Mushroom-Free Loco Moco

I’m still trying to get back into cooking proper meals, instead of fast food or whatever I can throw together in a pinch as I was during con crunch. Tonight I made Loco Moco, but my own version which basically uses ground beef instead of hamburger patties, but keeps the rest of the recipe more or less the same. I just find that it’s easier to eat that way — and, more importantly, that my kids make less of a mess if they don’t have to cut up the burger.

My brother-in-law was over for dinner, and he vehemently abhors mushrooms, so I had to make further changes to Guy Fieri’s recipe in order to make it palatable to everyone. Basically, I just skipped the mushrooms, and it was all good (if not as flavourful). I also wanted to make it a bit healthier by adding more veggies in the form of additional tomatoes and stalks of asparagus — it’s much easier to persuade my kids to eat their greens if they’re covered in sauce of some sort.

Birthday Gifts

I haven’t been blogging for the last week because my illness finally caught up with me. It took me over two weeks to get over the con plague cold — which nobody else caught, which tells me that I really let my immune system get depressed through a combination of working too hard, eating crappy food, and not getting enough sleep. After a week of feeling like crap, I just had no reserves left.

Time marches forward, though, so while I was sick I celebrated a quiet birthday. Two of my friends had already bought me a rotary cutter as an early gift, but I got the gifts from my family over the weekend. My husband contributed to the “I need a new bike” fund (I got my old one more than fifteen years ago, and it has seen some heavy use). Thing 1 got me a hanging basket of flowers, pictured above.

Thing 2 got me a couple pots of annuals for my garden.

The two of them together got me Turtles Minis chocolates and some fun brightly-coloured yarn.

My parents contributed to the new bike fund, as well as buying me a new belt sander (I’d worn my old one out), a fish clamp small enough to fit in my tackle box, a guide to the essential foods of Italy, a gas mask (since I always seem to need more of them for costuming purposes), and the above-pictured camera-print pillows, which now reside in my living room. All in all, a fun birthday haul.

I plan to get back into the swing of blogging, now that I’m feeling somewhat better. Over the next week or so I hope to fill in the blanks where I wasn’t able to write, adding some backdated posts as time permits. Hopefully my energy levels will soon return to normal and I’ll be able to continue to write on my regular schedule.

Rockland Community Garage Sale

The whole town of Rockland sets aside the holiday Monday of the Victoria Day Weekend every year for the Rockland Community Garage Sale. The sale centers around the parking lot of the Independant Grocer on Laurier Street, where a flea market pops up for the day while the main store is closed. (I believe the garden center was open, though.) While this is the hub of activity, the sales continue throughout the town and a leisurely walk or drive around will lead you to some scores.

I spent the day out searching for finds with a friend of mine. She’d been going to this sale for many years, and she is the one who alerted me to its existence — I’d never gone before! My friend was hoping that a particular booth with scrapbooking supplies would be there again this year; sadly, we never found that particular vendor. However, we both came away with some fantastic bargains.

Front to back, left to right, I came home with:

– a bag of white Christmas bead garland (free)
– a bag of tiny Christmas balls (free)
– three sets of light-up LED shoelaces ($5 each)
Borderlands for the PS3 ($5 — and yes, somehow I didn’t have the original game)
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS ($5)
Pokemon Pearl Version for the Nintendo DS ($5)
Pokemon Diamond for the Nintendo DS ($5)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief for the Nintendo DS ($5)
– a brand new Hogwarts scarf ($3)
– a fish bowl or possibly a candle globe (free)
– a small lunch box ($0.25)
– a bread maker (free — to replace mine, which I’ve worn out)
– Super MasterMind ($2)
– a massive load of glass marbles ($10)
– two pictures ($0.50 each — and I only want the frames to try out Epbot’s frame resizing tutorial)

According to my math, that means that I spent $56.25, which is generally more than I’ll spend in a day of thrifting, but those DS games will be saved for Thing 1’s birthday, so I feel I’m ahead of the game there.

