Avengers Sons of Serpent Trump

Happy Monday! #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain & Xena Cosplay

Avengers Sons of Serpent Trump

Donald’s totally under that mask, isn’t he? Avengers image via Comic Book Resources.

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? I went through about 10 pounds of sugar. I am not kidding even a little bit. Fortunately, all of the resulting chocolate cake is out of my house, except for four chocolate cupcakes.

Links!

Politics

Politics? Elisabeth, you don’t post about politics! It’s true. I think most of the yelling about politics on the Internet and via the media is counterproductive. Plus I don’t want to get into any fights with people I love.

But mostly, I honestly thought this wave of Trump jingoism would blow over. I mean, it was a joke, right? I didn’t believe Trump even really wanted to be president–I thought it was all for publicity for his “brand.” But here we are. A lying, racist, grandiose piece of crap has a very good chance of being the GOP candidate for president. Even the GOP doesn’t want this!

So, on one hand, John Oliver’s take down of Trump and his #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain hashtag makes me feel a little better. But mostly it’s just depressing, because it probably won’t change anything. But you should watch it!

I’m currently reading the Avengers Omnibus Volume 2 to Sid at bedtime, and we just finished a story arc where the Sons of the Serpent decide to spread racism, nationalism, and fear to control the American public because they’re so easily led. This was written in the 1963, but feels entirely relevant to today. Think about that.

Food

I haven’t written a full update on this month’s meal planning, but I’m happy to say it looks like we’ve saved 37.5% over our average pre-planning monthly grocery bill! Last month, we saved 25%. While I did plan this month’s menu around a lot of bulk staples I already had in the house, I was also able to do the following on a budget:

  • Have house guests for two days
  • Host two dinner parties
  • Make a giant cake and 84 chocolate cupcakes for various events

Speaking of dinner parties, I’m having a small one tomorrow. One of our guests is vegetarian. I’m a little tired of pasta (for once) so I came up with the following menu: Sour Cream Enchiladas, Mexican Couscous Express, and Crazy for Coconut Bundt Cake.

Fashion

My sweater came! My sweater came! And it’s everything I hoped it would be. I can finally post my 10-item wardrobe! Err, once I take pictures.

Geeky Stuff

I’ve been thinking more and more about making a Xena costume. Yes, I’m 15 years too old and six inches too short. I don’t care! Plus, I found this incredible tutorial for a Xena Warrior Princess Dress. Hmm!

That’s what I’ve got for today! Post a comment to cheer me up!

Guest room literature

How to Have a Guest Room When You Don’t Have a Guest Room

Guest room literature

Something for everyone! Scruples, by Judith Krantz, Archie, Lady Killer, by Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich, Positive Moves, by Angela Lansbury, and Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk.

When we bought our house, we had a guest room–well, it started out as a catch-all when we moved in, and then I desperately carved a bedroom out of it when Scott’s Mom came for our wedding. It eventually settled into something pretty pedestrian: a queen-sized bed, a bedside table, a desk. It wasn’t showstopping, but it worked.

Then we had a baby, and our guest room was emptied, repainted, and refitted as Sarah’s nursery. But! We still love to have guests. So what to do?

I figure this is a problem a lot of people have: I mean, who’s lucky enough to have a whole bedroom set aside for random friends and loved ones? I found a solution by looking at our house and figuring out how to make a space that is comfortable, offers at least some privacy, and gives visitors a place to put their things. So here are my tips–plus, we just had some guests, so I realized a few things I should do next time.

A Place to Sleep

Where can your guests sleep? We’ve got a full-size futon on a wooden sofa frame in our (finished) basement. Do you have a sofa bed? Is there a corner for an air mattress? The benefit of our finished basement is guests can close the door and have some privacy. If they want to go to bed early, they’re set. If they want to stay out late and come home, they don’t have to worry about waking us up on the second floor!

Once you’ve got your sleeping area chosen, make sure you’re prepared with clean sheets, blankets, and pillows. I usually go with white cotton sheets–no need to wonder if they’re really clean–and keep them in a stack in our closet with a couple of blankets so they’re always ready to go. When I was furnishing our erstwhile guest room, I bought some new pillows that are strictly guest pillows–no yellowing or drool marks!

