Calling in sick

I’m actually calling in sick today, which I hate to do the first week of the semester — I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. But since I’m breaking into a hacking cough every three minutes or so, and I feel too woozy to drive, prudence seems the better part of valor here.

At least they have plenty of reading to do, and I just hope missing today doesn’t interrupt the bonding flow of the first few weeks too much; it’s so important to establish the right vibe and expectations with the class in those early weeks. Sigh. These mortal bodies. What can you do?

#professorsarehuman
#serendibteaching

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Kavi feels bad for her sick Mommy

I am so pathetic in my sickness (it’s just a cold, but a bad one), that Kavi came to me after Anand went to bed and said, “Mommy, I still have an hour until bedtime and I’ve done all my homework; are there any chores I could help you with?”

So in the last 45 minutes, she’s swept up the needles from the Christmas tree (that Kev took out earlier), sorted a big bin of miscellaneous stuff and distributed it to various places all over the house, and emptied the dishwasher.

I just told her to go ahead and go to bed, and she asked if there really wasn’t anything else I needed her to do, and I said no, it was fine, I was going to go to bed soon too, and thanks so much for all the help, and she said, “I just feel so bad for my sick Mommy.”

Like I said, I am clearly *very* pathetic right now.

But I have a perfect child, so it’s okay.

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New food books

In case it’s of interest, I had a gift certificate for $200 in books, and I decided to go all in on food memoir-ish stuff. This is what I’ve ordered:

The Language of Baklava, Diana Abu Jaber
A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain
My Life in France, Julia Child
Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin
How to Cook a Wolf, MFK Fisher
Grape, Olive, Pig, Matt Goulding
Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle
The Apprentice, Jacques Pepin
Tender at the Bone, Ruch Reichl
The Making of a Chef, Mark Ruhlman
Yes, Chef, Macus Samuelsson
Domesticity, Bob Shacochis
Toast, Nigel Slater
Give a Girl a Knife, Amy Thielen
Rhapsody in Schmaltz, Michael Wex

I imagine some reviews will be coming along at some point…

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Let’s see if I can identify these meal photos

You know I’ve been too busy when I get months behind on posting photos from my phone. Let’s see if I can identify these meals:

a) I made a salad with roasted brussels sprouts — I remember that it was tasty, but don’t remember the occasion!

b) This was dinner in Greektown with George R.R. Martin and one of his fabulous assistants when he was in town — yumyum. (And did I feel very cool? Yes, yes I did.)

 

c) I think this was a poached egg in a salad with…oh, now I can’t remember. Maybe Amanda or Nara or Roshani or Kavi? Definitely at Léa up the street, I think. Good! I’m not sure if I’ve had a poached egg in a salad before; I approve.

d) Experimenting with painting edible gold dust on chocolate cookies pressed out with a fancy die-cut roller. Dust = good. Roller = good. Cookies = meh; at some point, I’d like to develop a cookie recipe I’m happier with for this kind of application. Something with a little zing to it.  Chocolate-cayenne, perhaps? Or abandon the chocolate and go for a classic lemon sugar cookie…maybe we’ll experiment for Valentine’s Day. What are V-day flavors to you, aside from chocolate? Hmm…I’m thinking passionfruit cookies are worth experimenting with!

e) This is the one that really makes my mouth water. Stringhoppers and curries. Nothing better! I can’t remember who I was eating this with, but I must have liked them a lot if I pulled out the string hoppers….

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“When you are pursuing a dream, you will find the time.”

I’ve started reading this book, and while some of it isn’t so relevant to me (geared towards professional food photographers or those who would like to become them, so talking about apertures and the like), some of it is. I’d like to take better photos for you all.

And the intro was actually just rather lovely, esp. the last paragraph, and applicable to writing and many other arts / career passions:

“I tell you this not to boast about my own success, but because I am aware that many of you are looking to reinvent yourselves, and understanding that it’s possible matters. I know there never seems to be enough time in the day, but when you are pursuing a dream, you will find the time. It will not feel like work.”

#serendibkitchen

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Orchid terrarium tutorial

Recently someone in our garden club asked about how you put together a terrarium. Since our house cleaner also recently knocked over and broke the small terrarium we had (sitting on an overly-tippy end table), I took that opportunity to pick up what I’d really wanted all along — a taller, free-standing terrarium, big enough to house full-size orchids (24″ high interior).