I think my favourite find, I think, was the big bags of marbles. This was a combined purchase from a couple of different sources, but I love the look and weight of them all. I’m determined to teach the girls how to play this summer. I don’t know how they’ve managed to miss it, but although the kids have a double-set marble run that they build regularly, they don’t play the game the way I used to as a kid. I think it’s a good thing to learn, and maybe they can teach it to their friends. Who knows, perhaps I’ll start a classic childhood game fad at their school?

Ottawa Comicon 2018 Friday Pro Pics

As we do every year, we went to Richard Dufault‘s booth and had him take professional pictures of us in our costumes. As such, all the photos in this post are his work — and, as always, they are great!

Our Friday cosplay was from the video game Borderlands 2, which my husband and I play and, after Thing 1 watched us play for a while over our shoulders, we decided she could play along with us. Thing 2 is much too young for said game play (she’s really more on a Terraria level at this point), but she has watched over her big sister’s shoulder as she plays and had to get in on the fun.

My mother joined in on this cosplay even though she doesn’t play the game, and she went as a pretty darned good Scooter, and NPC who is the son of Mad Moxxi and Jimbo Hodunk, brother of Ellie. She made most of her costume, although my father made her armour and wrench out of foam.

I went as the player character Gaige the Mechromancer, although you might note if you look at the reference photos that there are some liberties taken with the costume. One of the great things about this game are the skins (alternate colour schemes) and heads (exactly what it sounds like) that you can earn throughout the game to customize your character. I chose the Grease Monkey head and Horrible Religion skin. As for the fact that I’m missing a few accessories… Well, I ran out of time. I was pretty proud of the fact that I made my first ever foam armour in the shape of a prosthetic metal arm, though. It’s not perfect, but not bad for a first go! And I am wearing a wrench on one ankle in a holster, and a hammer at my back in a belt pouch… But of course you can’t see that in these pictures, because I was trying to show off my “arm”.

Thing 1 went as the player character Maya, the Siren. The reason she’s holding her hand with the “tattoos” the way she is is that she’s supposed to be summoning kind of a lightning ball or a force bubble, which is a physical manifestation of her Siren power. (Trust me, it makes sense in the game.) That’ll have to be edited in at a later date. As with my costume, Thing 1 got to choose the skin and head, so she’s wearing the Professor of Pain head and the Light Urple skin. I chose to kind of de-sexify this costume a bit, i.e. remove the “boob window”, since Thing 1’s only a kid and I didn’t think it appropriate at her young age.

Last but not least, Thing 2 went as Tiny Tina. Yes, purists will notice that there are a few accessories missing, but I challenge you to keep a myriad of props attached to an excited six-year-old… I didn’t even try, and went with a simplified version. The only real impracticality of the costume she did end up with was the mask on the side of the head, which kept having to be readjusted. Thing 2 really liked being able to pose in silly ways and still stay in character, since Tiny Tina is actually a child in the game — and a demolitions expert. Trust me, it makes sense in context.

These were probably the most difficult and time-consuming costumes for the con, partially because I had to make three of them, partially because I had to work with stretch fabrics, and partially because the game puts so many tiny details into their character design! I do take comfort in the fact that we plan on wearing the costumes again for Halloween — provided that the girls don’t grow too much.

Mystery Plants

Victoria Day long weekend (more commonly known as May Two-Four) is this coming weekend, which is usually the time when most people in this neck of the woods start plating their garden for summer. Mine isn’t quite ready to be planted yet. The one along the fence line needs cleaning out, added soil, and sheep manure fertilizer; the one near the house may be partially dug up so as to do some work on the foundation. Even if that wasn’t the case, I’ll be at Russell Flea all day Saturday and I’m hoping to hit the Rockland Community Garage Sale on Monday. (Yes, Monday — apparently they hold it on the holiday Monday every year.) So I wouldn’t have much time to garden this weekend in any case. I’ll try to get as much possible done next week instead.

