This weekend during my Open House the election was on everyone's mind. (No surprise)Most especially since many of the people who stopped by stand to lose a great deal with the new administration myself included. The conversation turned to womens health and this bit I wrote was brought up. It was requested I repost it. So here it is. I recently read 72,000 donations had been made to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence's name. You know what Planned Parenthood help me do? Get antibiotics for my pneumonia when I was a broke twenty something. Now I have insurance through the ACA and like a lot of other people I need my health insurance that's about to be taken from me. And so do my friends.
The Unicorn Visit
The girl came into her room after being out all night and was surprised to find the unicorn standing by her bed.
“Good morning,” the unicorn said in a clipped British accent. “Did you have a good time?”
Unsure what to say, and feeling a blush creep into her cheeks, she stood awkwardly by the door and shifted around in stocking feet.
“My, my! It must’ve been a good time if you can no longer speak,” the unicorn teased her.
“I don’t mean to be rude,” she stammered. “I’m just quite shocked to find you in my room. My father said unicorns only visit pure girls. Girls who’ve no sexuality or sexual relationships with anyone. He told me I am not a good person, as I’ve a boyfriend.”
The unicorn raised its eyebrow skeptically. Well, it would’ve raised its eyebrow skeptically if unicorns had eyebrows to raise.
“I beg your pardon, Miss, but I must say, your father is a bit of a judgmental creep. And not just a small amount of a hypocrite,” it finished, muttering to itself.
“What? I’m sorry, Mr. Unicorn, I didn’t hear that last part.” The girl stepped a bit closer.
“Nothing, dear. If you don’t mind, please do not call me ‘Mister’. I prefer to be a non-gender-specified creature so I can visit anyone I wish and not make them uncomfortable. A side note, darling, ask your father what he gets up to on Tuesday nights down at the tavern, and we’ll see how judgmental he is then.”
“Okay?” The girl cocked her head to the side and, sweet as can be, tried to puzzle out what that meant. “What is that on my bedside table?” She pointed past the unicorn.
“Ahh, yes. The reason for my visit. Now, I most assuredly do not presume to judge you for having sexual relations with anyone who is a consenting adult. However, I’ve made it my job to visit people of all shapes and sizes and preferences and make them accountable to their safety and their partners’ sexual safety. One can be fun, but one must also be wise. That’s what we really do, us unicorns… Educate. Honestly, I am quite tired of these silly, faux tales of us running around judging everyone. We enjoy a good romp as much as the next beast. That said, go ahead and open your gifts.”
The girl set her smashingly cute high heels on the floor and wove over to the table. She unwrapped cheerfully festooned boxes full of condoms, birth control, dental dams, and many other things to make life a bit easier.
“Do you think you might find those useful, milady?” the unicorn asked in a silly voice, trying to ease the girl’s discomfort. “Really, you’ve nothing to be ashamed of. And most importantly, you should be taking care of yourself. Never mind what these ridiculous people try to tell you to control you.”
“Why, yes, I think I would find them useful.” She turned and looked at the unicorn. “Truthfully, I do get a little tired of hearing the crap people say when I know they are full of b.s. They’re always telling us to look to the princess for virtuous leadership.”
“Believe me when I say, when she gets her chance the princess will speak out, as she enjoys a good time as much as anyone. Now, dear, I also left you a daring little number in the closet. I must be on my way. The princess in question has asked me to visit her ladies-in-waiting. Waiting for what, I always wonder?” The unicorn laughed and strutted out the door, but not before turning around and reminding her, “Being sexually active is a great deal of fun, but do not forget your annual exam.” With that, the unicorn disappeared into a puff of glitter.
Since we don’t have unicorns, we need Planned Parenthood.
I've been adding new things to my shop as I prepare for my next craft show. You can see them here: GirlyGeekChic.
Prep for the holidays seems to be in full swing though without snow here in Minnesota it doesn't feel like it yet for me.
I hope we get some flakes soon. Behold!
Guardians of the Key Necklace can be found here: Owl Necklace
The Gothic Garden Necklace can be found here: Key Necklace.
Blood Moon Necklace can be found here: Moon Necklace.
