Events: Raclette

This party came about as a happy accident. I was talking about visiting my mom at work and all the delicious food that I was going to eat while I was there – let’s be honest, I really only care about food, it’s the reason I travel. I was describing Leelanau Raclette cheese to Caitlyn (because it’s my favorite cheese) and Barb started talking about how much she likes Raclette. It took us a good five minutes to realize that while we were using the same word, we were talking about entirely different things. Thus, the plan to have a raclette party was born!
I know I linked it above but to clarify raclette is a cheese and a Swiss style of cooking involving (usually) a granite “grilling” surface. It reminded me of fondue in that everyone sits around the table and talks while their food is cooking. 
Barb hosted this time and provided all our delicious choices.
I baked Peasant Bread and brought the coveted raclette cheese (this is like a form of currency in my family. I had to fight off several members for the quarter wheel I got.) 
We started with some grilled onions to season the stone and then ate to our hearts content! Each person gets a little tray to put underneath to stone to melt cheese in and when the cheese it good and melty (I liked mine a little crispy around the edges) you scrape it off onto your meat and veggies as they finish cooking. Everything was so simple and delicious!

Caitlyn brought a Chocolate Mouse for dessert (so good!) and we all just relaxed and had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to do this again!


Skill Mastery: Publishing

As of yesterday morning I’m officially a (self) published author. -insert fanfare-

Don’t get too excited or anything, it’s just a short story, but I had to design a cover and do all the formatting (not enjoyable) but it’s out there and it’s real and it even has an ISBN number! I had a crisis of self-worth a couple months ago, while trying to write up my author bio for an assignment, when I realized that I had nearly zero accomplishments as a writer. Nothing published in any form and very few finished projects that I was actually proud of enough to think about publishing. Leave it to school to make me have to get over that.

So here it is, in all its tiny glory.

(Click on the cover to get to the site)
It’s free to read, so feel free to download it, and if you do I’d love to hear what you think either on Smashwords or you can leave a comment here.

Events: Parties

My coworkers and I (I work at Starbucks btw) love food. And parties. So we’ve had a lot of food-related get-togethers over the past few months. They usually turn out beautifully, even if we plan them last minute. So without further ado, here are our parties!

“Pretentious” Tea Party:
We had a “pretentious” tea party to kick off our party list. Each attendee picked out a tea to pair their food item with. Here’s the delicious spread:

Tia made Black Tea Brined Chicken (easily my new favorite chicken) and a Cranberry Feta Salad, Caitlin made Vanilla Orange Biscotti, Ariel made Coconut Macaroons, Caitlyn made Fresh Fruit Tarts, Pickle Wraps, Lemon Bars, Watermelon Pickles…there was so much good food! I provided all the teas and place settings. We even made sure to all dress up and wear fancy hats, that seemed like a must for a pretentious tea party.
Baby Shower:
Caitlyn, Natalie, and I threw a baby shower for our co-worker Caitlin (who now has a beautiful baby girl!) Caitlin really loves anything French (she speaks French too) and so we decided to go with a Parisian theme for the party itself.
I whipped up the invitations.
Caitlyn made the decor and prepared most of the food. I baked and hand painted, thank you to my assistant who helped expedite the painting process, the cakes (Red Velvet, yum!)
And then Caitlyn stuck her arm in it (good job) but I didn’t mind, the food coloring stained her skin so I got mine. Haha!
Here are a few of the lovely ladies who attended with the Baby Mama. 
(from left to right: Me, Caitlyn, Caitlin (baby), Tia, Andrea, and Amy)
Oktober Fest:
We also really like LOVE beer, so of course we had to have a party solely about our favorite beverage.
There was so much food and beer. I can’t even begin to start on everything.
Ramen Party:
Instead of your traditional Halloween party, we decided to have a Ramen party instead. Ramen and I have a long an healthy relationship, unfortunately its nearly impossible to find ramen of any kind in West Michigan (yes, a Ramen shop recently opened up nearby, but it’s not traditional ramen and this make my heart sad). Caitlyn and Chad lived in Japan for five years so they understand my love affair with ramen and shared my need for it.
Chad made the ramen from scratch (it takes two days) and it was pretty dang close to exactly what I wanted.
I made Onigiri (riceballs) and Caitlyn made Gyoza.
I told you we really love food. I’m so glad that I got in touch with this amazing group of people. We have so much fun any time that we get together.
Our last party is going to get its own post, so keep an eye out for that.

Status Update: The Tl;Dr Version (Too long; Didn’t read)

It’s been a long while, hasn’t it? I’m sorry. I’ve been a terrible friend. Can you ever forgive me? You can? We’ll get past this and it’ll be just like old times? I knew we were friends for a reason! So where was I? Ah, yes, updates!

