Last year, in the summer, I made a little comic using photos of my BJDs. I was sure I’d already posted it here on the blog, but apparently I’d only posted it at my BJD community, so here it is now. It’s in PDF format, so click on the links to have a look:
Picture of the week:
Yesterday I bought Volume 4 & 5 of the manga series I recently reviewed. I’m really excited to read it, but it’s going to have to wait a little while because today I started beta-reading a novel!
Word of the Week: Capon
Did you know that the word for a castrated rooster is capon? No? Well, now you do!
Track of the Week:
I’ve been watching a lot of Modern Family lately. A couple of episodes ago two of the characters sang Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. It’s been stuck in my head all day!
Link of the Week:
Today I did some “Windows-shopping” (heheh… Windows… get it? I don’t use a Mac) on Etsy. If you for some reason have never visited that site, you should totally do it! But hold onto your wallet!
One particular genus of literature that I’m still very much a stranger to is manga. Because of my fondness for literature, and perhaps even more because of my interest in BJDs, manga and anime has always been something that’s been present in parts of my social circle (BJD-people are fairly often interested in Japanese pop-culture in general) and the different websites I’ve visited. I think I recall reading a few issues of Dragonball (which I didn’t care much for) in my teens, but apart from that I’ve mostly considered the world of manga to be this big and sort of intimidating jungle and although I’ve wanted to try it I haven’t known where to start. Another problem is that most manga series, or at least most of the ones that are popular here, seem to fall into two categories: 1) romance (which has never been my genre) and 2) humorous action like Dragonball or Naruto (which in all honesty is not really my genre either). So I ended up never really reading any because I didn’t know where to start with trying to find something I’d actually like.
Then, in the summer of 2012, I was with a friend in a local “geek” store (which sells books and movies in the fantasy and sci-fi genres, merchandise and manga as well as board games and Warhammer). By chance, I found Volume 1 of Kaoru Mori’s historical romance manga A Bride’s Story. I hadn’t heard of the series or of the author before (although from what I understand she’s relatively well-known for a series named Emma); it was the beautiful cover that drew me to the book and caused me to pick it up and see what it was about. I was intrigued so I bought it, and as soon as I’d started reading it I fell absolutely in love. I now own volumes 1-3 and I plan to get volumes 4 & 5 soon. The series is set Central Asia in the late 19th century, and follows the lives of different people in the region, focusing particularly on their romantic and marital pursuits. Although it’s classified as romance, it’s the historical and cultural aspects and the “slice of life” style that draws me to it.
In Volume 1, we get to know twelve-year-old Karluk Eihon and his eight-years-older bride Amir who has just moved in with him and his rather large family after having gotten married. While she struggles to make a good impression on her new family and learn their ways, Karluk struggles to adjust to his new role as a husband. The story deals with the cultural differences between Amir’s region and the Eihon family’s region, with the social dynamics in the household (which includes Karluk’s parents and grandparents, his sister, her husband and their 3 children as well as a British anthropologist named Mr Smith) and with the developing relationship of the young couple. It also deals with some meddling relatives of Amir’s, but I won’t say any more than that.
Volume 2 picks up right where Volume 1 leaves off and continues to explore the same themes and storylines, whereas in Volume 3 the focus and scenery shifts a bit as we set off with Mr Smith, the anthropologist, on a journey to Ankara to procure some unknown item of interest. While waiting for his guide in a town a few days from the Eihon family’s town, he meets the young widow Talas, her determined mother-in-law and her unpleasant uncle. Drama ensues… While Amir and Karluk do turn up in this volume as well, the focus is squarely on Mr. Smith and on Talas, which means that the themes and the tone are a bit different from the first two volumes.
This series is a real piece of art! The illustrations are exquisite and the artist has paid immense detail to everything from the food and the clothing, to the horses and the wooden carvings on the houses. Even for someone like me who knows very little about this region it is quite obvious that the author has done a lot of research (she’s apparently a bit of a history geek). It’s not only visually beautiful, but the way in which the emotions of the characters are portrayed and how the events are shown as they unfold is very well-done (excellent storyboarding, if I have my terminology down right). The characters are charming, diverse and multifaceted, and their emotions and relationships come across as realistic and believable (albeit unusual at times). Unlike a lot of historical fiction produced by contemporary authors, none of the characters come across as being a 21st century person dropped into a different time, which I really appreciated.