The Celestial Love of the Sun can be found here: Sun Necklace.
Creatures of the Dark Necklace can be found here: Mermaid Skeleton Necklace.
The Darker Mermaid Necklace can be found here: Creatures of the Dark Necklace.
Thank you for looking!
We are headed straight to the end of the year and as such will come the New Year's Resolutions. I have been reading a lot lately how the vegan food movement has been growing in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and that delights me completely. Whatever reasons you start to eat less meat there is one factor that can also be good: Your diet will get healthier and more adventurous.
That said it can be hard to know where to go and what to order. A lot of places these days do have clearly marked menus but I have done three previous posts about how to order vegan if you don't have a clearly marked menu. You can start with this information here if you like and there will be links to the next two posts as well.
If you are considering cutting back on meat consumption or doing away with it all together, allow me to share with you some places to try out to see what kinds of things you might enjoy. There are some well-known favorite places as well as some lesser known establishments.
Let's start with a bit of brunch.
Pizza Luce is famous for it's great vegan pizza but they also serve breakfast. It is only on the weekends and for a while they only served it in Duluth and St. Paul. They have expanded and I recently went and had one of my favorites: Vegan Quinoa Pancakes with warm apple compote. They also have a tofu scramble I love.
When you're looking for a veg lunch and you want it to be quick, look no further than Reverie Cafe. They serve all vegan food and when I was there, my companion and I tried the TLT and Berbere BBQ sandwich, both were great. Tasty and not too heavy. It's funny to me that I like veggie versions of BLT sandwiches, I used to really dislike them. But the veggie version here and at The Depot Tavern are super yummy.
The one person working by themselves that afternoon was totally great and friendly despite being relatively busy.
If you're looking for something a bit healthier head down to The Wedge Table. The Co-Op has expanded into a new space that has sit-in dining and more importantly: vegan cupcakes. They have a handful of options each time I have been that are vegan but my favorite is the Mayan Grains Bowl. Quinoa with black beans, sweet potatoes, kale, avocado slices, onions and avocado dressing. I add the grilled seitan as well. It's simple ingredients mixed together in a flavorful way.
I am going to share three places I think make great dinner stops. Though of course, you can eat there whenever you like! The first is a fully interactive experience. I have done this twice now and it's so fun and the more people you invite the more fun it can be. Little Szechuan in St. Paul offers Hotpot. Now if you've never had this before it can be a bit daunting. You sit at a table with a burner with a pot on top (and you can pick a completely vegetarian oil). Then you choose from a menu all the things you'd like to fry in the oil. Everything from lotus root to mushrooms to tofu in all forms. You then head over to the "bar" where you can create your own mixture of flavor oils, salts, powders and spice to dip these things in after they are cooked.
You take turns cooking things up and mixing and so you kind of never exactly know what you're going to get. I love this and I also love that it can be super spicy. But that's my preference. You definitely don't have to go spicy.
Added bonus: each pot is split in two so you can keep your side gluten free if you need to.
Never have I ever been in a place that smells as good as Everest on Grand. Located in St. Paul and in a cute neighborhood, this is one of my favorite places to eat in the Twin Cities. I usually go here for dinner but I am told they also have a vegan friendly lunch buffet. Everything I have tried on the menu I have liked. From lentil soup to momos to curry. They have an extensive veg menu and it is actually to me, a super great place to eat in winter. There is something very warming about the food. Some of the more decadent things include Tofu Pakoras and Momos (I once saw a little girl about 7-8 years old eat 20 veggie momos when I was there). For curry I really enjoy the Matar Curry and Kabuli Chana. They do sometimes additionally have one with asparagus that is beyond yummy. And again, you can get some real spice here.
In a similar vein, here in Minneapolis you can eat at a long time great place and favorite stop of mine: Gorkha Palace. Active in the community, kind people and just really good food. I've written about them before and they will likely always be on my favorites list. You can also have their momos with tomato chutney at the Mill City Farmer's Market in the summer time. I love sitting by the river and enjoying them.
Yes, I love momos. And Chana. Though my favorite and it can be ass-kickingly hot is Channa Saag. The veggies pakoras are quite good and come in a large quantity. The leftovers of food from here heat back up quite well.
