prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
Hiya, folks!  I promised this a few weeks back, but finally have the brain real estate freed up to actually get to it.

Let's have an LJ party!  Come on in here and tell me about the things you're burning to talk about, and I will be your conversation partner!

Obsessed with tiny fandoms (or large fandoms, for that matter)?  Heart breaking over overlooked ships?  Want to raise a shout for interstitial feminism?  Or find somebody to coo with over adorable animals?  What's got your engine revving lately? From threatened bees to fascination with BDSM, lay it on me and I promise I'll read and reply.

And hopefully when you've commented, you'll take a look through the comments and find someone else you can have a chat with!
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)

{ visit my post } { visit the thread }

LJ is so quiet these days, but there are still lots of active people out there! You just have to find them.
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I first befriended [ profile] thessalian based solely on her name and a couple of rants on [ profile] bad_rpers_suck that had me in stitches. She was one of the first people I added to my flist--certainly the first who wasn't either on SnE or a fellow Coldfire fan.

There's a lot that's great about Thess. The first and most obviously overwhelming is that she's a staggeringly good writer. She writes with a quirkiness and flourish that makes anything she talks about compelling. And she writes about everything: fiction (really fantastic fiction; check out her HIPPIE webcasts: City of Complications), the writing of fiction, her many and varied hobbies (aromatherapy, how cool is that?), the adventures of her FFXI Deathgnome, the latest idiotic doings of government, a good meal she ate or cooked recently...every entry, something different and entertaining. And when she's got a game going, she posts summary columns for her sessions that make for the best RPG reading I've ever encountered. If I'm ever in London, I'm going to drop a note on her blog and see if she's got an opening. The lady sets one hell of a gaming table.

The motive force behind this, however, is even more impressive: the diversity of her subject matter is powered by a boundless curiosity and engagement that recognizes these things as worth talking about. She reminds me that the comedic and dramatic minutiae of life are the reason to get out of bed in the morning (even if occasionally it's just to hide under it). She never looks around her and sees "nothing much of import." It's all worth thinking about, and when necessary, ranting about.

But what I think what I admire most about her is that the idiosyncrasy, the personality of her writing rises from her determined individuality. Thess's identity doesn't rely on external influences, either in conforming to or rebelling against them. She has defined herself according to her own internal compass, by laying claim to her own flaws and virtues, and I'm awed by her comfort in her own skin. She is quietly, uncompromisingly and contentedly herself. This achievement has come hard-earned for her, and the fact that she's done it is testament to a steel core that makes me never want to cross her.

But the very fact that out of the many goals a person can pursue in life, this is the victory she chose...that's why you want to get to know [ profile] thessalian. That and her psychic ability to suss out all the best places to eat.
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Yet another of the old SnE crowd, [ profile] jagash first came to my attention as a fellow Mage fan. He was also (and still is) a martial artist and...well, I guess I'd call him a philosopher. He's just sort of naturally disposed toward it.

When I first met [ profile] jagash, he was 17, and I kept forgetting because he was always so mature and poised that I automatically reverted to assuming he was older than me. He's one of the most level-headed people I have ever known, the sort of person who doesn't let emotion rule him, but quietly observes himself and everything around him and uses what he sees not to judge but to try to learn more. He's old-fashioned in some ways, with a powerful sense of personal honor and an interior stillness.

All of which might sound like he's boring, eh? Except obviously I read his blog, and I don't read boring blogs. Jagash doesn't have as much to say about WoD as he used to, but he is a burgeoning artist whose skill is growing by leaps and bounds, and he's also designing his own game system, both of which are very cool. He discusses his martial arts and the spiritual journey they take him on, and posts interesting links and digs up odd stuff that I like. And I like hearing about him, too, because he sees life as a lot of small adventures which he recounts with a dryness reaching beyond emotionlessness into irony, and lets you know he's getting the joke. Jagash is an understatedly fun guy, who also sometimes posts good recipes and interesting new mixed drinks.

So that's why I think you'd like [ profile] jagash.
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Heh heh, [ profile] aerdran. Gayle is...well, she's something else.

