Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Confessions



I confess...that I had such an amazing time this past weekend at Ice & Fire Con, I wish I could just go live in a castle and pretend to be part of ASOIAF/Game of Thrones *all* of the time...

I confess...that I'm running on an average of maybe 6 hours of sleep a night for the past 5 nights, but I wouldn't trade the fun that I had for all of the sleep/catch-up sleep in the world ;)

I confess...that no matter how happy I am that Ice & Fire Con 2013 is over and that I can breathe for at least a short amount of time, I already can't wait for next year ;)


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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review: Henry & Rachel by Laurel Saville

*Please note that Henry & Rachel is a novel slated for release in October 2013. I received a free copy from the Amazon Vine program for the express purpose of writing a review.*

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My first thought after reading just the first chapter or two of Laurel Saville's novel Henry & Rachel was "wow, I haven't read something this well-written in...far too long."

Unfortunately, while this novel is awash with elegant prose, it is lacking in plot. While I understand that Ms. Saville was using a literary technique in telling the same events from different points of view, there's just so little happening that in the case of Henry & Rachel it appears less a literary technique and more a way to add length to the novel. The timeline - or rather lack of one - was also a bit frustrating, as one Henry chapter would be taking place in, say, 1922, and then it would be followed by a Rachel chapter taking place some time before that, and that would be followed by a Margaret chapter taking place much later than 1922...to be honest, some sort of obvious dating would have been a huge help in keeping track of when the reader is in the story.

The other issue that I found was that I honestly didn't care about any one of the characters. Rachel was unrealistically distant and cold. Henry was some sort of class-obsessed caricature (and yet he was the most well-realized of them all, mind you). Margaret was simply boring. It's sad that such a clearly talented writer - in terms of the places she described and the general beauty of her prose - could fall short in other ways.

As a whole, I think that Henry & Rachel has a promising premise - and I was impressed enough with Ms. Saville's talent as a writer of prose to rate it 3/5 stars. I just wish that, for lack of a better way to put this, the novel had been better thought out. Pin It

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chicken Little Nuggets with Sweet Potato Fries

Personally I think that this meal is a really yummy take on a childhood favorite. It's got some different flavors and hey, it's better than any fast or frozen food ;)

As a note, I've posted these as recipes that technically need to be cooked separately; however, as there is only a 25 degree difference in the cook temps, if you keep a close eye on the sweet potato fries you can raise them temp on them and finish cooking them with the nuggets - you simply won't need to cook the fries for the full 40 minutes, in this case, and depending on when exactly you raise the temperature it would be safest to check on them every 2 minutes at most.

CHICKEN LITTLE NUGGETS

 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1.5 cups Panko-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil. Place a rack on top of the foil-lined baking sheet.

- In a small bowl, combine the butter, cayenne pepper and salt. In a second shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs and coconut.

- Dip the chicken cubes into the butter mixture, then toss them in the coconut mixture until they are well coated.

- Place the nuggets on the rack and bake until crisp and golden, about 25 minutes.



BAKED SWEET POTATO FRIES

1 sweet potato for every 2 people you are serving
Olive oil
Sea salt & Fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp Onion powder *for every potato*
2 tsp Garlic powder *for every potato*

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

- Chop your sweet potatoes into french-fry style slices and put them in a large bowl.
 - Coat well with olive oil, onion powder, and garlic powder.
- Spread the fries on a baking tray and grind sea salt and black pepper evenly over them. This is really to YOUR taste; personally I prefer a not-so-healthy dose of salt and a bare sprinkle of black pepper but to each his or her own ;)

- Bake for 40 minutes.

If you want to serve these fries with a sauce, I highly suggest mixing about 1/2 cup ketchup with maybe 1/8 cup chili sauce, then adding a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and whisking/stirring until the sugar is basically dissolved. It's a great sweet and salty sauce to go with the sweet and salty fries!
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: Why I am of House Martell

Back in March, when I wrote my entry about why I consider myself a Hufflepuff, I knew that eventually I'd have to write one about why I believe I'm a Martell (from the Song of Ice & Fire series, that is). Not so much because people have said they don't believe I could be one (like they do with Hufflepuff)...simply because I love being associated/associating myself with House Martell, and I think that deserves it's own blog entry ;)

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I mean after all...that ^^^ has been my computer desktop for quite some time... :)

Now, the two things that people usually say about the Martells is that they are (a) badass, or (b) boring. Obviously I think they're badass, but then, I think that about Hufflepuffs too, whereas most people [sadly] do not. But what it all boils down to is that if you combine Doran and Oberyn Martell...you pretty much get me. Politically, I'm very much like Doran - I have my beliefs, and I have a fierce trust in those beliefs...but I tend to keep them [mostly] to myself, because let's not lie...it can be just this side of dangerous to air every single thing you stand behind to every person you know.