So, as you can see, I really like this series. It’s beautifully crafted, interesting, humorous in places, sad in other places and charming pretty much all the way through. I can’t wait to read volume 4 & 5 and I sincerely hope the series doesn’t end there.
If you want to try A Bride’s Story, you can find it on Amazon (Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3) or, if you’re lucky, in a local bookstore with an extensive manga section. Enjoy!
Picture of the week:
Last week we got our first proper snow of the winter. I have to say I’m pretty dang happy about it! The world just gets so much prettier (and lighter!) when there’s snow.
Unfortunately the snow doesn’t change the fact that my camera isn’t very good in the evening.
Word of the Week: Träningsvärk
Earlier in the week I had “Delayed onset muscle soreness”. At least that was what Wikipedia told me when I tried to find out the English word for Swedish träningsvärk. I had it in my abs, which makes sense because I increased the weight on one of my ab machines at the gym on Sunday, and also in my groin, which makes little sense because I don’t recall increasing the weight on the inner thigh press thingy at all. I have to say, I prefer the Swedish word for this concept quite a bit. It’s just quite logical: träning means training or workout and värk means ache, so it’s an ache you get after working out. ”Delayed onset muscle soreness” (or the acronym DOMS) sounds all serious and mysterious and disease-like. I was quite surprised that I couldn’t find a more common/everyday word for it, actually.
Track of the Week:
It’s Cohen time again! Here’s Going Home from Old Ideas.
Link of the Week:
A friend of mine showed me this Tumblr a few days ago. It’s got a lot of cool pictures on it. In fact, I might use it as a writing prompt source a bit.
Picture of the week:
A while back my mom had the idea that I should buy a corniche and put above my bedroom window so that I could a) hide my roll-down curtains behind it, b) hang my pretty drapes from it (since a normal curtain rod couldn’t fit with the roll-down curtains) and c) have a cool corniche. One day a couple of months ago she rang my doorbell unexpectedly and entered with a second-hand corniche. And then stuff happens, and time went by, but this weekend I finally got around to sanding and painting it (from white with a gold edge to matte black). Now it’s up on the wall, with my pretty curtains hanging from it.
Nice isn’t it? In fact, I typed out this post yesterday (Tuesday) but I needed to wash my curtains before hanging them, so since I really wanted to show it off so I waited until today (Wednesday) to post. Part of the reason why I’m so thrilled about this is that when I get down in the dumps, as I have frequently been for the last few years, my apartment gets kind of a mess and all the plans I had for improving my surroundings (and anything else) tend to come to a halt. So it feels really nice to finally have accomplished a (modest) improvement to my living space. Plus I’ve really missed those drapes!
Word of the Week: Productivity
I am having one of my most productive weeks (or couple of weeks) in quite a while. Ticking off to-do lists, one after another, woot! Yeah, just wanted y’all to know that.
Track of the Week:
Today we’re going old school with a rather silly ABBA track that’s been ringing in my head all day. Here’s When I Kissed The Teacher! Silly video, too.
Link of the Week:
Yesterday morning I woke up with a case of the “will I really be able to make a cover for my book that doesn’t suck?”-heebie jeebies. Then I found the Lousy Book Covers-blog. Now I no longer feel worried!
I was honestly convinced that I had posted these miniviews weeks ago. In fact, I was quite sure I had posted them before going to Jordan, which I apparently had not. So anyway… In the fall I got a lovely box of Australian goodies! I didn’t know much about Australian snacks so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the surprise is half the fun of a snack exchange (okay, maybe not half, but you get my drift) so I was quite excited about this one! So without further ado, here are my miniviews of the snacks from down under:
Now, here’s a cheesy snack I can get behind (not that there aren’t others). Cheezels have a really nice, strong, realistic taste as opposed to the “yellow paper”-taste some cheesy snacks have. The texture is also really nice; it’s a tad less porous than your general cheese doodles, so it is less messy due to not crumbling so much. I didn’t like the round shape much (gods know why) but that’s the sort of thing you get used to quickly. Overall I really liked them!
Shapes – Pizza
The pizza flavored Shapes were… interesting. On the one hand, they really do taste like pizza. On the other hand, I discovered that I don’t like crackers that taste like pizza. I like pizza that tastes like pizza. Additionally, they just tasted like the boring part of pizza (the dough and the tomato sauce) with none of the goodies on top. Not a fan.