Okay, look. This lady is an avid gamer, and she's funny and witty and her stories about her daily life and her favorite (and least favorite) people range widely from intriguing to hilarious to touching. If it were only for that, her blog'd be worth reading.

But Gayle...she's got a heart the size of Texas. I mean it. This lady is a one-woman army of love and nurturing. And not in the "I suffer with you in my heart" kind of way, but in the "Come home with me for a warm meal, a place to sleep, and a hug, and I don't have much but you can have my share" kind of way. I don't even know where she finds the energy to care so much. To care the way Gayle does would break most people. I thought I was pretty decent at being a good person, but I suspect that if I ever met Gayle in the flesh, she might be an actual saint.

Her particular bailiwick is taking in the people who have nowhere else to go, the ones nobody else wants. Gang members, street kids, people who need a home and a family so bad that most people are too scared to give them one. But there's Gayle. And for all the ones she has taken in--some of whom she's legally adopted, others unofficially--her heart bleeds for all the ones out there who she hasn't met, can't reach, can't help. And if you read her blog, you meet all these people, her biological kids and her spiritual ones. She talks about them all the time. They're the pride and joy of her life, her purpose for being. She lets you see through her eyes their beauty and glory and strength, as well as the pains and flaws they have to live with.

Seriously? The reason you should make friends with Gayle and read her blog is because it will change your world. Her vision and words reveal things about life that a lot of us don't want to think about. You might shy away at first, but it doesn't take long before you realize the truth she's trying to show you: that no matter how hard life can get or what people have to do to survive, it doesn't make them any less people. And some of them are people you'd be blessed to know. After that, you'll never look at things quite the same way again, and you'll be as grateful to her as I am.
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[ profile] mythdude: another one of my SnE peeps.

[ profile] mythdude is a gloriously geeky guy. Check out his LJ: Daleks and comic book characters everywhere. He has great taste. Also he's a riot. The geek humor is of highest caliber, but he's also got a black flavor of sarcastic humor that he breaks out when things go wrong in his life. You can tell he's a man with perspective.

But he's brilliant, too. You don't get to be this kind of funny without having a really sharp mind, and he doesn't only use it to make people laugh. Like [ profile] trobadora, he's got insightful things to say about the things he enjoys, and he turns it on himself too. Perhaps the best thing about [ profile] mythdude is that he has an exquisitely developed sense of absurdity, and weirdness abounds in his life.

He also uses his LJ to keep a dream journal, and I'm honestly not sure whether this is for his own reference or to entertain his readers, because these things are awesome. I think he's got Chuck Wendig chained to a desk in his head, cranking out stories for the nightly show, because his dreams are action/adventure/comedies not to be missed. Dude, you should figure out how to pipe these things out and webcast them or something. And pay Chuck. Man needs to eat.

So that's why you ought to like [ profile] mythdude!
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[ profile] sandchigger is yet another of the SnE gang. He's awesome because he says he is. Just ask him. He'll tell you. ;)

No, but really, Chigg is criminally easy to like. All you have to do is exchange a few posts with him, and then believe me when I tell you he's pretty much always like that. Chigg is really damn smart, he's a good cook (judging from the recipes he posts), a better barista (I have it on his word), and a professional tech-head. One of the great things about him is that he's riotously funny, but intelligent about it. He's one of those people who seems to effortlessly create entertaining conversations. Another of the great things about him is that he likes you. You can tell when you talk to him that unless you've gone out of your way to be an ass, he's going to extend you respect and treat you like a decent human being, and that comes through in every conversation I've ever seen him have. I've had many friends, but few of them generate such a warm fuzzy sense that even when life sucks sometimes, the world is a basically good place to be, and it's better because you are in it. He's good for the ego, Chigg is.

And on top of all that, he is a Changeling fan. Woo!

So there's why you will like [ profile] sandchigger. Because it's kind of impossible not to.
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I met [ profile] zenten on Shadownessence gaming forums, and later friended him after it occurred to me to look for him on LJ.

