blk: (Default)
A challenge that I never thought I would have is to get teenaged boys to eat food. And yet someone I ended up with kids who don't always eat enough, although not because they are picky eaters. In conversations about how to making putting nutrition in their bodies on a regular basis, particularly when in an environment where they have to be responsible for their own caloric intake, one of us suggested Soylent as an occasional meal supplement. And since I am a person who likes to gather data (even though I actually like food and intend to continue eating it), I suggested we all try out various forms and flavors.

It is unfortunately difficult to acquire a Soylent tasting pack, as the site only sells the liquid version by the 12x (and powder by a week's worth of meals). I mean, it's possible, in that several entrepreneurs offer such a thing, 1x bottle of each of the 4 different flavors, but it is approximately the same cost as a single case. I decided that a) it would be a fun thing to share with other people, and b) we could probably finish up a case of each flavor eventually, as it doesn't go bad. So I ordered that. I also ordered samples of Schmilk, a food-replacement mix that is meant to be mixed with milk, gets decent reviews, comes in small sample packs, and the guy who runs it is responsible and friendly.

Thus I had a *lent tasting party, with about ~10 people, plastic shotglasses, 7 flavors of food-replacement drinks, and some real food to get the taste of non-food out of your mouth if needed. We wrote down comments, and the results were amusing and fun, so I figured I'd share them more publicly.

Reviewed flavors:
Soylent Ready-To-Drink bottles
1) Original,
2) Cacao,
3) Nectar,
4) Coffiest;
SuperBodyFuel Schmilk powder mixed with 2% milk
5) Original,
6) Chocolate,
7) Cinnamon.

reviews )

Basically almost everybody there agreed that Soylent Nectar was The Worst (which is a minor problem in that I still have 8 bottles left that nobody really wants to drink), and Schmilk Cinnamon was close to the best by itself. Soylent Original and Schmilk Original were popular for their simplicity (and not tasting TOO good). Soylent Coffiest was possibly the most controversial.
blk: (Default)
Food log, Jan 2016

I'm not listing everything I made this month because that would be boring, not to mention I don't remember it all. But here are some highlights.

After doing some traveling earlier in the month, the house ended up with a couple bags with a greater-than-usual quantity of crushed, sugary, cereal dust. The kind of sugary dust that nobody wants to eat as actual cereal, but I wondered what I could do.

Experiment 1 was crushed frosted flake chicken. It came out decent, but a little too sweet for everybody else in the house. I bet it would have been good paired with a nice mustard, but I'll probably not try again, and anyways I ran out of that cereal.

Experiment 2 was my basic goto banana muffins, with crushed frosted shredded wheat in place of the oats, and no extra sugar added. Success! I will probably use up the rest of that cereal this way, and possibly any future cereals.

Last weekend I threw my annual Soup Swap party, where people make soups, everybody samples everything, and we swap frozen quarts around. This year I decided to try out a super easy chicken taco recipe I borrowed from [personal profile] katybeth which is basically 1 can each of black beans, kidney beans, bbq beans, corn, and tomatoes (lg), mixed with 1# chicken and taco seasoning. I tried it a couple times and decided the taco seasoning was the most (only?) important part, and using our homemade seasoning and adding some liquid made it just right. Party folks liked it well enough, too, and 7qts of it got swapped away.

The party was a great success, with 40(!) people (10 under 18) and 15 soups. Nearly everything got finished up or taken away. Everything was pretty tasty, although there was nothing this year I ended up really loving. The day afterward I decided I had been craving a good cream soup, so after a surprise trip with friends to Restaurant Depot where I got a huuuuuge amount of 'shrooms, I tossed together a basic cream of mushroom soup that hit the spot.

Today Xuth and I are sniffly and sick and blah, so leftover soups (and some emergency canned soups) are just the right thing.
blk: (sudopie)
I am so overdue on posting things. Well, starting in order...

Carnival happened (a week+ ago now), and it was overall a really excellent weekend.