I made some things:

So many perler beads, but I finally finished this! Three months later! (It’s about 3 feet long)

Finally repainted the mirror I’ve had sitting around for months a year. Now it hangs beautifully in the living room.
I cooked a lot:
Black beans & Rice, Homemade burgers
Beer can chicken (with sides), Burgers, grilled salmon, corn, etc (this is what happens with my family)

Spaghetti & Meatballs, Pumpkin cookies

Peasant bread, Oktoberfest stew

Double fudge cookies (made by the cousin as I made more bread), Personal pizzas

Shrimp scampi
I moved, again, but now I live with friends (and crazy cats) and we have fun.
The first load of boxes, and modeling my collection of scarves (I have a problem) (and yes that’s a person under there)
I went to New York & Seattle over the summer:
New York! (More on this later, probably)

Seattle! Featuring the Bridge Troll and the skyline! (more on this later too)
Some friends got married:
Lisa & David

Raina & Daniel 
(me with the bride, Daniel ran off somewhere)
And finally, I made my own change from this to this:

Yeah buddy!
All in all a good time! I’m break down some of these into their own posts as I have a lot of pictures from trips and parties that have been attended. 
Until next time!

Skill Mastery: Gin & Tonic Hat

I’ve wanted a nice hat to wear for a while now, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough in my knitting skills to do something fancy. I found the pattern for Gin & Tonic over at Knitted Bliss. It was really cute and seemed easy enough to do.

Isn’t it darling? You can see all of my notations and yarn choice on my ravelry project page. I had to teach myself how to properly knit a “daisy stitch” which was easier than I had expected but also a pain in the ass because I knit rather tightly. Can’t be helped, but I had to remind myself repeatedly to loosen up.

I realized, as I started knitting up one for my sister, that I actually shortened the pattern. Doh! It still fits well, it’s just not as slouchy as it’s supposed to be. I wear this hat all the time now. It’s become a staple in my wardrobe for chilly days. Keeps you warm on cold days, but not too warm on nice days.


Game Break: DmC (Devil May Cry)

Guys. This game. Words can’t even properly describe how much awesome it holds in its pixels. I’ve enjoyed previous DMC games, but I was never a follower. They were fun, button-mashers but I didn’t follow the story. I knew who the characters were, but not much more than that. This game has changed all that. The opening sequence ALONE changed all that! And it has nothing to do with the fact that Dante was naked…okay, maybe a little bit.
I know a lot of people that I talked to before it came out were skeptical. Diehard fans were upset. They completely overhauled the look of the game, Dante lost his iconic white hair and red coat. Honestly I think it was for the best. I mean look at this sexy beast!! 

(click to enbiggen)
The full image from the cover art is my laptop background right now (you can find it at the end of this post). They didn’t completely get rid of everything. Rebellion, his sword, is still around looking badass along with Ebony & Ivory, the guns. The inside of his coat still has the red everyone is used to but gives him a grittier, rough and tumble feel. His personality is so much more fun, too. He’s a cocky little bastard. It’s great! 
Character hotness aside, I’m really enjoying the story so far. I’m only 5 missions in (I just checked it out last night from work) but I can’t stop playing it! I have to know what’s going to happen! I destroyed a church! (I don’t count this as a spoiler cause they had it in the demo) The combat is fun and pretty simple. You can play “serious style” and actually memorize combo moves and such or you can play like me and just mash the shit out of some buttons while watching your style points skyrocket. I really like what they did with the new weapons too. Rebellion transforms into Arbiter, a heavy hitting demonic axe, or Osiris, a quick crowd-controlling heavenly scythe. Both are good, fun weapons and you can easily switch between all three to deal out serious damage (trigger controls!) Chaining attacks together is flawless and fast, from ground to air and back again.
It’s really pretty too. I was worried when I started because some of the people in the intro cutscene were rendered with terrible lighting and they looked really…rough and ruddy. It could have been a conscious choice, they were bad guys, but I don’t know. That’s the only issue that I’ve seen so far. Everything else has been beautifully rendered. Just look at this screen cap.
I love the settings. The contrast between the real world and Limbo is well done. Limbo especially, so bright and twisted and I like the way they make the environment one of the enemies, you never know when the ground might fall out or buildings decide to try and crush you between them. It adds to the suspense! If I wasn’t trying to get a good score I’d spend more time looking around when Dante gets sucked into the alternate world. So far the game gets high scores in my book. Here, have some more eye candy.

Skill Mastery: Arm Knitting

Learned a new trick this week, Arm Knitting! I’m always looking for something new to try so when this tutorial showed up on my screen I had to give it a shot. Knit a chunky scarf in 30 minutes? Yes, please!

And this was only after 10 minutes!
It was very simple and super fun! It took a few minutes to get the hang of it because I kept twisting the stitches in the wrong direction. I had these extra skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Charcoal laying around from an old project. You have to knit two strands together (as you can see in the picture) and I only ended up using half of each skein. Plenty left over to make another one!

My sister took the first one before I could get a good picture of it (figures!), but here’s the second one! Instead of the six stitches that I “cast on” for the first one, this one is ten stitches wide. I like it much better.

(Modeled by Me, Photos by L. Jamieson @ Willowwrenn)