Last Saturday was great. The sun wasn’t exactly shining, but it did snow, which was pretty neat because we’re at the point in this winter where I was starting to think I’d never see snow again in my lifetime unless I moved to California. Anyway, it was nice and cold, the snow was falling, I was minding my own business, and then this photo landed in my email.

Y’all. I can’t with this girl. If you thought that a trash can whose contents are mainly used tissues wouldn’t have anything good for a little dog to eat, then you would be me and my entire family, and you would be wrong. My very fed-up mom stuck this sign on the trash can, so I’m sure that’ll clear that right up.

In other news, it has now been almost exactly a year since I first moved into this apartment, and, while I cannot overstate how happy I am not to be moving at the end of my lease, I have a bit of a bone to pick with myself. This spring marks a full year since Heather and I went to Foil Arms & Hog’s show, and I have only just now got around to hanging up the poster I bought from their merch booth.

I don’t even know what to say at this point. I am a mess.

February Reading Stats

Books Finished:

  1. Three Souls – Janie Chang
  2. The Snow Hare – Paula Lichtarowicz
  3. Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell
  4. The Marriage Portrait – Maggie O’Farrell
  5. The Traitor Baru Cormorant – Seth Dickinson

Total Pages Read: 1,920

I am very, very pleased with how this month went. Not only did I outstrip last month’s reading by almost 600 pages, this month also marked the publication of the first of my reviews of the books I read this year. Unfortunately this did happen to be Elektra and I would have liked it to be a review of something I loved, but I suppose you can’t have everything. This is what happens when I buckle down and follow my Notion to-do lists: I actually meet my damn goals. I am particularly pleased that I finally reread Three Souls and wrote a review for it like I’ve been meaning to do for the last several years, but the undisputed highlight of this month was Hamnet, a gorgeous, multifaceted heartbreaker that – in spite of my failed first attempt to read it last November – was an unconditional five stars, and an easy addition to my deserted island list. I will die on this hill.

I also enjoyed The Marriage Portrait, which cemented Maggie O’Farrell’s place on my auto-buy authors list (which, shockingly, I do not have written down somewhere), but The Snow Hare and The Traitor Baru Cormorant were total losses for me. Win some-lose some, I guess, but I hated all the characters in The Snow Hare and Baru Cormorant bored me to tears. This was really a surprise because Baru was billed to me as a Tyrion Lannister-type character, and, well, I love Tyrion Lannister, so I thought we’d get along fine. Maybe this is a me problem – political intrigue isn’t really my thing – but I will not be proceeding with the Masquerade series. It’s not worth being that bored for three more books just to find out what happens.

The good news is that I’ve been reading and producing content at a steady rate, entirely thanks to my Notion databases and checklists. My goal for this month is to build up a large body of draft posts to prevent me from falling behind on my posting schedule over the next couple of months. We’re getting into the busy season at work, and, given what my last few projects have been like, a draft stockpile seems like an eminently good idea. I’ve been through five of our springs now, and I am completely confident in saying that I will probably not have the time or the energy to read, much less blog, from mid-March through the end of May. (I mean, I knew that when I signed up for the job. That’s why I stockpile. I’m actually very organized this year.)

Currently Reading

Ordinary Monsters
J.M. Miro
Current rating: 3-3.5 stars. This book is fucking long, but it reads really quickly. I’ve still got about 500 pages to go, so I’m not far enough in to have formed any really strong opinions. My prevailing thought at the moment is that it’s not bad. I’ve read enough to be interested, which is a good start.

Neil Gaiman
Pretty sure history is going to repeat itself and I’m going to give this one the full five stars, just like I always do. This one is part of the reread project I started this year, with the goal of reviewing every book I was too lazy to review earlier. Neverwhere is a longstanding member of the deserted island list, and I’m so excited to revisit London Below that I decided it would be the perfect book for the maiden voyage of the Modern Tally skull bookmark Heather gave me for my birthday.

A Tale of Two Birthdays

Birthday with Friends

Never bake when you’re half asleep. I did, and this is what it got me. Gray blueberry muffins.

Let me back up a little bit. Michaella and I were born within two days of each other, so we’ve gotten into the habit of knocking out two parties with one stone. This year this took the form of a joint birthday potluck, hosted at my apartment. That in itself was fine, but since we’re both rabbits and this is our year, and since I was an unholy mess this holiday season and hadn’t seen my friends for a while, I decided that I wanted to go crazy make little goodie bags for people to take home with them. In practical terms, this meant getting up at 8:30 on the morning of the party to bake gray blueberry muffins. They would’ve been fine if I’d read the directions all the way through and rinsed the canned blueberries like I was supposed to. I also forgot to add vanilla to the birthday cake even though I left the vanilla bottle out on the counter where I could not possibly have missed it (theory stronger than reality), I burned the fried noodles I made for the actual potluck part of the party, one of my boiled dumplings fell apart in the pot, and I cut myself twice, once when I was peeling apples and again when I was rinsing the blueberry can.