On that other end of that spectrum, when it comes to relationships - as in, those with significant others, both in my own life and in how I view the relationships of my friends and family - I'm way more like Oberyn. As in, open-minded. Needing to consistently try new things.

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Oh yeah, and I'm so obsessed with this House, their sigil, and especially their words that I made the above picture ^^^ into a sticker for my laptop cover ;)

Anyway, there's also the more basic  stuff - I love heat, I think the desert is beautiful, yet I also like being close to the ocean.

However, all of that pales in comparison to the more blatant reasons why I associate with House Martell. I love adventure and new experiences, and I have a distinct fear of being or even just feeling tied down...all of which are traits that crop up time and again in this House and its family members, though admittedly not so much Doran or Quentyn.

As much as I love and desire to travel, though, I also enjoy being home...but when I am, I love to have a house full of people, to create a home away from home for my friends. Very Water Gardens-esque, if you will...especially my dream of one day running a bed and breakfast in historic Charleston, South Carolina.

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It may sound strange, but to go back to the Doran vs. Oberyn discussion and draw a bit of a conclusion here - I am as adventurous and rash as Oberyn in many things that I do...yet I am also as much of a homebody and as studied in my actions as Doran is...though to be completely honest I'm less likely to be a homebody who thinks through every choice I make than I am to be constantly out and about and making decisions without really thinking them through...haha.

One of my favorite things about the Martells is that they are mostly very different from each other - yet in the end, they are always very true to themselves. For example (SPOILERS! SPOILERS!), Doran knows how his family despises him for his lack of action, but he keeps on doing what HE thinks is right; Arianne knows her father is going to freak out over her stealing Myrcella but she does it anyway because it's what SHE feels needs to happen. And then, as different as they are, they are all intelligent, loyal to those they love, and fierce in their own ways.

The bottom line? Every person in the world has both good traits and bad ones. In my case, I'm confident, open-minded, and a good friend...but on the negative end of the spectrum, I have a terrible temper and I'm stubborn and unforgiving.

And hey, even steady old Prince Doran can boast that last negative trait...

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Unlike Hogwarts houses, you don't get to choose your House/family in Westeros...but the way you are raised and the life you live has a huge impact in who you become, and to me the Martell words - Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken - are just perfect. The members of House Martell are those things, and - not to pat myself on the back or anything - I truly believe that I am Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken as well. Do other House words suit me? Sure! House Tyrell's "Growing Strong", for one. Even House Tully's "Family, Duty, Honor", to an extent. And probably a few of the lesser Houses' words could work, as well. Yet no matter what, I always come back to the fact that despite people trying to mold me in their image or to change me, I've remained - steadfastly - who I am.

I've remained Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken.

And that is why I feel that House Martell would be (is?) the place for me.

(Now as a side note, in my Hufflepuff blog I was able to say that Steve was a Hufflepuff as well...buuuut in the case of ASOIAF Houses we differ greatly, and off the top of my head I'd place him in House Stark.)
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Confessions



I confess...that I can't believe Ice & Fire Con is just a few days away...and that I'm not at all certain how I'm going to finish everything that I need to finish between now and when I leave for Ohio.

I confess...that while there are still several changes I'm not fond of in regards to Game of Thrones (as it compares to the books, I mean), so far I'm actually enjoying this season. Which is way more than I can say for last season - even the first half of it. Here's hoping that things will continue like this...

I confess...I think I've already confessed this before, but I'm getting *really* tired of the spam comments on my blogs. It's been recently that it started getting bad, so clearly something has to have changed with blogger/blogspot...get your act together, guys!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Ice & Fire Con: One week from TODAY?!

Say it isn't so.

No, seriously, please say it isn't so.


Why? Well, as excited as I am for this convention, I still have *so* much to do! On a positive note, the convention tasks are nearly completed and won't take up much more of my time - but on the flip side of that, my personal tasks - mostly costume-related, of course - are becoming a bit backed up, and therefore worrisome ;)

That, and I'm *beyond* exhausted.

But it will all be worth it when we see our hard work realized at Ice & Fire Con next weekend! So long as my nightmares about forgetting to print out the schedules and forgetting to bring SHOES don't come true, that is ;)


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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: Around My House

Some time ago I discovered that I have a ridiculous number of spatulas. 


Granted, the red ones were giveaways that I picked up at the Charleston Food & Wine Festival in 2011, but I have no idea why I thought I needed four of them. There was a lot of wine that day, as I recall, so maybe that was part of the problem.

I love how I tried to take a picture of my cat sprawling all over our coffee table, and Rigby insisted on sitting pretty for me, for some reason.