What I liked about [ profile] zenten when I first encountered him is the unique way he thinks: clean and logical but with some very creative ideas. I enjoyed talking to him about games on SnE; he had a way of interpreting things literally that made him very easy to communicate with once you realized it. What makes it better is that he has a really quirky sense of humor, the kind that tends to blindside you when you least expect it. It never fails to take me by surprise, and I love that. One of my favorite qualities in people is when they're able to consistently pleasantly surprise me.

On his LJ, of course, his subject matter is more diverse, ranging from posts about RPGs and thoughts on science fiction to politics and glimpses into his own head. Since he and his wife have had children, there's naturally some of that too. It's an eclectic mix that results in a sense of hanging out with the kind of really smart, thoughtful person I enjoy having as a friend. Zen is a guy who seems pretty straightforward at first but turns out to have a lot of unexpected sides to him. He has the guts and curiosity to explore those aspects of himself, and if you want to, he'll take you along for a tour.

So that's why I like [ profile] zenten, and why you ought to get to know him.
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I first friended [ profile] ninkasa over our shared interest in Full Metal Alchemist. About the time that was winding down, it turned out that she was also a crazed Doctor Who fan. <3 Wins me over, every time. And then it turned out we both liked Supernatural, and Psych, and The Dark is Rising... Yes, suffice to say we share many interests.

When we talk about those interests, [ profile] ninkasa makes me laugh pretty much effortlessly. She's got a combined love and sense of humor about the things she likes that makes for some really hilarious commentary, and she's willing to talk and listen inexhaustibly, and I'm not going to take for granted a friend I can gossip ridiculously with about a variety of shared interests.

Beyond that, though, after reading her LJ for a while, I came to realize how passionate [ profile] ninkasa is. She hasn't had an easy life, and she really values the things she has, from her baby kitty to her entertainments to her friends. She's compassionate and sensitive in dealing with other people, and I get a sense simultaneously that real life has done a real number on her and that she's quietly, immensely strong in bearing up under it regardless. Her courage, invested in every post she makes, frankly floors me. She's a very private person in some ways, but her thoughts are always offered with generosity, as if she loves this so much that she hopes you will love it too, and that by sharing it she can enrich your life. Far beyond shared interests, she has earned my tremendous respect and admiration as a person, and since those qualities come through in just about everything she writes, just about everything she writes is interesting.

That's why I like [ profile] ninkasa, and you will too if you get to know her.
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[ profile] innocent_man makes no secret of the fact that he's also Matt McFarland, shadowy avenger, wait. No, Black Hat Matt's claim to fame is as a writer and developer of books for White Wolf's World of Darkness RPG settings.

As a fan of those books myself, I was aware of him before I first encountered him on the Shadownessence gaming forum, and frankly I was a bit star-struck, because he is one DAMN good writer. I don't remember how I first found him on LJ, where I discovered that he was a really cool guy outside of being a writer. It turned out he had really good taste in music and movies, and posted interestingly on...all sorts of things. Write-ups of his own RPG chronicles, his family and friends, books he's read recently, odd things that happened to him that day... Whatever he writes, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a good read, but what struck me more was the compassion, vulnerability and zest for life he showed through his posts.

And then I met him in person the first time I went to the Origins convention, and I discovered that he's like that in real life too, only even nicer.

Matt's blog is worth reading because he's a great writer and he has intelligent, thoughtful, insightful opinions, along with really cool original stuff (did I mention that? Yeah, sometimes he writes fiction and posts it; I'm grooving on his Curse the Darkness series lately). Matt is worth knowing because he's one of those guys who opens his life freely to those he cares for and those who need him. Heck, I don't even know him that well, but I know that if something ever happened to me in Cleveland, I could swing by his house and he would feed me and help me out.

That's why I like [ profile] innocent_man, and why I know you will too.
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[ profile] trobadora is another one I first met through the Coldfire trilogy, in her capacity as the maintainer of the Coldfire fanfiction index. (One of the reasons you should read the Coldfire trilogy is because you'll meet the most interesting fellow fans...)

