Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fantastic February

 I am not a fan of the month of February. Its frigid enduring gloominess keeps my body and soul in constant yearning for sunny skies and warm breezes. Sadly since I lack both the time and resources to relocate to a tropical island, I find I have no other choice than to simply endure February’s imposed melancholy. This year however, I found myself caught in a whirlwind of fun and exciting February experiences.
1) I started a writing class. I met middle grade/young adult author Aaron Starmer at the Collingswood Book Festival this year and had the chance to listen to a panel discussion on writing for the young adult audience that he was a part of. I loved how interesting yet down to earth he was and he seemed more interested in the creation of original imaginative stories than in the obsession of getting published. I started reading his book The Only Ones and found it strange, inventive and thought-provoking. After the festival I thought that I would love to learn specifically from him and was excited when I read his Facebook post announcing that he would be teaching an online class through the Loft Literary Center. I signed up right away. I am loving the class and have learned a lot, especially from Aaron’s personal feedback on my own writing. I desperately want to improve and am trying hard to do so.

2) We enjoyed a lovely evening at Renault winery celebrating the great achievement of our friend Maryann. The evening included a tour (with a rather dynamic guide who had a flair for the dramatic), a wine tasting and a relaxing time stuffing ourselves with delicious food and chatting with friends.

3) I went to Dr. Who night. I won’t expound on that here since the previous post before this one describes that evening in detail.

4) I met author Brandon Sanderson. Just in case you haven’t heard me talk about this in person (and at this point that makes very few of you) epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson did a talk and book signing at the Free Library of Philadelphia. He was mainly there to talk about finishing The Wheel of Time series (because the original author of the series passed away before he could complete it) which I haven’t read, but I loved the Mistborn Series and I am a huge fan of his podcast Writing Excuses. After his talk we lined up and waited to get our books signed. Standing behind us were two really great couples Jennavier (yeah I know, I was so envious of her name) and Jonathon and Tamara and Blake. They were friendly and had super interesting things to converse about so it made the time in line go quickly. What I loved most about Brandon was that for the few minutes that you were standing in front of him he gave you his full attention. Since I hadn’t read any of The Wheel of Time I figured I had to come up with something else to say to him. I decided to mention the podcast and how much I loved it. He then asked,
“Oh, do you write?” I felt my face go red. I didn’t want to be that person who is like, hey awesome famous author I write too so we’re soul mates. I timidly answered yes. Brandon replied that that was great and said,
“Fist bump for writing,” and then we fist bumped and then he said that I had no excuses and I had to write (which is the theme of the podcast). For the rest of the week I felt like Eliza Doolittle coming home from the ball except I sang I could have fist bumped all night (okay maybe that was too much information but I did sing it a few times at home while I was alone and maybe in my car…). It was quite an inspiring moment for a wanna-be-author.

5) My final highlight was afternoon tea and game night with the girls. We had tea at Amelia's Tea Room in Mullica Hill and it felt just like stepping into the pages of Anne of Green Gables. We sat on lovely cushy chairs and poured tea from pretty teapots into delicate china cups. We each ordered a different kind of tea so we could swap. Alana’s Vanilla Chai was my favorite. We each got The Queen’s tea, which included soup and one of those charming three tiered serving platters that included a quiche, a variety of tea sandwiches (the cucumber with carrot cream cheese was my favorite) a sampling of sweets and of course the item that made it feel delightfully tea like, a scone with jam and clotted cream. It was wonderful having the opportunity to insert a little elegance and sophistication into the month and fortunately no one got into the raspberry cordial (obligatory Anne reference). Later we went back to my house and snarfled lots of bad for us snacks while playing games that included Dix-it, Fluxx and Harry Potter Clue (Clue excluded, Wil Wheaton would have been proud).

With all of the fun, merriment and geeking out my usual melancholy gloom was bright and sunny, even if the brightness was only contained within and it was truly a fantastic February.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Night of Geeky Goodness

Two weeks ago The British Chip Shop in Haddonfield had their first ever Dr. Who night.  Technically we went to the second ever Dr. Who night as the first night booked up quickly and we were put on a wait list and then had the amazing fortune to be added to their second spill over night…but I digress. 
At the event I met up with two friends from high school, Liz and Sharon.  Although we are facebook friends we haven’t seen each other in forever and it was fantastic getting a chance to catch up with these remarkable ladies. 