A Place to Pee

Perhaps even more important than a place to sleep is a place to . . . go. And shower. Our basement has a bathroom with a shower, but it’s also my husband’s bathroom. However, I was able to do a few things to (hopefully) make guests feel welcome:

  • Clear some space. This is especially nice if your guests are staying longer than a weekend. I cleared off a shelf in the medicine cabinet. Can you clear out a drawer or add a box to a counter top for their toothbrushes, etc.?
  • Designate some towels. Stack some on a shelf, or keep them on their own hanging bar. Make sure to point them out!
  • Stock some essentials. Put a new bar of soap (no hair) in the shower and make sure you have ample shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste. I also stock a hair dryer, etc.

A Place to Put Things

Our basement is our family room, so there’s just no place for a bureau. However, I do have a storage ottoman that I keep cleaned out for guests, and a hanging bar in the laundry room (with hangers). When you set up your area, think of furniture that can pull double duty. Cloth or wicker storage boxes can sit in a bookcase or under a coffee table–and keep clothes out of sight!

Entertainment and Extras

Here are a couple things I did to try to make our place cozy: we put a small bouquet of flowers on the side table by the futon/bed, and arranged some books we thought they’d enjoy (or at least laugh at–I made sure to include Dame Angela Lansbury’s Positive Moves.) During their visit, though, a bunch of things popped up that I’ll need to remember for next time:

  • Extra house key–convenient for guests and you!
  • Wifi code, printed up and posted.
  • Small notepad and pens.
  • Change for the bus, singles and quarters. We have a bus stop right near our house, but no kiosk for tickets!

Beyond any amenities and extras, of course the most important thing is to make your guests feel comfortable, and give them enough autonomy and space that they don’t feel like they’re putting you out. I frankly like our new setup far better than our original guest room!

Do you have any guest-friendly tips to share? Post them below!

Xena Comics Sam Woolley

Happy Monday! Breakfast Corn Dogs & Xena Comics

Xena Comics Sam Woolley

New Xena comics! Art by Sam Woolley. Image from io9.

Happy Monday! Oh wow, when’s the last time I actually did a Happy Monday post on Monday? Never mind, I’m not looking it up. Hope your week was awesome! We had a good week topped by a weekend that included 1) a Terraria party/sleepover with Sid’s friends, 2) dinner at a friend’s house, 3) friends from out of town coming to stay with us, leading us to 4) a dinner party and karaoke tonight.

Plus, for one brief, shining moment yesterday, I had all the laundry done. All of it. Clothes, sheets, towels, dishcloths, diapers . . . it was glorious. And then I cleaned the laundry room because, guests. DUH! Don’t you do that? Just kidding, I’m a maniac.

Links!

Divine Geekery

The second annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics were held this weekend at Long Beach Expo, and G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel won! Ms. Marvel is a fantastic comic–if you haven’t read it yet, TFAW has Ms. Marvel here!

The latest episode of Rachel & Miles XPlain the X-Men is up, and they’re covering early Captain Britain and pre-Psylocke Betsy Braddock! I cannot wait to listen.

Omigosh! So, as I have written before, I am watching Xena: Warrior Princess for the first time and loving it. So I’m excited and worried that there’s going to be a new Xena comic, set toward the end of the series. Fortunately, io9 had Javier Grillo-Marxuach, showrunner of the new Xena TV show, and Genevieve Valentine, the writer of the new Xena comic, interview each other. It’s promising!

Food

Breakfast Corn Dogs

Breakfast corn dogs?!?

Since Sid’s friend Ernie (who’s a champion eater) spent the night, I used him as an excuse to make the Pioneer Woman’s Sausage Pancakes-on-a-Stick. They were glorious, and I used the extra batter to make pancakes. Yum.

If you missed it, my latest Monthly Meal Planning spreadsheets are available. Tonight: Lipton Onion Soup Meatloaf and Shells & Cheese With Bacon & Peas (it’s a real fancy dinner party).

