The Cat Is Out Of the Bag

Cloud and Thomas O’Malley had their yearly rabies shots and check up today. I put the carrier out in the kitchen last night to let them get used to the scent of it. They each took a nap in it. Fine, chill.

Even happy once they were zipped in this morning. I carry Thomas in an oversized purse. He likes to be able to see and he harnesses. All good until we started moving.

Cloud hates being in a moving vehicle. He cried the entire way. Non-Stop. Meow. Meow. MeeeeeeEeeeoooooOoow. Thomas let out a few half-hearted cries in sympathy.

The check up went well at the vet. Everyone was healthy. There was angst over the rabies shots. Our vet is very gentle.

We also asked for a letter of recommendation. Apparently nowadays you have to have your vet give you references to allow you to be able to adopt a dog or cat from the shelter. It almost seems silly. I know the reasons why. But breeders don’t even ask for that much. My FIL might be getting another dog. (Not a corgi. SIGH)

That’s about as exciting as today is going to get. Just so mentally exhausted. See you guys tomorrow. ❤🧡💛💚💙💜

Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop

This slice-of-life romantic comedy-drama is pretty much everything I needed for a feel-good animation. It’s currently on Netflix. I definitely recommend it! Awkward teenagers, nostalgia and the ever-changing world around them.

I have … two vinyl albums that I got a long time ago when I was looking through a music shop in Atlanta right after I moved there for college. I remember my dad having a record player, but I never really listened to any back them on his stereo. Before he passed, I believe my middle niece was given his collection.

When I visited for Christmas in 2019, one of my dad’s bible study members mentioned throwing away his entire collection when he moved since record players were no longer a thing. It breaks my heart. Especially since record players are starting to come back in style. I don’t know enough about music to be an avid listener in that medium, but there’s something romantic about the idea of using the older vinyl to listen to music.

In the case of the movie, it seems like the old and the new come together for some interesting emotions. Romance doesn’t really change that much through the decades. People fall in love. It’s awkward, adorable, and sweet. It’s also gotten me interested in haiku. The haiku is a Japanese poetic form that consists of three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. The haiku developed from the hokku, the opening three lines of a longer poem known as a tanka. The haiku became a separate form of poetry in the 17th century.

The title of the movie is a haiku, by the way. Hehe.

Color explosion
uniting worlds across time
neon love poem

These haiku are a big part of the film plotline. I’ve never been good at haiku or poetry in general, but I can’t help but love them. One can appreciate something even if one can’t create it. I’m definitely not a wordsmith. Something as complicated as haiku takes a special level of adaptation.

I hope you’ll check this movie out if you’re interested in a feel-good, slice-of-life romance comedy-drama. Anywho, see you back here tomorrow!

December

It’s the last month of the year! The holidays are always so intense. It seems like the season starts out slow as Halloween starts things out, but then it slowly snowballs into something huge. Thanksgiving, then Hanukkah, Yule, and Christmas, and probably more that I’ve completely missed. My stepdaughter’s birthday is this month as well! I always feel bad for the December babies who share a birthday with Christmas.

My friend, Mark, was actually born on Christmas day and he always said that he was a Christmas gift to his mother. Mark was an amazing man with whom I used to LARP with and do other nerdy stuff. He passed away back in 2016. I still miss him very much and this month always makes me think of him. He said that food tasted better when it was made with a wooden spoon. He had the most amazing recipe for beer cheese soup. He was a man with a heart that was bigger than himself.

Omar’s Beer Cheese Soup

Omar’s recipes were less laden with poison than anticipated.” – Lord Stratford of Arinth.

Ingredients:
8 cups of water
4 Michelob Amber Bock (Beer)
8 teaspoons of chicken base
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 # 10 can of cheddar cheese sauce
1 pound of bacon *
2 tablespoons of white pepper

* Merry’s Note: The vegetarian-friendly version of this that she uses for LARP Tavern involves substituting a stick of butter in place of bacon grease and veggie bullion in place of chicken stock.

