Enchanted Forest

Happy Monday! April 25th Is the Perfect Date

Enchanted Forest

This witch straight-up terrified me as a child. The Enchanted Forest! Photo from PDXFamilyAdventures.com.

Happy Monday! Sarah took an early nap and I’m caught up/between freelance tasks, so I can actually blog today. I know, it’s so exciting! It’s frustrating, because I have so many things I’d like to be writing about, but my free time is shrinking more and more. But enough whining. Did you know that April 25th is the perfect date?

Links!

Prince

Prince gets his own section, because Prince. The legendary musician died last Thursday at age 57, and the world lost a truly talented, amazing individual. Again. There are a lot of lovely tributes online, but I prefer to post the video of Prince kicking Kim Kardashian off the stage. Not because I have anything in particular against her, but come on–if Prince asks you to dance? You dance.

But seriously–check out the video of Prince covering Radiohead’s “Creep” at Coachella eight years ago for a good ugly cry. It’s beautiful. Also, I went to karaoke with friends at the Ambassador this weekend and the songs were 85% Prince, and we have some very enthusiastic–and talented–local singers.

Whoa. Did you click the Ambassador link above? I had no idea their website was so . . . something. Wow.

Comics, Entertainment, General Nerdery

The official full cast list of the new Twin Peaks is here! Quick thoughts: I’m intrigued by Alicia Witt returning (as Donna Hayward’s little sister, a bit part in the original), and thrilled that David Duchovny’s Denise will appear! Also . . . Eddie Vedder? Uh, okay.

Also, the shortlist for the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Kids’ Comics is up on The Beat.

In local Portland nerdery, now’s your chance to suggest a panel for the 2016 Rose City Comic ConYou have the power!

Also, my crafty geeks: make sure turn in your application for GeekCraft Expo PDX by 4/30: this Saturday! Dooooo it.

In “How did I not already know this?” news, J. Rachel Edidin opened my eyes to the fact that Oregon’s weird/cool/creepy/amazeballs theme park, the Enchanted Forest, is open on weekends this month. I will be writing more on this subject soon!

While speaking of J. Rachel Edidin, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that the latest episode of Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men is live, and it covers the debut of Inferno and the X-Terminators, and I must listen right now.

But first, one more video! If I had enough hair, I would try this braided chignon tutorial by Jennifer L. Scott:

So I bid you a fond farewell–for now! How did you honor Prince this past weekend, dear readers? Do you have any comics to recommend? Post below!

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Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

I Cut Our Food Bill By 44%–Can America’s Cheapest Family Get It Lower?

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

Lots of good tips, although I may have to work my way up to buying chubs of ham and asking the meat counter to slice it for me (their solution for expensive lunch meat).

So I’ve been making a Monthly Meal Plan menu and grocery lists for four months now–yay! I stopped posting my spreadsheets every month because I figured you’ve got the gist of them, but you can find past examples here.

Overall, planning out our menu has been very successful. We’ve averaged a monthly savings of 29.4% on groceries compared to our previous six-month average, plus we’ve saved 32.7% on restaurants. That means our average monthly food savings is 44%–which is insane!

But you know me: I figure I just cut the waste I should have had under control long ago. Surely there’s a way I can peel another 11% off our groceries, right? So I went to my beloved library and checked out Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family, by Steve and Annette Economides, which had a lot of tips–some useful (create a price list), and some ridiculous (go out to eat at hospital cafeterias, I kid you not).

I don’t want to lay out all of their tips here, but there were a couple that struck a chord:

  1. Create a price list. I was bragging to Sid last week that I bought avocados on sale at five for $5, and he asked, “What do they normally cost?” Yup. Grocery stores advertise lots of “deals,” but if you don’t know the relative price of, say, a gallon of milk, how do you know you’re really getting a discount? The Economides (yes that’s their real name) have a “buy price” for almost anything–they won’t buy, say, chuck steak for more than a certain price, and if they find it at a deep discount, they stock up. I realized I shop at WinCo because the total bill is cheaper, but I really had no idea how much things generally cost off the top of my head. It’s going to be tedious, but I’ll be using my receipts to build a price list of all the things we buy regularly.
  2. Shop around. I really disliked the idea of this–I like to make grocery shopping simple, and usually just go to WinCo once a month (to stock up) and to Fred Meyer weekly for produce and dairy (because it’s close and I like it). I didn’t want to be slave to the weekly ads! But the book pointed out that every store has “loss leaders,” aka attractive items at rock-bottom prices, to get people in the door. Why not read the ads and see what I could find?
  3. Plan your monthly meal plan around grocery deals. This is so simple and obvious I should have been doing this before. Instead of making menus off the top of my head, I will definitely at least check our stores’ online ads and see what’s on sale.

I kept these ideas in mind this month and realized that Safeway (not my favorite store) was having a special on boneless, skinless chicken breasts (something we eat every month) at $1.69 a pound, compared to $3.29 a pound at Fred Meyer.

