Blogtober and NaBlogWriMo

You may have noticed that I have been posting more frequently lately. In an attempt to rekindle my love of blogging, I’ve been making myself write a thing every day in October and November—or, as I’ve taken to calling them, Blogtober and NaBlogWriMo*. It is my hope that once these two months are up, I will continue blogging at a reasonable pace. Maybe make myself a schedule, two or three entries a week. Even one a week would be better than the months I used to go between posts.

It’s been a fun challenge. I find myself cooking a lot more than I used to, and what’s more, I’m making new things instead of relying entirely on my cache of tried-and-true recipes. Unfortunately, if I haven’t made anything new (or if it didn’t turn out particularly well), it can be hard to think up a topic. I’ve written about my travels and my garden, and I’ll probably talk about perfume again at some point since I got more samples in the mail. I haven’t quite gotten desperate enough to write about soap I like, but it’s probably coming.

In terms of housekeeping here at Braisin’ Hussy HQ, I’ve still got to go back and categorize all my old posts as well as complete and organize the recipe index. Plus I need to look through my files to find a decent header photo instead of relying on the stock one that came with the layout.

*Yes yes, NaNoWriMo is a 50,000 word challenge. I’m not doing that. It was just a goofy name to extend the experiment to two months.

Légère Oboe Reeds

I am super-excited about this! As you may or may not know, I was an oboe player in my previous life. One of my biggest issues was reeds. I wasn’t very good at making them, and moreover I hating doing it. (It was kind of a chicken-and-egg sort of situation, I guess.) Plastic reeds used to be total crap back in the 90s—I remember trying a couple out when I first started playing. I think they were supposed to be better for beginners, since we wouldn’t accidentally chip them on our teeth or whatever. Sounded like hell, though.

I did some looking around when I was starting to play again. I saw that Légère Reeds had developed a bassoon reed, and they were in the development phase for oboe reeds! Their bassoon reeds say they can last 12–14 months! Yeah, they’re probably going to be wicked pricey (looking at their bassoon reed prices, the oboe ones will probably go higher). But if they do last a year, I think it’s worth it. Think about all the hardware you have to buy: cane, splitters, gougers, shapers, staples, thread, knives, stones. Even if you buy already shaped cane, you’re still looking at a lot of money, considering how long reeds last and how much your time making them is worth.

The big question for me is whether the scrape fits with how I’ve learned. They say they’re a European Scrape. If I look at my pedagogic ancestry, I’m (unsurprisingly) from a San Francisco line—my teachers were Tom Nugent and Bill Banovetz (note: that is a sad link), who were in turn students of Marc Lifschey, who studied with the legendary Marcel Tabuteau, the father of American oboe playing. Tabuteau’s students—and there were many—all developed different scrapes. For instance, I know the John Mack school is pretty different than what I learned. Perhaps if the European Scrape is wildly successful, they might branch out into an American Scrape? East Coast / Midwest / West Coast Scrapes? The possibilities are endful!

Will the Légère reed work for me? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out! They hope to be selling them by the end of the year!

For more, check out the Légère Reeds European Scrape Tour on YouTube! You can hear in the London video an extended example of how the reed sounds, with the first movement of Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid—ah, the memories! (And dig that Pasculli in the Rome video. Gosh Pasculli is fun to play.)


I’ve been doing the New York Times crossword puzzle for a few years now, but now that the Wall Street Journal has started putting out a daily crossword as well, it feels like I have a full-time job just getting through the ones I can do (Sunday–Thursday for the NYT, Saturday and Monday–Thursday for the WSJ). If I’m working on them at home, I have a clipboard I attach them to, and lately the clip’s tension has been getting overstrained by the amount of puzzles under it. Even though I’ve started printing them out double-sided, it’s too much paper. My purse is full of papers folded into quarters and secured by the pocket clip of a mechanical pencil (also under strain). I hate to give up on a puzzle that I know I can finish given enough time, but occasionally I just have to say “screw this” and put a whole bunch in recycling.

