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Hey guys, it's that time again. I'm having a birthday party on the 4th of February and I'd like to see you all again, so please let me know if you intend to come. You're welcome from 10-ish in the morning on and we're in Delft again, for those who missed it. Gift suggestions once again include books, baked goods and other things you think I'll enjoy. And maybe I'll find out who sent me that Christmas card without a name on it :)
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I was thinking about costumes for [livejournal.com profile] nathreee 's Firefly larp. I had some thoughts and links I thought I'd share in case anyone finds them useful. It's a one off and it's less than two weeks away, so I'm focusing on easy en cheap-ish options.

The wardrobe
Shop the stash before you shop the shops.

Formal-ish: scarves, shirts, vests, old evening wear, old best suits, 'tai chi shirts', things made of satin or brocade, formal shoes, non-terrycloth bath robes without pockets.
Casual: tees with oriental-inspired prints, army boots, cargo pants, jeans or twill jackets, less formal brocade items.

Buying
Army surplus: khaki green or desert beige clothing, belts,  pouches, straps, boots.
Thrift store: evening wear, shirts, vests, leather, belts, shoes, gloves, hats, clothing to alter or harvest for fabric.
Mundanewear shops: standing collar shirts are somewhat fashionable for men and women atm. Some tops come in a mock wrap style that's a nice fusion of eastern and western.
Street market, Asian shops/webshops: brocade items, 'tai chi' shirts, fans, parasols, sarees, costume jewellery.
Silk painting supplies: silk scarves for cravates or to pair with evening wear. Plain undyed ones can be surprisingly cheap.
Workwear shops: cook's tunics have standing collars, sometimes wrap around and can come in colours.

Making
This close to an event, I'd say shop or shop the stash as much as you can. Consider if you can alter what you have. For instance, fitting something more closely may make it look more formal. You can also sew trim around a (men's or women's) v-neck to make a mock wrap shirt.

Pick one or two star items that define your character if you feel you can't get them another way. Google for screen shots, try to match fabric to that. For patterns, try Folkwear, Truly Victorian or Laughing Moon, which are all available locally (through naaipatronen.nl). You can also alter an existing pattern or trace over an existing clothing item to get your pattern.

Taking in a bought shirt (also works for vests, etc. Check out more of their movies for spats etc.)
Making a faux-cravate out of thrift-shopped ties

Some more thoughts from another larper about Firefly larp costuming

So...

Jul. 13th, 2011 10:28 pm
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...is anyone doing anything the last week of this month? Other than being at Drachenfest? Twi's going and I thought I had some options lined up, but they mostly didn't happen. I am going to the balfolk fantasy meeting, but other than that, I'm at a bit of a loss.

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We're up to our ears in home cooked Indonesian food. Family day went pretty well, but they eat like birds. There's just two of us, how are we going to tackle this mountain of food?

Xotus

Jun. 21st, 2011 10:14 am
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Yesterday, we went shopping at Xotus/Oriental Market to stock up for Sunday's family day. We ended up going home with three kinds of rice (sushi, Indonesian-style short grain and basmati) and some random bits and bobs, nothing very exciting. We'll have to go back for frozen/fresh goods nearer the end of the week.

The most interesting thing is the place itself though. This Chinese-run oriental supermarket has isles upon isles of familiar and obscure products from all over Asia (Japan, Korea, Indonesia etc.) With all the colourful packaging on every isle and the staff being more fluent in Mandarin than in any other language, it looks like a trading station from the Firefly 'verse. So if you're looking for Chinese spam, nondescript dried goods, unnaturally brightly coloured mochi, 'protein rations' or nebulous jelly concoctions, I'm pretty sure you can find it here :-)

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I wore a skirt without any tights or panty hose today and I wasn't cold.

Noes!

Apr. 13th, 2011 06:34 pm
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I got an e-mail saying my next series of dancing lessons may not happen due to lack of interest. They need a few more people before next week. It would really suck if they were canceled: the closest alternative (Utrecht) doesn't start up again until after summer. I'd be able to afford a few more balfolks, but the weekly exercise and social contacts are nice as well. And most balls are going to be further away than Leiden and thus more expensive. I really hope more people are going to show up, so if you know anyone, point them towards the sign-up:)
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As most of you know, I volunteer at the CabFabLab. It's a non-profit workshop in The Hague where visitors can use high tech equipment at cost. It sounds frivolous, but people make stuff here that really makes a difference. People make art, but also prototypes. One guy made a tool so that elderly people with shaky hands can still open those nice individual cups that peanut butter and coffee milk come in.

It has a laser cutter, 3D printer, vinyl cutter and more cool stuff. Basically, they buy expensive machinery to make it available to everyone to make whatever think think will improve their life. They're currently looking for volunteers, so I thought I'd see if any of you were interested. There's a volunteer discount, it looks cool on your CV and you learn how to use all this machinery. They need about eight hours a week minimum, but you can split it into two.
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We've had our cat Aeryn for years now and up to recently, she was an only cat. We still have a kitty house guest though, so that's been interesting. Mauw (short for Poesie Mauw, which neither of us can say out loud with a straight face) is doing much better than when she came in.