Fashion

Vintage Fisherman's Sweater

Are you The One?!?

Aw yeah fashion! Ha. I posted about beloved articles of clothing that needed to be put out of their misery this weekend. I’m pretty sure I’ll finally be able to post my Winter 10-Item Wardrobe this week! You know, since it’s almost spring.

The missing piece (hopefully) is arriving today: this vintage fisherman’s sweater I found on Etsy. I’m hoping it’s going to be my year-round, goes-with-almost-everything, wearable blanket. No pressure, sweater.

So that’s what I’ve got so far! What do you think of the sweater? Are you looking forward to more Xena? We’re still in Season Two (we only have Sid every other week and average about four episodes a week), so I may have to wait.

 

 

10-Item Wardrobe Grey Hooded Sweater

In Memoriam: Clothes I Have Loved (to Pieces)

I meant to post a winter 10-item wardrobe by now. I really did! Since I discovered Jennifer L. Scott‘s concept of the 10-item wardrobe, I’ve felt better dressed, I’ve found it’s much easier to get dressed in the morning, and–most importantly–I’ve been able to close all my dresser drawers with ease. So what’s stopped me?

Unfortunately, after several years of service, I’ve had to retire some key pieces. And while I was able to replace most of them, I’ve been looking for that perfect, goes with (and over) everything sweater, and I just haven’t found it.

So I have a 9-item wardrobe, and it just doesn’t feel right to post about that (oh my stars and garters!). However, hope springs eternal: I have something arriving from Etsy on Monday, a vintage Scottish fisherman’s sweater that I found at a reasonable price. Fingers crossed.

But while you wait with bated breath (as I no doubt you are, my Public!) to see my Very Important Wardrobe, I wanted to pay tribute to those items that earned their just rewards this winter. Ahem.

10 Item Wardrobe Lobster Grey Skinny Jeans

Grey Gap jeans.

Ehh, I don’t feel so bad about these. They were cheap, I wore them for at least four years. Next!

10 Item Wardrobe Lobster Sweater J Crew

Lobster sweater, J Crew Factory.

This one was a toughie. You seemed a little expensive when I bought you three years ago, lobster sweater, but the moment I saw you, I knew you would be mine. I washed you in a mesh bag and laid you flat to dry until the very end–when I saw the tiny pinprick holes near your bottom hem. Rest in peace.

10 Item Wardrobe Blue Skinny Jeans

Citizens for Humanity jeans.

Both this and my black Citizens for Humanity jeans have been demoted–after only two years–after I noticed the fabric has “sprung” across the front hip area. The stretch fabric is permanently puckered. However, I blame myself: I wore them until nearly my fourth month of pregnancy, and I squeezed myself back into them about a month too soon after giving birth. My bad. They’re now emergency backup jeans.

10 Item Wardrobe Silk Trouve Blouse

Trouve silk blouse.

Man, so many of my favorite clothes fell apart this year! This was another item that only lasted about two years, but again, I wore it until my fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. Which is probably why the silk shredded in the back, near the armhole. I’ve mended it, but I’m going to have to let it go soon.

10-Item Wardrobe Grey Hooded Sweater

Remain long wool-blend sweater.

This is the one that really hurt. My Mom bought me this sweater for Christmas five years ago, I believe? It quickly became my very, very favorite item of clothing. It went with everything and was so comfy–like wearing a blanket! I desperately tried to keep it going. I de-pilled it. I dry cleaned it. I darned at least two holes! But one day, I caught a look at myself in a full-length mirror while wearing it, and shuddered. That poor sweater was a scraggly, worn-out shadow of its former self and needed to be euthanized.

If time travel were possible, some people would try save President Kennedy from assassination. Me? I’d buy a few more of those sweaters. Sigh.

Do you have irrational attachments to clothing? Post a comment below!

Monthly Meal Planning Take 2: Bulk Overload

Meal Planning Zero Waste

So many lentils and beans. And almonds! Next month . . .

So I dusted off my old Monthly Meal Planning spreadsheets last month and gave them a spin. Overall, it was pretty great: not only did I feel more prepared at mealtimes and waste less food, but we saved 25%–even though I threw a Super Bowl party. Yay!