And yes, our coffee table is cluttered. In fact, it's not even that bad in this picture, though I'm not sure why there's a Rubix cube on it.

Last but not least, our yard basically exploded while we were on vacation this past weekend. Please excuse the fact that it needs to be mowed (badly) and focus on what we think is bamboo that has sprouted up practically in the middle of the yard.


At first I could have sworn that it wasn't at all possible for this to be bamboo, but it is growing so fast that I can't see how it could be anything else. Seriously, I took the above picture on Monday, and today when I let the dogs out before work those stalk things had literally doubled in height...and they were already between two and three feet tall as it was! Guess we really need to do some yard work this coming weekend ::sigh::
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Confessions: Boston, I love you.



I confess...that I meant to make this post earlier today, but work has been crazy and then I heard about the explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line.

I was just there this weekend. In Boston, I mean, but on our way to brunch Saturday morning we walked right by the area where they were setting up the finish line. I have friends who have run the marathon throughout the past few years. I have friends who live in Boston. I have friends who were watching the race today. Thankfully...they're all okay. But my heart still goes out to the people who aren't okay - those who were killed or injured. My heart goes out to their families and friends. My heart goes out to any person who doesn't know whether or not a friend or family member of theirs is okay.

And my heart goes out to the city of Boston.

 

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Review: Cursed by Diamonds by JK Ensley

Well, I figured that it was about time for me to post another book review. I actually finished this novel quite a while ago, but I wanted to take my time with the review - because this was a self-published book, and to be honest, I didn't care for it. And I don't like that I didn't care for it, because I think that some great novels can come from self-publishing and I generally prefer to give them good reviews or to simply not review them at all.

The thing is, this book has nothing but 5 star reviews everywhere, and while I suppose that I can see why some people would enjoy it...I feel a need, almost, to put in my own two cents.

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One of the first things I noticed when reading Cursed by Diamonds was that every character was described as essentially being perfect. They were all amazingly handsome or beautiful, they were all kind and intelligent, and they all cared for each other deeply.

I felt like I was reading a Twilight knock off, to be honest.

But to be completely honest, I'm generally a cynic, so I pushed on...only to be struck in the face with another absurdity. That being that the main character, Jenevier, was "in love" with every man she met - basically at first sight - and of course, every single one of them loved her back. Immediately. Completely unrealistic, of course, but I told myself that this was a fantasy novel and continued trudging on.
 
Now, the author did explain in a sort of introduction that this novel was supposed to have a sort of circular timeline - the problem was that at times, the story and its layout were completely nonsensical. The very beginning and very end met at the same place, but everything in the middle was jagged and all over the place...not to mention the fact that for such a long book, years worth of time were just skipped over completely. A lot of this could have been rectified by splitting this into two or even three novels.

The chapter titles were another mystery to me. At first I thought that they were meant to designate which character's point of view the chapter would be in - a la the Song of Ice & Fire series - but no chapter was ever entirely in the named character's point of view. Thankfully this error can be rectified fairly easily - the chapter titles, or the use of them at all, simply need(s) to be re-thought.

Grammatically, the over-use of commas and under-use of semicolons honestly made the book difficult to read more often than not. Granted, I'm pretty picky about these things, so to an extent I can push aside questionable technique...to an extent. But if it wasn't this, or any one of the aforementioned things, tearing me out of this story and this world, it was the fact that the author is in dire need of finding her voice...or at least of choosing the direction she wants to take with the language of her story, and sticking to it. Most of the time the language in Cursed by Diamonds is very formal - both when the characters are speaking and when the author is being descriptive - but then random modern phrases and words would suddenly pop up in the narrative, serving to pull me out of the world that the author clearly worked very hard to create.

In conclusion, I have to say that with a slough of edits, this book has promise. I'll admit that the "too perfect" characters and my dislike of them is probably more of a personal preference (or rather, in this case, non-preference) than anything. JK Ensley obviously has a wonderful imagination, and I think that she also has enough talent, to make this novel into something more readable - with the help of proper editors, that is. For these reasons, I give Cursed by Diamonds 2/5 stars. Pin It

Friday, April 12, 2013

MegaCon Recap: Day 2, Part 1

I don't know what it was (okay, maybe I kind of have an idea...), but I could not drag myself out of bed on Saturday morning of MegaCon.

No, seriously, when I finally did wake up I actually had to drag myself out of bed, and at that point it was at least 11 AM.

Oops.