She spent a day or two under the desk in the hobby room and then hopped up onto the shelf that gets the best sunlight. She is very cuddly and not shy at all, but she wasn't eating very well and she was very thin. After having her wormed, vaccinated (! we all thought she was but she wasn't) and chipped, it was time to check her teeth. They ended up taking out three teeth and although we have no reliable scales, she is sure to weigh more now than the two kg's she did when they weighed her. Her shoulders are much less pointy and her spine isn't just padded with her skin and thick fluffy fur any more. We're very relieved it was that easy to fix. It's not nice to watch a cat sniff at food and then not eat it.

This new energy seems to have also helped in settling the territorial disputes. The cats have decided that the hobby room is Mauw's and the rest of the house is Aeryn's. Mauw used to tentatively wander a bit but hasn't recently. Aeryn will go into the hobby room to use the litter box, but will run to get there. She'll only steal Mauw's food if Mauw is not around and is very twitchy in that room. Meanwhile, Mauw reigns supreme on the sun shelf and enjoyed thorough petting by almost everyone at my party last Sunday.

We're now sure that Mauw can't go back to her last owner, though. Of course there is the question of where Mauw will go next. We're not really in a financial position to eventually take on the potential costs of two aging cats. Even if we were, we'd prefer to have a second cat that didn't just ignore Aeryn, but maybe got along with her a bit better. Armed peace may be better than what some cat-owned end up with, but it's still not ideal. So the search is on for a new home for Mauw...
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I had a lovely birthday. I was surprised how many people managed to make it, despite my very last-minute announcement. I also got some lovely gifties and stuff. My mother made a lovely Mon Chou cheesecake and brought enough food for a week and a half again. She also slipped me some money, as did Twi's mom.

Now I'm sort of tempted to go here. On the one hand I shouldn't spend too much money, but on the other hand a lot of my stuff is starting to look a bit worn and ratty. Also, a lot of my jersey tops seem to have developed holes on the front and/or left arm/shoulder. Cats are hard on clothing...
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Like most Dutch people, we pay for our utility bills up front. The utility company estimates how much it should be and divides it into twelve monthly payments. They generally check if the amount is correct only once a year. We found out today that we've been paying almost three times the amount we should have been paying since we moved in in June. All that time, that money wasn't available to us and they have been gathering interest on it.

I wish I could say this was a freak occurrence, but this has been true for every house we've ever moved into. Sometimes it's only a couple of tenners, but it's always higher than what we end up using. I don't know if they're expecting us to crank up the heat so we can walk around in swim gear or something, but it was as bad as we've seen this time. We looked into lowering the amount, but they wouldn't go further than 10%. They also stipulated that you can get no financial consideration/help whatsoever for the rest of the year if you lower the amount. That's even if your financial situation changes completely but your usage is as you estimated yourself.

It's good that we can pay off some things with this lump sum, but they would have been paid off ages ago if we'd had the money...
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We can haz printy!

This would have been a lot easier if hplipopensource.org hadn't been offline for a while. If anyone's even remotely interested: cups needed a filter/plugin and the version of hplip I was using didn't include it. I had issues earlier with backwards compatibility, so I was pretty sure using the very latest version wouldn't help. Heh, shows how much I know.

Now to nab some screencaps and store them where I can find them...(although most of it runs by itself and tells you what to do, so I won't need all of it).

Grrr

Feb. 2nd, 2011 04:04 pm
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I'm generally happy to be using Ubuntu Linux. It takes up less space and hogs less memory and I can generally find help online when I need to do something arcane.

But I am sick and tired of my printer not functioning after every single upgrade since three upgrades ago. I don't have an exotic printer (HP Laserjet P1102), it's hooked up directly to my USB port, nothing fancy at all. CUPS online interface detects it, adds it and then it still refuses to print a test page. HPlip can detect/add it about half of the time but that still doesn't make it run. I just want to be able to print, damnit.

Stupid thing is, this happens just far enough apart that I lost my notes of how I fixed it last time. I don't know, maybe I did something wrong and I'm getting a message from the Karmic Koala?
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Hey everyone, it's my usual somewhat last minute birthday announcement. My birthday is on the 7th of February and I will be celebrating on Sunday the 6th. If you could come in between 10-18, that'd be great and, for the love of kittens, please let me know if you're going to come so I can buy enough food/drinkies.

Gifts are optional, but I will not say no to books, baked goods or whatever you think I will enjoy. For questions, you can contact [livejournal.com profile] twilightbanana  if you want to surprise me.
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A little over a week ago, I made some clotted cream for a bring-your-own-food afternoon tea. It was pretty easy, mostly requiring patience and a bain marie so there would be no cooking or burning. Most 'recipes' you find have you mix up mascarpone and sour cream for a surrogate. I was amused when I saw a girl at the Viva Magazine forum elect the surrogate because "...the whole lumps floating to to surface business sounds unsavoury".  How does she think her other dairy products are made?