Directions:

  • Cut bacon into 1 inch strips and fry in your soup pot. (Do not drain the grease; Mark always said it was good, not healthy.)
  • When bacon is done, add 1 tablespoon of white pepper; stir for about 30 seconds.
  • Add beer and deglaze (Don’t know what it means? Look it up.)
  • Add chicken base; bring to boil
  • Add 5 cups of water, reserving the remaining cup; Bring back to a boil
  • Add cornstarch and white pepper to reserved water, whisk to dissolve
  • Add entire can of cheese sauce to boiling pot.
  • Stir frequently until incorporated. (The cheese sauce will sink to the bottom and burn if you are not careful.)
  • Once thoroughly incorporated, add the cup of water/cornstarch reserve to the pot, stir constantly until back to a boil.
  • Serve hot with french bread and (believe it or not) pink lemonade.

Note: You may substitute about 48 oz of chicken broth for the water and chicken base if you are so inclined. Chicken base is reduced chicken broth in the form of a paste.

I haven’t made this myself yet, but I’ve got a strong hankering for it. I used to eat it all the time when it was served during LARP events. Beer Cheese Soup is always good and Mark’s recipe was king among soups. Some part of me had thought to talk about the Holidays today, but I couldn’t help going off on this tangent.

Thank you guys for reading. And if you end up giving Mark’s (or Omar as his character was named) recipe a try, please let me know how it turned out. I’d love to see pictures too! Take care and see you guys tomorrow.

Healing Soul Damage

In the tabletop roleplaying game that I used to play when I lived in Atlanta, there used to be different categories of Traits. Physical traits, mental traits, and soul traits. I know that the creator of the rules still runs sessions of this game, but I don’t know if the game ever was published into a public system. I did some art for it back in the day and also ran some sessions of it at Momocon and Dragoncon. I really miss playing tabletop and running games as well. My creativity doesn’t seem as strong as it used to be …

So one of the points of the game was that physical wounds could be healed if you had some sort of magical ability or even by using mundane methods to mend the injuries. Mental wounds were somewhat harder to take care of due to the nature of fixing your mind or ego. But the truly hard wounds to heal were those dealing with your soul. It’s hard to explain exactly what I’ve been through lately that has damaged me this much, but it’s been hard.

I don’t really have any spoons to do the most simple things.

I really need to work on some tasks that I have on my to-do list, but at the moment, it’s been a trial just to get out of bed each day. My existence seems impossible. My purpose is a mystery. I don’t want to delve into any really dark subjects right now. I have a therapy session scheduled at the end of the week with my counselor! So I’m looking forward to that, despite my weakness, and glaring faults.

I tried to watch some different things online, but I’ve found some difficult. Season Five of Rick and Morty requires a cable provider login. Lame. And a bunch of the movies I’ve searched for is only available by renting them separately from a service. Part of me really misses the ancient days when movies would be available to rent on VHS and DVD from Blockbuster. I did hop over to Tubi to watch some anime.

I liked the Wonderland. It was … a decent story. I’m not sure if I’m jaded, but the plotline was something that was somewhat easy to predict and the twists were exactly what I had assumed. I’m a bit of a fanatic for storylines though, so it might just be my own preconceptions that allowed me to see where the plot was going. It painted a picture that gave me feelings like Miyazaki’s films, but not quite stretching into the home run that would knock it right out of the park.

The Case of Hana & Alice was a great coming-of-age piece. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from it, but it really did give me some feelings. Sometimes you forget what it feels like when you’re younger. It was super cute, funny, and sad in just the right quantities. Nothing too heavy from this one.

I watched some other stuff as well, but nothing more that I’ll really go into. There were days like this that just helps me mend my mind. I wish it could fix the soul damage, but at the very least fixing my brain to the point where I can struggle through another day is a blessing. I’ll try to be more productive tomorrow. This marks the end of November. Thank you, guys, for reading as always! Catch you in December~!

The Holidays and Movie Theaters

Trying to save a bit of money on Christmas wrapping materials. I bought some ribbons from Dollar Tree, along with some bells, and some “chalkboard” tags. I need to go back and get some more tags because I pressed down with my chalk pen too hard and it leaked a GIANT blob of chalk liquid onto one of the tags, essentially ruining it.

I’ve also picked up some boxes and containers from Dollar Tree to put things inside. I’ll probably save the finished products for AFTER Christmas that way there’s no chance any of the gift recipients see what I’m working on. The tags won’t spoil anything at least. Funds are a bit tight this season. So I’m definitely trying to stretch things out while also putting love and effort into my present giving.