Sometimes I’ll come across an unsorted pile of papers and find a Wednesday or something from ages ago that I never finished, and then they’re like a cakewalk for me. It’s nice when you can get an actual notion of “yes, I am getting better at these!” When I first started, just finishing a Monday was an accomplishment. I still haven’t tackled a NYT Saturday, but recently I did finish a Friday. That was a feeling of great satisfaction.

Sox Trot

[image: eleven pairs of Sox Trot socks]
[image: eleven pairs of Sox Trot socks]

It’s not news that I love socks. One of my favorite brands is Sox Trot. They specialize in equestrian socks. Now, I am no horsewoman, but wow these make the best trouser socks. They stay up amazingly well, and their prints are so bright and fun!

(oof, that’s a bit pink-heavy)

When I first started getting into fun socks (apparently in 2007, according to my email history), one of the first pairs I bought was from Sox Trot. I think that of that first shopping trip, they are the only ones that still exist in my collection—where I’ve put my heels are a bit stretched but they haven’t developed holes yet or lost their elasticity. (I was going to say the heels are stretched out a bit, but they’re not a formed heel like knit socks, they’re tube style.)

I dig their stripey styles a lot. Because the designs are printed on and not woven in, sometimes you get a discrepancy on the sides where the patterns meet. With the stripes (vertical and horizontal), you don’t run into that as an issue. But like the polka dot pair in the top pic? The pattern matches on one side of the leg, but not on the other. Kind of frustrating.

They don’t sell to buyers directly, so you have to find a retailer. These days I tend to buy them from Sox Plus whenever they have a sale. Sox Plus generally has a great selection of their patterns. (One of the nifty things about the Sox Trot brand is that they put out a couple catalogs a year with new prints. It’s great, because they’re always changing it up, but it does mean that you might miss out on some designs if you do decide to wait for a sale.) The Joy of Socks also carries them, at better prices but less selection. I wish Sock Dreams sold them, as they are a fabulous sock site, but I emailed and they said they had no plans to carry them. Drat.

the best spam

I wish to also share something with you close friend, in terms of sensible insight on ways to manage shitty and also unfavorable people.

I get a ton of spam comments. I have to clear out bunches from my filter each day. But this, this is the pinnacle of spam. I almost want to let it through.

Please, share with me! Aren’t we close friends? Please! Tell me your sensible insights on ways to manage shitty and also unfavorable people. That seems like it could be good advice.

(I’ll write something better tomorrow.)

Reusable Shopping Bags

Where I live, we’ve been moved off plastic shopping bags onto reusables. I think this is pretty great, because I have cool bags.

The two large bags in the background I got at Comic-Con. Anchor Bay Entertainment has bucked the trend of SUPER GIANT BAG giveaways in favor of shopping bags that you can use all year. Which means you advertise for them all year. Which is a genius idea on their part. I’m not a fan of the giant bags, honestly. I know they’re a Comic-Con tradition, but they’re just too big and unwieldy. They’re impossible to use in a practical sense. So yes, reusable bags! The Spartacus/Walking Dead season 2 bag is from 2012, and the Black Sails/Walking Dead season 5 bag is from this year. They’ve changed the handle from fabric to… whatever the rest of the bag is made out of. Whatever it is, it’s more uncomfortable to hold than the fabric. But it probably holds up better? I have to assume there’s a reason they changed it.

The two bags in front are ones I keep in my purse, since they collapse into adorable cuteness. The bunny bag was a gift from my friend Jeff, who got it in Japan like ten years ago. I enjoy the fact that it’s pink and says “GREEN BAG.” The strawberry bag I picked up recently at a dollar store in Amsterdam. cute cute cute!

(Yeah, it’s kind of annoying not to have plastic bags around to line my bathroom trash cans anymore, but whatever, I’m over it.)