  I was quite thankful for my friend Stephanie who gave me a Tardis hoodie for my birthday because it was the perfect venue to show it off. Under my hoodie I wore a Dr. Who quotes t-shirt and on my head I donned a bow tie because bow ties are cool. Liz had a pretty sweet 4th Doctor/Tom Baker scarf that evoked some envious stares.  I was kinda of surprised that although most people sported their cleverest Who inspired shirts there weren’t a lot of people dressed as characters from the show (I wanted so badly to get my picture taken with a Dalek or Weeping Angel). It could have been due to the fact that being 6pm on a weeknight a lot of people may have been coming straight from work and well I’m sure a full out Ood costume may not be appropriate work place attire (but if it was I would want that job!).  There were a few people who did come dressed, so a photo op was required.

There was a 9th Doctor, a 10th Doctor, two 11s and a Rose.  The guy who looks like he is sonic screwdrivering my head was by far my favorite.  I have to admit that a small part of me wondered if he could have possibly been an actual Time Lord.  He remained in character all evening.  At one point he pointed to Liz’s scarf and said,
    “I used to have a scarf exactly like that,” which made us laugh.  Later he dazzled us with card tricks (using his sonic screwdriver) and pulled a few quarters out of my ear. He asked if we’d like to run away with him in his Tardis.  I imagine in other circumstances and/or taken out of context of the evening that could have been considered a little bit creepy, but he was The Doctor after all and what girl wouldn’t dream of becoming the next companion? I said yes.

I thought that he should have won the costume contest, but he didn’t.  This guy won.

It was hard to be angry because he was very nice and loved the fact that he got his tweed jacket for $5.00 at a thrift store.  Both of the 11th Doctors sat at tables next to each other and at one point they wondered if Doctor 11 ran into Doctor 11 did that mean that time was about to implode?  That conversation was pretty hilarious and was just the kind of thing I was expecting from the evening.

Our dinner started with Slitheen deviled eggs, Ood mezze plate (hummus platter), Dalek Invasion Ships (pastry wrapped sausage) and take-out noodles (which came late so I didn’t get a picture but they were delicious!)

For the main dish we had vampire fish cakes with roasted veggies and Coronation Chicken with jasmine rice.


Dessert was by far the most creative and the best course.  They served Cyberman heads (cupcakes), jammy dodgers (which are shortbread cookies filled with jam) and fish fingers and custard (pound cake rolled in pound cake crumbs to dip in custard).  The fish fingers and custard was so good that when I went to the shop this week for my YA critique group I told the waitress that they should put it on their regular “puddings” menu because I wanted to eat it again.
They also had Tardis shortbread cookies available for $1.00 and really how could you say no?
The festivities included a trivia contest, which was extremely difficult and we had absolutely no chance of winning.
It spanned all 11 Doctors and 49 years of Who. That is an awful lot of information to have crammed in your noggin.  When I was there this week talking to one of the staff I said I was ready for Harry Potter night (coming in June) because I was certain I could rock that trivia.  He just looked at me with an evil smile.
All together it was an amazing wibbly wobbly timey wimey filled with geeky goodness and it was a great chance to have some bonding time with two no nonsense intellectually creative gals.  We had so much fun in fact we already have a get together involving afternoon tea planned for the near future…and of course there will be another Dr. Who night coming this spring. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Think Spring!

While I was at Trader Joe’s this week I purchased two small bunches of daffodils for $1.50 each.  I was hoping that they would provide some happy encouragement and remind me that despite the current cold gloomy weather, spring will eventually burst forth with colorful triumph. Every time I look at them in their little mason jar vase it makes me smile.   And speaking of spring, the last of my seed catalogs arrived this week.  I decided this year that instead of purchasing seeds at the local home improvement store I would order them from an actual seed company, preferably organic.  I chose three catalogs based on recommendations from either blogs I read or podcasts I listen to.  Since our garden is not afforded an abundance of space, I have to choose wisely.  That however did not deter my enjoyment of reading all of those plant descriptions and ogling over pictures of tomatoes, pumpkins and squash.  Someday when we have more space, I thought, I’ll try growing (insert the name of various plants).  Since we also are not set up to seed start I was mainly looking for seeds that can be sown directly into the ground.  I am looking to plant beans, lettuce, swiss chard (which I tried last year with no success), okra and several kinds of flowers.  The rest of my garden’s bounty will have to come from plants purchased at the farmers market.  Last year I really loved the blonde cucumbers, the yellow pear drop tomatoes and the purple tomatoes.  I also can’t wait to re-encounter last year’s nemesis…the zucchini.