Archive for June, 2007

Harumph… set the mood: Yesterday – the beatles

It’s not surprising that my iPod died last month, this month I’ve lost access to my main email account that I’ve had for 7 years, and my computer is very very sick.  So sick that it’s given up the struggle to live.  He’s now being treated, but the diagnosis is not for certain.  He may need to be replaced.

And it’s not surprising that this happened before I was able to backup my files. 

I tried.  And I actually had a monthly backup system up until March – .mac.com provided a backup along with their exciting internet services I never made use of, as well as the email account I never used.  All for the low low price of 140 dollars a year! Right… when renewal time came around, I scrapped it because it was doing me no good.  Clearly I was wrong.  I tried again, but when I attempted to do a full backup, it was discovered that although my 120gb external drive was all fine and good for saving files one at a time, it was not alright to do a backup because it isn’t mac compatible.  That’s what happens when your PC loving parents buy you compy accessories. 

So now I sit, using a PC (shudder), annoyed by its very PCness, and wondering if, once my files are recovered/my compy is well again, I’ll have lost nothing.  Of course, visions of Sarah Jessica Parker in the mac help centre on Sex and the City, in shock that her computer has failed her, then destroyed that all of her work has been chewed up and spat out in the form of a small jumble of wingdings has entered my mind.  The thought of all of my written work in the last 3 years being turned into squares and happy faces has me crawling to the nearest corner for a small rocking session.  After the weeping, of course.

Despite how horrifying this is, I wonder why.  Why is it that I care so much?

Everyone knows that Mrs. Hemingway lost Mr. Hemingway’s writings – all of them – in a train station.  I’m sure she got quite the drunken beating for that, and with good reason.  Although, methinks Ernest should have kept a tighter leash on his life’s work. 

T E Lawrence lost his first manuscript for Seven Pillars of Wisdom that was about 250,000 words long when he took someone else’s bag in a train station*.  I’m not sure if the word unfortunate or embarrassing is more applicable.

I imagine my lack of creating a solid backup system could be considered embarrassing and not unfortunate.  More like grabbing the wrong bag at the train station than letting my husband travel with my manuscripts under the assumption that if I married him and romped through the 20’s with him that he’s competent enough to not lose my entire creative output. 

Okay, so this is my fault.  I get it.  Hopefully this is just the Gods of Technology playing some kind of joke on me to teach me for not taking anything from tv to heart.  But if this isn’t the case, if everything is gone, what then?  Why should I be upset or afraid? If I believe that I am a good writer with the natural talent that, when nurtured and challenged, could be a great writer [of some sort], then why should I cry when everything is erased? I should be able to rewrite or just start over again, with the strength and confidence to say that I’ll be better this time ’round.  After all, my abilities weren’t in the compy, nor was my drive, imagination, or passion.

Right?

*I’ve taken note that, as a writer, I should no longer travel by train. Train stations seem to be back luck zones.

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June 27, 2007 at 4:20 am Leave a comment

Vegan Cupcakes, test #1… set the mood: Summerlong – Emm Gryner

Earlier this week my future partner in business picked up “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World” for me, insisting that I be the cupcake master once we open our bakery. Having already claimed the Pie Master title for herself, I felt it was only fair to accept the challenge.

And since the authors say that no one wants to read about your day at work, they actually want pictures of cupcakes, I thought “fuck it, let them have cupcakes.”

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Since I can’t actually follow a recipe without augmenting it somewhat, it is no surprise that my first batch turned out badly.

Lacking the ingredients to make most of the more interesting recipes, I went for the Banana Split Cupcakes. I used spelt flour instead of wheat, since spelt is nice on tummies and the only other option was garbanzo (blech!). There is a little part of the recipe that calls for pineapple preserves, and since I’m not much of a preserve girl, I skipped this part and replaced part of the oil with pineapple-apple sauce. I threw in some chocolate chips cause I had some.

As I waited for them to bake, I realised that I’d forgotten a key ingredient: sugar.

I was a bit concerned. Not much since I’ve cut most forms of sugar from my diet, so I usually have to half what most recipes call for.

