Aug. 21st, 2012 11:09 am
moiread: (LOST GIRL • love you best.)
People have been asking what to get me for my birthday, which is on the 29th. As usual, I keep forgetting that my birthday is even coming up anytime soon, so now it's eight days away and I haven't given those people a list yet. Sorry! Better late than never?

For the people who specifically asked, here are suggestions. )

For most everybody else: What you can do for me for my birthday is to go take some time for yourself. Take a day off, or even just a few hours -- whatever you can manage. Do something nice for yourself. Recharge a little. Do something you enjoy, alone or with people you also enjoy. Carve out some time for a thing that will make you happy. And then come tell me about it. ♥
moiread: (giggle • kristin k.)
This is basically what baking with Rose ([ profile] unintendedmuse) and Brit ([ profile] september_storm) and Julie ([ profile] riddled) was like that one time. (When it was Rose and Sheena ([ profile] lovedbythesun) and everybody was drunk, my "assistants" still at least knew what they were doing...)

I think at some point we should have people in from out of town again and then we should all bake while baked. And then Rose's mom can just stand there and facepalm at us. I feel like that would be exactly what this year needs to make it better. ♥
moiread: (WORK • i hate mondays.)
I know I haven't been talking about it much directly, but some of you have caught on anyway, so I figured I might as well come out and say it: Things have been really rough for me, health-wise, since Christmas.

I had to stop going to physical therapy and massage in November for financial reasons (I blew through my savings to pay for the amount I got) and have since been trying to fight ODSP on getting it covered. The end result seems to be that they can't/won't, so now it comes down to my parents' insurance (who will only pay part, in which case the rest will still have to come from somewhere). I'm still doing all my exercises at home, obviously, but it's not the same, and the massage especially helped so much, I can't even tell you. For the last month or so, the issues with my legs and feet have deteriorated back to the point where I have trouble walking some days. Still not as bad as where I was when I started the PT, but not good either, and it seems to indicate that I might need the PT and massage long-term, which I do not have the energy to contemplate at the moment.

Other than that, I've been hit by basically every virulent bug to cross my path. 'Tis the season for infectious illnesses, I know, and my immune system is crappy, yes, but the plagues have beat me up especially hard this year. I'm used to getting the flu (plural, even), but not to being laid up for two weeks and having it develop into a lung infection. I've missed more work than I've shown up for, or nearly, and I hate that so much I can't even tell you.

There's been a bunch of other stuff about blood pressure fuckery and new doctors who apparently can't do anything for me, only I'm running out of steam and will have to talk about that later.

But hey, in other news, I've been getting a lot of knitting done (and, accordingly, mailed packages out to [ profile] elisem, [ profile] mrissa, and [ profile] endeers, with more packages for other people yet to go) and I have a possible job offer of baking muffins for a cubicle farm's weekly meetings. That should be fun! My samples are due later this morning but I've been passed out in a drug haze since I got home at 9pm last night, so now that I'm up it's time to hop down to the grocery store for some eggs and get baking. Wish me luck!

If there's anything you would like to hear about, feel free to ask, and I will do my best to answer in comments later today!
moiread: (BAKING • stock.)
So last night I spent eight hours baking. By the end, my feet had crapped out and I was using my walker as a makeshift wheelchair, wheeling myself around the apartment backwards, but I got it done. My feet still hurt today, but they're not as bad, and frankly the fact that they made it through that at all is a pretty solid testament to how much the PT is helping. Damn good progress from the days of barely being able to walk!

But why did I do all that baking?

Well. The thing about the school where I work is that most of the families are in poverty. It's why we supply breakfasts and lunches to half the school, supply many of the kids with winter-appropriate outerwear, and run programs like the one that employs me, where we give the kids access to school supplies and computers because they have none at home. It's also why we have bake sales twice a year to try to help raise money for graduation events, because otherwise we probably wouldn't have any.

So. Bake sale. It was supposed to be today, but two teachers said they wanted their classes done early, on Thursday. So yesterday rolls around and those two classes get access to the bake sale goods... and apart from the cookies, they cleaned us out. Two classes bought absolutely everything. If it had been me going around with the trays, I would have made people limit themselves to what they could actually reasonably eat, but the co-op students didn't think of it, so when every single kid said they were buying for themselves and all of their friends, they just thought, "Yay! More money!" And then they came back to me and were shocked that no, that was all we had. And it was no small amount, either. Each of those kids must have bought, like, three cupcakes and two bags of cookies and a brownie. No lie. I bet not a single one ate their actual lunch and they still had baked things to take home. Which is not bad, just... very problematic for us.