Making real clotted cream involves gently heating (slightly separated) whole milk or cream and waiting for the fat to surface. After you cool it down and let it sit, you can scoop off the clotted cream. The recipe I had said to scald the cream for two hours (I didn't sit next to the pot all the time, I went online and checked back every now and then), but the first 30 minutes seemed to do the trick, with not much of an extra yield after two hours.

Anyway, with the success of the clotted cream, I felt confident enough to try cheese. I didn't want to be too ambitious, so I went with something easy. At our last house, we had an Indian restaurant nearby. As a rare and special treat, we'd have some of their food delivered  and that's how I first had paneer, an Indian fresh cheese. It's more of a texture than a flavour, but it makes a good foil for spices and veggies. The best thing about it is that you only need two easily acquired ingredients, so I was all over it:)

Basically, you need milk, preferably whole, and some sort of acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Of course I didn't plan this through all that well, so I had less than a litre of semi-skim, some leftover full fat Greek yoghurt and some white vinegar. I heated the milk and added the yoghurt to make it creamier. I was told to add 10ml of vinegar. I couldn't really be bothered to measure it, I wasn't really planning to use the whey and the cheese doesn't take on the acid, so I just put in a metric slosh and stood back. This is the bit that makes it fun, because the acid separates the whey from the curds pretty quickly and it's a bit like magic:)

I let it sit for a few minutes and then I poured everything into a wet clean dish towel (cheesecloth stand in) in a sieve. The whey leaked through into a bowl and the curds stayed behind. I pressed out some more whey by pressing the curds for another 20-30mins in my very high tech 'cheese press' (I put some dishes and a can of beans on top for weight). We ended up with a modest hamburger-sized bit of paneer, which I handed off to the kitchen prince to be made into pakora (spiced batter fried snacks). I think the taste and texture were reminiscent of mozzarella, not very exciting but a good base to start from. Overall, I would rate paneer as dead easy to make, slightly time consuming, easy on the wallet and vegetarian-friendly.

Meh.

Dec. 19th, 2010 08:58 pm
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We tried to make it through the snow to Utrecht for the last performance of the Dorestad 1493 play. We'd originally asked for a ride from [livejournal.com profile] janestarz  and [livejournal.com profile] nokey , but they didn't want to brave the snow when the traffic was already pretty bad. The buses were actually running on time and so was the first train, so we were feeling pretty optimistic at first. Then we were going veryyy sloowwwly and arrived just in time to see the train leave that we were supposed to catch in Rotterdam. So much for traveling together...

Things pretty much went pear shaped from there. The next train left late and they announced that it would only go as far as the last stop before Utrecht, Woerden. At the stop before Woerden, we had to wait for a train to clear the stretch of track our train needed to use. Janie&co called us to say they were stranded too and were considering turning around. We looked at the clock and we had a snowball's chance in hell (c what I did there?) of making it in time. In other words: time to call it a day. When we caught the train to The Hague, the train we were in before was still just sitting there. The rest of our train trip was slow, but uneventful. When we finally got off the train and went to catch a bus, we saw two leave in front of our eyes because there was no safe way to run and catch one.

Still, we made it home in one piece and a bit of preparation meant we were well-supplied with sandwiches, hot tea and reading material/crafts projects. I just feel unhappy I spent all this time traveling (left 10.45, got back around 15.00) and have nothing to show for it. I really hope it's going to be better over this week as I'd hate to miss Christmas with my family because of the snow. And maybe another year of heavier snow will get it into people's heads that hey, maybe we are getting more snow. Who knows, they might even *gasp* free up money to weatherproof the trains. They managed to pick up more snowploughs for the roads...
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CabFabLab, where I volunteer, is currently closed for the holidays. I'd like to show you something that one of our visitors made on the laser cutter though.

It's stop motion animation, meaning that every frame is set up, shot as a still and then they move it slightly and take another shot. You can see why this needed various trips to the laser cutter (which was behind my desk, so I got a good view). Nifty, huh?
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You know, I need to work on just being grateful. My parents just dropped by and my mother left me almost two weeks' worth of groceries. Apart from bafflement (where are we going to stick all this stuff? How are we going to finish it in time?) and relief that we're going to have a cheap couple of weeks, there's a very persistent voice in the back of my head that goes "I'm a grown-up! I can do groceries and feed myself and everything! I can do this all by myself because I'm a grown-up!"

Which is possibly the least grown up response possible, so yeah.

Stop that!

Oct. 20th, 2010 05:47 pm
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Well, we're not having a good month when it comes to our means of transportation. Somebody kicked in the wheel of my bicycle, necessitating a 70 euro repair. We sank an additional 1000 in keeping the car going and then the battery was low and we couldn't start it anymore. And then some some jerk smashed in the side window and rifled through our stuff, finding nothing much of value (they even left the radio in). I'm not sure how much that's going to cost, but I'm just so fed up with all this dren.
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