Parties, Summerfest, and a Dead Dog

Monday, August 15, 2016

As I sit down to write this, I have come to the realization that last time I posted all about my childhood memories with Sarah, so I actually have a month’s worth of my activities to catch you all up on. At least I’m not starving for material, right?

A few weeks ago I got to go up to my high school bestie’s little boy’s birthday party, which was fun. We sat around, talked, and read from The Giant Book of Crap—our notebook of terrible, hilarious things that we (and other people around us) said back when we were in high school. A lot of it wasn’t funny anymore, and some of it we’d forgotten the context of, but the remainder kept us in fits of giggles.

A couple of weeks ago, the hubby and I went to Summerfest. We didn’t find the vendors and activities of the fair all that interesting, but there were a few yard sales going on and I picked up a couple of items from a free box somewhere. The most interesting thing was probably  walking through the Brown House and looking at all of the weird historical displays they had up, including a collection of historical toasters and a display on Victorian mourning customs.

I’ve also spent a lot of time recently getting together presents for weddings, a baby shower, and a tea party that I have coming up. My favorite was probably the one I did for my husband’s cousin. I started with a rice cooker, then gathered together things to go with it. Obviously if you have a rice cooker and the typically included rice-cooker accessories, then you need less common rice accessories like a special rice-washing bowl and a small ladle. I also added a bunch of sticky notes with my own personal tips to the user manual. Add in some dragon bowls in three sizes from the local oriental market and a couple of pairs of chopsticks, and clearly all that’s lacking is a variety of types of rice—which I added. Okay, maybe that’s not all that’s lacking, but my budget ran out before I could add a rice cooker cookbook. The sheer volume of stuff seems a little crazy, considering that she’ll have to take/mail the stuff back to Texas, but I definitely had fun, and I think that overall she’ll be blessed by it.

Mattie opening her present.

On the writing forefront, one of the gals from my NaNoWriMo region added me to a Facebook group that she started for daily writing accountability, and that has been a good kick in the pants. I’ve mostly been brainstorming characters, plot elements, etc. in a notebook, but that’s more writing on my series than I’ve done for a long time. Oh, and this is the exciting part—I figured out the end of my series. I thought that I had before, but I decided that I wasn’t quite happy with it, and the new idea has given me a lot more insight into the antagonists and a few other characters as well, so that’s a bonus. I’m hoping to draft another book this November. In the meantime, more idea collecting. I’ve discovered that books are made up of lots of ideas that all fit together, and while sometimes a couple of ideas are mutually exclusive, more is usually better, at least to get the draft rolling.

The ladies’ Bible study group at my church has been doing potlucks at various homes this summer, and that’s been fun, but kind of tiring, because then I have to cook all the time. I’m determined to enjoy the next two though, because after that I’ll have a new cleaning client, and I won’t be able to go—but I’ll be making money!

A couple of other things in my schedule have changed recently. We moved one of our cleaning clients from Saturday morning to another day, so the hubby and I actually get a day off now. The other day gets to be pretty long, but then we get to sleep in Saturday morning if we want, and we have all day to do whatever. Well, sort of.

On two Saturday evenings a month, I go to a coffee shop and write with some of my local Wrimos. Starting next Saturday, I’m having tea parties at my apartment on the other two Saturdays. I’ve determined that unless I deliberately schedule socialization with gals my age, it’s never going to happen, and while my apartment is a little awkward for having people over in other applications (I have no couch and my living room is arranged so that the chairs face kind of weird directions because it’s mostly our office), I can definitely do tea.

This new development, has, of course, got me testing recipes for baked goods. At the moment I’m working on a gluten-free, vegan, oil-free scone recipe with minimal empty starches. I’m trying to work out something that doesn’t depend on coconut either, since one of my friends is seriously allergic to it. My current recipe isn’t bad (gluten free goods crumble nicely without needing added fat), but I think it could use some more moisture, so next time I’m going to substitute in some applesauce for some of the milk.

Orange scones.

As you can imagine, all of this recipe testing yields a lot of baked goods that I then have to dispose of, so a bunch of scones and other goodies come with me to church events and stuff. I’m also collecting empty water chestnut and bamboo shoot cans to use for English muffin and crumpet molds, because I don’t want to shell out the money to buy official ones.

I also realized that while I had a cream pitcher that sort of matched my dishes (it’s close, but not quite), I had no sugar bowl. Personally, I don’t use sugar in my tea. If I sweeten my tea at all, it’s with stevia extract. Buuuuuuuut…I like to offer sugar as a hospitality thing for those who want it. Now, I’m not one of those people who collects fine china and then only uses it twice a year, but I do like for my normal, everyday dishes to match and look nice. I originally picked up my dish set at a garage sale for $5, and it had about 8 of all of the major place-setting items, along with a couple of serving dishes. I’ve been picking up pieces at thrift shops when I find them and that’s helped to grow my collection to about 13 of most of the place-setting items, but there are a few things I haven’t been able to find in thrift shops. Fortunately, I can find pretty much any piece from it on eBay. So anyway, I got a really good deal on my cream pitcher and sugar bowl, and they were in brand-new condition, still in the boxes…even though they’re from the 70s.

In each the box, there was also a little flyer thing inside each box that had a list of all of the pieces that were available back in the day, along with item numbers and official names. Some of the pieces, I’d never even seen before, like these goofy goblet mugs:

 Yeah, don’t think I’m missing out by not having any of those…

Since finishing with Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, my reading has taken an interesting turn. On the few occasions I’ve had time to sit down and read a book, I’ve reached for a manga series that I’m trying to finish, but mostly I’ve been listening to audio books, and all but two of those (the Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel and Boundaries by Henry Cloud) have been free public domain audiobooks from LibriVox. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were good. My recent favorites have been The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Poor Richard’s Almanack—they’re hilarious, informative, and impart some wisdom that we could all use. Right now I’m working on The Federalist Papers, which are not nearly as entertaining as Franklin’s works, but very informative where the U.S. Constitution is concerned. Of course, when I finish with the Federalist Papers, I’ll have to read The Antifederalist Papers, so that’ll keep me busy for awhile. I also have plans to read the actual Constitution and Amendments (again), and, when I’m done with all of that I’ll eventually get to The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In-between drafting and posting this, my in-laws’ golden retriever died, so I’m hanging out at their house, doing my laundry, working on my computer, and cooking diner for everybody while my husband helps his dad to bury him. Not the best day, but I’ve had much, much worse.

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