Finally I called Mike and told him that I was ready to be tattooed! In eyeliner, I mean. He drew Starbuck's giant arm tattoo for me, and did a damn good job too! Took him about an hour, but at least that gave me time to wake up, I guess ;)

We made our way to the convention floor and wandered around for a bit, but like the cylons, we had a plan...so pretty soon we headed over to Michael Hogan's table for autographs and pictures! It was $30 for the autograph and $10 for the picture...I'd never paid for anything like this before, but I didn't even care, because COLONEL TIGH! And the first thing he said to me when I walked up to him was "Why aren't you in the brig?!" With the Colonel Tigh voice and everything. I was struck dumb with awe, I swear.



Mike even called him out on wearing a "Canadian Tuxedo". Gotta love my friends...

There was a lot to see in the dealer room, so of course we spent some time there before trying to catch a bit of midget wrestling...


...unfortunately there was such a crowd that we couldn't see much, so we moved on to wander around and check out costumes :)

Leela as Clobberella (Futurama)

Aria T'Loak (I think?) from Mass Effect

Random Assassin's Creed Photoshoot


After walking a whole bunch and spending more money than I should have (ugh, "walk of fames" and dealer rooms at cons...haha) Mike and I decided that it was past time for lunch. Especially as neither of us had eaten yet that day. So we left MegaCon - just to go up the road to TGI Friday's and get a hearty (if not healthy) meal for probably the same price as what a hot dog would have cost us at the convention ;) When we were finished Mike left me back at the hotel - I had a little photoshoot scheduled, and wanted to do one more lap around the dealer room - knowing that I wouldn't be returning the next day.

So stay tuned for the final installment of my MegaCon 2013 experience :) Pin It

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Coffee Maker Emergency: Bed Bath & Beyond to the Rescue!

Before I tell the following story, I have to note one very important thing: Steve and I are Coffee People. Caps necessary. Not because we know a ton about coffee. Not because we buy the most expensive coffee out there. We simply like coffee - a lot - and drink it i - a lot. And we know how we want our coffee to be made. Whole beans, burr grinder, and all that.

For the longest time, though, we had a cheap coffee maker. Well, I say "for the longest time" when I guess that in the scheme of things it wasn't all that long...but it was at least for the first two to two and a half years of our relationship. Finally, sometime around Christmas 2010, that cheap coffee maker kicked the bucket...and armed with some gift certificates and coupons (thanks to our wedding and the holidays) we marched our way down to Bed Bath and Beyond and picked out the Cuisinart DGB-900BC Burr Grind & Brew Thermal 12-Cup Automatic Coffeemaker.



...and we loved that damn coffee maker. Well, minus the pot, which had several issues - despite being thermal, coffee would grow lukewarm within 30 minutes and cold within an hour, and the top was a huge pain in the butt to remove when you wanted to clean the thing. Still, having gone from a $20 coffee maker to a nearly-$300 one...the differences were obvious and mostly positive ;) You can now get this particular Cuisinart coffee maker for just $200, but when we bought it, it was priced at about $280, from what I remember.

However, I'm not quite sure I'd suggest purchasing the Cuisinart DGB-900BC, and here's why...

I know not to expect a coffee maker - even a nearly-$300 one - to last forever. But I *do* expect it to last longer than the $20 coffee makers I previously owned, which this one did not.

I also expect that it won't fail so miserably that there would be serious danger of it burning down our house, which this one did. Fail, I mean, not burn down our house. Thank God.

You see, Tuesday morning when it made its pot of coffee as scheduled, Steve and I noticed a very strange smell in the kitchen. It was obvious that the stench was coming from the coffee maker, but that morning we didn't have time to do anything other than unplug it. And hey, the pot that it brewed tasted just fine...though we didn't use it the next morning (yesterday morning, I mean), just in case.

Fast forward to last night, when Steve finally had time to unscrew the base in an attempt to find the problem. Now, unfortunately neither one of us took pictures of what we saw, but let me tell you about the minor panic attack that I had when I saw that a 1.5 inch area of the metal tube where the water is boiled had melted into a giant blob! Obviously this happened on Tuesday morning - the metal melting had to have been that stench we smelled - and since seeing it last night I keep having to remind myself not to think about what could have happened. We only ever run the coffee maker when we're home, and yes, we have a fire extinguisher in our kitchen, but that doesn't make me feel much better about the fact that thing could have started a fire!

Needless to say, we'd already gone one morning without coffee (blasphemy, in our world)...so Steve dug out the box and brought the coffee maker back to Bed Bath & Beyond.


Let me be *very* clear here - Bed Bath & Beyond owed us *nothing* in regards to this coffee maker. They were not the manufacturer, and on top of that, they sold the thing to us over two years ago! The main reason Steve went back is because the receipt that we found was so faded that you couldn't even tell that there was a coffee maker on it. Heh. Anyway, having had to call up a store for an old receipt before (long, long story), we were hoping that if we brought the coffee maker - in its box, which still had the little Bed Bath & Beyond security sticker on it - to the store, they would be able to look it up somehow.

