Category: DIY

Geeky Self Care: Winter Survival Edition

Soon it will be the new year, and several of us will find ourselves in that dark stretch of cold and unpredictable weather that seems to last much longer than the three months that make up the winter season. And while there are a lot of people out there who love winter activities, I thought it might be nice to dedicate a post to the importance of taking care of yourself and having fun as we both finish a rough year and do our best to make better of the next one.

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Klingon Bloodwine

At this point, you’d have to be lost in the Delta Quadrant to not know about our first ever Star Trek Trivia event this weekend. There’s going to be a lot of fun to be had, and The Ladies have decided to start the festivities early with our new recipe for Klingon bloodwine.

When creating this recipe, I did my research and decided to focus on the following facts:

  • Bloodwine is highly intoxicating
  • Worf likes his bloodwine “young and sweet”
  • Traditionally, bloodwine is served warm

That skull means we aren’t foolin’ around here!

I will admit to a good deal of trial and error this time around, and my first attempts at a mixed drink with hard liquors were pretty awful. I mean, to make perfectly good liquor undrinkable? The shame.

When I finally went back to scratch, I realized that the answer lay in the fact that bloodwine can be served warm. Using mulled wine as a base instead of liquor would not only allow me to control the color better but also allow me to create something that could be more or less sweet (in the case that you and Worf are in agreement on this one).

In the case of this recipe, I wouldn’t say that you need to follow it to the letter. In fact, it might be difficult to do so since I don’t have that many exact measurements and the ingredients you use can make a significant difference in how things taste. Happily, I love mulled wine, so the process of tasting and adjusting was a lot of fun.

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See that? Barely any light goes through. That’s because real bloodwine should be as dark, deep, and complex as the soul of a mighty Klingon warrior!

Ingredients

Bottle of red wine – I wouldn’t use anything too expensive, but you want to get something you are also happy to drink. I might even suggest Beaujolais Nouveau because it’s considered a “young” wine since it’s bottled only 6-8 weeks after harvest. It’s also sweet, fruity, and the kind of wine that people are just as likely to drink out of a straw or make slushies out of. So, it’s pretty unlikely we’re going to shock the wine snobs by mulling this one.

1 cup pomegranate juice – Most mulled wines are made with citrus, but I wanted something more tart that would not only add some bite but would also bolster the color.

4-8 whole cloves

1/2 tsp ginger – fresh or ground

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 cup sugar or honey – optional

Spiced rum – I used a shot and a half, but you can certainly use more or less depending on how strong or “authentic” you want this to taste.

Directions

Add ingredients to a pot and slowly bring to a gentle simmer. Allow to simmer for about 10 mins. While it cooks, feel free to taste and adjust. Just remember that the longer it simmers, the stronger the spices will taste. Best served warm, but can also be served at room temperature as a punch.

IwlIj jachjaj! (May your blood scream!)

Things I’m Loving Lately

Nothing wrong with a little joy.

Nothing wrong with a little joy.

On occasion, it’s appropriate to step back from raptor questions, book reviews, and opinions about movies and just talk about a random assortment of things we really love. All the odds and ends that don’t quite fit into a properly themed post, but are worthy of mention all the same. So here, in no particular order, are some things that are making me happy lately – maybe they’ll make you happy, too!

Smashrun

I’ve written a bit before about my love of running –  it’s been a passion of mine for about a decade now. For years I focused my training on increasing my distance, but after running more than one marathon it was time for a new challenge, so I’ve been working on getting faster. There are many tools out there for tracking your progress, but Smashrun is the one I like the best. It syncs with whatever fitness tracker you use – I have a Garmin watch – so you don’t need a new piece of hardware or even to download an app. You just connect whatever you already use to the website, and it will import all of your data. Then you can look at what pace, cadence, mileage, and elevation you did for any particular run – but also over time. That information lets you know what conditions work best for you and what you need to do to get faster. It also rewards you with badges for certain distances or goals that accumulate from the date you sign up. They’re silly and fun but oddly satisfying to achieve – I recently accumulated the total miles from Sydney to Melbourne, Australia. Who knew?

Finally, it breaks down the calories burned for each run by telling you the equivalent in both a healthy and unhealthy food, which is a great, tangible way to really understand what you burned, since most folks overestimate. Last night’s track workout got me the equivalent of a bagel with cream cheese, not shabby!