Friday after my morning meeting I went to the jboys' school and signed them out so they could come watch mobot. Well, mobot was the excuse; I think they were mostly just happy to get out of school. I did some wandering with a few folks then went back and pretended to work for a few more hours. After work I decided to join the 412Flock bike ride, then home to greet scu, our houseguest for the weekend, and one of his contra friends, and we hung out chatting until late.

Saturday I made the boys help me do a bunch of housecleaning while Xuth did a bunch of yardwork, then we headed to CMU to see booths on midway. I got stuck at the Math Club booth where they had various logic puzzles on their walls and solved their "easy" sudoku in about 15 minutes (but I needed pencilmarks, so I told them it was not "easy") and looked at their "hard" sudoku before giving up and heading over to the SCS alumni snackfest (I did get a picture of it, and determined later that it actually was not solveable. Hmph.). A few of us wandered around the new Scott Hall with mjs before heading to the cslounge BBQ in Squirrel Hill, where food was et and Tichu was played. After leaving there we went home and I helped Jim make pizza, some people came over for board games, and we hung out chatting until late.

raspberry pi

Sunday everybody in the house worked on a bunch of party prep and cleaning and pie making and setup all the way up until 2pm when people arrived and eventually I sat down. Party was most excellent. There was food (most of which was eaten), drinks, trampoline, bouncy stilts, a hoverboard, DDR, a small dog, 5 bikes, face painting, a hammock, pizzas, and a few games. The weather was superb and the backyard grass and porch was covered with people enjoying it. I counted up a total of 32 pies and 80 people (~20 of them under age 18), which is not quite a record but pretty close. There were almost no leftovers.

The most fun pie this year was the "raspberry pi" (pictured) and I think the most delicious pie was a brown sugar pie, which I'm pretty sure I need to acquire the recipe to (although almost everything I tasted was yummy). A smaller group stayed late and played Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania and kindly let me stomp all over them.

Cleanup was mostly not a huge pain, thanks to really awesome guests who are not only pretty good about not making a huge mess in general but are also super awesome and many of them helped with cleanup during the party. A few dishwasher loads took care of the majority of it, and several days of slowly working on larger stuff here and there took care of the rest of it. As of yesterday I am finally willing to declare the house back to normal, with the rug vacuumed, the furniture all moved back, and last of the borrowed things cleaned and bagged and ready to be returned.

A++ would pie again. Next year.
blk: (pie)
[ profile] xuth and I threw our second pizza ("pi") party yesterday on pi day.

It went off quite well overall. I counted 24 adults, 11 kids, and 14 pizzas, as well as 2 quiches and 2 dessert pies. The weather dried up just in time that plenty of people got to go play on the trampoline, and was warm enough that people could spend time outside fairly comfortably, but not so warm that having the oven on at >500°F for ~3 hours made the kitchen too hot. After the main pizzaing was done, plenty of the crowds went away, but a few stubborn guests hung out for some games, and we finished up a slightly lopsided (but fun) game of C&K just after midnight.

Jim made several of his traditional thin crust pepperoni. I decided to try out a thicker crust pizza cooked in a pan (based on this recipe), and that came out pretty well (and better with more practice). There was also a buffalo chicken pizza, thai chicken pizza, blueberry pizza, 3 margherita pizzas, and three GF/DF pies (from a bakery). It was a mostly different crowd than last year's party with very different pizza lineup, and all was good. The younger son made me a lovely (and delicious) pi-shaped pumpkin pie again, and two vegetarian quiches came late. Most of the pies got finished, with a few leftovers going home with friends (and the rest saved for my lunches).

Today, Jim and I made 5 more basic pizzas to finish up the rest of the leftover dough, sauce, and toppings. Then we get to enjoy an all-pizza diet for a couple days before life goes back to normal.
blk: (sandwich)
What a week. Tuesday we drove all day to return home from Arisia (which I still intend to post about), the rest of the week was prep for the weekend (while still keeping to usual social/active things), and the weekend was more party prep and parties. Today is the first day of real downtime in a long time and it's wonderful. I'm also getting a whole lot accomplished because I'm procrastinating the chores that actually need to get done (like cleaning off the game shelf to allow access one of the windows that is getting replaced tomorrow). Thus, LJ.