Unfortunately, as it turned out they couldn't find the receipt...but despite the fact that Steve asked nothing else of them, the customer service employee offered to let him return the coffee maker for store credit! $212 of store credit, to be exact, which I can only assume is what the DGB-900BC costs now (plus tax).

And with that store credit, Steve turned right around and purchased a new coffee maker for us...of course ;) This time we went with Breville - we have a Breville espresso machine that we love that has lasted us for over four years now, after all. Specifically, Steve picked out the Breville YouBrew Glass CoffeeMaker with Built-In Grinder (model #BDC550XL).


Needless to say, considering the fact that Bed Bath & Beyond owed us nothing, I cannot express how happy I am with them. I posted about this situation on Facebook last night, and several people commented saying that they'd had similar experiences...so apparently this isn't even a one-time thing :) Of course there's always the possibility that they did more for us because Steve showed up with a broken coffee maker that had clearly been faulty and also could have burned down our house, but regardless, I cannot express enough how happy I am with Bed Bath & Beyond. I've always liked them just fine before now, but at this point they've earned a customer for life! Pin It

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: My Questions & Answers Vlog!

For Writer's Block Wednesday a couple of weeks ago, I asked for questions from my friends. I received several...probably would have received more if I'd given people more than two days to send them to me, I know ;) Which means I'll probably do this again, eventually. But for now, here is the vlog I made with the answers to the questions that I did receive!





(Can we talk about how YouTube always manages to choose the most unflattering stills for these videos? I mean *really*.) Pin It

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Confessions



I confess...that these weekends when I work Friday & Saturday nights go by all too fast and don't leave me rested at all. I didn't feel this exhausted when I sang with Juno last year...but then we rarely had two shows in a row on both Friday and Saturday nights. Or maybe 30 really is that much different from 29 ;)

I confess...that I really hope that this season of Game of Thrones doesn't grate on me the way season two did. So far so good, I guess...although there have already been changes that I don't care for, they are fairly minor, and many scenes - episode one's Tywin and Tyrion scene, for example, and episode two's Sansa/Margaery/Lady Olenna scene - have hit it on the nose so well. Which is hopefully a good sign.

I confess...that my blog(s) have been getting RIDICULOUS numbers of spam comments lately. I *really* don't want to turn on captchas because I *know* how annoying they are, but handling the spam comments has become ridiculous. What's up, Blogger? Because it really only started happening in the last few months, and several blogs that I follow are also having this problem, I can't see that it's a problem with MY blog(s) in particular...

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

MegaCon Recap: Day 1, Part 2

Back to MegaCon!

Yes, I know that I sort of abandoned this recap for a while...sorry :-/ What can I say...I've been super busy and had so many other things to post about ;)

Anyway, first things first - I trudged back up to my room at the Rosen Centre from the Con to get changed for a little photoshoot :) I'd forgotten how long it takes me to put in my extensions! And ugh, they're still not quite the right color for Cersei, but I'll be working on that...today, actually.

My good friend Sarai - who has her own photography business, Sarai Neff Photography - met me at my hotel. Rosen Centre probably isn't the *best place ever* for a photoshoot, but we found a couple areas that worked to our advantage :) She sent me a couple of her favorites out of the pictures that she took to share here on my blog...



I love how the sun is highlighting the photo behind me (yes that was very much on purpose). Also - when these pictures were taken I was of course wearing that awful green MegaCon bracelet, but thanks to Sarai's friend and colleague, Samantha of S.O. Photography, the bracelet is no longer! (in these photos, I mean) I am forever grateful to her...I mean, that's the one frustrating thing about cons (other than it often being difficult to find a place to take pictures where they won't have awful hotel carpeting or tons of other people in the background) - the badges/bracelets so often finding their way into photos! One could certainly make a lot of friends by figuring out how to do a *good* job photoshopping them out of pictures...

Sarai was even gracious enough to use my camera to take a couple of pictures...hey, what can I say, I wanted to be able to come home and have some readily available ;)


Unfortunately my costume is a bit half-ass because I never did have time to finish my screen-accurate Cersei belt :-/ The dress itself isn't screen-accurate either - fabric-wise - but what I love about the fabric that I *did* find was (a) it was on clearance, and therefore cheap, (b) it has some simple embroidery on it that at least makes it look more accurate than just plain fabric, and (c) it's very light and therefore not ridiculously uncomfortable to wear in terms of temperature.

Anyway, after my photoshoot I met my friend Tarl, his fiancee Jen, and some of their friends at The Pub at Pointe Orlando. Not the most amazing restaurant ever, but the food was good (I had the Ham & Swiss Pub Pretzel) and I was even impressed with my Bloody Mary (I'm *very* picky about Bloody Mary's) :)

Except at one point, someone asked me who I was supposed to be dressed as. "Do you watch Game of Thrones?" He nodded. "I'm Cersei Lannister," I clarified.