Cadburry – Freddo & Caramel Koala
The “Freddo” bar was just plain milk chocolate shaped as a frog. Not much more to say. It was dull, but decent quality chocolate and sweet but not “hurts your teeth”-sweet. The same goes for the Caramel Koala really. Decent quality chocolate with sticky caramel goo inside. Nothing special, a bit dull, but not too bad.
When I first saw the tin of Milo in my box I was like “yay, hot cocoa!”. Then I read on the tin and I was like “barley? Lolwut?”. Then I read more closely and discovered it in fact is hot cocoa, it’s just hot (or cold, I guess) cocoa which also has barely in it. Whodathunk? Well strange at it sounds, let me tell you, people: it is freaking delicious! Rather than just tasting like very sweet chocolate like most hot cocoa instant powders I’ve tried, it has a more subdued chocolate flavor combined with a nice, full malt flavor. I also feel it tastes less sweet than I expect from hot cocoa powder (which is a good thing, most ones I’ve tried are too sweet for my taste). It tastes…. cozy. That’s really the best word I can think of for it. It tastes like curling up on the sofa with a blanket and a book, and a gentle September drizzle tapping on your window. I’ve only tried it mixed with milk (because mixing cocoa powder with water goes against my religion *cough*), and I’ve only drank it cold once, because it was just so much yummier warm. Oh, and it’s awesome with a splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream in it! So yeah, if Milo is sold in your area, go get some. I’m already dreading the day when I run out!
Fizz Wizz is a candy in the “stuff I would’ve loved as a kid”-category. It’s basically sugary powder, with a bit of flavoring. With a name like Fizz Wizz I sort of expected it to… well, fizz. It does not. It’s… not bad exactly, it’s just… well, flavored sugar powder. Not terribly exciting and a bit sweet for my tastes. Oh and, don’t accidentally inhale it while you’re eating. Really, don’t. Because ouch.
Another Cadburry candy bar and, might I add, a pleasant surprise. I’m not normally a big cherry fan, but the mix of cherry flavor and coconut was actually really nice. I actually didn’t know there was coconut in this bar because I hadn’t read on the wrapper, so when I first took a bit I was confused as to why the cherry tasted so much of coconut. The chocolate covering was nice, too. It was pretty dark for being a candy bar, which I appreciated. Overall a tasty treat, with a kind of unusual combination of tastes. I don’t think we have anything like it here, kind of a shame.
I don’t know what I expected from a candy bar named Crunchie. Whatever it was, it wasn’t something that tasted like sugar, wrapped in honey, wrapped in syrup. So sweet! And not in a good way! Just sweet and buttery and… strangely dry. And simultaneously kind of dull. Really not my thing.
TimTams – Original
Whenever I’ve seen someone post about Australian snacks over on r/snackexchange, people always bring up TimTams. I’d actually never heard of them before I got into snack exchanging, but since then I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. In fact, I’ve heard so many good things about them that when I first tasted them I was a bit let down. I’d been expecting more. However, after I’d gotten past my first impression I quite liked them (just not in a “oh my god, best thing I’ve ever had”-way). They’re a really nice mix of chocolate and biscuits. Also, they’re delicious when dipped in a cup of Milo.
And finally, it’s time for the oddest product in my box: a tube of Vegemite. For those of you who don’t know, Vegemite is a food paste made with yeast extract and various vegetable and spice additives. Odd, huh? I’ve never had Vegemite before but a few years ago my British boyfriend gave me a bite out of his Marmite sandwich (which is supposed to be similar). I don’t remember being very fond of it but I still thought I’d give Vegemite a proper chance. In fact, I even did a bit of research about how to best eat it. According to my findings, the ideal way to ingest Vegemite is on toasted bread, with a thick spread of butter and a thin spread of Vegemite on top. After trying it with two different type of bread I can honestly say that I quite like it. Eating it ranges from “hmm…odd” to “mmmm” to “ugh” (when you take a bite out of a spot where the Vegemite has accidentally been applied too thickly) in a rather unpredictable manner. Overall though, I like it. Plus, I got a toaster for Christmas so I can make it on proper toasted bread instead of random bread I have in the house that’s been put in the oven for a while.