Multigrain - healthy and tasty!

Multigrain – healthy and tasty!

Homemade Bread:

I guess a lot of people get happiness from homemade bread, but my joy has been coming from baking it, rather than eating it. For the past two years I’ve baked a loaf or so every single week. It started as a way to use up a pound of yeast I’d ordered by mistake, but it’s become so much more. It does all of the things you’d expect – provides food for my family, and is a healthier alternative to commercial bread, which is full of chemicals and sugar – but it’s also been a rewarding personal project. Much like my running, baking has provided a routine that allows me to grow in skill, to get better at each week. The early efforts were still useful, but I can track how far I’ve come, and see how far I can still go. At the same time, unlike some of my other hobbies, the product has a short life span. We’re not accumulating more stuff with this project, and in fact have been able to reduce the amount of bread we buy. If you’re interested in trying your hand at bread, I recommend this English muffin recipe from King Arthur (my flour brand of choice.) It’s pretty easy, and so much better than Thomas’ that you’ll wonder why you never tried it before.

Your new favorite band.

Your new favorite band.

Low Cut Connie

The tagline for their website is “A New Boogie for All Mankind” and I am here to tell you, darlings, that the hype is real. I first discovered this band through the tune-yards – Merrill Garbus performed backing vocals on “Little Queen of New Orleans” and shared the video on ye olde Facebook.  I gave it a listen and was instantly smitten. I bought Hi Honey, the album it came from – the band’s third. This was quickly followed by the entire back catalog and waiting obsessively for the band to come to Boston, then dragging Mr. Menace to one of the most heartfelt live shows I’ve ever been to. This is old-fashioned rock and roll at its finest, complete with saucy lyrics and co-founder Adam Weiner’s forceful  piano. The keys haven’t been played this hard since Jerry Lee Lewis, and the result is the perfect soundtrack for some summer fun. Grab the tunes and bring ’em to your next barbecue – you won’t be sorry.

Words to live by.

Words to live by.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

I’ve written about the works of Patrick Ness before , and he’s gaining some recognition in the larger fantasy/sci-fi circles as the man behind the upcoming Doctor Who spinoff, Class. Since that show will be set at the Coal Hill School, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which revolves around a group of friends in their senior year of high school, is the perfect introduction if you’re curious about his work. Lighter in tone than A Monster Calls (the crying book) or his fantastic Chaos Walking trilogy, The Rest of Us still brings plenty of depth. It’s about the kids who aren’t the chosen ones, but who are surrounded by those who are. While the indie kids are battling vampires, zombies, and fairy queens, Mikey and his friends are just trying to survive the madness they bring, go to prom, graduate, and maybe get a date. I loved reading a story about what happens to everyone else while someone is saving the world, and I loved the little snippets of the chosen ones’ story that were the intro to each chapter. If you’ve ever had to find the extraordinary in being ordinary, you’ll get a kick out of this.

 

5. Henrietta Public Library Instagram

You may be wondering why I’m recommending the Instagram feed of a library located in Rochester, NY, a city 8 hours away from where I currently reside. And to be honest, if a very dear friend didn’t work there, I’d probably never have stumbled on this particular gem. But luckily for me and you, she does and I did and now I’m sharing the good fortune with you. This is a list of things that spark happiness and this feed has it in spades. Do you like our Fashion Raptor posts? Check out Henrietta’s whole Dinovember series (which we are totally doing this year.) Like a bit of whimsy? (and what are you doing here if you don’t?) Look for the photos of the Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, who swallows various resources around the library (cleverly letting you know that they exist.) The feed makes me happy with its content, which is funny and charming and sweet, but also because it’s such a stellar example of a library showcasing its relevance in the modern world. It’s also a great example of the power of social media when it’s done well – the folks behind it also run workshops for other libraries on how to use Instagram effectively. And they have a turtle named Cooper wearing a Batman balloon, which I think is pretty great.

So that’s what’s been bringing a smile to my face lately – what makes you all happy?