On the one hand, it's nice that we sold so much, because it would mean more money for grad events by the time we got through everybody, but first we needed to get more baked goods to keep selling. We couldn't just NOT have a bake sale today for the rest of the school. In a desperate attempt to save the event, I called the head of the parent council and got her to bring over a giant vanilla sheet cake that I knew was in their freezer because it was left over from the school BBQ at the beginning of the year. I also asked every staff member if they could contribute. Most said no. One said maybe they could manage a pan of brownies, but don't count on it, and one of the co-op students said the same thing. I was really disappointed. I know they're overworked, but the school board will reimburse any supplies we buy for it, and it is not that hard to make a dozen fucking sugar cookies or something. And while at most schools, the families of the kids contribute the baked goods, there was no way that was going to happen with a school like this one. These parents can barely afford basic foodstuffs, you know? So nobody else is going to do it. But apparently I am the only one who was willing to man up.

So I came home, collapsed, slept until 10pm-ish, and then woke up and started baking. I made 4 dozen cupcakes (2 doz strawberry, 2 doz orange), 40 macaroons (20 chocolate, 20 vanilla, and all egg-free because we've got a kid with an egg allergy in the school and we needed something he could buy), 2 pans of brownies (chocolate chunk with strawberry cream cheese), and 1 pan of nanaimo bars (mostly to use up the leftover shredded coconut). Along with the sheet cake and the leftover cookies from yesterday, that should have been enough today. There wouldn't have been nearly enough brownies (2 pans = 24) or nanaimo bars (1 pan = 12) to go around, but so be it. Let them eat cake! And cupcakes! And besides, maybe those other people did bring brownies after all. I only just woke up at 4pm and haven't heard from anybody yet to know how it turned out in the end. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised?

The cupcakes were really cute, though. The strawberry ones were all in pink cupcake papers with red piped icing and little white sprinkles, while the orange ones were all in yellow cupcake papers with white icing and orange icing balls (like little oranges!) at the top/center. I know I didn't actually have to make them cute, but the cupcake papers were already being sold by colour and I found some pressurized cans of coloured icing with the decorative nibs already attached for piping it out. Normally I would make my own icing because it's cheaper, but fuck if I was going to do that on top of everything else, and I know I'll get reimbursed for the cost, so for once piped icing was actually the lazy option. And omg, SUCH ADORABLE RESULTS. Also you couldn't even tell the macaroons were made with sweetened condensed milk instead of egg whites, though I did burn the whole first batch (and had to throw them out, woe) before I figured out the substitution meant they now needed to be refridgerated before going in the oven (to keep them from spreading/collapsing) and also the oven temp needed to be lowered.

But hey! I almost singlehandedly restocked the school bake sale, so go me?
moiread: (BAKING • stock.)
Normally I have no plans at all for New Year's Eve, but this year I have four invitations for places to go -- to [ profile] papersky&[ profile] rysmiel's in Montreal, to [ profile] soire's open house potlock, to my dad's swanky soiree thing, or to play Munchkin with the gamers and laugh at them while they probably all get drunk. I had originally planned on going to Montreal, but with all the health crap of the last two weeks, it's probably a bad plan to travel and stay with people and potentially impose on them if I wind up having a run of dead days, and I didn't want to leave them hanging on an answer any longer, so I had to decline. It makes me really sad. But I do have three local places to go still, if I'm feeling up for it, and knowing that gives me warmfuzzies.

Other things that make me happy: I CAN COOK AGAIN. It seems safe for me to be around the stove again sometimes now, because I'm not randomly passing out anymore. Yay! And I don't have to live entirely off sandwiches, microwaved soup, and frozen TV dinners anymore, either, like I have been these past two weeks! HOORAY. Last night I steamed four artichokes for dinner (with garlic and lemon and bay leaves in the water, which makes them taste extra delicious) and today for lunch I had my favourite sautéed asparagus with salami and parmesan cheese. I'm hoping maybe this weekend I'll feel up to baking, because I want to make pumpkin bread and orange-cranberry loaf and peppermint bark and ginger snaps. I mean, it's winter, damn it! Certain things are supposed to happen, and me baking is one of them!
moiread: (chin in hand • kate h.)
It's been cold and rainy here these last few days, which has made me really happy. Fall is totally my season, and if I could live in it year-round, I would. I've been doing a lot of tea and cookies (I bought three dozen balls of ready-to-bake snickerdoodles from [ profile] soirenoir, who makes even better snickerdoodles than I do, and now I'm out, so I'll have to buy more) in the evenings, sitting out on my patio to watch the rain. It's been really nice.

