Sunday, October 26, 2014

NaNoWriMo Approcheth!

So I've spent the past weekend working on a long list of things to get ready for NaNoWriMo. Lots of random chores, a bit more cleaning up the house from the move, and getting ready for next weekend.

One of the things I realized I needed last time for my story, which I will be continuing for my 2014 NaNo, was a family tree for my Main Character. He's a spoiled brat of a Noble family in England, so he would probably always be bragging about them. Friday, I realized I could do it without doing a full family tree. After all, most families don't have stories about every member of their family. So I started a fic called "20 (or More) Important Members of the Bothwick Family." It's been interesting coming up with good periods in history to fit his family into. Still working on them, but I think that's my task for the week. Looking forward to coming up with more.

I have a nice long list of events that need to happen in the story. I made a list for each of my major players in the story and wove them together in a basic outline. We'll see how much more that will get me. I figure I'll have to redo it as I go, but then, I always do, so that doesn't worry me in the least.

The NaNoWriMo site has updated once more, and now it stores all of your former NaNos, and so I spent a lot of time at the beginning of the month making up covers for my old NaNos. Some I'm more happy with than others, but it's so great to see them all lined up like that. I can't believe I've been doing this for so long. I have a total of 8 former winning stories, though one is the story I will be attempting to finish this year--Catalyst. I hit 50k, but it was nowhere near done. It's possibly the longest thing I've ever done for NaNoWriMo. Hopefully I'll be able to finish it this time.

I've also been planning food for the next month. Every year, I make a giant pot of spaghetti sauce and freeze a bunch, so that's something I'll be doing next weekend. I've made up a list of the things I'll need, and I'll probably go shopping tomorrow to get it all. I've also been considering getting a large pizza delivered Friday or so. Might even make a pot of Peruvian Chicken Breasts and make tacos with them. Beyond that, I'm not sure what I'll do food-wise, but I'll probably go with frozen for the rest. Might see if anyone's willing to give me a trip to Grocery Outlet to see what I can find there. Time will tell.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Recipe Experiment - Mummy Pizza Puffs

So my friend Foodie used to come over every weekend at my old place because we lived in the same complex. We can't do that as much any more now that I've moved, but she came over yesterday for our yearly watch of the two good Mummy movies (with Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz).

She'd found a recipe, so we decided to try it out. It's from Campbell's website, and they call them Campbell's Mummy Pizza Puffs. We made a few changes to the recipe for our own purposes, but they were absolutely delicious. She stopped at the store and got a different puff pastry dough brand: Aussie's Bakery. Their dough had no trans fat in it, so it's a far better choice if you can find it. For the sauce, we used my favorite brand: Classico. I highly recommend their sauces, as they're the best I've ever tasted. We used the fire-roasted tomato and garlic, which was perfect for pizza sauce. We sprinkled a bit of oregano over the top, though I really didn't taste it in the final product. We also added more of the olives inside the pizza, and she added some mushrooms to hers as well, with no variation in the cooking time.

I was happily reminded of an old frozen puff-pastry pizza Pepperidge Farms used to have, so if you remember those fondly, this will probably be something you'll enjoy. We think it would work well just as a simple crust, too, and then we could have made a possible total of fourteen, with all the extra crust we would have had. We'll definitely be making these again sometime.

Here's some shots of the pizzas once they were finished:
All cooked. Mine on the left, Foodie's on the right.

And all plated up.

Hello again - Giant Update Post of Doom

I fell out of using this blog for a while, but I'm back. Lots to share. The last year has been pretty crazy, but I'm still here, despite everything.

Got a new job last year in late January, and was officially hired on that June, so I've been gainfully employed now for more than a year and a half. Met a lot of great people, learned a lot about Unions and Pensions (which is what I work on), and starting to consider where I will try to move inside the company.

It's meant a lot more reading on the ride to and from work, as well as on breaks, which makes me very happy. I've missed the enjoyment of new books, but between one of my co-workers' suggestions for reading, and Goodreads, I've been finding all sorts of great books, both on Kindle and in paper form.

And because of my reading, I've started a new blog here on blogger. The blog is called A Slash Reader's Diary, and it deals specifically with reviews of stories that have a male/male pairing as the central focus, as that is one of my favorite genres. I've found it's hard to find books that are in the genres I like that also have that focus, so I wanted to provide a place where others could find the great books I've found.

I lost one of my kitties about a year and a few months ago. I still miss Sebastian a lot, but after a few months (right around this time last year), I got another black kitty whom I have named Nicky. He's not sure what to make of everything, but he's having great fun tormenting my poor Morgan, who doesn't know what to do with this kid who keeps getting in her face and doesn't kowtow to her every demand the way Sebastian did. He's more cuddly than Sebastian or even Morgan, as he loves to jump right up into my arms and snuggle for a few minutes. It's been a learning process for both of us, but we're definitely doing well.