Smalerie Attempts Nail Art

If you follow any of the Ladies on social media, you’ll notice that we are having our second View and Chew event coming up in a couple of weeks.  This event is going to be even more crazy than our last as we prepare to celebrate all things Supernatural.  As part of our preparations, we have been making prizes, choosing the perfect plaid clothing items to wear, and having extremely detailed conversations about the best way to paint demon traps on everything from our toilets to our own finger nails.  As someone who really likes to theme her nails in line with various Comicazi and Ladies’ events, it seems only natural that I am not only prepping special nails for our event, but have been experimenting with the best way to create theme-appropriate nails for future events as well. And as I suffer from all this trial and error (and acetone fumes), I am going to share with you what I have learned.  PS –  If you are dying to see the finished product, you should really get your tickets to our event, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram (Krebstar5) if you are not local.

The Goods – Believe it or not, I don’t feel like I have enough nail supplies.  As soon as I hit a stride with something, I discover something else that I REALLY want.  Also, I never seem to have enough colors and random things to glue to my nails.  My last practice session looked like this:

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And I still want more!!!!

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In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy: Recipe Review

It’s been some time since I have cooked anything for the blog.  I think I was just waiting for the right thing to cross my path and I am happy to say that it finally has.  Several of the ladies get quite the kick out of vintage (and sometimes gimmicky) cookbooks.  This is especially true when the books come from properties that are near and dear to our hearts.  If you are interested in our past adventures with silly cookbooks, might I direct you to part one of the DC and Marvel Recipe Book Showdown.  Just don’t forget to come back and see what else we have managed to dig up.

In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy: Fabulous Recipes from My Celebrity Friends was a gift from a friend who found it while in the process of moving to a new house.  I want to give her a shout out before diving in.  Without you, this culinary adventure would not have been possible.

Cover

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Pretty Pretty Pancakes

Pancakes have been on my mind a lot lately.  Part of it was looking over some of my past posts in search of motivation, but the larger part of it was probably the epic Facebook debate Tiny Doom and I had over the superiority of pancakes or waffles.  I am staunchly on Team Pancake.

And so I wanted to prove the versatility and superiority of pancakes in a very Ladies of Comicazi kind of way.  And so help me, that way is going to be fancy!  It’s time to do some Pancake Art. *cue awesome power ballad

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I have become an immortal pancake!

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Cartoon Sara Gets Organized

The New Year is a great time to start in on a project. While the difference between December 31 and January 1 maybe be an arbitrary one, the idea of putting aside the concerns of the past year and a hectic holiday season and starting fresh can be a big psychological boost. Last week, Tiny Doom talked about the common New Year’s resolution to get more exercise and an excellent app to help you stick with it. I’ve been tackling my own New Year’s project, a daunting task that’s needed doing for a long time….

Like this, but not as neat to start with.

Like this, but not as neat to start with.

…Organizing my comics collection.

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Cookie Monster – A Favorite Christmas Tradition

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Our wee little tree. Ornament themes include superheroes, robots, and chickens.

The holidays can be a tough time for folks, I know – there’s the stress of shopping, there’s cold and dark and nasty weather, there’s expectations that can’t be met. And yet…I love the holidays (pretty much all holidays, except for St. Patrick’s Day, but especially the fall and winter holidays). I love lights and food and gathering with friends and family. I especially love holiday traditions. There’s something magical to me about doing the same thing, year after year in celebration with the same people; it’s like the goodwill builds and grows with each repetition. It’s comforting and powerful. Whether it’s reading the Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve (and my father still does this with my niece and nephews every year), or putting a favorite ornament on the tree, it just makes everything a bit more meaningful to me, that chain of years behind the moment.

So I was pondering this here Christmas Eve blog post, and I didn’t have a clever Christmas poem for you, or an amazing Christmas craft to teach you. But I do have this, one of my very favorite traditions – our annual cookie decorating party. I’ll share it with you and who knows, maybe you’ll start this tradition, too.

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Stealth Geek or 3 ways to let your geek flag fly at work without ending up in HR

If I actually lived by the advice “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” I would probably end up in my boss’s office explaining why I thought it was okay to wear an Iron Man suit to work (or maybe this).  Point being, as much as we want to show our fandom, there is a time and place and your 9-5 desk job isn’t always that place.

But never fear, it’s not all business casual or Ann Taylor Loft from here on out. There are ways to push the boundaries (especially on casual Friday) to let your geek flag fly even without wearing that super cool Captain America hoodie you got at Target.

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Cocktails and Comics

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Are you ready to open the door to adventure?

