adjusting that belt and my left tabbard!

This has some potential to turn into something kind of fun, over time and with some serious work. It's a free event to attend, but there wasn't enough marketing put out about it: no Facebook, nothing on the library's online calendar. The only reason I knew about it was because the Rebel Legion had it posted on it's own calendar for our area.

The next con will be RavenCon in Williamsburg next week.

Friday, April 22, 2016

RIP, Prince

I originally wrote this post in February 2011. With the passing of Prince, I felt compelled to repost this.

RIP, you glorious purple wonder.

When I was in college in 1996, the first car I ever bought was a 1988 red Plymouth Horizon. This began my love affair with hatchbacks. I loved that car until I killed it in 2001.

A few days ago when I was on that mad tear looking for my diploma, I came across something I had written several years ago. There had been a NASCAR commercial with Richard Petty, where he was talking about Mustangs and how no one ever writes about their hatchback. Challenge accepted!

Okay, so it's not completely original, since it's meant to be sung to the tune of "Little Red Corvette" by Prince, but I'm not a song writer. And just so you know, my car wasn't the POS that I made it sound like below. And the car lot was not nearly as shady. My mom has bought other cars from them since.

I guess I should have known by the way
They parked your body sideways
That it wouldn't last.
See you're in the kinda lot
That believes in pullin' 'em in once.
Show 'em and screw 'em fast.
I guess I must be dumb,
'Cuz U had an engine full of problems,
Leaks, bad belts and some of them used.
But you were sitting on sale,
And your paint wasn't too pale,
And U say what have I got to lose?
And honey I say

Little red hatchback,
Baby you're not too fast.
Little red hatchback,
U need some tires that are gonna last.

I guess I should have closed my purse
When he took us to the place
Where my money ran free.
And I felt a little ill
When I saw all the work
Of the mechanics that were there before me.
Believe it or not,
I started to worry.
I wondered if I had enough cash.
But it was Saturday noon,
A guess that made you past ruin.
And U say, Baby have we got enough gas?
Oh yeah.

Little red hatchback,
Baby you're much too slow, yes U r.
Little red hatchback,
I need to find a battery that's gonna last, oh-oh.

A body like your's (A body like your's)
Ought to be in the shop (Ought to be in the shop)
'Cuz it's on the verge of bein' obscene ('Cuz it's on the verge of bein' obscene)
Move over salesman, gimme the key. (Move over salesman, gimme the key.)
This thing is buzzin' like a little sick bumblebee. (This thing is buzzin' like a little sick bumblebee.)

Little red hatchback,
Baby you're not too fast.
Little red hatchback,
I need to find a battery that's gonna last.
Little red hatchback,
Honey, U can't slow down. (Can't slow down.)

Little red hatchback,
'Cuz if you don't, u gonna run, little red hatchback, right in the ground. (little red hatchback)

Right down 2 the ground (Honey U can't slow down)
U -- U -- U can't slow down (little red hatchback)
You're not movin' 2 fast (2 fast)
I need to find a battery that's gonna last.

Car, U got a bugscreen like I never seen,
And the ride...I say, the ride ain't so smooth,
And the paint, it ain't too clean.
Baby, you're not 2 fast.
Little red hatchback,
I need a battery, U need a battery that's
That's gonna last, oh
(Little red hatchback)
U can't slow down (U can't slow down)
Little red hatchback
'Cuz if U do, 'cuz if U do,
U gonna run your body right into the ground (right into the ground)
Right into the ground (right into the ground)
Right into the ground (right into the ground)
Little red hatchback, baby, oh.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rice Cooker Mixed Jambalaya/22 Recipes Down

Tonight's recipe, Rice Cooker Mixed Jambalaya, comes from Just a Bunch Of Recipes, and it's the product of having a well stocked kitchen. While it's not a true Jambalaya in the browning and sauteeing sense, it is an incredible dish.

"Jambalaya is a Louisiana Creole dish of Spanish and French (especially Provençal) influence. It consists of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked sausage such as Andouille, along with some other meat or seafood, frequently pork, chicken, crayfish, or shrimp. The vegetables are usually a sofrito-like mixture known as the "holy trinity" in Creole and Cajun cooking, consisting of onion, celery, and green bell pepper, though other vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, chilis, and garlic are also used. After browning and sauteeing the meat and vegetables, rice, seasonings, and broth are added and the entire dish is cooked together until the rice is done.

"Jambalaya is similar to (but distinct from) other rice-and-meat dishes known in Louisiana cuisine. Gumbo uses similar sausages, meats, seafood, vegetables and seasonings, however gumbo includes filé powder and okra, which are not common in jambalaya. Gumbo is also usually served over white rice, which is prepared separate from the rest of the dish, unlike jambalaya, where the rice is prepared with the other ingredients. Étouffée is a stew which always includes shellfish such as shrimp or crayfish, but does not have the sausage common to jambalaya and gumbo. Also, like gumbo, étouffée is usually served over separately prepared rice."