A trip to Trader Joe’s for cheap orchids, and some potting soil, little plants, pebbles, and moss from the garden store, and I was ready to go. There’s very little to instruct, really, but here goes, in case it’s helpful:

a) I started with a layer of pebbles in the bottom for drainage, followed by a layer of soil.

b) I added the orchids next, and this bit, I’m not sure I did right, but since I know orchids prefer their roots to stay mostly dry, I left them potted in their little plastic pots filled with orchid bark, and just nestled those in the soil.

c) Then I tucked in some little terrarium-type plants around them. Your nursery can advise you on what’s well suited to this, but just keep in mind that what you’re recreating is essentially a moist, jungly environment. Terrariums are related to Wardian cases, which were used to bring tropical plants back from the tropics to England, keeping them alive on the long voyage. So I wouldn’t use a terrarium for succulents!

d) I added a layer of moss, which serves the dual function of looking nice and also retaining moisture in the soil.

e) That’s it! Put the lid on, and you have a moist, mostly self-contained environment. It should need water rarely. My understanding is that usually terrarium plants want plenty of indirect light (not blasted with sun) — imagine that you’re under the tree cover of a tropical jungle. So I put mine by a window that’s near an overhanging porch roof.

Now, the next step is that eventually, these orchids will lose all their flowers (though it’ll take a few months; I try to pick orchids that are mostly buds, with just a few blooms, so the show is sure to last a long time). In theory, one can then take care of them appropriately so that they’ll come back, year after year. I haven’t actually done that yet, but I have friends that do it regularly, and swear it isn’t hard.

When these are done, I’m hoping to try that, and I’m also hoping to replace one of them with a more interesting variety, since they’re all, I think, pretty standard phalaeonopsis (or moth) orchids, and there are so many more cool varieties out there. I’m looking forward to eventually experimenting with other types.

#serendibgarden

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Family tech & habits update

Family tech & habits update: We’re trying to wean the kids from spending so much time passively consuming visual entertainment (Kavi has watched all of Friends TWICE, which just seems wrong), so with the new year, we’re trying something new.

We turn off all family devices at 7:30 (bedtime for the 10-year-old is 8:30), so that the blue light doesn’t mess up the sleep-scheduling part of our brains. We try to do a family board game then, before bedtime routines. Two nights ago, it was a quick game of Go Fish, followed by a little time picking up Anand’s bedroom.

Last night, Kev and the kids played Machi Koro with the Harbor expansion; I was too sick to join them, but lay in bed nearby reading and enjoying the sounds of their laughter and snark. The kids were trouncing Kevin, I think because he avoided mackerel and tuna-related cards, since he doesn’t like fish, which is really very bad strategy for the Harbor expansion.

They didn’t quite finish the game before bedtime, so it’s suspended to be finished tonight. Unstable Unicorns is planned to be next in the rotation.

(They also spent a few minutes picking up the library before heading up to bed. I am determined to get them in the habit of quickly cleaning up common spaces this year, doing it in little bits daily so it doesn’t get onerous.)

CAVEAT: still allowed: podcasts, listening to music, and Kindle Paperwhites for reading (which don’t emit the blue light that interferes with sleep.) Possibly also *making* videos; that’s under discussion.

2ND CAVEAT: Sometimes a grown-up will use devices again after the kids are down, but we’re working on stopping that. It’s hard.

#serendibhome

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This cold is slowing me down

GAH. Woke up with yesterday’s cough turned into a different kind of cough, more phlegmy. I think that’s actually progress, but it feels worse. Also, my head is a ball of snot. I may refrain from trying to do delectable food descriptions for a day or two, as right now, every adjective I come up with is gross.

Plan for today: somehow, clear head enough to finish Wild Cards story revision. That’s basically it, though there are some little e-mails, etc. to process. Oh, and a phone conference with Margaret about our comic, though I think I need to push that off again (gah), as this cold has slowed me down sufficiently that I didn’t do the writing I said I’d do before we met again. SIGH.

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A Feast of Serendib print run copies have arrived!

Here’s a little Feast milestone — we’ve sent out all the Kickstarter edition copies we’d ordered. Eep! In theory, I could still buy more from IngramSpark as POD, but I’m hoping to never do that again, as they cost $20 each to print, which means I don’t even really break even on those, once you take into account all the original development costs, much less bookstore discounts (generally 40%), etc.

Instead, the overseas print run has finally come in (more like $10 each to print), and I’ve had about a hundred shipped to my house, with 1900 more safe in a warehouse in Kentucky or somewhere like that. So we may actually start seeing profits? If people buy them? If not, um, well I suppose I’ll have 2000 copies at $10 each to use to keep me warm at night. I’ll build myself a book igloo, perhaps…

It was very exciting and also nerve-wracking opening them. What if the printing had gotten messed up??? But at least this first copy looks fine; I think the paper is slightly brighter than the IngramSpark paper, which is just fine. They look almost identical, though. Hopefully people will love, love, love this book.

#serendibkitchen

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