Last but certainly not least is dessert. My new favorite ice cream comes from Milk Jam Creamery.
I love, love, love dark chocolate and none is better in ice cream form than the Black ice cream at Milkjam. It's usually busy and well worth the wait. However, I am a tiny bit miffed that you can't get one of the ice cream sandwiches made with Glam Doll donuts since they don't have vegan ones. I know, I know, champagne problems.
Speaking of which, Milkjam also has Champagne floats.
So go forth and conquer! I will have more for you at the end of the year. ENJOY!
It's my birthday in a few days and I've been looking back on the last year thinking about what has been my favorite things about it. It's been a year much better than last year for starters so, that's good. I lost both my pets last year and that took a lot out of me. There were other things but I think that was the hardest. This year has had a fair number of annoyingly expensive issues but whatever. Money is money, sometimes there's enough of it and sometimes there is not and that's unlikely to change.
One thing that has been stellar is that I have traveled more this year than any previous year. I usually spend about 2 1/2 weeks to three weeks traveling per year. This last year I've already traveled over a month's worth of time and that is amazing to me. I hope it continues to grow.
One of the most remarkable places I've ever been, I went to in Jan. It was the Cloud Bridge Nature Reserve in Costa Rica. Located high in the mountains it is a place of astonishing beauty. Cloud forests have become one of my favorite places to explore. They are usually amazing and honestly, the temperatures are often the kind I like.
Cloud Bridge is no exception. Plus, I am a total butterfly obsessed nut and this a great place to be for that interest. Including getting to see the glass-winged butterfly in the wild. We took more pictures than I can count so, I picked a few favorites and they don't even begin to do this place justice. I might add, this is not an easy hike and as such I get to have pride in how hard I worked to get around the reserve.
Good grief, I've been meaning to write this post for some time now. I went to Houston at the end of January and start of February. My sister was getting married and it was a wonderful time. I didn't go out to eat too much as we made food together as a family a couple of times and of course, the wedding.
I did write about one place I went when I was there and I had wanted to go for a long time: The Johnson Space Center.
So here are a few food places in Houston and around Houston (my sister got married on Galveston Bay) where you can get some good vegan food, donuts and coffee.
I always have a tough time finding good vegan mochas. Especially in the south. Somehow I got lucky this time and there was an adorable place a few blocks form the hotel called The Art of Coffee. It was filled with local art on the Kemah Boardwalk. An adorable neighborhood filled with candy colored homes.
We found a veg place that had really great reviews by the name of Field of Greens. I thought my tofu sandwich was simple, grilled, flavorful and of course, seasoned fries as I was on vacation. I also had a smoothie that I thought was not too bad. Not the best but still good.
My favorite, FAVORITE thing about visiting Texas is the Mexican and Tex-Mex food. This amazing place where they made fresh guacamole was one of the best I've been to in the last few years. Mamacita's was excellent. The margaritas were on the rocks and tangy. The food was fresh and they had no issue accommodating dietary requests. I loved my food here.
My new favorite naughty food adventure to take when on a trip is to find vegan donuts. This is a new tradition and Houston didn't disappoint. The place that was open when I had time to go (there are other options) was Hugs and Donuts. They had several vegan cake donuts for the taking and the blueberry one was divine. We got there near closing time in the early afternoon and they gave what was left to the kids outside so as not to waste them which I thought was even better.
I went to Las Vegas again this year. It happens when tickets are cheap, the room is free and you need a break from reality. I am not a gambler so it's sort of funny that I've been here so many times. However, I love shows especially Cirque Du Soleil. I've seen 14 of their shows. I saw "O" this year and wow, it blew me away. There is also great vegan food in Las Vegas these days. I wrote about it here last year and now I'll share some old favorites and new ones.
I went back to Slice of Vegas because the food is so good and of course they have an entire vegan menu. I am quite glad however that I walk tons and tons in Vegas.
This year our server at Slice of Vegas suggested we visit their other restaurant Hussong's.
The food was pretty good. I enjoyed my tacos quite a bit. They have an entire vegan menu as well.
We try to go to one nice place each time we're there in between the causal dining. We love the Wynn for this.