But first, successes for the week: Friday I went to another clothing swap, and I successfully gave away more clothes than I came home with. Plus I acquired a pair of jeans that fits me PERFECTLY. It's amazing. Just the cut that I like, looks good on me, AND it stays up without a belt. I haven't checked to see if the line is discontinued yet (that's usually the case when this happens to me) but I still have hopes.

Then Saturday I got to be Supergirl again briefly for a little girl's superhero party. She and were both dressed similarly, and I have to say, her surprised happy face when I revealed my outfit that matched hers was possibly the most adorable thing I've seen from her ever.

The party was brief because overlapping that party was my Soup Swap party. I planned ahead semi-poorly and didn't actually get my soup started until after noon on party day. Jim helped out by chopping ALL THE THINGS (while I peeled) and then I roasted and sauteed and stirred and simmered (while also cleaning stuff from the first floor to make party space) and got 6 quarts packed up just as the first guests were knocking on the door.

Souping was super fun (even though I had changed out of my costume) and lots of tasty things were there. We didn't get anything as surprisingly awesome as the dill pickle soup from last year but there was a particularly nice creamy garlic one. My soups once again got claimed out first, which is a nice ego boost. I guess I make good soup.

Soups represented )

While making soup yesterday I discovered I have a surfeit of onions. On top of that, I just read about making caramelized onions in the crockpot, and now I REALLY want to do a big batch of French Onion Soup. I might need to figure out another social event to do this for.
blk: (sudopie)
This weekend... [ profile] xuth and I threw a pizza ("pi") party. Last week I noticed that everybody else posted pictures of pi parties that looked to feature several store-bought pies. My pie parties are definitely better in that regard. I may have become a slight pie snob.

Xuth had been talking for years about wanting to do a pizza party, with memories of other parties where people just came and cooked pizza all day. We tried once last year but it didn't work like he wanted, I suspect mostly due to lack of expectation communication to party guests. So I tried another, thanks to prompting from my kid to have a Pi Party. This time I put in with plenty of advance warning and communication (sigh, FB does make these things easier), and it was a huge success! And far bigger than I'd expected! By my count, we had 30 people and 21 pizzas (as well as two traditional pies and a caesar salad). There was the Xuth basic pizza, several veggie pizza, several tortilla quick pizzas, a GF pesto pizza, a cauliflower crust pizza, and many more. The oven was on and filled with baking pizza for the better part of 4 hours, and only ended up with an accidentally burned crust/cheese and smoking up the house once! Almost all of the pizza got consumed yesterday, and the rest was finished up less than 24 hours later.

I think the only downside to such a great party is that 30 people is really quite a lot for this house. It helped to have the kids go downstairs to be rowdy for a time, but with the kitchen being actively used, there were no real quiet spaces. We are usually able to spread outside by the usual pie party, which is my only other regularly bigger party. But people seemed to enjoy themselves, and I had a great time, and I had one guest specifically compliment the party as running particularly smoothly in terms of no chaos in the kitchen. And later on it quieted down to a couple game tables. So overall, yay. Pretty sure this will happen again.

This week... has been filled with the ups and downs of Pittsburgh spring. On the upsides, we started pulling out all that stockpiled daylight, so now it is bright and sunny when I come home from work, and still quite light at dinner time, and starting to dim into evening at a somewhat more proper time. On top of that, we've had several days of delightfully warm sun and high temps, so pretty much all the snow is gone, and I went out in short sleeves one day. Of course, this being Pittsburgh, we also had two days of snow and temperature dips into the single digits, and this morning it mostly hovered just at or below freezing all day, but it looks like the next week will be perfectly decent. I'm greatly looking forward to all the additional outdoor stuff I'll be able to do soon.