This recipe called for chicken, shrimp and spicy smoked sausage, along with chicken broth. As it turns out, I had leftover turkey and turkey stock in my freezer, so I used that instead of chicken. I already had a bag of peeled and deveined shrimp in the freezer too, per written instructions by Sam himself. And the sausage? I had half a package of leftover alligator/pork sausage from supper two nights before. It all came together like the perfect culinary storm. :)

What did I learn from this recipe?
I learned that I didn't need a rice cooker for this recipe. I had one a long time ago, a gift from Michelle the Cooker, but I actually wore it out. Instead, I used my Crock Pot. It's one of those "newer" slow cookers that cooks incredibly hot, even on low, so I set it to warm in the morning when I went to work. When I got home eight hours later, the rice (which I had added in the morning) still wasn't cooked yet, even though the shrimp was done. I turned the slow cooker to low and we went to the gym. When we got home and hour later, the rice was perfect.

The entire dish turned out so well. And like good pasta or chili, the flavors are going to be even better as leftovers! This is definitely something to make again, because with just little tweaks to the meats, it can really become different versions of the same dish.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Finally Wising Up About My Jedi Costume

A while back, I went to ROFCON and actually was a part of the Rebel Legion costuming panel. We had a Rebel Fleet Trooper, a young Obi-Wan Kenobi with a professionally made costume, and me as the generic Jedi with a costume I made. And yeah, I’m just getting around to posting about it now. J

Me and the Rebel Fleet Trooper were fully dressed in our costumes. Jon (Obi-Wan) was partially dressed, on purpose, so I got to see his shirt. I also got to see the waistband of his pants. He was wearing pants with a button and a zipper, and they were full length. My have always been long, slightly baggy, capris (tucked into my boots), with elastic waistbands. I’ve actually made three pairs of Jedi pants and I’ve never been quite happy with how they turn out in the waist height. The reason they have been capris is because that was the pattern I originally found to be the correct one.

With the Jedi tunics, they are long enough that they hang down over the top of the pants, pretty much to mid-thigh length. You can’t see the waistbands. Jon pointed out that fact but did say you might want to still stay away from pleated pants.

Anyhoo, Jon had his pants specifically made for him, and during that panel, a light bulb went off above my head.

I don’t need to make my own pants, because like I just said, I’ve never really been personally happy with them, but they are functional and correct. So after the con was over and my costume was washed and hung back in my closet, my happy ass when trotting on down to the thrift store and went straight to the women’s khaki pants section.

I found two pairs of really comfy, and suitable, pairs of pants for my costume now. They are the correct color and fabric choice for my character’s costume, and I spend $10 plus tax on them. I would have easily spent that much, or more, making two pairs of pants myself. And the best thing is…I HAVE EXTRA POCKETS!

This is a big comfort thing for me…enough pockets! Last year after ROFCON, I went so far as to rip open the side seams of my first two pairs of pants to add in wonky pockets. Because again, because of the way the tunics are designed, I can be a little “hippy” (not “hippie”) as a woman with pockets and it doesn’t disturb the lines of the costume. And let’s be honest, the pouches on the Jedi belts just aren’t enough. Hell, I even re-sewed my original Jedi collar/dickey with some reinforced hems to create a pocket up there to hold my glasses when we take pictures.

Anyway, I just wanted to get it out there, to any current or future Jedi’s that your local thrift store can be a viable place to get your pants.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Super Easy Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

I cheated a little bit with supper tonight but I swear, I didn't mean to do it.

If you've been reading along with the nonsense I spew here, then you've seen how I intended to cook new recipes only from my two Sam The Cooking Guy cookbooks. I slipped tonight. I was lurking on Imgur and came across this recipe: Super Easy Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef. The wild thing is that I actually was thawing out a package of stew meat in my refrigerator this morning but I didn't know what I was going to make with it.

Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
 2-½ lb. flank steak
  • ¼ Cup cornstarch (I used regular flour instead.)
  • 2 tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 tbs. garlic, minced 
  • 1 tbs. ginger, grated 
  • ¼ tsp. chili flake (I used chili powder.)
  • ¾ Cup soy sauce (Thought I had some, but had to substitute Hosin sauce...LOVED IT! This has such a great deep, warm smell to it.)
  • ¾ Cup water 
  • ¾ Cup brown sugar, packed 
  • 1 Cup carrot, grated (I got a dish of these at the local grocery store because they have grated carrots on the salad bar.)
  • green onions for garnish (Nope, don't like these.)
Instructions: Cut flank steak into thin strips, cutting across the grain. Put steak into a ziploc bag with the cornstarch and shake to coat. Add the olive oil, garlic, ginger, chili flake, soy sauce, water, and brown sugar to the slow cooker. Stir to combine, add the flank steak. Stir again until completely coated with sauce. Cover with lid and cook on high for 2-3 hours, on low 4-5 hours, or until meat is cooked through and tender. About 30 minutes before done stir in the grated carrots. Can serve over rice, garnished with sesame seeds (I meant to add the sesame seeds at the end before serving, but I forgot.) and green onions.