 

A few weeks ago, a local restaurant held a ComicCon-themed industry night, closing dinner service down early to serve comics-themed drinks and snacks. The staff were in full costume (but I neglected to get a photo of the guy with the Bat-symbol goatee), and there were entertainments that included a Batman ice luge and vintage video games (yes, we’re at a point in time at which video games can be vintage). The restaurant in question, Alden and Harlow, is a current area hotspot with an innovative menu and cocktail list, so Tiny Doom and I, together with The Goog, decided to check it out.

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Skinny Logan serves drinks to a Ninja Turtle

 

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Behold, the Bat-Luge!

The evening was fun, and very crowded, and it got me thinking about other comic-book themed cocktails. Too often, the ones you’ll find online are sticky sweet, lazy, or both, putting garish color before mixology. Alden and Harlow’s did not fall into this trap, but they did make use of some Hawaiian Punch and Mountain Dew. Is it possible to make a tasty, well-crafted cocktail that evokes your favorite heroes but avoids sticky-sweet additives? I decided to give it a whirl, and I press-ganged Tiny Doom and The Goog into helping! So here for your imbibing pleasure are three superhero cocktails that do not involve fruit punch, Pucker, or anything else with atomic food coloring. They do include somewhat obscure cocktail-nerd ingredients, so you might need to make a trip to the store before you make them.

In keeping with most of my posts, I stuck to a DC theme for this first attempt. If people like this concept though, we can do it again with Marvel and other properties. To be fair, I also picked heroes I felt I could do justice to with the ingredients I did have to hand.

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Clark, you look so classy. He’s 2 oz rye, 1 oz cider syrup, .25 oz cinnamon syrup, and tiki bitters to taste.

First up is Superman!
For him, I wanted something strong, all-American, and with a bit of something unexpected, something alien, if you will. I started with a rye whiskey base, rye being the quintessential American liquor (yes, even more so than its cousin bourbon!). In my travels, I’d picked up some boiled cider syrup, so I thought that would be a good addition – what’s more American than apples? For the “alien” note I toyed with the idea of throwing in Cardamaro, a digestif from Italy that’s made with cardoons and blessed thistle, but at the last minute I spied my tiki gear and thought that might be a more suitable direction, so in went some cinnamon syrup and the ‘Elemakule Tiki bitters from Bittermens.

The result was tasty and would actually make a great Thanksgiving cocktail – it tasted like apple pie in a glass, but without the cloying sweetness and with a bit of heat from the rye. If it didn’t go against my “strong” mandate, I’d say it would be good with some seltzer, as well.

 

 

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The dark heart of Bruce. 1 oz concentrated cold brew coffee, 1 oz Root, 1 oz Gosling’s Rum, .5 oz Kahlua

I couldn’t do Superman, of course, without Batman. The cocktail would need to be both dark and bitter. Tiny Doom pointed out that something that evoked childhood innocence lost would not be remiss, and suggested that I add some Root, a lovely concoction from Art in the Age that tastes like the very best root beer. I heeded her advice and added that to some cold brew coffee concentrate and Gosling’s rum. The first sip was okay, but weirdly flat. We decided to add a touch of Kahlua for sweetness, and it was vastly improved. This ended up being dark and complex, like its namesake, and it looks fantastic in the glass.

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The Flash! 1 part Cherry Heering, 2 parts seltzer, a dash of Snap. Lemon twist mandatory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, how could I not do an homage to my beloved Flash? This one I did base on its looks to a significant degree, but it’s also basically a highball and thus, pretty fast. (And yes, I know a shot is faster, but not to prepare if it’s a mixed shot, and since I just don’t shoot things on principle, you get this.)

My version may also be a bit redder than what you would get a home, because the base I used, Cherry Heering, is usually a bit darker – this is a homemade version using sour cherries, which are more vibrant. I threw in a bit of Snap, another Art in the Age gem that tastes of ginger, since Wally West is my favorite Flash, and Tiny Doom came to the rescue once again by pointing out that a lemon twist would be just the right garnish to evoke the lightning bolt symbol. The result was light and refreshing, with a bit of zing from the Snap, and how gorgeous is that red?

If you try any of these cocktails at home, let me know what you think! If you want to suggest other heroes or villains to get this treatment, tell me in the comments! Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.