Because I’ve been keeping track with my monthly spreadsheets, I knew we ate four pounds of chicken breast per month. So I went and bought eight pounds, and separated and froze them all (note: I didn’t just buy chicken breasts–I did all my weekly shopping there, concentrating on loss leaders). The next time I was at WinCo, I checked out their prices: $2.69 per pound! So I saved eight dollars.

Of course, saving eight dollars over two months is not terribly exciting–gee, what’s that, a dollar a week? But that’s also only one item on my list. I’m hoping that by shopping a little smarter and using my freezer more efficiently, the savings will add up.

So . . . am I crazy? Just a little crazier than normal? I’ll keep you updated (on both our savings and my tenuous mental health). Got any tips? Post them below. And be honest: who among you have eaten at a hospital cafeteria . . . to save money?

Jessica Jones Michael Gaydos

Happy Tuesday! Comics, Comics, Comics

Betty and Veronica Adam Hughes

Betty and Veronica, by Adam Hughes. Image from Bleeding Cool.

Hey all! How was your weekend? I took a crazy one-day trip to Emerald City Comicon to chat with people about GeekCraft Expo PDX and to see some friends. It was awesome–more so because two friends hitched a ride with me. It is infinitely preferable to spend two to three hours talking about movies, TV, and childhood experiences while driving to Seattle. Woo!

So as you can imagine, I’ve got lots of comics news:

Comics

The proofs of the Fight Club 2 hardcover are here, and it is gorgeous (I got a peek because my husband, Scott Allie, edited the book). Chuck Palahniuk wrote a beautiful little tribute to the creative team, and hinted about what’s coming next. Gosh, what could it be . . . ?

Jessica Jones Michael Gaydos

Jessica Jones by Michael Gaydos. Image courtesy Michael Perlman.

It’s like my favorite comic book publishers are trying to make all my dreams come true! One example: there’s going to be a new Jessica Jones series by the original creative team, Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and David Mack. Brian Michael Bendis is, of course, the choice for the writer, but I’m so please that Gaydos is returning. His take on Jessica is so distinctive and definitive–I love it. And David Mack is perfection. If you haven’t already, check out the original series, Alias, and the followup, The Pulse.

But wait! There’s more! Archie Comics’ new Adam Hughes Betty and Veronica series, which was announced last May, will hit comic shops in July. Adam Hughes’ “good girl” art is legendary, and the prospect of him doing interior art in addition to covers? This is a can’t-miss series. I’m also looking forward to the variant covers by Stephanie Buscema, Cliff Chiang, Veronica Fish, Francesco Francavilla, and Chip Zdarsky.

“But enough of these johnny-come lately artists,” you say? Fear not: longtime Archie writer/artist Dan Parent is debuting Life With Kevin with J. Bone this June, starring an adult Kevin. This will be a digital-first series, but I’m happy to see the Archie “house” style alive and well in any format!

Picnics

Well that was a change of topic! But relevant to my life. Sid has joined a baseball team and has two games per week–one on the weekend in the morning, one during a weekday evening. During the dinner hour. So I’m taking this as an opportunity to make fun picnics!

Up first: this salami caprese pasta salad, with grilled asparagus and corn muffins (pro tip: these are all leftovers). I have seven more to plan–I’ll take pics and post recipes in case you need ideas this summer.

Books

I am overloaded with books. Seriously. I have like eight library books right now, because I put titles on hold online on a whim, and then they all arrive at the Belmont branch willy nilly. However! I highly recommend reading Sex and Shopping: Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl, the autobiography of Scruples author Judith Krantz, because it is a delightful look into a certain kind of liberated woman I had no idea existed in the late ’40s-early ’50s. Really. Plus, I discovered how many of her bonkers books came right from her real life. I mean, this is a woman who rubbed shoulders with Richard Avedon and Barbara Walters before (and while) they were stars!

That’s all I have for today. Reader, you have no idea what else I’m up to! But you will. Very soon. (Those last three lines were a tribute to dear Judith.)

Comic convention what to bring

What to Bring to a Comic Convention (for One Day)

Comic convention what to bring

Ready for the convention floor!

I am up far too late, considering that I’m leaving at 6 am for Emerald City Comicon in Seattle–for the day. I’m estimating about eight hours of driving and about four hours of passing out flyers for GeekCraft Expo PDX and schmoozing with friends and cool comics people I would like to be friends with.