They tasted pretty good when they came out, but they needed more soymilk (probably because of the spelt), so they were more muffiny than cupcake-like.

The icing portion was a whole different set of problems.

I’m not very good with vegan icing. Anything that doesn’t involve mixing sugar with cocoa and margarine is confusing to me. I decided to pep the muffincakes up with the peanutbutter icing… BUT I only use natural, and although I skim the oil off the top, the consistency is very runny. Adding to that, the tofu I had was regular firm stuff, not silken firm, so it didn’t blend well at all and it ended up rather runny.

SO, I hollowed out the cakes, filled them with the peanut goo, put their tops back on and slathered them with vegan chocolate ganache and crushed peanuts.

After chilling them in the freezer during the busy lunch-rush, my coworkers dug in to my sugarless cupcakes. I felt they were a little dry, but they thought the cupcakes were fabulous. The only comment was: Next time, put in more filling.

June 22, 2007 at 2:02 am Leave a comment

cupcakes, rosewater, and francois truffaut… set mood: sympathique – pink martini (yes, this song is my life)

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Until the day comes when I may spend every working hour baking delicious vegan/gluten-free/diabeteic-friendly goods, I’ll just have to make my days off as relaxing as possible. And when I relax, I tend to do pilates or yoga, do some writing, and bake. Even though I spend every day baking at work, there is something less than satisfying about baking someone elses hard work. As yummy as the scones are at my place of employment, I myself cannot enjoy them, and my natural independence has me wanting a place of my own.

So today I cycled to the local bulk store and natural food store to pick up the ingredients for three batches I wanted to whip up for tomorrow as a farewell to a coworker. I picked the Mexican Hot Chocolate, the Red Velvet, and the Coconut Lime cupcakes from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World”

I changed these recipes a bit too, to make them gluten-free or gluten-reduced (the red velvets I made with spelt, the other two with quinoa and white rice flour), and used applesauce instead of oil, splenda instead of sugar.

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Opting to not listen to Isa and Terry about using papers only, I picked up some coloured silicone cups since I knew the reduced fat version I’d be making would be difficult to free from papers.

I must say, if being a vegan baker means I can spend four hours baking cute cupcakes, drinking rose-scented water from a crystal goblet, and watching French new wave films (I chose Truffaut’s “Day For Night” – a movie for people who love movies), I’ve found my calling. Throw in writing a few chapters of the book I’ve not yet begun to write, and today would be the greatest day off ever (okay, I worked on a short story…a bit).

One of my many hidden talents that remain hidden only because of their uselessness came in handy at last. I’ve got this ability to sculpt little things, in particular tiny heads. Example:

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Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I know, the similarity is remarkable. The only thing remotely remarkable would be that he is about an inch high. Yeah, I belong in Ripley’s.

To decorate them, I decided to pay tribute to my upcoming trip to Mexico (fingers crossed, I haven’t actually booked a flight yet) for Day of the Dead by making little marzipan sombrero topped skulls on chocolate ganache and the Red Velvet some small red flowers on pink icing. I know, marzipan isn’t gluten-free, so I only ate a little, I swear.

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It took me about 6 hours in total to make the three batches. The Coconut Lime cupcakes sank because I put a little lime juice in to help with the moisture of the gluten-free flours, but it ended up being too much. Regardless, they are super moist. I like to think that even if they sink a bit, moisture can make up for it.

After spending the day eating nothing but little tastings of the batters and icings, along with too many fruit sweetened smarties, I felt really really sick. It seemed strange to sit down with a small salad topped with grilled chicken after being a vegan baker all day, but considering I don’t eat wheat, sugar, eggs, or dairy, a little chicken is acceptable.

June 22, 2007 at 1:48 am Leave a comment

Sedimentary Rock

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The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Meat Loaf, Kiss, U2, Def Leopard, Bon Jovi, Guns’n’Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day, Jack White.

I’ve become a little obsessed with http://www.threadless.com. I’ve ordered 8 shirts over the last three weeks, and those were just the ones I really really dug AND they had in my size.