This month... I've spent a lot of time working on getting in better shape and running a lot more, in prep for the Pittsburgh half marathon in, eep, 7 weeks. I think I'm in much better shape this year at this time than I was last year, but I'm still coming out of winter hibernation, and man are my legs feeling it. I'm back to having sore legs wake me up at night a couple times a week. Not to mention finding time to do serious running several days a week turns out to be fairly hard when I have a full time job and kids and hobbies and I like being social. Fortunately, there exist plans which say it's ok to only be running 3 or 4 days a week, instead of 5 or 6. Not sure how I'm doing on my time goals, though.

My goal for this year is 2 hours. Last year I made it in 2:10, so I feel like shaving less than a minute off per mile should be doable with work. However, in googling for training ideas, I noticed that there were multiple blogs and sites that touted a 2 hour goal as being for a "beginner," which confuses me. While I realize that the winners will be much faster than that, 2 hours is still a faster than average finish time (for both genders). Looking at last year's pgh half (which seems like a reasonably typical one) less than a third of the 16,000+ runners finished in 2 hours of less. If 2 is for a "beginner," what do you call everybody else? I admit to being a little irked by this. But I'm still trying for it. If all goes well, with a spiffy costume, to boot.
blk: (pie)
So Carnival happened.

Overall a pretty relaxing and good weekend locally. There was some overshadowing of the stuff in Boston, which had me checking updates regularly while I was at my computer, but once away I was able to just focus on people and good stuff.

Thursday was the last of the gorgeous weather of the week. Friday started off nice but then morphed into chilly and wet. I arrived on campus Friday morning from Oakland, heading up Schenley behind the library, right behind a car speeding along... right smack into the barrier in the middle of the bridge closing the streets to traffic. He slammed his brakes at the last second as he apparently woke from his reverie, and the bridge guard and I could only shake our heads and laugh. I watched a round of Buggy, which was trying to get in as many rolls as possible before rain, before heading into work, where our new director had brought us donuts. Later on I took a break from work to go wander around Mobot, where I found almost nobody I recognized. Weird. I wandered off to lunch with [ profile] chamois and baby, then ran into some younger ex-KGBers on the way back to office.

Work closed down around mid-afternoon, just in time for me to head over to the track for the SCS Random Distance Run, where it was annoyingly chilly and rainy, but I once again met my goal of not placing last! I managed just over 12 minutes for 6 laps (1.5 miles), which I'm pretty sure is my fastest time for a full mile ever, even though my hands were numb from the chilly damp, which sucked. We headed over to the TG for a bit, which might have been a mistake, as biking home after running hard and drinking a beer was quite difficult, but I still made it. Later in the evening I finally found our houseguests for the weekend and we played some games and went out to dinner and had a very silly time.

Saturday we hit campus to wander around a midway for a short bit, then the SCS reception for lunch, then KGB just long enough to note that it still existed, then the CSLBBQ for food and people and lots of Tichu, then home to collapse.

pie )

Great weekend. Let's do it again next year!
blk: (sudopie)
CMU Spring Carnival: Apr 19-20, 2012
... "God always has another custard pie up his sleeve." — Lynn Redgrave, Georgy Girl

It's almost time for the 12th annual after-Carnival Pie Party!

Come socialize, play games, try out bouncy stilts, run around in nice spring weather (hopefully), and eat pie!

Bringing pie is not a requirement, but if you do bring one, it must be homemade. Pies can be sweet, savory, satirical, silly, or any combination thereof. Other contributions of food, drinks, guests, or games are also welcome.

Supervised children of all ages are welcome. There will be one (1) friendly cat and up to three (3) resident t(w)een boys. In the event of good weather, there is a hammock and a grassy yard available for playing in.

Party attendees are welcome to invite and give out directions to anybody they know (CMU alums particularly encouraged). Directions available upon request.