Shortly after arriving last year, at the old apartment

Yesterday, settled in his favorite viewing spot at the new apartment
Morgan's having more issues than a new brother, though. Shortly after his arrival last year, I noticed her weight was dropping too much, so I took her to the vet. She has hypothyroid problems. For a time there, I was pretty sure I was going to lose her, but we got her on meds which seem to be helping a lot. So she gets her ears rubbed twice a day, and the kitties get wet food daily, something that was only a once or twice weekly treat before.

And, as you can see from the pictures with Nicky, I have moved. I moved in late July and early August, and it's been stressful and wonderful in turns. Some great things, some bad things, but I'm slowly getting settled. Nicky wasn't too sure about all the strangers coming to visit, but hopefully he'll start to relax around strangers, as I don't plan to stop having people over to my own place, now that I've started the habit. I think it's mostly leftover stress when they were trying to find him a home at the rescue agency. Takes him a little to warm up, but once he does, he loves you.

Had a few successes with connecting to distant family over the past year.

One of the Welsh branches of my tree contacted me, and showed me that they've set up an online version of the family tree. I need to add our family information to it, but it was great to see one of my guesses confirmed (That Gabriel Howel's wife was Gwen Evan), and to discover that they'd found one more generation before them.

The other discovery was an email from a distant relation I'd never heard of before. A few years ago, in a fit of desperation, I posted on GenForum about my great-great grandparent from a small town in Czudek in what is now southern Poland. The family were Jewish, and in the late 1800s through the 1940s, it was a very bad place to be a Jew. Unsurprisingly, I know very little about this family. Originally, only what I got from my grandfather, then from his papers, which gave me a bit more. So I wrote a note on the Forum hoping that someone who knew them or of one of their other descendants (at the time, I knew only two daughters, though I was fairly sure there were more children).

Then a few weeks ago, I got an email from someone who said she was their granddaughter. I know enough to be wary of that sort of claim, but the information she gave worked with what I had in a way that made it pretty clear to me that she was, indeed who she claimed to be. So now my great-grandmother's family is finally intact on my family tree. She had three brothers and two sisters, one of whom disappeared at the end of World War I, and one of whom was taken by the Nazis. All the others escaped to the US or Israel, and lived full lives in their new homes. Given that I'd always assumed that I had several on this branch who likely died because of the Nazis, I was glad to learn our losses were so few. And now I have a few new names to try and track down. Who knows what I might find now.

I think I'll stop there and do the other two things (NaNoWriMo and a new recipe) in a different post, but that's pretty much my life for the past two years.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Restaraunt Guide: Taki's Mad Greek

Went out to lunch with my mother today to a restaurant that I'd passed by a million times before, but never gone to: Taki's Mad Greek, on 15th just off 85th in Crown Hill, right across from the new Value Village store.

It's a pretty little place, and looks to be family run. The walls are painted with Greek murals, and there's a small bandstand in the back for the evening entertainment, despite the fact that the place is tiny.

The gentleman who was there when we arrived was very friendly, and we came a bit early, so it was pretty quiet. We both got the chicken souvlaki with Greek potatoes and a Caesar salad... And it was all delicious. The plate was enough for two meals, and the seasonings on all of it were just mouth-wateringly good. I'm definitely going to have to go back again as soon as I can.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New recipe - Tropical Island Chicken

*waves* Hi! I am still alive. Been busy with Christmas and a few less-fun things, but I'm doing a recipe, so I thought I'd share it today.

I started with this recipe at for Tropical Island Chicken.

My changes:
I always use breasts, as I'm not a fan of dark meat the way most people are.
Instead of onion powder, I used flakes, and instead of garlic salt I used garlic powder. There was plenty of other salt in the recipe, so I didn't bother to replace it.
I also had to replace the crushed pineapple because I realized I had none, so I used half of a citrus-flavoured Sobe, though hopefully if I like this, I'll be trying it again with actual pineapple. I also cut the amounts of the sauce recipe in half because of that, and I still worry that I ended up with too much.
Instead of the 30 minutes after saucing, I'm going to check it at 10, and another 10 after that, just to see how it looks. I might add more sauce then, too.

Should be interesting. We'll see if it works. Smells great in here right now. :) I'll let you know how it turns out.

ETA: Well, post-eating, it wasn't rich enough, and cooked a bit too long. I definitely think it would be much better with actual pineapple, so I might try it again. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Recipe Experiments - Cheesy Bacon Breasts

Tried something new tonight. Turned out quite good.

I started with this base recipe: Kelsey's Cheesy Bacon Breasts.