"Oh," he said, cocking his head and eying me for a moment. "You look more like Daenerys. She would have been my first guess."

Excuse me?


I was grateful to receive a call from my friend Mike right about then. He whisked me away to his house to visit his awesome dog Tedders (!!!) and then brought me back to the hotel fairly early - around 10:30, in fact.

But did I go to bed? Noooo. I won't even get into that, but suffice it to say that between drinks while getting ready for my photoshoot and drinks at The Pub and drinks back at the hotel, when I was walking through the lobby and one guy standing with a group of friends called out, "Nice costume!" I replied snarkily, "Do you even know who I am?" (What can I say, I was still smarting from being told that I looked like I was trying to be Daenerys.)

The guy who had spoken up in the first place hesitated for just a moment, and then replied, "Princess Leia?"

!!! UM WHAT ??? Now, I'll give him this - they were clearly in Orlando on some other business, not for MegaCon. But...still. Still. (Leia has *brown* hair, folks. Brown. I just...)

I laughed and said, "No." At that point I figured that if I could be somehow mistaken for Daenerys Targaryen (at least SOMEWHAT understandable) and Princess Leia, it was time to go to bed.

Honestly, that ^^^ never would have happened at Dragon*Con.

That's all for day one of my MegaCon experience, but I promise I'll be posting my day two recap sooner rather than later :) Pin It

Friday, April 5, 2013

Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere: Part 3

So besides a ton of awesome themed food and a Season 2 re-watch, of course my day had to consist of some Ice & Fire Con stuff ;) My friend Matt came by for dinner and to watch the show with us, and after we ate he and I [sort of] donned our Cersei and Matt costumes to record a little video for an Ice & Fire Con 2014 fundraiser/kickstarter. I haven't had time to edit the video yet, but of course I took a picture in costume, considering ;)


Thankfully recording said video didn't take too long - right now we're just doing a temporary one anyway, because we want to get something up...and after Ice & Fire Con we'll re-do it and add some footage from the convention itself :) Basically the point is to raise some funds so that we don't start planning next year's convention with nothing (which is how Ice & Fire Con 2013 began)...and to also hopefully make next year bigger and better and maybe even eventually get some Game of Thrones actors to come by for the weekend. Obviously I'll update and give more information once we've posted the fundraiser/kickstarter :)

So between pausing things to make dinner, and then to record that video...we never did get to finish our Season 2 re-watch. We did at least get through the Blackwater episode, though...which is, of course, the Big Important One anyway. As soon as we finished we had just a few minutes to ready ourselves for the Season 3 premiere!

(excuse the horrible quality of this picture - it was taken in quite a hurry, after all)

Clearly the next 55-ish minutes of my life were spent with my eyes glued to the television.

My thoughts? I liked the season premiere...but I didn't love it. First things first - err, Ghost is still with/back with the Night's Watch? When did that happen? And what the hell, LC Mormont? In the books, Sam tries to send the ravens...they fly off, sure, but in his fright and hurry he forgets to tie his notes to them. In the show, we never see Sam anywhere near the Fist of the First Men (presumably where the ravens are), so how in the hell can he be chastised for not sending the ravens?! I don't know if it was bad script writing or bad editing or what, but it irked me.


SIDE NOTE: THE CREDITS! AHHH THE CREDITS! WINTERFELL BURNING AND...WAIT...ASTAPOR?!?


I did, however, like the change that they made in regards to Jon and Mance's conversation. (I know, ::GASP::) I always thought it was a pretty damn weird and weak excuse that Jon would simply abandon the Night's Watch because when he was at Winterfell he had to sit at a far table during feasts. Ya know, being a bastard and all. However, him turning his cloak on the Watch because he finds out that Mormont knows about Craster sacrificing his sons and does nothing to stop it? *Far* more believable.

That's followed by an unnecessary scene with Bronn and a mostly-naked whore, which is followed by an unnecessary scene during which Tyrion and Cersei trade words (or rather, jibes and threats). Bronn shows up bereft of his female companion and has a bit of banter with Tyrion; amusing, I guess, and though in the book Bronn pretty much ignores Tyrion after the Battle of the Blackwater...I suppose I wasn't really expecting them to follow that line in the show, what with how popular Bronn is.

Davos is up next. Must have been exciting for people who haven't read the books, to know that he's still alive ;) Steve was certainly surprised and pleased. Davos is saved by Sallador Saan and then we move on to Harrenhal. For some reason Robb and Catelyn are at Harrenhal; personally I'm pretty sure I know where they're going and I understand why they're doing it, so I guess I'll just keep my mouth shut about this change.