[ profile] trobadora immediately impressed me with her articulate analyses of...pretty much everything. Of all my LJ friends, she's one of the most plugged-in to fandom. She doesn't just watch or read or even write fic for her favorite stories: she engages, considers, and writes what people in online fandom call "meta" and what people who read books for a living call "literary analysis." Even those tv shows I'm not particularly interested in become magic in her hands as she cracks them open and studies what's hidden inside.

This insight is not only leveled on her entertainments, either, as she turns the spotlight of her mind onto issues and goings-on of interest to her. I'm always gleeful when Dora posts any kind of meta, because it's guaranteed to make me think about her subject of the moment in contexts and from angles that are new to me.

Despite all this heavy-sounding stuff, though, she does not forget she's here to have fun, or that there are real people behind what she's talking about. I have never seen her be vicious or smack down someone else's opinion (as long as they're not hurting anybody). She enjoys the things she enjoys by thinking about them exhaustively. As someone else who often enjoys her own entertainments by analyzing them to death, I'm totally there.

Dora is also a techhead (I get a lot of my info on the latest doings of LJ from her) and an excellent writer and reccer of fanfic. Not to mention she makes me laugh on a regular basis.

So there's why I like [ profile] trobadora, and I bet you will too.
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One of the first members of my flist, I first friended [ profile] alice_montrose over the Coldfire trilogy. They're gorgeous books with too few fans, and we must cherish and nurture them where we find them.

She has, however, proven to be an extremely intelligent, literate woman and a beautiful, creative writer of her own original fantasy works...not to mention a generous, caring, and open-minded individual who cultivates a diverse and intriguing circle of friends and interests. She's also got a wicked sense of humor, which will get you far in the my world.

We bond over pretty men, food, gardening, cats, interesting music, and shared frustration over the stupidity of the world. We do not bond over Japanese pop culture, but this is mostly because she swims in far deeper waters than I on that subject, so I just soak up her knowledge like a good little apprentice. When it comes to stories, books, movies, anime, musicals, history, writing, and all other assorted forms of stories, however...well, that's the hook that brought me in in the first place. :)

Though you would not guess it from her flawless command of English, she is in fact Romanian, which I find terribly cool huddled as I am in the monocultural bubble of central Pennsylvania. What's more, she lives in Transylvania, a fact which seems to both delight and amuse her endlessly. From all the pictures and tales I've gotten from her, it seems to be a beautiful region, and I hope one day to make it to Romania and impose on her hospitality (with the proper and traditional offering of chocolate, of course).

And that's why I like [ profile] alice_montrose, and you should too.
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Hey, flisters! Post in the comments here, and I'll write a post about why I think you're awesome, why you're on my f-list, and why you should be on other peoples' f-lists.

Why? Just because. I feel like publicly appreciating people.

Not a meme, but it can be if you want it to.
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In memory of family and friends who have lost the battle with cancer; and in support of the ones who continue to conquer it! Post this on your LJ if you know someone who has or had cancer.
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I don’t care who you are and I don’t care when you read this; if you read it five minutes after I post this or five years.

Put everything else on hold and post in the comments something you love about yourself.

I'll start: I love my sense of humor and that I can see the funny side of almost everything. I love that I can make my friends laugh. I love my intelligence. I love not compromising on being myself, even when I'm weird and it costs me. I love not having it in me to truly hate, and that it's so easy for me to love. I love the feel of my muscles working when I move.

How about you?

Messy week

Mar. 17th, 2008 01:01 pm
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This week:
A friend died of lymphoma, only three weeks after it came out of remission;
I went to his funeral;
I reconciled with some estranged friends there;
I had dinner with another friend I haven't seen in three years;
I finally met another friend's girlfriend, who may or may not be crazy (he has what may be understatedly referred to as 'poor taste in women,' but at least this one can speak in coherent sentences);
I discovered my aunt and uncle are getting a divorce, leaving my 12-year-old cousin feeling rattled and adrift;
I found out said uncle (and his two large dogs) will be moving in with my mother, prompting a sudden and...let's just say drastic reorganization of the house.