The other awesome thing about cold weather coming in is that it's time to start eating all my favourite kinds of foods. My parents were here tonight to help me do more yard work, and to lay some sod. I had tea and cookies and pita bread with roasted red pepper hummus and grapes out for us to snack on during the afternoon, but then come dinnertime, I broke off to cook. I made some squash soup (half my good squash soup from last year, canned by [ profile] soirenoir, half store-bought tetra pack squash soup, with nutmeg and sage and maple syrup and fresh cream and a touch of curry paste to give the store-bought crap some life, all mixed together in a big pot), and then I roasted a big honking eggplant with garlic olive oil and sea salt, and baked a decent-sized yam, too. I toasted some whole wheat baguette, and put that out with the asparagus-asiago spread I bought yesterday. And more tea. It was a totally vegetarian meal, and it was delicious. (Not that I'm vegetarian. But eating like one sometimes is really, really good for you.)

And just think! Soon it will be time for baking my own bread, making cobblers and pies, cooking spinach/feta/sun-dried-tomato loaves, and desserty cake loaves like lemon raspberry and chocolate zucchini, and lamb stew with baking powder biscuits fresh from the oven, and tea and tea and more tea, and hot chocolate, and ohhh, so many wonderful things. I can't wait for it to start!

As for the yard, I'm hoping to get the landscaping totally finished over the next week or two, so that it will be ready for me to start planting come spring. The yard looks completely different from the way it did when I first moved in. When I first got here, there was no grass, just dirt and dandelions, and some patio stones, and a kind of raised section of yard with some really terrible bushes along the fence. The bushes were comprised of some kind of monstrous evergreen, one to either side of a poor choked purple-leaf sand-cherry tree, and then two really leggy, twiggy bushes at the end that had grown together into a single tangled thicket as tall as I am. And under it all was "dirt" that was actually mostly gravel. I don't know who the hell brought that mess into being, but I've been resenting them for it rather a lot lately.

It took a hell of a lot of convincing, but I got my dad to help me take out the two evergreens, and next we'll tear out the leggy whatevers, leaving just the tree. It will finally be able to breathe. We've moved the patio about six inches, which doesn't seem like much for the amount of work it takes, but it brought it into line with the actual patio DOORS, and it gave me just enough room to put in a raised flower bed all along the other fence, where the second pretty sand-cherry is. We've built a really nice grey stone retaining wall there, and I found some white trellises on UsedOttawa, and come next spring I'll plant some Virginia Creeper there, and probably also some ivy, and whichever one wins that fight can stay. (I like them both, they both look really pretty, and all I want from them is to grow up the fence so I have some privacy screening.)

And along the other fence, once it's totally free of the stupid ugly half-dead overgrown unkempt bushes that never looked good and need tons of maintenance trimming that they never did get and never would have with me either, will be room for vegetables! I can plant carrots and tomatoes and all sorts of things, since that's the spot that actually gets sun.

Maybe I'll even put a big Euonymus under my bedroom window, since that's where the runoff from the rain hits, and it makes a big mess. But a good hardy plant would love it.

Now that the hard landscaping is almost almost almost finished, the difference is insane. I wish I'd taken photos from before, so I could post them and show you, but I didn't think to. And best of all, now everybody is seeing what I saw in my head, and they understand why pulling out all that shit was worth it. (After the number of times this has happened, between yard stuff and interior decorating stuff and whatever, you'd think they would just take it on faith that I know what I'm doing. But no!) My parents were worried that the building management would get pissed at me, but I doubt it. I did ask them if I could landscape, and with the state the yard was in when I got here, we ALL agreed that any changes would be an improvement. By the time I'm done with this yard, it will bring up the value of the apartment considerably, and the lovely ground-floor apartment with a GARDEN that has FLOWERS and ACTUAL GRASS and TREES and STEPPING STONES (and, if I can swing it, a gate to boot) will be more of a selling feature than anything inside.

Anyway. Time to go jump in the shower and head to Rose's. We have a box of shinies from Elise to open, and movies to watch! And probably brownies to make. ;)
moiread: (BAKING • stock.)
I just taught six gang kids how to make cupcakes. Then I took two of the boys aside and taught them how to make a cake -- including greasing and flouring a springform cake pan -- since they'd promised their mom a cake for Mother's Day but hadn't known how to make one.

My life is so weird.
moiread: (computer love • stock.)
It's the most awesome thing in the entire world that I can be teaching Nat ([ profile] b8g8) -- who lives in California -- how to make peppermint bark while I'm up here in Canada, sitting at my computer in my PJs. We picked out stuff in the grocery store over the phone (well, her on her phone and me on Skype), and now we're using Skype and webcams in her kitchen so I can direct her in what to do. The internet rocks. And not just because it lets me experience moments like where she turns to the webcam with A GIANT BUTCHER KNIFE in her hand and goes, "A knife? Like this one? And I cut with the blade side down?" in adorable cluelessness.


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