However, when I started planning this month, I realized I still had some issues to work out: mainly, the jars and jars of dry bulk food in my cabinets. I love to purchase beans, grains, etc. from the bulk bins with my own bags! My problem: I am a terrible judge of how much we actually need. Plus, I decided to make mason jar mixes as gifts for Christmas and really went overboard.

So, Challenge #1: create a menu that would use up my surplus, focusing on:

  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Couscous
  • Pecans
  • Oatmeal
  • Sundried tomatoes

Challenge #2 was I wanted to still save 25% or more over our average monthly grocery bill, yet I wanted to splurge for Valentine’s Day with steak and lobster tails. However, I think Challenge #1 will actually make that quite easy, since we’ll be eating so many things we already have on hand.

Challenge #3 is that we’re having house guests this month for a couple of days. Yay! My problem is I always want to go a little bigger when guests are here. Just yogurt doesn’t really seem like an adequate breakfast! The other issue is one of our guests is a pickier eater and doesn’t care for vegetables. But this is actually something I can really work with. I mean, I’ve already gone through Sid’s picky period. And really, this is just an excuse to make a lot of comfort food like meatloaf (with Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix) and homemade macaroni and cheese (with the rest of the Velveeta from the Super Bowl party.

So here’s what I came up with! You can download my February Meal Plan here. You can also peek back and download my January Monthly Meal planning spreadsheets here.

If you haven’t read my previous posts, here’s the deal: I make a meal plan for the entire month, create a shopping list, and sort it by store, department, and week. I try to buy almost everything for the month in Week 1 at WinCo, because it’s the cheapest, and freeze all of our meat, etc. That mainly just leaves weekly dairy and produce, which I buy at our Fred Meyer grocery, which is closer and more convenient.

This month went according to plan, except . . . when I went to WinCo, I discovered that I had someone lost my list of like 53 items. Aargh. With no other choice, I buckled Sarah into our cart and went to work. When I got home and checked against the list, I was surprised–I had remember 51 things! Clearly, writing everything down and having an idea of what I was going to cook helped a lot. But still. What a dumbass.

We’re in the middle of Week 2 and going strong! Here are links to several of the recipes we’re making this month:

Banana Wheat Muffins
Black Beans with Couscous and Avocado (recipe calls for brown rice but I subbed)
Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies
Butter-Poached Lobster with Orzo
The Best. Coffee Cake. Ever.
Curried Lentil Soup
El Dorado Casserole
Lipton Onion Soup Meatloaf
Shells & Cheese (With Bacon & Peas)
Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with OMG Sauce
Tenderloin Steak

Is anyone else trying to plan their meals? What have you done in the past? Comment below!

 

 

Highlander

Happy–Oh Golly–THURSDAY?!?

Highlander

There can be only one! Christopher Lambert. Waa waa waa! (Say it like Chachi.)

Hey guys! I’m so sorry for the radio silence on my end. I’ve been getting busier and busier and it’s cutting into the limited time I have to write undisturbed (a.k.a. Sarah’s nap). But at least I have plenty of stuff to share!

Links:

Geek Tomfoolery

Aaron Duran of the excellent Geek in the City podcast had me on his show to talk about GeekCraft Expo PDX! We chatted about the curated nature of the show, which naturally turned into a lengthy discussion about Highlander (there can be only one!), and then he, Beanerita, and Kaebel Hashitani continued their Women in Horror Month by talking about The Descent. Good stuff. Aaron is my former co-worker at Things From Another World and the writer of La Brujeria, a hilarious supernatural comic, so he showed me a good time.

Good news for Portland! The amazing, one-of-a-kind Ground Kontrol Retro Arcade is expanding into the former Backspace Cafe, doubling its square footage and adding a custom bar. Ground Kontrol is a fantastic arcade with all kinds of awesome vintage and new video games, including a great pinball collection, and they serve food, and alcohol.