I think I mentioned before that my stepdaughter and I went to see Encanto at the movie theater on Thanksgiving. On Black Friday we stayed home and enjoyed ourselves some more. My stepdaughter had already seen Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings but she was willing to watch it with me again. (LOL, I had to remind her to let me see scenes. She wanted to explain things as they happened.)

I love Disney+. I hate that they aren’t streaming a lot of their movies there along with their openings in theaters. I know it probably cuts into the box office numbers, but after going to the movie theater and comparing it to our little movie night in, I’m just not impressed with theaters. We snuck candy into the movie theater: M&M’s and Sour Patch Kids for my stepdaughter; Reese’s Pieces and Mike & Ike for me. Those were about $4 + tax from the dollar store.

The movie theater experience compared to when I last went (March 2020, as the pandemic went into full swing here in Tennessee)… The tickets were made of cheap thin paper, which was mildly sad because I tend to keep my ticket stubs as a souvenir. Not a huge deal. I know a ton of people are part of the movie club now where you don’t even get a printed ticket, they just scan your phone. Adult admission was about $9 and my stepdaughter’s child ticket was $7. So a whopping $16 for both of us just to see the movie. That wasn’t even 3D. Our smaller (only one screen) local theater was playing Ghostbusters. It’s only $5 for a ticket there, but sadly they don’t always have every film there. (There’s a chance they’ll eventually have Encanto, but they weren’t showing it opening weekend.)

Ever since COVID-19 happened, the movie theater and most restaurants are not doing refills. Unless the drink dispenser is in the lobby. The movie theater was not offering refills. Before the pandemic, they only offered refills for large sizes. NOW they have signage that says due to health and safety concerns, refills are not available. Please take advantage of our large sizes for your convenience. URGH.

As someone that has worked in the industry, let me just say that the cost of the popcorn and soda pop is nothing. The highest cost for the theater is the containers that you receive them in. I’ll always rant and rave about that. Before the pandemic, they had a little ticket you tore off the side of your popcorn container to show you had your one free refill, but not they don’t want to allow containers to be passed back. Understandable. But popcorn is $8. And the soda pop is $6. So a total of $14.

Overall that’s about $35 dollars for the evening. It would have been even more if we had attempted to buy our candy at the theater. The same candy costs about $4-5 a box. $30 is usually the cost of the movie on Disney+ and you have access to the movie for an entire month. We bought Raya and the Last Dragon and watched that a few times back when it first came out.

My SO had complained about movie theaters before we went to see Encanto. And I had defended them adamantly. Now that I can compare the two experiences back to back, I’m going to always vote for watching movies at home. I popped our own popcorn, which was amazing. The only thing I envy about the theater is their butter. I have not found an equivalent yet. We had our leftover candy from the night before. And then endless kool-aid and lemonade from the fridge. The ability to pause the movie for bathroom breaks and refills. DID I mention how gross the movie theater bathrooms were?

I hate waiting for a movie to come out on streaming services, but I think I hate the whole movie theater experience in comparison. Maybe I’m just getting older. Or I’m just more frugal. Either way, going out on Thanksgiving day was an experience. Are there any movies coming out around Christmas that you really want to see? I definitely saw a few that caught my eye in the previews.

Wow, today’s post really turned into a long one. Thanks for reading!

Symbol of Promise

Platinum End: Episode 8

SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen this episode, I’m disclosing some details.

I’ve been watching Platinum End on Hulu because we’ve got a subscription over there. It’s also available on Crunchyroll, but we haven’t been paying for the extra subscription over there. It just doesn’t seem feasible to pay an extra $10-15 a month for the minimal amount of shows that I watch there. Especially since a lot of them are available on Hulu. Sadly, the few Crunchyroll exclusives there, I’ve resigned myself to be a week behind. Watching episodes as they become available for free.

My current favorites over on Crunchyroll are Restaurant to Another World: Season 2, 86 Eighty-Six, and The Faraway Paladin. Those are the ones currently updating. I’m Standing on a Million Lives, Fena: Pirate Princess, and Tokyo Revengers have wrapped up for the season/series.

So back to the post topic. Episode 8 of Platinum End was Symbol of Promise. You get a bit of background about Saki, the main character’s love interest. Saki actually saw when Mirai attempted to take his own life and in turn, went to drown herself. You find out they were friends in the past and Saki eventually begins to bully Mirai along with the other teens at their school. A ton of the reviews that I read about this episode really laid into Saki’s character.