[image: three sachets of perfume samples from Fragonard: Jasmin Perle de Thé, Santal Cardamome, and Héliotrope Gingembre]
[image: three sachets of perfume samples from Fragonard: Jasmin Perle de Thé, Santal Cardamome, and Héliotrope Gingembre]

In a move that I imagine horrifies my mother, I have started dabbling in the world of fragrances. (Don’t worry Mom. I don’t wear them around you—I’m not that big a jerk as to aggravate your asthma). One of my friends recommended I sign up for Fragonard‘s mailing list, as they send out samples every so often. A large envelope arrived while I was on vacation (that’s another post, assuming I get around to it), containing three samples. I tried them out this week, and here are my conclusions.

Héliotrope Gingembre: this immediately pulled vanilla on me. I couldn’t really smell anything else. Sad, because I thought a ginger fragrance would be neat.

Jasmin Perle de Thé: this was nice! However, I already have green tea scents from L’Occitane and Elizabeth Arden, so I don’t think I need to invest in another.

Santal Cardamome: this was fascinating. I guess it’s their newest release, according to their website (and the fact that it doesn’t have an entry on Fragrantica yet). I loved the cardamom spice in it. I’m putting this one on my “hey, if I ever find myself in France, maybe I’ll think about picking up a bottle” list. (It’s not a very well-populated list.)

They can all be found in the Fragonard’s Garden page of eaux de perfum. I like the bottles. They’re pretty.

Garden Update – June 26, 2015

4baskets 3baskets

My little hanging garden is coming along nicely. I’ve added a couple more baskets! First up is the upper-basil, lower-sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomato plant has exploded, it’s huge! Unfortunately it’s only put forth one fruit so far. There are a bunch of flowers though, so I’m hoping more are on the way. Basil is doing fine.

[image: indigo rose tomatoes]
[image: indigo rose tomatoes]

Second is upper-thyme, lower-Indigo Rose tomatoes. Although this bush isn’t as big as the cherry tomatoes, it’s putting out a lot more fruit. I’ve got one good-sized tomato and four smaller ones growing. And there are a bunch of flowers on this plant as well. I’ve heard these take a while to ripen. They will be dark purple when they’re done. Thyme is going great guns.

[image: super chili peppers]
[image: super chili peppers]

The third is upper-super chili peppers, lower-ichiban eggplants. The chili peppers are looking great! There are SEVEN chilis and a ton of blossoms! Salsa is in my future. The eggplants are frustrating me. This one has a bud, but it hasn’t blossomed yet. I’m thinking maybe a week out?

[image: sweet gypsy bell pepper]
[image: sweet gypsy bell pepper]

The last basket is upper-sweet gypsy bell peppers, lower-Casper eggplants. These eggplants are even more annoying than the Ichibans. I’ve had three blossoms, but each one has withered and fallen off. I’m hoping the current blossom makes it. I had a problem with some aphids on this plant in particular, but I was able to get rid of them. The bell pepper is so cute! I think another one is starting to form.


[Image: two hanging wire baskets with coconut fiber liners, containing herbs growing up and tomatoes growing down.]

I am not a gardener, but I want to learn. I have friends who have amazing vegetable gardens and I get so jealous thinking about their tomatoes! So this year I am trying my hand at upside-down tomato growing. I read about it on Instructables and thought it didn’t look too hard for a beginner.

(I saw a lot of tutorials using 5-gallon plastic buckets as well, but I wanted them to look… not like they were in plastic buckets.)

In the left basket are indigo rose tomatoes growing down, and a couple thyme plants on top. In the right basket are sweet 100 cherry tomatoes growing down with basil on top.

It’s been a couple days (and hey! we actually got rain the day after I planted! amazing!), and they haven’t died yet, which is frankly amazing. Also amazing is the tomato plants’ determination to grow upwards. Already I am seeing heliotropism as they try and stretch up towards the sun.

I really hope this works.