Top 3: Cheezels, Milo and TimTams
Bottom 3: Shapes – Pizza, Fizz Wizz and Cadburry Crunchie
Picture of the week:
Okay, I wouldn’t say I’m a foodie exactly. But I do love me some yummies, and Christmas tends to be one of the yummiest times of the year. So this week, I had planned to present you with a whole bunch of picture of Christmas munchies. Unfortunately most of the photos from Christmas Eve were very blurry and dark, so I’ve had to settle for just Christmas breakfast and New Years Eve dinner.
Christmas breakfast (on Christmas Eve’s morning) consisted of the traditional rice pudding with cinnamon and sugar, a slice each of my mom’s wort bread and my dad’s traditional Christmas bread (usually just called “favorite loaf” in my family, because it was a childhood favorite of mine and my brothers, I don’t know what kind of bread it really is), both with Edam cheese on top, and, of course, gingerbread cookies of different kinds. With a breakfast like that, getting dressed and going down to mom’s and dad’s in the morning is well worth it. The rice pudding, called risgrynsgröt in Swedish, is something we basically only eat at Christmas, at least in my family. It’s a shame really because it is delicious!
NYE was also spent at my parents’ house. They tend to do fancy-schmancy cooking for that occasion, and in the end I ended up quite satisfied with that I hadn’t found any exciting parties to go to. For the starter we had soup crème ninon, a pea soup with whipped cream and champagne added just before serving. It was seriously scrumptious! I mean, I’m a fan of pea soup in general but this was special. As a main course we had salmon mousse wrapped in fillets of plaice, served with a sauce whose ingredients I’ve forgotten, with a side of peas (possibly sweet peas, I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out which pea names in Swedish corresponds to which one in English) and “riced” potatoes (another translation problem. In Swedish the literal name means “pressed potatoes” which sounds odd, but either way the tool used to make them like that is apparently called a ricer). Also very yummy! For desert a cake with a cocoa-almond paste base and a cream top flavored with whiskey and coffee. Now, I’ll admit I am not a big fan of coffee-flavored things (although I do drink actual coffee occasionally), but it was very nice all the same. Yeah… I did not go to bed hungry yesterday, I’ll tell you that much. I hope you all had a pleasant and yummy NYE and that 2014 will bring many good things into your lives!
Word of the Week: Bedtime
It’s almost midnight here. I’ve totally messed up my routines now that I’ve had some time off, staying up way past midnight most evenings for the last week and sleeping until nine or even later. It will be interesting to see how long it takes me to get back into my work routine with earlier nights and earlier mornings. So as soon as I’ve posted this, it’s bedtime for me!
Track of the Week:
I got a CD from my dad for X-mas, The Constant by I Blame Coco (the stage name of Coco Sumner, the daughter of Sting). I haven’t had time to listen, I mean properly listen, to it so I’ll link you to the track that got me to put her album on my wishlist: Self Machine. I absolutely adore this song, and the lyrics too. I really look forward to familiarizing myself more with her music!
Link of the Week:
I’ve been watching a paranormal TV show lately, which made me think of an old favorite site of mine: Encyclopedia Mythica, an online encyclopedia of myths and legendary creatures. I might have linked to it before, but it’s always worth another browse.
I thought I’d post the last of the advent miniviews now, on the morning of Christmas Eve, since by this time tomorrow I’ll have a bunch of photos of delicious food to bombard you with for this week’s Weekly (since, if you don’t recall, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th in Sweden). Here’s a photo:
And here are the miniviews:
The window numbered 19 contained a Rainforest Shine Conditioner to match the shampoo I got a few days back. Like the shampoo it was nice, smelled pleasantly, worked well, but still wasn’t quite enough to rival my regular products. Still, I liked it and I do appreciate getting a full set.
December 20th featured a Coconut Shower Cream. I really associate the smell of coconut with The Body Shop because of a soap I had years ago. This shower cream like the soap, has a strong smell. Pleasant, but not the sort of thing I like to use every day.
Continuing the rainforest trend, December 21st presented me with a Rainforest Moisture Hair Butter. It’s for dry hair, and my hair isn’t particularly dry, but I tried it anyway yesterday. It was pleasant to use and seemed to function rather like a conditioner, but I didn’t notice any particular effect (except what can be expected from a good conditioner). I don’t know if that’s because I don’t have dry hair or not, but either way I’m sure I’ll use up the whole rainforest set eventually, just because it has a nice smell and doesn’t muck up my hair like some products do.