Basically, you become a member and you can buy tees, submit designs, and vote on other designs. If you become a designer, they give you money when you win (and you get your tee printed, which is the grand prize in my mind). The tees are fairly cheap as far as cool-ass printed t-shirts from the internet are concened. Only 15 bucks (US) for mens, 17 for womens. Shipping is by weight and seems to be rather prompt.

I have posted the design above WITHOUT PERMISSION because it has sparked a bit of a debate among voters. The consensus seems to be that it is brilliant. The debate has spawned from the designers choice of Rock artists.

He said that he wanted pure rock verging on punk only, and thus was able to omit Elvis and the Beatles. This was where the first problem began.

A rock shirt that doesn’t give credit to the Beatles? That’s a bit outrageous. Personally, I think anyone who doesn’t like the Beatles should be considered for institutionalization, but everyone’s opinion varies and that makes the world an interesting place, blah blah blah. If you don’t like the Beatles, fine. At least admit that they CHANGED THE DIRECTION OF MUSIC, or their producer did. It seems that although Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and whats-his-face were geniuses in their own right, George Martin’s influence allowed their evolution from good to mind-blowing (for the times).

Admittedly I’ve not heard a lot by the Rolling Stones, however I do own a couple of their early records, a best of, and even the comatose have heard a majority of their singles. I’m no officianado; my knowledge of the Beatles is more substantial. That being said, it doesn’t seem to me that the Rolling Stones have changed their sound in the last 75 years*. The Beatles evolved from cheezey boy band to acclaimed musical innovators over a period of only 8 years. If you include the Stones, you include the Beatles.

This little rant is far from being directed only to the designer. It’s more like the thing that finally broke me about this anti-Beatles cult I’ve seen spawning among music appreciators. You know what? Tom Waits did more for Rock than anyone, HOWEVER Tom Waits isn’t rock. He is his own genre, and his stuff influenced most artists who have really created a solid, inovative style. There are pleanty of other unknowns-among-the-philistines musicians who have silently influenced rock over the years. Captain Beefheart, Anton Newcombe, and there are others I’m sure, but I don’t know them.

So that is the major downfall of the design, in my opinion. Other problems include: No Bob Dylan, and yet the inclusion of Jimi. Interesting, since many Jimi songs were written by Dylan. Many of everyone’s songs were written by Dylan because he’s a bit of genius, poor singing voice or not. Same with Leonard Cohen, but that’s not really the point.

I’d chuck Meat Loaf, Jovi, Nirvana (and I’m a fan of Nirvana, a serious fan, not like I’m a Jovi fan), maybe Pearl Jam (I only own Vitalogy, which I’ve heard is NOT the quintessential PJ album), definitely Green Day (even though they were the first rock-like band I got into — they were my gateway band that took me from Celine Dion (my grandmothers influence, I swear!) and Miriah Carey to Nine Inch Nails and The Sex Pistols) and make the list the following (not in correct choronological order because I’m lazy):

1. The Beatles

2. The Rolling Stones

3. Eric Clapton/Cream

4. The Who

5. Jimi Hendrix

6. Led Zeppelin

7. Bob Dylan

8. The Velvet Underground

9. David Bowie

10. Sam Cooke

11. The Kinks

12. Queen

13. Aerosmith

14. VanHalen

15. U2

16. Def Leopard

17. Guns’N’Roses

18. Fleetwood Mac

19. Pearl Jam

20. Radiohead

And Rock died for a little while with Radiohead, and was revived by “the” bands like The Strokes. I wouldn’t include bands like the Strokes just because there is no proof that they have changed rock.

Okay, I left off the Red Hot Chili Peppers for personal reasons. The reason being I hate the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m open to any debate as to why they changed the directon of music.
*I’ve done some Stones research on Wikipedia, clearly the greatest source of information ever, and the biography says they have dabbled in generes from blues (I believe it) to raggae (I don’t like raggae. This was confirmed yesterday when “Raggae Lunch” turned into “Raggae Afternoon” at the bakery. After 6 hours of raggae, I know am sure I don’t like raggae). If there is a Stones album out there that equals the diversity on the White Album, I’d love it for my birthday. Or my unbirthday.

June 13, 2007 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment


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