RSVPs are nice (especially if you're bringing pie or someone I don't know) but not a requirement. See the FB event page for people planning.
blk: (cmu)
... even when the yard is chilly and slightly damp.

This year's Carnival seemed a bit quieter than usual, although I'm not sure if that was more because this was the first year in a while that I didn't have the [ profile] jboys for it, or that there were simply fewer people (from my alum groups) around for it.

The more subdued nature didn't actually make it less horrendously busy to plan for, though, particularly since our bedroom remodeling project was dragging its little legs out and making the final crunch cleaning time even more crunchy. In the last few days before Carnival-start, we moved out of our temporary bedroom in the basement, cleaned the living daylights out of the basement in prep for cat-allergic houseguests to stay there without dying, then did additional cleaning to the entire first floor in prep for the party.

and they're like, it's better than yours )
blk: (sudopie)
CMU Spring Carnival: Apr 20-21, 2012
... "When someone asks if you'd like cake or pie, why not say you want cake and pie?" — Lisa Loeb

It's almost time for the 11th annual after-Carnival Pie Party! Come socialize, play games, play on bouncy stilts, run around in nice spring weather (hopefully), and/or eat pie!

Bringing pie is not a requirement, but if you do bring one, it must be homemade. Pies can be sweet, savory, satirical, silly, or any combination thereof. Other contributions of food, drinks, guests, bouncy stilts, or games are also welcome.

Well-behaved children of all ages are welcome. There will be one (1) friendly cat and up to three resident boys. In the event of good weather, there is a hammock and a grassy yard available for playing in.

Party attendees are welcome to give out this invite and my address to people they know. Directions available upon request.

RSVPs are nice (especially if you're bringing pie or someone I don't know) but not a requirement. See the FB event page for people planning.

Due to the unavailability of some usual attendees this year, we are currently houseguestless for that weekend. If any Carnival visitors still need crash space, feel free to contact me.
blk: (cmu)
So Carnival weekend happened.

It was a busy time, starting from Thursday early when houseguests started arriving. My house no longer has infinite houseguest space, but fortunately, there are others who can fill in for that. Thursday evening, there was socializing with newly in-town folks until we all fell over.

Carnival... )

... and Pie! )

People hung out and played games until reasonably late. Our last houseguests left early Monday, and magically, the house was quiet and clean and peaceful, which [ profile] xuth and I are enjoying immensely. Overall, fantastic weekend. I had a great time, I can't wait to see y'all again, and I don't want to do it until next year. :)
blk: (sudopie)
CMU Spring Carnival: Apr 16-17, 2011
... "We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie." -- David Mamet

It's almost time for the 10th annual after-Carnival Pie Party! Usual info after the cut )
blk: (stilts)
I'm so behind on this update, but here it is, before I forget it all.

Carnival happened this year, and was made even more awesome than usual by the addition of [ profile] xuth and bouncy stilts.

We had houseguests [ profile] cheerfulchaotic and pliny in on Thursday, and the usual (small this year) madmex outing. On Friday, xuth and I dressed up in our usual stilting-ware (see icon) and roamed around CMU on them. We hit a bit of midway (before it opened), buggy and mobot, and hung out in front of Wean giving some stilt rides. Attracted quite a bit of attention and pictures, although I haven't seen any yet (anybody?), except for a cute blurb about us in The Tartan. The afternoon was a short round of gaming before heading home to meet the kids. The monsoon greeted us just before home, leaving me nearly soaking in about 5 seconds, so we stayed in for a while. Got rid of the older Boy in the evening, and a [ profile] bhudson showed up late.

A couple of people on pogo-stilts walked by nonchalantly )
blk: (sudopie)
CMU Spring Carnival: Apr 16-17, 2010
... "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -- Carl Sagan

whoever dies with the most pies wins )
blk: (stilts)
It was a crazy, fun, wonderful weekend.