And in spite of all that, everything turned out okay. The noodles got devoured, the gray muffins tasted fine, and nobody seemed to miss the vanilla. Even better, I got to trot out the little reindeer bowls I found on clearance at Williams-Sonoma, and the dessert plates and matching serving bowl I found at Habitat for Humanity. The reindeer were slightly off-season, but it’s fine. Everything is fine.

And Karen gave me this amazing squishable soft bubble tea plushie, and I love her and she lives on my couch now and watches TV with me. I should probably make it a goal to name her by the end of the year, because I keep forgetting.

Birthday with Family

The night of my actual birthday was rainy and cold. I had decided to take my family to an Italian restaurant that turned out to be closed on account of Superbowl weekend, but luckily the place next door to them was open. We kinda had to settle because it was getting a little late and everywhere else was probably going to be crowded or closed, and I wasn’t mega impressed because the seating host was definitely not happy to see us. But then the food turned out to be amazing and our server was super sweet, so that worked out about as well as the potluck did.

Funnily enough, my favorite dish was probably the truffle mac. I don’t actually like truffles, but I could eat like fifty pounds of truffle mac in one sitting. The bread pudding and the carrot cake (which we ordered in spite of the honey cake we had already baked at home because we were handed a dessert menu and we are shameless) were the best I’ve ever had, and all in all I would definitely go back.

2023 Resolution Progress

So that’s what my freezer looks like when I throw out all the expired shit.

Finding the time and energy to clean out the freezer is a small enough achievement, but I am proud. :’D One thing I’ve learned over the last two years of living alone is that I have a horrible habit of squirreling away food and then forgetting that it’s there, or – worse – getting lazy and/or discouraged and resorting to DoorDash, takeout, or instant foods that don’t have to be defrosted. (Exhibit A: my instant noodle cabinet, optimistically referred to as my pantry.) Freezer food does not last forever, despite all the optimism I’ve poured into it, so I finally threw out everything that was expired and made enough room that closing the door is no longer a struggle. This might seem like an odd way to kick off my resolution to waste less food, but bear with me.

After two years of haphazard eating, I have decided to ban myself from buying new foods this month. I have a budget of $100 for the entire month, which I can spend on staples like milk/juice/frozen vegetables or on takeout, but otherwise I have to eat only what is already in my fridge, pantry, or freezer. I have a lot of food stored away even after my freezer purge, and it’s time to start eating it up. I am also not allowed to order DoorDash, because those fees will eat through my food budget in one order. I’m hoping that if I establish some ground rules and get myself into a routine, I’ll automatically keep following it without thinking about it. I’m a big fan of lists and routines. Notion has been particularly helpful: I’ve been doing very well with my weekly to-do lists, particularly with the menus I set for myself, and I am confident it will keep me on track.

Speaking of things of which I am absurdly proud: I had a slight mishap with the cap of my sesame oil bottle exploding in an extremely cold cabinet, so I moved all my bottled goods onto the counter by the stove and ordered a rack for them. I think the rack was overpriced but it was hands down the best kitchen investment I’ve ever made I am so happy omfg why didn’t I buy one of these sooner. I’m hoping I’ll be able to put my cooking oils on the rack as well as the other bottles empty out. The fish sauce and the extra bottle of oyster sauce will eventually move to the fridge, so maybe I’ll be able to squeeze them on.

February Kitchen Adventures

Part of the reason I’m feeling so optimistic about my chances of cleaning out my fridge/pantry/freezer is that (1) I have more energy, possibly because of the entirely psychosomatic effects of spring, and (2) I have actually been very good about eating in. A review of my February food-related expenditures revealed that I spent most of that money on groceries, which is great, even if the exact amount was a little bit higher than I would’ve liked. All the same, some of those groceries got turned into a couple of big bags of frozen dumplings, so even if I run out of food before the end of March (ha) I’ll at least have my dumplings.

I’m also feeling extra inspired at the moment because my brother came to visit last Sunday, and we made a modified version of this jeyuk bokkeum and a sheet pan full of cheesecake brownies, which I now have too much of so free brownies to anybody who apparates into my living room. This is the literal reason I just made a new tag called cookycnidaria, because I like to cook and I can’t shut up about food.

Bonus: a fried egg, with extra egg whites left over from making the brownies. I’ve recently discovered that I love fried eggs. Now if only I could figure out how to flip them without breaking them. I can fold dumplings and make my own wrappers and cook fried noodles just like the ones we order every time we go to a proper Cantonese restaurant, but for some reason I really suck at frying eggs and I have no idea why. This is so basic, and I am so frustrated.

Of course, having said all that, I have to admit that we did go out for lunch but in our defense there is a new Szechuan place near me and we considered it our solemn duty to give it a try. Leaving aside my disappointment that the pan-fried noodles could not be cooked Hong Kong-style, everything was delicious, and I would go back. As for the noodles, I have the leftover sauce and a couple of packages of Hong Kong-style egg noodles in my pantry, so I’m all set.

Final Thoughts

After literal decades of my mom washing him for me, I finally put Pikachu through the washing machine myself and then stuck him on a rack to dry and lord he looked depressed.

Look, just be grateful you’re yellow again and not some kind of dingy gray.