Adventurous, to say the least.

It is, I suppose, one of those "good out of bad" situations. I won't whine about life not being fair, because I don't expect it to be fair. If life is anything, in fact, I suspect it's a learning experience, which to my mind is an epithet something like the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Because frankly, learning experiences may be useful, but they tend to suck. But still: Hard and messy, but maybe in the long run it'll all work out.

My friend died far too young (only a year older than me, and that is doing interesting things to my perspective), and I know it's a silly thought because it's really fairly irrelevant, but of all the people I know, he was simply the least likely. He was one of the straightest shooters. Responsible, organized, honst, friendly, clean living, active: in no way was he the sort of fellow you'd expect to come down with cancer at a young age, and it first struck him at a time when his life literally seemed to be opening up to all its potential. He was just about to pursue the job of his dreams, he had just been able to afford a vacation he had always wanted (which he never got to go on, because all that money then went to the chemo treatments), his adored little niece had just been born. And I feel so much compassion for his brother, because they were each other's best friends, always always there in each other's lives, and I know how I'd feel if I lost my sister. Their family has suffered so much already this past year, from losing other relatives to the baby being born with skeletal deformities.

And yet, in the wake of his death, his brother and sister-in-law are pulling their marriage together and stepping up to take responsibility for their lives. Bereaved friends and family are reconnecting and reconciling over old fights. A lot of long-needed readjustments are going on in a lot of peoples' heads, and I suspect that in the long run, a number of Steve's nearest and dearest will come out of this with better lives for the experience. Steve...well, I wouldn't entirely put it past him to willingly make this sort of sacrifice for them, if he could know what the results would be. He was that kind of guy. Certainly it's the best memorial I can think of for him, and would make him happier than anything else conceivably could.

As for my aunt and uncle (whose name is also Steve, ironically), I don't even know why this is happening. Still, it doesn't surprise me entirely, because I know him, and I've watched them, and my cousin has said things a few times when I've talked to her (always listen to the kids; they know what's going on, and they're the least likely to lie). I suspect it has to do with stubbornness, and inflexibility, and maybe a bit of self-sabotage. Mainly I worry about my cousin, who's a good kid--the kind of kid who might try to take this on her own shoulders, when she's only 12 and shouldn't have to bear that kind of burden, and couldn't do anything about it if she tried. If me talking to her about it will help, I'll be happy to do so, and also our family is the sort where we'll willingly crack her parents' heads if they make this harder on her than it has to be. They're good people, and usually self-controlled, but possibly not above a certain amount of pettiness in a divorce, and neither of them deserve that any more than she does.

But in the wake of this, Mom's getting a kick in the pants. We've worried about her for the past year. Since losing her job, she hasn't been able to find another, money's getting tight, and without anyone else around to motivate her, she has the habits of a hibernating sloth: not a good picture when you throw in a slight tendency toward depression when she doesn't have something to distract her. Her brother moving in with her solves a myriad of problems on that front, plus it'll be good for him because she knows how to deal with him, and it's close to Grandma, who's not getting any younger, AND it forces Mom to finally do some work on our old cluttered, half-dismantled house. The only real question there is how easy it'll be to deal with two large, frisky black labs in a fairly contained space, where four small parrots also live. A certain amount of segregation may be in order here. Sorry, two questions: the other is, Will Steve be able to cope with his other sister, who lives with Grandma, or will they enter into a to-the-death cage match armed only with obnoxious quips, serrated razor-sharp elbows, and steel chairs--and if so, WHO will WIN? But that's more of a betting pool situation.
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I sat at the kitchen table this morning talking with the male half of my married roommates about all the crud they've dealt with recently. He'd just finished talking about how relieved he'll be to wrap up his brother's estate this weekend (he died just after Christmas), and was explaining that his wife has been high-strung lately because the day before his birthday (end of the month) will be a year since her miscarriage. "That's why she's been so upset," he commented, pushing his glasses up his nose.

And then they snapped in half and fell off his face.

I had the sort of feeling that's normally reserved for frightened animals in need of help.