My changes:
I'm not fond of mustard, and one of the comments below the main recipe suggested marinading the chicken in vinegar, so I decided to start by taking the oil and a teaspoon of mustard powder and adding it to about a half cup of apple cider vinegar, then putting that and the chicken in a baggie and setting it in the fridge for an hour.

Once I was done marinading it, I discarded the marinade and put the chicken in a pan in the oven and cooked it for ten minutes, flipped it, and cooked for ten more, then put barbeque sauce and bacon bits (instead of real bacon) on it and cooked for five more minutes before adding the cheese, and finished with another five minutes.

Was absolutely delicious and very filling. I definitely recommend it. Would be great with some asparagus or broccoli.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Update

So I've been doing my best to catch up on my tree now that November's over.

And I've also been posting an Advent Calendar this year for my ancestors, and I've done the first three posts, all on my dad's father's side of the family so far, but I've got a plan for how to space them out. I've had fun with them so far, and I'm learning more about what's missing from each as I write them up, and they're getting a bit longer with each person I write up. I am pleased to discover that, despite the fact that I'm starting with my great-great grandparents, I believe I have photos of all of the people I'm writing up, but three of them.

Follow Friday:
Just one post today.

Randy Seaver of Genea-musings discusses Standardizing Place Names in genealogy. Definitely a difficult subject, given that everyone has at least one ancestor who can trace their line back to an area that no longer exists or no longer has the same name as when our ancestor came from that location.
I have also been playing with a new toy today. I'm not sure what I think of it, yet, but if there was a software program that used the information taken from the questions at the site, I would definitely consider buying it. The site is called aka, and it is not your usual online genealogy site.

You create a (currently free) account, and fill in your name, then it begins to ask you questions. You can have several family groups on the site, and can invite friends and family to answer the questions as well. Some of the questions are a bit silly or otherwise jarring, like "what sex is this person" and "is this person still alive," but you can also make up your own questions, and therefore can configure it to what you need to learn about your family members.

From these questions, you create timelines and interrelationships between the people listed, not to mention a basic family tree, though the family tree part of the site isn't particularly great yet.

I've run across a few minor flaws in the programming, but the site is still very new, and I'm hoping that it will only improve from here on.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:
Randy Seaver's blog had a good fun post this past Saturday, and I can't resist it.

1) Think about the games that your whole family would play when you were a child.

2) Tell us about one (or more) of them - what was it called, what were the rules (as you remember them), who played the game, where did you play the game, who usually won?

3) Write your own blog post, or write a comment on this post, or write a Facebook comment or note.

There are six years between myself and my sister, so I spent a lot of time when she was young making up ways to distract and to entertain her. Quite a number of games come to mind, really.

When she was very small, we used to play hide and seek, but she was too young to understand that she had to wait, and she was definitely to young to count yet, so I would tell her to wait where she was, then run ahead an try to find a place to hid before she could run after me. We actually had quite a lot of fun with the game, and played it quite often.

We also inherited a number of games, most of which were missing pieces in varying amounts, meaning we often had to loot other games to play anything. Which led to the idea of combining them.

Our favorite, which we played a number of times, was Payday, which I got from someone for a Christmas or Birthday present one year, but was rather dull on its own, so we would combine it with the game of Life, and occasionally with the game Careers. We'd play a month of Payday, then start the game of Life using the money we'd gained in that first round rather than what we were supposed to start with according to Life. When we got to the choice of career path, we would use Careers if we chose to go onto the university track to determine our career, and only play a month of payday if we landed on a Payday to determine how much we got. It made for exceptionally long games, but it also gave variation to games that I think we would otherwise have grown bored of.

So many more games I could mention, though. Monopoly, which my sister says she got good at defensively because she was so much younger than I. Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and Scattegories, all of which we played at family gatherings for several years in a row. My sister and I are extremely scary when it comes to Pictionary--there have been times when one or the other of us have drawn a single line--and the other guessed it. There was also Take Off, gotten to improve my sister's geography, and Mille Bornes, which had their day...

Really, we played a lot of games as kids. It's one thing I miss quite a bit, really.

Family Tree Calendar:
Just one event for this week.
Hans Knudsen and Christine Jensdatter married on December 2, 1854 in Vejle, Denmark.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Genealogy update

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Mine was very nice. Got to see my Uncle's remodeled place. Very roomy, and a lovely warm gas fireplace.

Have a lot of Genealogy stuff to catch up on, and I need to make a to-do list, really, because this month has left me quite behind. Got a bunch of information from my aunt, and I need to add that to the information I already have. At least now I have the family trees in some form for all sides of the family. I also plan on taking a trip to Office Max and getting fresh supplies so that I can keep track of things better. The current system I have really isn't working.