I read the comments on the Imgur post and realized a lot of people were irritated with olive oil and brown sugar in a Chinese dish. However, since I've never cooked Chinese from scratch, I don't have an opinion myself. All I know is that this was really good and I enjoyed it quite a bit. In fact, I have enough for leftovers for lunch now.

My Car is HOME!

The collision center called me first thing this morning and said my car is done and could be picked up!

I do have to take him back in 60 days to get the clear coat and under carriage protection reapplied to it, and I can't wash or wax him for 60 days right now. I'm sure that will be extended a bit once the other stuff gets redone, but that's okay.

It was a good drive home tonight. I was able to drop off the piece of shit Elantra I was renting and drive home in a comfy, clean car that doesn't feel like it could fall apart if I sneezed too hard while driving it.

Plus, car rental companies need to realize those "no smoking" stickers they put on the dashboards don't do a damn thing. For the first week or so, I felt like I was driving around in an ashtray. The rental needed a couple of interior spray downs of citus-scented disinfectant.

This last (almost) month, I've been kind of an anxiety-based driver while on the secondary roads. If someone else was driving, I've been fine. But put me in a car and let me see someone coming up behind me, then I just tense up real bad and it's like seeing the car coming for me all over again. After a couple of self-perceived close calls (that probably really weren't), I actually realized I was moaning with fear while I was driving and I absolutely hate that.

I don't want the anxiety to try and take over my life again. I went through that shit when Mom passed away and it took me MONTHS to get it back under control. I don't want it to become that monkey on my back again, because that's what it seemed like to me...a negative, nagging little bastard of a nuisance you can't get rid of.

I did learn something new about my car though today, from the guy I picked it up from. He said my car has something he's never seen before and it may have well saved my life. This is the truly weird thing to me. I didn't realize the damage was THAT bad, that we're talking about life endangerment.

He showed me a picture he had taken of the spare tire compartment, after it had been removed from my car. It was laying upside down, and it actually has extra frame rails on the underside. He said those rails are just as strong and heavy as the other rails, and their placement there kept my car from crumpling on the rear impact.  He said he's never seen them on any other kind of car, and his opinion is that EVERY car should have them.

Thank you, Honda, for making such a great car!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Poutine/21 Recipes Down

Tonight's supper was Poutine, from Awesome Recipes & Kitchen Shortcuts. I hadn't heard of Poutine before, but Sam described it as, "If there was ever a food to be considered 'Canadian,' this would likely be it."

But that wasn't enough of an explanation for me, so I looked it up on Yahoo. What did we ever do before the Internet? Damn, we had to dig out the encyclopedias to look things up or call the reference desk at the local library.

"Poutine (pronounced poo-teen) is a dish consisting of French fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy. It is native to Canada and little known in the rest of the world, though some restaurants in other countries have poutine on the menu. Poutine is similar to American cheese fries or “disco fries.”

"Poutine originated in Quebec, Canada in the late 1950s, and is now popular in all of Eastern Canada. Several communities within the province claim to have created poutine, such as Drummondville and Victoriaville. The most popular story is that poutine was created at a small eastern Quebec restaurant owned by Fernand Lachance. Lachance had a specialty takeout item on the menu consisting of French fries and cheese curds mixed together in a plastic bag. In 1957, a truck driver ordered the bag of fries with a side dish of gravy, dumped the gravy into the bag, and ate them together.

"The origin of the word poutine is a source of some debate. Some believe it to be an adaptation of the English word pudding, as it occurs in Oscar Dunn’s Canadian French dictionary from the end of the 19th century with this definition. Some Quebec natives believe poutine evolved from the Provencal word poutingo, translated as “bad stew”. The word poutine began as Acadian slang for a gooey mess and was first used to name an Acadian dish, poutine rapees - a blend of mashed potatoes, pork, and spicy sauce.

"Poutine only has three ingredients, but connoisseurs argue there are many subtleties involved in preparing the dish correctly. The French fries should be made from potatoes that are hand-cut and fresh, and should be fried in pure lard as opposed to vegetable or other oils. The gravy, also known in Canada as barbecue chicken gravy, is darker and thicker than gravy in America or other countries, and must be served very hot.

"The cheese used in poutine is fresh white cheddar cheese curds, which have a different flavor and texture than actual cheese. These must be completely thawed but fresh, and are then served over the fries before adding the gravy, whose temperature helps the cheese melt. Poutine should be served in a bowl, which helps reduce mess and keeps the mixture hot.

"Poutine is popular enough in Canada to be on the menu of some of the country’s finest restaurants in addition to pubs and diners, as well as many multi-national franchises such as McDonald’s. Poutine is available in just a few restaurants in the northern United States, and in a handful of hotels and pubs in Europe and Asia."

So anyway, after all this, I made an American-stylized version of Poutine.

What did I learn from this recipe?
I learned that even with beef gravy instead of chicken gravy, I didn't much care for poutine. At least, not this version. I used a generous amount of mozzarella, because I didn't have cheese curds, but even with the black pepper and the healthy dose of Worcestershire sauce, this tasted quite bland to me. I realized I'd rather have chili cheese fries.