Since I wasn’t sure how much of my garden I was going to be able to plant this year, I didn’t bother starting plants indoors for a change. Once I know how many I’ll need, I’ll just buy seedlings from a local nursery. However, I do have a few items sunning themselves on my window shelves. One of the gifts that I got from Thing 2 for Mother’s Day this year was a cute little bee plant pot made from a recycled aluminum can. When I received it, it was filled with soil and, I was assured, a few seeds.

And the seeds have sprouted! I am probably way too excited about this, but plant gifts from children often aren’t in the best shape by the time they arrive home, so their survival was not assured. I have no idea what kind of plant this will end up being, so I don’t know how much to water it or if it’s a sun or shade plant, so… Fingers crossed?

(And yes, I know that my photo is kind of hazy, like a femme fatale in an old film noir movie. I’m not sure if the lens/mirrors need cleaning or if there is something wrong with my camera/lens since I kind of dropped it on Saturday at the con. I have to give it a good once-over; I’m really hoping it’s just dirty!)

Ottawa Comicon 2018 Friday Pics

I kind of want to show the pictures of the costumes that I made after the pro photos come in, so that it’s possible to see what they’re supposed to look like before I get into the pictures where my kids aren’t goofing off. (Not that I mind the goofing off, but it does make it difficult to see what’s going on with the costumes.) But there were some other great costumes that we saw on Friday that my kids didn’t pose with.

My kids have no idea who this comic book version of The Wasp is, although I’m guessing many people these days at least have an inkling since the Ant Man and The Wasp trailers have hit. I was very impressed by the fact that although there had to be a lot of structure under the suit to secure the wings, her outfit was smooth and nearly seamless. This is a trick that’s difficult to pull off in real life.

This Gordon Freeman with a headcrab asking about the release of Half Life 3 made me laugh — especially since the headcrab has its own tiny coffee mug.

This tiny little Mega Man couldn’t have been more than four years old, and even so he had full-on armour and a blaster that lit up.

I believe that this was an original steampunk character. I was most impressed with her insanely complicated wig, and her gun that she’d made from scratch out of paper/cardboard!

This daring outfit is Ryuko Matoi’s battle costume from the anime Kill la Kill. Given how much skin is showing, it presents a lot of logistical challenges (and probably uses a lot of body glue).

This Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s novel series The Dresden Files was obviously based on the cover art, since he’s wearing a fedora (it’s an in-joke with fans that Harry never wears hats and actually rather dislikes them, but the publishers chose to add a fedora to the character on the covers as a kind of shorthand for a detective). I liked that his wizard’s staff and that Bob the Skull‘s eyes lit up.

And of course where would we be without a great Joker?

Keeping It Simple

I’m trying to get back into the groove of cooking proper dinners instead of ordering in or reheating frozen, packaged stuff — neither of which I have a problem with on principle, really, but it gets rather unhealthy after a while if that’s all you eat. Now that the con is over with, I actually have the time to cook again. Sadly, I’m still fighting off one heck of a cold, so I’ve had to keep it simple.

For Monday’s supper I whipped us up a quick batch of simple bacon and eggs. As usual, half the people in the house wanted them scrambled, and the other half wanted them over easy, so I had to make two batches. Everyone’s was served with an all-dressed, toasted bagel and a sliced apple.

For Tuesday’s dinner I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and fire up the grill outside. I basically just threw some burger patties on the barbecue and, once they’d cooked up nicely, served them with a romaine lettuce salad (I can’t really call it a Ceasar because everyone likes different dressing) and baby cut carrots. Despite their charred appearance, the burger and bun are not burned in the slightest! I think we’re going to have to change what kind of wood pellet we use, because the ones we have right now create a lot of smoke — which is great for the flavour, but turns everything black very quickly. There has to be a happy medium here somewhere. But I’ll be using the pellets we already have until they run out, so our grilled dinners may be black for a while yet. At least they’re tasty!