Last year we ate at Wing Lei which is the amazing Chinese restaurant there. This year we ate at Costa di Mare. An Italian, Mediterranean place. The food is out of this world. Rich, aromatic, with excellent cocktails to match. The service at the Wynn is always above and beyond. We get absolutely no attitude about our dietary restrictions. We also eat at the buffet at the Wynn when we are in town as it's one of the best.
The atmosphere is gorgeous and romantic.
Off the strip we visited the not so fancy but magically delicious Ronald's Donuts. They have nearly 2 cases of vegan donuts. And the prices are so good. Most of the time you pay up to $6 for a single donut. Not here. $1.5-2.50. Lovely owners as well. I read the most stellar reviews of the donuts and they did not disappoint.
Breakfast was had at Violette's Vegan. I've had dinner here before and breakfast was quite good.
Simple, hearty vegan fare.
I randomly was looking for lunch one day and wandered by a bar in the hotel I was staying at and found Holstein's.
It's not super vegan friendly, but they had a really great veggie burger with fries but what was truly the most YUMMY drink I had all week there was the Vegan Raspberry Coconut Milkshake. I actually went back and had one again at night the next day. It does have alcohol in it but I am sure they will make it without if you prefer. My pics are not great but wow, the food was a delightful surprise.
I tend to have a hard time finding a decent mocha in the mornings in Vegas. I always end up at Starbucks because they at least have soy milk. Hopefully, next time around I'll have better luck.
I have been reading science fiction and fantasy books for as long as I can remember. I am sure there are a lot of us who can say that because it turns out there are a lot of us geeks. You know who we are: not popular, not good at sports, not very social. Books were our life and that never stopped being the case.
As I have gotten older I have branched out to many types of books, but science fiction and fantasy in all its forms has always been my mainstay. In fact, I grew so enamored of it that I started attending conventions, working at conventions, have a room dedicated to geek fandom as well as my office being filled with geek toys. You know how it is, you love it, you love it all the way.
My new step this year was to become a voting member for the Hugo Awards. I am thrilled to have finally been a part of it. And what’s more, the convention itself was not far from my own home, so attending was also in the cards this year. WorldCon74 was held in KC, MO.
(BTW KC is great but that’s a separate post.)
Attending the world’s oldest science fiction convention has its pluses and minuses like anything does. I didn’t know anyone there and geeky people are not known for being easy to friend. Despite my efforts I didn’t do so well making new friends. But that’s okay. The panels were amazing and filled with great advice and world class writers. The Dealer’s Room took a lot of my money for books and gifts for friends. I checked out parties, the art show, a Paul and Storm performance (and I got to meet them!), a John Scalzi reading (which was remarkably fun), and of course I attended the Hugo Awards ceremony.
I knew going into it that there had been drama around the awards for the last couple of years. It was more than a little unnerving that there was strife in the community. That it was aimed particularly at women and people of color, different religions and countries is frustrating since to me Science Fiction is the place where all walks of life, no matter how different, are accepted by each and every one of us (HELLO STAR TREK).
A lot of the female writers especially have been enduring an endless amount of harassment. As someone who is seeking to become a full time writer and has dealt with plenty of sexism and harassment at other jobs, I was more than a bit wary.
However, women won big this year and that was truly inspiring. The community on the whole stood behind them and their amazing talent, myself included. The night of the Awards I was quite proud, plus Pat Cadigan was a funny, funny host. There is plenty of fallout from certain overly privileged people whom I refuse to acknowledge, but the winners are holding their own against them and it doesn’t change that they did amazing work and got the recognition they deserve.
The decriers rather baffle me as it’s not like there haven’t always been women writers or gay people or people of other races (besides white). They’ve ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF OUR WORLD. And them being here and also writing and getting recognition doesn’t detract from other good writers. The idea that it does is quite puzzling. Truly it does not even serve their best interest because people get bored reading the same old stuff all the time and if you turn people off to books, you turn them off to ALL books. Which means NO ONE IS BUYING ANYBODY’S BOOKS, which totally sucks.
Anyway, they don’t matter. The complainers are a group of hate-spreading opportunists growing ever smaller, most of whom just rile up who they can to get money out of them. There will likely always be a few of them, but hopefully they will join the rest of us here in the real world full of good books and many engaging voices.
