Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday Home Stretch

Needless to say, it's been busy.  A review of the past week or two, in pictures, is the quickest and easiest way to sum it all up.

"Is that the thesis?"
First, there was the grading.

Then, when that was finished, there were the TWO revise-and-resubmit requests to get--and keep--working on.

I haven't finished them yet.  One (on Zola) is grinding along at a snail's pace--did I mention I don't like Zola?  Yeah, I don't--but I'm hoping I can have it done before the year's end.

My self-imposed deadline was originally December 1st, but obviously, we blew past that a while ago.

The second revise-and-resubmit required additional research.  This is the project on Shalamov's Kolyma Tales, that I've blogged about before, and I will say, it's the project I prefer to work on.

More or less.

The reason I say "more or less" is because it's never a whole lot of fun when editors tell you that to further enhance your analysis of the Soviet Gulags (forced labor camps), you should do a bit more research on... the Holocaust.

So yes, that's what I've been doing for the past month as well: reading more about the Holocaust and specifically Holocaust testimonies.

This may have something to do with why I haven't been blogging the way I've wanted to.  One finds oneself speechless at the end of a reading day made up of Holocaust testimonies. 

I'm also reading Charlotte Bronte's Villette (1853).  I started it years ago, and didn't like it.  A week or so ago, I decided to give it another shot.

I still don't like it.  But at this point, I'm about halfway through, so I'm determined to power through it to the end.  That will then give me something to complain... I mean, blog... about.  (I believe it's on my Classics Club reading list, but I'll have to check.)

In better news, though, there has been knitting.  Lots and lots of knitting.  And this is a joy to me, obviously.  My latest happy project is a pair of cat mittens. 

At this point, I only have the one.  I binge-knit it on a day when all we had was fog and rain and general dreariness.

I made the executive decision that such a day was not meant for reading Holocaust testimonies or overwrought nineteenth-century novels with narrators who are just so damn full of themselves it's hard to care what happens to them (that's a little teaser for my summary of review of Villette).

 Pictured at the right is palm of the mitten.  Note the little paw-prints.  Kinda cutesy, but it involves kitty cats, so I don't care. 

Judge me all you like, I have cats and I adore them.

Needless to say, the mitten will require its mate.  I only made the one during the binge-knit, because that in and of itself took all day and I went to bed around midnight woozy with wool.

I will also need to put the thumb on it.  I hate doing the thumbs of mittens, so I save them for the very last and then just grit my teeth and do them. 

And then I will be happy.  Because I will have a second pair of mittens that fit...ahem... like a glove and that pretty darn pretty.

And I even blogged about it all.  Now, if I can just get Zola on his way for the holidays, I'll be all set.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"The Sadim Touch"

First off, let me say that I've already made my New Year's Resolution for next year, and it's to see to it that I get back to blogging.  I don't know what happened this year, but I know I'm not happy about the fact that my blogging dwindled so drastically.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get to the matter at hand.  Today, I had a case of what's known as "The Sadim Touch."

What is that, you ask?  Well, I'm sure you're familiar with "the Midas Touch," wherein everything you touch turns to gold (even though that may not be the smartest idea in the world, as Midas himself quickly discovered).

The "Sadim Touch" is the Midas Touch in reverse (Midas - Sadim, get it?) wherein everything you touch turns into... something that is definitely not gold.

Case in point: I tried to make two types of candy today--a chocolate peppermint bark and marshmallows.  I've made marshmallows before.  I never had a problem.  So today, I grabbed the nearest recipe I could find, and got to work.

It didn't work.  Granted, I couldn't find the wire whisk attachment for my mixer.  And I'm not sure where it could be, either, if it's not sitting right there next to the mixer, so the hunt for it is going to consist of me sitting on the couch wondering--I can't even begin to look for it, since I have no idea where to start.

But as it turns out, the recipe I used was not my usual marshmallow recipe and when I self-righteously insisted on checking my original recipe, it turns out that there were significant differences between the two.  So I guess in that sense, the "Sidam Touch" wasn't really my fault.

Regarding the peppermint bark.  I made it, and I guess it's okay, but I think that whoever came up with the need to temper chocolate in order to make decent candy was certainly no friend of mine.  It just seems very hit or miss, and yes, I used a candy thermometer, but no, it didn't seem to help.

So the peppermint bark exists, but I don't think the chocolate is tempered.  I fell prey to my own temper, though, and tossed it in a freezer bag in the fridge announcing, "Well, I don't know WHO is going to want to eat this, so I guess I'm stuck with it."

I'm not sure what my point was with all of that, because a) it's chocolate, and b) it's peppermint flavored with peppermint candy in it.  Who wouldn't want to eat it?

I think the thing is, when things don't turn out exactly as I hoped, I tend to be a bit hard on myself.  Which is a bit odd, because when friends do or make things that don't turn out exactly as they had hoped, I'm always ready, willing, and able to point out that it "doesn't matter," and that it's "fine" and that "no one cares."

You'd like I'd extend myself the same courtesy I extend others, but for some reason, I don't.  Maybe that should be another component of my New Year's Resolution for next year: to cut myself some slack.  (Just not when it comes to blogging.)

In the meantime, if you're wondering what I've been up to when I haven't been blogging, here's a brief review, in pics.  There's the Christmas tree:

There's my first attempt at making a "painted" pie crust. Hence the apple pie with an apple tree on it:

(Next time around I'm going to try to make the "trunk" of the tree a bit narrower.)

And there's a new pair of mittens, which I'm quite pleased with, despite the fact that it has been too warm to wear them pretty much ever since I finished them.

Next time around, I think I'd prefer it if they simply had solid-colored thumbs.  I'm not too keen on the patterned thumbs, quite frankly, but they look fine when I'm wearing them so... all's well that ends well on that front.

So these are the things I've been up to instead of blogging.  Along with grading and trying to get two articles revised and resubmitted.  But the end of the semester is here, and we're well into finals, and in a few short weeks, 2015 will be a thing of the past.

Wait.  What?  Where on earth did the year go?