Back in King's Landing, an awesome Tyrion/Tywin scene occurs - seriously, almost line for line from the book. No complaints here. This is followed by Sansa (YAY!), who is apparently BFF with Shae, who apparently has no secrets from Ros (???). Littlefinger acts the uber creeper and also completely out of character by once again telling Sansa he'll try to whisk her away. Ugh.

But then we finally get DRAGONS! And retching Dothraki (kind of unnecessary?). And Dany whining about needing bigger dragons and an army. Thanks girl, we know.


More Davos, although he's all angry and attack-y on Melisandre, which um he'd never be in the books. Sure, he wanted to kill her, but storming into Stannis' solar demanding a word alone and then actually running at Mel with a dagger? Um, no. So yeah, Davos is alive, but now he's in a dungeon. A bit backwards, but for now I'll buy it (I seem to say that a lot with this show; hopefully it won't come back to bite me in the ass the way it did in season two).

Next we have Joff cowering in a litter while Marg plays Mother Teresa with some Flea Bottom orphans. I liked this scene - it said a lot about both of them as characters, but especially Margaery, who is "beloved by the commonfolk" in the book, though no such obvious evidence is given as to why she would be. This is followed by an awesome dinner with the in-laws - Cersei and Joffrey with Margaery and Loras, I mean. It seemed drawn out and unnecessarily long to me, but it at least showed some of the Cersei vs. Marg dynamic.

Back in Dany's camp, she's now in Astapor and meeting the Unsullied. This part was surprisingly close to the novel as well, and though after comes a scene that actually took place in Qarth at the end of Clash of Kings (and was a bit different from that, anyway), it was about time they brought back Barristan Selmy! Sad that there's no Strong Belways, but sadly I've known for some time that he wasn't really necessary and likely wouldn't be cast. As for Barristan...woooow did that actor age. I don't mean to be morbid, but I can't stop wondering how he will last through several more seasons of this show.

And that's all she wrote, folks!

Except...where was Bran, with Osha and Hodor and Rickon? And Arya, Gendry, HOT PIE? What about Jaime and Brienne?!? Should Game of Thrones have a *two* hour premiere, considering episode two will really just be a continuation of the beginning anyway?

Hmmm....... Pin It

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere: Part 2

Several hours of Season 2 later, I took a break to throw together what turned out to be an amazing dinner, once again courtesy of the Inn at the Crossroads cookbook, A Feast of Ice & Fire :) Now I don't mean to be a tease, but as I said in my last entry...out of respect for the two amazing women who put together the Inn at the Crossroads website and later, the cookbook, I won't be sharing these cookbook-exclusive recipes here in my public blog. Seriously, just go by the cookbook...it's a beautiful book in and of itself, and if you're a Game of Thrones/Song of Ice & Fire fan it belongs in your collection, anyway :)

The main course was Aurochs Roasted with Leeks...

"Such food Bran had never seen; course after course after course, so much tht he could not manage more than a bite or two of each dish. There were great joints of aurochs roasted with leeks, venison pies..." - A Clash of Kings


Can you believe the size of that leek?! (I should probably note that for a girl, I have ridiculously large hands, or otherwise you may think that this leek is fairly normal...) I bought the leeks for this particular recipe at Whole Foods, and they were seriously three times the size of the ones I buy at our usual supermarket (Bi~Lo...ugh)

Now...I will admit that the recipe calls for a few pounds of top round beef, or...BISON! I've had bison before, and I knew it was delicious, so when I saw that they had some at Whole Foods it was like...fate. It had to happen. I had to buy and cook that gorgeous chunk of meat.



Beautiful, isn't it??? :) And this was definitely one of the easiest recipes in the Feast of Ice & Fire cookbook...by far. Their cook time wasn't right for bison, though...it called for roasting a three-pound chunk of meat at 400 degrees for one hour...which may have been okay for regular beef, but bison - being a more dense, less fatty meat - needs longer. My bison shoulder cut was 2.77 pounds (from what I remember) and it took an hour and a half of cook time and then 15 minutes of sitting before it was cooked to medium-rare...which was fine with me because I like my meat good and bloody ;)


I was already into the wine before dinner, but what can I say? A good Cabernet was perfect with this meal!