A few snaps from my trip:
Minnesota seems like such a nice, mild mannered place. Nothing weird would happen here. People wouldn’t be into odd and curious things. Well, to a degree this is true. People tend to be very practical here. But not everyone. Not all the time.
Back in May I went to/participated in three things hosted by the MN Historical Society.
The Summit Avenue Walking Tour, A Victorian Superstitions Tour at the Ramsey House on Friday the 13th and A Victorian Magic Happy Hour at the Ramsey House.
Let’s start with the walking tour.
You meet at the James J. Hill house. I have not toured this house yet but plan to do it soon. It’s a tour of some of the historical area of St. Paul. Truth be told, I get a little bored listening to how much money so and so had and the house they built with it. I tend to be more impressed by people doing things than having things. But that’s just me. There was a lot of information on who was the wealthiest person on the street and how they kept building bigger spaces to outdo one another. However, it was a nice day and there were flowers and some pretty details and at the end of the street you see a house that an Italian horror movie was filmed in. As well as the apartment and bar F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in and drank in. There is also a sculpture by an artist I love by the name of Paul Manship. My photo is not great so I won’t post it. He is probably most famous for his sculpture outside of Rockefeller Center. I first encountered his work in Chicago and then again Boston. I think I will write about him in the future.
Now to the Friday the 13th tour. This ONE was FASCINATING! I couldn’t take pictures that night but I could the night of the happy hour so I do have a few snaps of the Alexander Ramsey House.
So, the tour takes you through the house and I was on the later one so when we ended up on top floor in the nursery the creepy factor was about as high as it could go. Complete with murderous looking dolls and creaking floors. If you can ever tour the house at night I highly recommend it.
Some of the highlights of the enormous pile of information they gave us include:
-Alexander Ramsey attended a seance at the White House hosted by Mary Todd Lincoln. When this was first discovered researchers became quite excited to learn what happened. Harry Houdini was also said to be in attendance. Governor Ramsey was a meticulous journal keeper. All that it said on this night: Went to party and dinner at White House, nothing of note happened. So, I guess he was a skeptic. And when you also ask why there is so little art in the Ramsey House, you find out that the Ramsey family wasn’t “into art” and thus we have your practical Minnesotan trait.
However, they did have their daughters participate in Victorian magic tricks popular at the time, such as peeling apples to uncover the initials of future mates and tea leaf readings.
If you wrapped a ring in a cloth and put it under your pillow, it was said you would dream about your future husband. They read us a letter where the daughter sarcastically mentioned she would end up a polygamist as she dreamt about three brothers in one night.
There are so many parlor tricks and games filled with mating, impending disasters and death that this would be about ten thousand words long if I continued on.
The last thing I will mention that sort of blew my mind was this: TB was ravaging parts of the world at the time. Especially rural, uneducated areas. The natural conclusion was that there were vampires(The word vampire became in use because of the British Press) as the idea that TB was “sucking the life out of you” was where this came from. People were dug up, heads chopped off, bodies burnt and in one very hysterical and odd case, a heart was ground up and consumed to protect a family(it did not work, they died). In fact, the part of this that was completely nuts to me as this went on as recently as the last exhumation of the Great American Vampire Panic took place in Winona, MN in 1922! Minnesota, crazier than you think.
The Victorian Happy Hour was great. Seriously I loved it and I want to go to the ones in the Fall. It featured magician Michael Callahan. Boy, did he know his stuff. He was so filled with facts and stories that I could probably listen to him for 24 hours straight. He is so passionate about his craft that I really hope I get to see him again. The Happy Hour included treats and wine as well as wandering on the main floor. He focused on the 19th century and spoke about tricks I’d not heard of before. He spoke about “mind reading” and coercing attendees to participate in ways that they would not expect.
Below are my photos from the walking tour and then my snap shots of the Ramsey House. There’s lots of strange and compelling things to learn in Minnesota. And you really never know where you can find out something that might seem more than a bit mad.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's Grandmother's apartment, where he lived for a time.
I believe this is where Dario Argento filmed a movie.