Friday, I stopped by CMU to pick up the last of my stuff, most of which was files and email on a portable drive. After I scan through the folders to make sure nothing obvious is missing, I will consider my separation from this relationship to be cleanly complete, and we can start working on a friendship again. Still haven't ruled out the possibility of trying to go back in some way or another, but whatever happens, it will be different.

xuth treed
Saturday, there was a party with bouncy stilts and games. We had five (!) pairs of bouncy stilts to run around in along my driveway and street, and about 10 people trading them off and being extra silly. The weather was cold but thankfully dry, although there were a few fun moments upon noting that muddy or icy grass is indeed slippery. People bounced until the sun and temperatures dipped low, and even for a bit after, before moving inside for games. I foresee this being a regular thing at future parties...

Sunday, I woke up to strange car noises from outside. [ profile] xuth commented that it sounded like tires stuck in snow. It does, I agreed, but that's impossible, since it wasn't snowing last night, and, being Pittsburgh, it couldn't have dumped that much on us in 8 hours. I peeked out the window, but aside from a drizzle, everything looked normal... except for a few cars seemingly parked rather oddly by the side of the road. Hrm. A few minutes later, the squealing came again, and a different angled window showed a car and four people all sliding comically on an obviously sheer-slick street, attempting to help the vehicle get to the top of the hill.

icy entertainment )
blk: (braids)
Another Carnival, come and gone.

I decided to kick off the week by braiding my hair. It's been almost three years since I did it last, and I really missed it. Alas, the thinness of my hair makes it really hard to do as many braids as I used to, as the braids dwindle down to near nothing at the bottom, no matter how thick they start up top. So I added in dmc floss to thicken up some of them a bit, and ended up liking it so much I did it to them all. I really like the effect, and will definitely do something similar again.

Anyways. Carnival. )
blk: (elfcycle)
I really like throwing parties.

I like that I have a big enough house that I can fit a moderate number of people in it, reasonably comfortably. It'd be nice if there were more space, but maybe that's something I can have when I grow up.

I like to watch people come visit my space and enjoy themselves in it. I like when some of my friends meet others of my friends and they hit it off. It doesn't always happen, of course, but dislikes are kept quiet, and drama generally gets left at the door.

I like being able to offer food and entertainment. I like that people come visit me for things they enjoy. I like that my house offers a decent breeze most nights, although guests suffering from summer heat is probably one of the few things that could convince me to get a window AC up here.

I like having casual parties often enough that I get a small, rotating crowd of mostly-regulars who are familiar with the routine of things. In addition to being cool people to begin with, they are also helpful with contributions and with cleanup, so I rarely have any significant pickup to do afterwards, and I get to enjoy my clean house for awhile.

I like that I can go to bed after a long evening, with people still playing a game downstairs, and the house is empty, cleaned, and locked up just as I asked, when I wake in the morning.

Going out to parties / get togethers is enjoyable in its own way, but is never quite as comfortable as having my own.
blk: (kitty)
Hell of a party. I had a absolutely fabulous rockin' time, the pie was delish, and the weather behaved -perfectly-. We finally wound down about 10 hours later...

Alas, something in the weekend was too much for me. Today I am at home in bed with a sore throat, complete with chills and a fever. Fortunately, I'm in a good, relaxed mood, and I have no plans in the next couple days that will suffer from cancelling. Hopefully it won't last longer then that.

I haven't taken a sick day in -years-. It sorta makes me feel little again. Except that I don't get someone to take my temperature and feel my forehead and bring me stuff. :)
blk: (spring)
Reminder! Pie Party this coming Sunday!

Anybody who would like to do an anti-rain dance for me is welcome to...

ETA: If you are travelling to the airport on Sunday, and want to inquire about carpooling with other party guests, feel free to comment here.
blk: (elf)
Yesterday was a day where parties encouraged me to wear green. I commented to a couple people that that's like encouraging a geek to carry a cell phone. The only challenge was finding things that were all approximately the same shade.

It also encouraged me to cook corned beef and drink beer. Oh, what a hardship.

we'll drink and drink and drink and drink )


blk: (Default)

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