Even though I was stuffed full of meat and veggies (and probably enjoying my wine way too much...), I'd thrown dessert in right when dinner finished cooking, and soon enough it was ready...Baked Apples, and to be precise I used Cameo apples and served them with Naked Goat Cheese, which was an awesome match. I was very proud of myself as I chose the cheese with nothing but my own knowledge ;)

"[T]here were baked apples and berry tarts and pears poached in strong wine. Wheels of white cheese were set at every table, above and below the salt, and flagons of hot spice wine and chilled autumn ale were passed up and down the tables." - A Clash of Kings
 
 
One thing I will say is that the Cameos were the "firmest, tartest" apples I could find - which was the general type of apple that this recipe called for - yet the cooking time was too long for them :-/ They were supposed to be baked for an hour, but 45 minutes would have sufficed (or possibly even still been too much)


Dinner and dessert may have been over, but our Season 2 re-watch was not...unfortunately, I hadn't timed things quite right, and between that and other things that I needed to do on Sunday...well, you'll find out more in the third and final installment of my Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere story! ;) Pin It

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere: Part 1

After having such an awesome time with my Game of Thrones Season 2 Premiere Day last year (so awesome that it took that it took three blog entries to sum up - check them out! part one ~ part two ~ part three), I knew that doing it all over again for Season 3 was a must...and while I hoped that I'd only need two posts to gush about my weekend, turns out it's actually going to take three. Exciting, I know...haha.

First things first...Steve was kind enough to call around last Friday (March 29th, I mean) and then head out to pick up some of that coveted Game of Thrones beer by Ommegang Brewery :D


I had worn my Hound's helm shirt that day simply because I was excited for a Game of Thrones-filled weekend...but maybe it was some sort of lucky charm, because Steve [obviously] found some of the beer - and even bought *six* bottles of it!


Admittedly, I couldn't wait until Sunday to try it ;) We popped one open Friday evening and to be honest I was *very* pleasantly surprised. Now, I've always enjoyed Ommegang's beers...yet I couldn't help but be a bit worried that this one wouldn't be worth the hype.

The verdict? It definitely was. It's a lighter ale with an almost citrusy taste, yet it has a dry finish that keeps it from being too sweet. The balance is seriously just right, and I rarely say that about, well, any beer. Does it bring to mind Game of Thrones for any reason outside of the marketing/label? Nah, not really. But a good beer is a good beer is a good beer, right? ;)

Anyway, on Saturday night we watched the Season 1 finale...and on Sunday morning we got up, put together Inn at the Crossroads' "Breakfast on the Wall", and started our Season 2 re-watch!


"When day broke, Jon walked to the kitchens as he did every dawn. Three-Finger Hobb said nothing as he gave him the Old Bear's breakfast. Today it was three brown eggs, boiled hard, with fried bread and ham steak and a bowl of wrinkled plums." - A Game of Thrones

Now USUALLY I do not shy away from sharing recipes on my blog, no matter where they come from. Part of that reason is because (a) I always make slight changes - seriously, I can't remember a recipe where I didn't change SOMETHING, whether it be adding more of an ingredient or omitting an ingredient or outright changing the way the dish is cooked; and (b) it's next to impossible for recipes to be copyrighted anyway so there's really not any worries about copyright infringement ::shrug::

In this case, however, I have a *huge* amount of respect for the girls who run Inn at the Crossroads - for being such fans of this series that they created/collected recipes based on mere quotes from the books, for sharing so many of those recipes on their website, and for then earning such recognition that they were able to publish the Feast of Ice & Fire cookbook.

(And on top of that, they were awesome enough to plug Ice & Fire Con for us.)

As I said, our Season 2 re-watch started with breakfast...and *wow* had I forgotten how much I hated most of the changes that they made in regards to that season being based on A Clash of Kings.

But hey, that's what wine is for, right? (Forgetting, I mean.) Next up: a very different dinner...and wine, of course!
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monthly 101 Updates: February & March

Okay, I did it again. I kept meaning to post February's 101 update, and I kept getting sidetracked...so here you go, two months in one!

Perform a random charitable act for a stranger - Completed 2/24/2013 when I gave an extra free pass that I had to the Biltmore to a family of 5 that was about to buy tickets for the day.

Visit 3 new states in the US - 3/3 as of February 2013 - Ohio, Idaho, Montana!


 Send 5 "just because" cards/letters to friends -Self-explanatory, and completed in early March.

Finish one of the books/stories I'm writing - Yes, I finally, finally, did this! Too far too long, but not only did I finish the novel, but I did preliminary edits and sent it out to some betas :D

...and yes, I realize that at this rate I *definitely* won't finish all 101 of these goals by mid-January of next year...guess I better get cracking! Pin It

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Confessions



I confess...that I'm exhausted thanks to staying up to watch both the Game of Thrones season premiere *and* the Walking Dead season finale. But it was worth it! (Sort of. I think.)

I confess...that my friend and I have been discussing putting together a podcast for YEARS now, and I personally think this week would be the perfect time to do so...but I'm not sure either one of us have time right now. Sad :(

I confess...that I have two videos to make/edit, and no time to work on them. Sigh.

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