The following day was a Peppermint Cooling Foot Cream
. I was really excited about this because I’d seen it in the store and been curious to try, so I gave myself another foot rub with some lotion. It had a pleasant feeling but I just couldn’t get into the smell. I was expecting a herbal smell, something refreshing, but it smelled more like peppermint candy. Actually it smelled exactly like a polkagris, a traditional Swedish candy (click here for the wiki
). So I was a tad disappointed.
The day before Christmas, the 23rd in these parts, presented me with an Absinthe Purifying Hand Cream. I actually bought this hand cream a few weeks ago and absolutely adored it, so I was thrilled to get a second one for when I run out. It’s got a great smell, distinctive but not intrusive, and it is absorbed quickly into the hands without leaving you with stick fingers. I love it!
So, what did I get on Christmas Eve itself? I got a big tub of Olive Body Butter! I’m a big fan of body butter, I’ll admit, so that was a pleasant surprise. Olive still smells a bit like kitchen if you ask me, although the smell of this was very mild. Still, it felt fantastic. It looked quite funny too; it’s spent all this time on it’s side in the calendar, so all the body butter had scooted over to one side of the tub, leaving an empty space at the part that had been towards the top.
General remarks: Over-all, I really enjoyed this calendar. I feel it’s given me a lot of high-quality products, even if some of them haven’t been things I have that much use of myself. I also love that it’s given me a few “matching sets”, so that there’s been a few “fragrance themes” running through it. The only thing I’m disappointed in is that it has contained only haircare and skincare products, but no makeup. I’ve never tried The Body Shop’s makeup (I feel like they didn’t always have makeup, but I could be wrong), and I was hoping to get some samples from this calendar. I will definitely wish for a calendar like this again some day, although I think I may have to wait until Christmas 2015 because I fear I will still have stuff left next Christmas, haha!
And, as I usually do with my snack exchange miniviews, here’s my top and bottom 3:
Top 3: The massage oil, the exfoliating gloves and all 3 absinthe products (because I couldn’t pick my favorite from among them)
Bottom 3: Hemp Lip Conditioner, Hemp Hand Protector and the sample facial masks.
Right, now I’m heading down to my parents’ place to start Christmas Eve the way it ought to be started: with a bowl of my dad’s delicious risgrynsgröt (if you don’t know what that is, check this wiki page and scroll down to “Nordic Countries”). I wish you all a very merry Christmas, whether you celebrate today, tomorrow or both!
So, somehow I forgot to do a Weekly this week and therefor ended up with a week’s worth of advent calendar miniviews to do tonight. Oops! Oh well, I suppose it doesn’t matter if I review a few items frequently or larger quantities less frequently. Anyway, here are the findings for December 9th to December 11th (no photos because… well, I can’t be bothered tonight):
December 9th contained a Mango Hand Cleanse Gel, much like the Absinthe one I got earlier in the month. Again, I’m not super fond of hand sanitizers, but I’ve come to realize they can be quite handy. Especially little bottle like this which you can keep in your bag for those times when you need to get your hand clean but there isn’t any soap around.
Window 10 contained a Aloe Soothing Night Cream. Now, as I’ve mentioned before I don’t know much about skincare in general. Nor do I know much about night creams in particular. I asses all kinds of creams and lotions on a few basic criteria: how well they smell, whether my skin feels more or less irritated after using them and how easily they’re absorbed by the skin. Now, while this one did well on the first two criteria (it didn’t smell much at all and was fairly soothing), it did less well on the third. It left a sort of sticky feeling on my face, even after quite a bit of rubbing, and I quite dislike that. I particularly dislike it in the evening because I get the feeling that I’m getting my pillowcase dirty when I sleep on my side with a sticky face.
December 11th gave me two nail files. I’ve only used them briefly, but I quite like them. For a long time I had a habit of buying crappy nail files. You know the type, the ones with a spongy middle and some sort of sandpaper glued onto it, which begins curling at the edges after two uses. I’ve recently discovered the joys of sturdy, all-wood nail files and I believe these fall into that category!
I haven’t had time to try out the item in window 12 yet, so the rest of the days between the 11th and today will have to wait a bit with being reviewed. Oh and, happy 3rd of advent, everyone!