Even more geeky news for Portland! The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is moving here and opening their office June 1. This is a fantastic organization that protects free speech for everyone in the comic book industry and beyond, and I’m excited to see what the CBLDF will get up to here in the Pacific Northwest.

Back to Highlander! Man, I really need to watch this again:

Food & Such

I’ve started month two of my Monthly Meal Planning 2-16. I’ll be doing an actual post on this tomorrow! I saved 25% last month, and I’m gunning for at least 30% this time around.

I’ve been trying to use up all of the excess dry bulk goods I’ve had on hand after making Mason jar gifts this Christmas. I cooked up Martha Stewart’s Black Beans with Rice and Avocado (subbing in couscous for rice) last night and it was tasty!

Baby

I realize I haven’t posted about Sarah lately. At 16 months, she is a happy little dream, but she doesn’t pose for pictures that often–she is on the move, running running everywhere! She’s our little comedienne, always delighting in getting a laugh out of us, and she’s finally cutting another tooth. That brings her to seven. Seven! She still eats a lot.

That’s what I’ve got so far–what’s new with you? Post below!

Monthly Meal Planning Update: How Much Did I Save?

FritoNachos

Yes, this is a combination Frito Pie/nachos plate. Jealous?!?

Whew! We finished our first Monthly Meal Planning experiment–yay! I wanted to give a brief overview and share my boundless wisdom. You know, things like, don’t go crazy in the bulk aisle (spoiler: it’s too late for me). But first, I’ll go through my original goals.

Feed my family a variety of meals: Survey says: yes! It helps that my Monthly Meal Planning spreadsheet has categories like Soup, Pasta, Tacos, etc. While I did scrupulously freeze our leftovers and serve them later in the month, it didn’t feel like too much of a repeat to eat the same thing twice in a month.

Choose recipes that have common ingredients: I did accomplish this to some degree. Most of the pasta dishes involved spaghetti, for example, and a couple dishes called for ginger and cilantro (two things that are notorious for going bad in my fridge).

Go only once a month to WinCo: I love WinCo, but it’s at least a 40-minute round trip in the car. Unfortunately, I did not go to WinCo once–I went a second time after deciding, at the last minute, to throw a Super Bowl party.

Save time (both cooking and doing dishes) by making large quantities of meals and freezing/rotating them: Making double recipes of muffins and freezing half of our spaghetti sauce and taco fixings did help to a degree. If I were willing to eat the same thing more often, this would have gone better.

Be as zero waste as possible by shopping from the bulk bins using my own containers, and by shopping wisely and selecting common ingredients (see above) so I use everything up: I did have much less food waste–both stuff going to the compost bin, and fuzzy surprises in the fridge. Yay! Plus, buying from the bulk bin and using my own cloth bags and other containers cut down on trash (mostly just related to dairy and meat).

But Did I Save Money?

In our last thrilling installment of Monthly Meal Planning, we were on track to save 35%–but then, the Super Bowl party. Since I entertain all the time, I thought this would actually be a good measure of how much I could actually save in a typical month. But I did go to WinCo (mama didn’t raise a fool).

The final numbers? We saved 25% over our typical grocery bill (the average of the past six months). Not too shabby!

Other Things I Learned

  • Um, I need more snacks. The chocolate almonds I bought the first week? Only lasted that week. And then I needed Totino’s.
  • We consume about six large cans of frozen OJ concentrate each month. We used to always run out of orange juice, but I forced myself to do the math and buy a whole bunch at once. Yay, vitamin C! No more scurvy!
  • If you want to eat tacos every week, you need to buy enough tortillas to last through the month. Damn you, math!
  • My son likes plain yogurt with jam. And he’ll eat it really fast.
  • A quart of bulk maple syrup costs $25. That is insane. Although it looks like it will last at least two months, so . . .
  • Most importantly: I think I used to be loathe to buy enough, say, OJ to last all month, because I was worried about spending too much money. But not needing to make emergency trips for one or two things actually saved us money–because I wasn’t tempted to make impulse purchases or buy more things to make the extra trip “worthwhile.”

So overall, this was a success, and I’ve already planning out the next month and done my big WinCo trip. Stay tuned . . .