My sister and I have been doing our best to cheer up the hapless duo: we've cooked special meals, run errands for them so they can sit down and breathe, dedicated "screw off" time so they can blow off steam (often requiring elaborate staging for optimal temptation to relax), indulging their personal obsessions more than usual (you know how it is; we all have that one thing that we love but everybody else gets sick of hearing us go on about). Whatever works. We're good at taking care of people in my family.

But now I find it's apparently contagious. I just discovered that for the past week and a half since our printer's network card died and got replaced, everything I've been trying and failing to print has in fact been traveling across the building and printing out on the printer for his unit, which might I add is on a completely different branch of the network and I don't even have the network drivers for that machine. So yeah. Apparently somebody kicked a gypsy. Please god, don't let me be unknowingly spamming the whole system.
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We had a holiday party this weekend, and it was lovely. Awesome food, good friends, fun conversation, interesting stories... Ah. Stories. Had a few folks from work there, including the cute cookie-baking supervisor who's been here for years and knew about Bert.

He told us another story. A story about our boss-lady *sob* using an ouija board to help her work out the five-year budget plan for our department. She's psychic, see. Only it didn't go so well, see, because while she was communicating with the beyond via party games, she felt a Dark Presence appear in her office, so she panicked and yelled "I ABJURE YOU!" called her useless administrative assistant, who had her come over so they could pray together with the family pastor for a few hours.

This was two years ago. God help me. I already worked here, then.

I have created a new tag, because "stupid" just doesn't cover this. I'll be off in the corner for a few minutes, making incoherent sputtering sounds.


But at least my co-worker, the one who sits next to me at work, has an absolutely awesome baby girl. I mean, unfathomably awesome. I'm not usually the baby-cuddling type, but I hold this one every chance I get. Since I'd met the baby girl at work a few times when Husband stopped by with her, I knew she was a quiet, well-mannered little thing who enjoyed being around people. So we told Co-worker to bring her whole family to the party, because we knew everybody would adore the little one (and also because they're new parents, so their chances for social gatherings can be kind of limited, and we were fine with taking turns with the baby so the parents could have time for themselves too). The child was the hit of the evening. This kid is five months old, and she's so alert and attentive. You look in her eyes and it's like you can already see her thinking. It's almost spooky. I've never seen a baby with such aware eyes. She's usually almost completely quiet; she prefers to watch people and listen to them talk. And bounce. She loves to bounce. So baby girl enjoyed the party as much as everybody else.

We had a storm over the weekend, but it didn't do much other than dump ice on us. Which didn't really cut the party short, because it didn't start up till about 9 pm. Which I remember really frigging well, because that's when some of our guests stumbled back in because their car had been towed out of a perfectly legal parking spot, which meant we had to drive them (in the ice storm) to get their car, for which they were charged $95 (that's $20 more than three months ago, when I last took somebody to pick their car up from this place) so they could retrieve it and drive home. In the ice storm, which had gotten worse while they were forced to wait.

That tow company--Walk's--is a bunch of jackasses. This is far from the first time I've heard of such things happening. But this time they did it in dangerous weather conditions and screwed over our guests. We've taken it up with the landlords for a refund and, hopefully, a reaming-out. The landlords are not best pleased, either. Apparently they've been having some troubles of this sort lately.

Also related to the party, here's a terrific gingerbread recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup boiling water

Stir it all together, make sure you've beaten the lumps out, and pour it into a 8" x 8" or 9" x 13" baking pan (the smaller size gets you fluffy, fat pieces, while the larger size gets you a more brownie-like texture). Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In completely separate news, I just read Melusine and The Virtu by Sarah Monette, and it is love. I'm already reading them again while I wait for the third book to come to me. I know some people on my f-list have read them, so...y'know, if you'd like to comment, or flail or burble or even criticize or whatever, I'd really be up for some of that.
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Thank you for all the birthday wishes, guys! I did indeed have a wonderful day, and now I have stayed up too late in a wonderful manner, and I hope all of you had as a lovely a time as I did.

Me :)


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October 2015

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