There’s a lot of suicide talk in this episode and the resolve that occurs through the plotline really does seem cheap. Nanato Mukaido is one of the God candidates that is struggling with cancer. I’m honestly more invested in his character as he is a family man with a wife and children. Sadly, they don’t seem to cover as much about his life since he’s just one of the supporting characters. I cried a bit though when his daughter talks about the wedding dress he created for her for when she grows up.

This show definitely makes my brain spin a bit. I’m not sure if I would recommend it to someone else. I want to know what happens, but I’ll admit that I finished reading the Twilight Series for the sheer fact that I started it on a whim. (Back in the day before it was really popular.) Watching and reading bad storylines is a guilty pleasure of mine. Sorry, not sorry, if you liked Twilight.

It’s strangely just something that has been easy on my brain since I haven’t really been able to focus on the things I really need to. I’ve got a list in my head of priorities right now and of course, that’s exactly the items on the list are exactly what I do not want to do right now. URGH. All right, well thank you, guys, for listening to my ramble today. I’ll catch you tomorrow with something new!

How Do You Live?

Written by Yoshino Genzaburō in 1937, this Japanese novel finally has been translated to English. I found the following synopsis on Wikipedia:

Junichi Honda is a 2nd year (15 years old) junior high school student who is known by his nickname Koperu, which was named after the astronomer Nicholas Copernicus. He has excellent academic and athletic achievements, and possesses a fair degree of popularity. His father is a bank executive until his death, and his mother is a maid. After his father’s death, Koperu moves to his uncle’s house. There are many children of businessmen, university professors, and doctors in classmates, and topics of classes extend to ski areas, cinemas, Ginza, and summer resorts. Koperu experiences and observes various events in school life with friends. Following each chapter, the uncle who told the story of the day talked about themes such as “view of things”, “structure of society”, “relation”, etc. in the style of a note written to Koperu.

I am going to try and get a copy of this soon. Why? Miyazaki is planning to make his next and “final” Studio Ghibli film based on this novel. I have high hopes for this one. Miyazaki said this was the book that inspired him to make animated films so I’m super interested to see what comes of this one. He doesn’t follow novels exactly as they go, this is proven with Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, and The Secret World Of Arrietty.

This definitely looks like a slice-of-life style storyline so we can expect something along the lines of Whisper of the Heart, The Wind Rises, From Up on Poppy Hill, and Only Yesterday. I’m really interested to see how Miyazaki portrays this one. Will this be his magnum opus?

I’m hoping so. Apologies for getting this post out later. Been struggling mentally and today was karate. I had a really hard time getting going this morning. The depression, worthlessness, and anxiety feel like these giant weights that are shackled to my ankles and just when I think I’m getting some momentum, I reach the end of my chain and falter. Tomorrow is another day… Thanks as always for reading, folks!

Mi Encanto

I don’t think I’m ready yet to talk about how bad I was doing the day before Thanksgiving. I was still stretched pretty thin Thanksgiving too, but I rallied with opposite action and did what I could. Socialized during Thanksgiving lunch then took my stepdaughter out to see a movie that we both had been wanting to see. I did not take photographs of Thanksgiving food like I planned. I tried to stay focused on the moment so the phone did not come out very much.

It turned out to be exactly what I needed. Disney’s Encanto was amazing~! I’m not going to give spoilers, but if you’ve seen it, you should check out this article about how Encanto was different than most Disney films. It was an amazing film centered around family and being different. It was one of those self-discovery movies that gave me the feels.

Mirabel Madrigal is the main character and protagonist of the film. I definitely connect with her. I’ve always felt like the plain one in my family. I know my siblings always felt like I was the “golden child”, but I never felt like I lived up to expectations. Did anyone else grow up as a “gifted” child and end up being an anxious, mentally unstable adult?

I’ll end my post here today. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday. See you tomorrow!

Happy Turkey Day~!!!

Gobble, gobble, gobble~! Today’s Thanksgiving in the United States of America. We aren’t having the meal until afternoon, so I’ll be sure to post more photographs of the meal tomorrow. For now, I’ll share with you some recipes! I’ve been trying to make a point to keep track of the recipes we use for traditional family meals since you never know when something might happen.