But! I wanted to share my outfit and survival kit with you all. Clockwise from center:

  • Striped tank dress – It’s cute and comfy, and it should be in the mid-70s tomorrow. In a pinch, if for some reason I spend the night (highly unlikely, as it is, I’m dreading leaving Sarah for the day), I could sleep in it.
  • Spider-Man sweatshirt – In case I get cold.
  • Sneakers – Essential, of course. At my second SDCC I made the mistake of wearing “comfy” sandals my first day and got quarter-sized blisters. Don’t do it.
  • GeekCraft Expo PDX flyers – With my contact info on the back. Like business cards!
  • Pen – Duh.
  • Sunglasses – For driving, or in case I look super tired/I want to be mysterious/I need to hide from someone.
  • Tote bag – Tons more flyers in here!
  • Phone charger – It slipped down into one of the tote pockets.
  • Coffee/water thermos
  • Hairbrush – Trying to look professional!
  • Medicine kit – Band-Aids, ibuprofen, Tums, and Gas-X: I’m ready for anything, folks.
  • Deodorant – A must.
  • Flattering neutral lipstick – This is Rimmel’s Dusty Rose, which is cheap and looks good on anyone. I was once out to dinner with a group of girlfriends–a brunette with blue eyes, a blond with hazel eyes, and a redhead with green-blue eyes–and made them all try it on. It’s a miracle lipstick.
  • Snacks – Almonds and yogurt raisins.
  • Maps and list of targets/friends (pictured below) – I get disoriented and overwhelmed pretty easily, so I made a plan and printed this out on card stock. Yes, I’m a dork.
Emerald City Comicon map

Emerald City Comicon map with my notes! I get lost a lot.

Not pictured:

  • Life Savers
  • Breast pump – Did I mention I’m leaving my sweet, 18-month-old daughter for at least 12 hours? And that every time she did something cute today (she’s pretty much cute all the time) I gave her an extra hug and worried about leaving her? My baby!

Wish me luck!

Emerald City Comicon

Happy Monday: I Will Be at ECCC for the Length of a Unicorn’s Sigh

Emerald City Comicon

I’m flying in right after that guy!

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? I welcomed our friend, artist Alise Gluškova, who is visiting us for the month from Latvia! She drew Abe Sapien #27 last fall, a stand-alone story about Langdon Caul, the man who eventually became Abe! Or did he?

Links!

Geekery

So I was sad that I was going to miss Emerald City Comicon for the first time since 2009–boo! But then I decided to drive up for the day on Saturday to say hi to folks and talk to people about GeekCraft Expo PDX (and other fun possibilities!). It will involve driving eight hours in a single day . . . which will involve lots of coffee. But I’m excited! Who else is going?

Are you a geeky crafter? Applications for GeekCraftExpo PDX are due April 30, so get yours in! Also, join us for GeekCraftUp, a casual night of crafting, April 11 at Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade. Win prizes from Rose City Comic Con, including weekend passes!

Speaking of ECCC, the hosts and creators of my favorite podcast, Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men (formerly Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, see here for an X-planation) will host a live podcast, as well as a meetup/birthday party! You should really go.

Whoa! CBR, aka Comic Book Resources, the most prominent and high-traffic comic book news site, has been sold to Valnet Inc. As of now, the editorial team will remain in place, while founder and owner Jonah Weiland will be transitioning to his next adventure. I’ve read CBR regularly off and on for at least eight years, so I’ll be watching what happens next with interest.

Finally, a friend of mine has started a brand-new site devoted to comics, movies, and all things geeky: Talking Nerdy. She’ll be posting comics reviews, news, and opinion pieces, and has plans for DIY articles about geeky crafts and food. I can’t wait! Go ahead and check it out!

Food

I finally got to try the Bacon Bleu Tater Tots at Providence Park (they were gooooood)! My brother is the GM of food and beverage there, so it’s my own fault it’s taken this long. Like me, my brother loves food, and he’s helped revolutionize concessions cuisine–really–bringing Portland’s finest food carts and local ingredients to the field. Read all about where to eat in (and around) the park on Eater!

I hosted an Easter/Friendsgiving the weekend before last (my brother called it “Freaster”), and it was so wonderful! I used the free turkey I picked up (and kept frozen) last Thanksgiving, but included some springier recipes. Here’s the roundup:

  • Alton Brown’s Classic Brined and Roasted Turkey: With a little preparation (I started brining at midnight the night before), this is a super easy and super delicious turkey–juicy and flavorful. Five stars!
  • Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples: Since Sid wasn’t with us, I went with mushrooms in the stuffing. Yummy!
  • Scalloped Potatoes: This is a Martha Stewart recipe and it is a pain. I mean, all scalloped potatoes are! But they were really good–I’d just add salt while boiling the potatoes, and then season the milk and cream before you pour it over.
  • Pea Salad: So fresh! So springy! It’s vegetables, but with bacon, cheese, and a creamy dressing. My kind of veggies!
  • Rolls: It’s pretty obvious I love the Pioneer Woman’s recipes, huh? These really are the best. But I don’t shape them into Parker House rolls, I just roll two-ounce balls. Yes, I weigh them.
  • Best Ever Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust: Ohhhhhh these were amazing. And because you freeze them, you can do them ahead of time!

That’s what I’ve got! Whaddya got? Post below!