Forgot to post last week, so I'll do two weeks of calendar here today, though it's only adding one more event to an already short list:
November 18, 1757, Ana Maria Andersdatter Brunn was born in Bergen, Norway.
November 19, 1863, Jorgen Larsen and Ivare Christensen were married in Vejle, Denmark.
November 23, 1754, Anna Margretha Sorensen was born in Gelting, Germany.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Genealogy update for the week

Not a whole lot going on this week, Genealogy-wise.

I made an earlier post this week on my great-uncle, my grandfather's brother, for Veteran's Day. And I've got my usual post for tomorrow, but the one after it will be out of the order I usually do because of a new discovery I found for my paternal grandmother's side recently.

While I was writing it up, I realized I don't have his birthdate, so I did a search for his birth record, but nothing yet, though I did find a few copies of records for other people on that branch of the family.

Nothing for Follow Friday today, but Randy Seaver's challenge for last week was tempting, so I decided to play today:
1) If you found a bottle on the shore, and it had a genea-genie in it, and rubbed it and you had ONE WISH to make about your genealogy and family history research, what would it be?

2) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment or note on Facebook.

For me? This has changed a number of times over the years, but right now, my answer would have to be meeting my paternal grandfather's parents to be able to interview them about their lives so that I could get more information about where our family came from.

For Alex, I'd want to clarify his names. He went through a number in his life, both first and surname, and I'm not even certain what his birthname truly was. And I'd also want to ask about his family's time in England, and if he was the only one who went to Camp Douglas, or if others in the family went as well.

For Dora, I'd want to know more about her sister Minna, and whether she had other siblings, and I'd want to know more about her family, and where she grew up.

I've felt the loss of both of them very strongly lately. Alex died shortly before my father was born, and Dora months before I was. And because this is the side of my family that I have the least on, it's also the side I have the most questions about. I'd love to fill that gap.

I know I was lucky in the fact that I had not only all my grandparents, but three of my great-grandparents who were still around when I was born, but I still wish I could have met more of my great-grandparents. Especially now as I am the family genealogist.

Calendar for the week:
Unfortunately, all deaths this week. :S
Lauge Nilsen died November 8, 1661
Mathias Frandsen died November 9, 1827 in Vejle, Denmark
Mathias Frandson (his grandfather) died November 13, 1796 in Vejle, Denmark

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Genealogy update

So, I know I didn't do one of these last week, but I was a little Genealogied-out from spending the weekend with my sister and working on a lot of Genealogy stuff while I was there. It was great, though.

We discovered that we have not one, but two pictures of my great-grandmother Dora with her sister Minna. Seems I'd seen the shot a number of times, but it was only scanning in the shot of the two of them as young women that made me realize I'd seen her face before. So that was fun. A lot of other minor discoveries as well, including a shot of Dora's eldest, Ben, who died in the mid eighties. I remembered him, but it had been so long since I'd seen his face that I'd forgotten what he'd looked like until I saw the shot. He and Grumpy were so much alike, they should have been the twins. ;)

Made a post about my great-grandfather Holger today over at Oh, Spusch. His is the best-researched line in my tree, mostly because my grandmother and her sister were so desperate to find information about their mother. I'm glad they were. I love having so much detail, though I'm coming to find that there are gaps in that, as well.

My main focus since Monday, however, has been NaNoWriMo. I've done it every year but one since 2006. For those who don't know (and/or don't want to follow the link), NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50k word novel in the month of November. It's great fun, with lots of support from the site and the forums at the site, though it's not for those who aren't used to writing every day, or who can't write enough per day (about 1700 words per day). I've enjoyed it every time I've done it. And won each time, too. This year I'm doing something that most would consider breaking the rules--I'm playing in someone else's universe. Now I just have to hope I have enough story to make it through 50k. I've managed 10k already, so I'm doing pretty good.

Nothing for Follow Friday today, since I've been so out of it the past two weeks.

Really need to update this calendar, as I know I have some new dates to add, but here's the stuff from the past two weeks:
10/25/1846 - Leonharde Marine Linkhausen died in the Lofoten Islands in Norway from complications of childbirth.
10/27/1765 - Maren Mathiasdatter died in Vejle, Denmark at the age of 84.
11/02/1822 - Jens Pedersen and Mette Matisdatter were married in Vejle, Denmark.
11/07/1826 - Abalone Mortensdatter died in Vejle, Denmark at the age of 82.

ETA: Just went through my program, and it turns out there are a whole ton more dates than I had before, and there's one that I just have to share, because I'm so very glad I have it now -
10/30/1919 - Alex Hillinger and Dora Kresch were married in Frankfurt, Germany.

And I've an idea for this December for Oh, Spusch that I hope people will enjoy--I'm going to do an advent calendar of three generations of my family--my grandparents through great-great grandparents. Wish me luck!