Two recipes that my SO’s family likes to make for the holidays are Broccoli & Rice Casserole and Sweet Potato Casserole. I never really liked sweet potato casserole until I tried this version. The versions I always tried involve marshmallows on top, which isn’t appealing to me. I also love the smooth texture of this casserole.

Served at Thanksgiving & Christmas
Steph’s Broccoli and Rice Casserole

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup onion chopped

2 pkg. frozen chopped broccoli

1 cup raw rice (Instant rice is okay; 1 cup of raw rice equals 2 cups of cooked rice)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 small jar Cheez Whiz

Saute onion in butter. Cook broccoli for 7-8 minutes. Cook rice as directed on the package. Combine all and place in a baking dish sprayed with PAM. Bake 30-45 minutes at 350°. Can be made the day before and baked when ready to serve. Serves 12.

You can reduce the amount of rice and use more broccoli if you want, which I think is what my MIL did this year. Less carbs and more vegetables. Not that we’re really going for super healthy on Thanksgiving, but it’s pretty delicious. This is a huge favorite around here. We like to use baby broccoli for this recipe. If you just buy the chopped broccoli, you’ll often time just get the gross part of the broccoli. Mostly stem and less of the florets.

Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 3 cups cooked sweet potatoes.
  • 1 cup sugar or equivalent of sugar substitute: Splenda, Ideal, or Stevia
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix all ingredients well with a mixer until smooth. Make sure the sweet potatoes aren’t too hot or you’ll end up cooking the eggs before they can get blended into the mixture. Pour the ingredients into a greased baking pan. (You can use more than 2 cups of sweet potatoes, just make sure you adjust the other ingredients. We don’t add more sugar when scaling up though.)

Topping for Sweet Potato Casserole

  • (1) 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • (1) 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • (1) 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • (2) 1 cup(s) pecans

SO, we don’t usually believe there’s enough topping for the casserole, so we ALWAYS double it. So the doubled amount is in the parenthesis. The topping is pretty much a strudel, which is delicious. In my not so humble opinion. You mix all the topping ingredients into a crumble. Top the casserole. Then bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

I had a pretty big mental health scare yesterday. I don’t want to talk about it yet, but I’m still in a fragile state. I wish I wasn’t so broken. Thanks for reading, folks. Hope today is filled with good food and good company, whether that be blood related family or the kind of family you build through comradery.

Tik Tok Made Me Do It

I was excited. I wanted to be festive. I wanted to get into the spirit. I bought a little snow man that lights up and used a Command™ Strip to attach it to my car dash. I used to have an owl bobblehead there, but it finally melted after six years of southern summer heat. I’ll post a picture of what it looked like below. I’m sad, it was one of the first things my step daughter gave me when I first moved to be here with her Dad. It lived a long, happy life in my car. RIP Owl Bobble.

Eventually I guess I’ll look over at Amazon for a replacement, but funds are tight so close to Christmas so a replacement is not on my mind. The light up snowman is very festive though and makes me happy. I actually saw the light up bulb bottle on Tik Tok and I had to get one! It was only like $2 so I was excited for it. I’m a sippy cup fanatic. I loved the Tervis cups back in the day and I have a few stored away that are owl themed.

I have to say, Tik Tok didn’t do me wrong, but Walmart certainly did. I picked the ONLY cup that didn’t have an LED light in it! And because of the price of how cheap it is, I feel too anxious and embarrassed to go back and request an exchange. It shouldn’t be that hard, but it’s just a cup so part of me is like, just eat the cost, Erin. You’ll figure something else out. Urgh.

I just wanted it to be cute! ;_; Oh well. Sometimes you have amazing things on Tik Tok… like the creamy lemonade fad and sometimes you just get a bust. Like the not so light up light-up tumbler from Walmart. Anyone else find something amazing for the holiday season that’s on the cheap? I’ve been trying so hard to find some of the cute stuff, but my Dollar Tree and other stores just don’t seem to keep the trendy stuff in stock. Or maybe it’s the shipping crisis thanks to the pandemic. Everything looks so empty on the shelves these days.

Any who, thanks so much for reading my post, guys! I think tomorrow is going to be the Thanksgiving Recipe stuff. I just haven’t had a chance to really sit down and type out everything yet.