July 2013 Archives

Right in Front of Me

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desk-july.jpg
I am closing out July by organising the rest of my summer. I've got a lot of projects going on from now until the end of the year and they have gotten scattered. So I wrote them all down on little cards and put them up on the wall above my desk. Now I can not worry about forgetting or neglecting them.

I have always relied on lists to manage my workflow. This master list, so cute with its hearts and colors, will help me to create daily lists that are focussed. And I really need that help these days.

My memory is getting worse and worse as I age. I was once razor sharp in wit and thought but I know my edge is dulled. Tod is sometimes alarmed at how bad it is and I think he worries for the future. I believe this softening of memory is normal and I compensate ok but I do not like this aspect of ageing at all. 

It is frustrating to feel blurred all the time. I don't remember what page I was on in the book I am reading. I can't get past six items in a basic memory puzzle. It is an effort to recall what I did two days ago. I don't know the restaurant where we had dinner for our anniversary or exactly what we ordered (Tod always does). 

Part of me tries hard to remember in the crisp effortless way I used to. Maybe if I eat differently, drink less alcohol, exercise more, play brain training games, study something. Other parts of me are trying to relax into this new phase and accept it because I don't think it is going to change for the better no matter what I do. Time will tell how this plays out.

Until then, I have lists and a wall of projects to attend to.
 

Pigs in a Futon

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Pigs in a Futon

Remember "pigs in a blanket" from your childhood campfire days? I present Tod's newest fusion invention, Pigs in a Futon, a Japanese variation where toasted mochi replaces bread dough around the grilled sausages.

We had a random set of ingredients that needed to be used last night and puzzled a while over how to combine them Tod joked about making these. I giggled over the name and we had to try. They were much more tasty than photogenic.

The mochi is chewy and soft with crispy bits from the grill. Tod brushed the pieces with soy sauce to season and darken them. When they came off the fire, we stretched them around the sausages. We enjoyed ours with Japanese karashi mustard, but wasabi would have been delicious, too. Because biting directly into mochi can lead to extreme chewing and sometimes choking, a knife and fork were essential at the table.

Pigs in a Futon are a tasty novelty for your next gluten free bbq.

Pesto Eggplant Bake

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recipe-thursday.jpgThis is a variation of a favorite recipe, Baked Eggplant Parm, that I blogged about in 2010. The original has been a staple of our dinners ever since but I think this variation is just as delicious. It came about while I was visiting Heather in Utsunomiya. Her garden harvest while I visited was a lot of eggplant and a pile of fresh tomatoes of all different varieties. She'd just made a huge pile of pesto from her basil. What would we do with it all? Obvious choice!

Pesto Eggplant Bake
serves 4

3/4 cup panko (bread crumbs)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil

6 Japanese eggplants (~6 cups), cut into cubes (if using US eggplants, peel them first)
2 cups vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup pesto
1 huge clove of garlic, thinly sliced

1 whole milk buffalo mozzarella, sliced into matchsticks
100 g feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the panko, parmesan, and oil until you have a nice, even crumb. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine everything else except the mozzarella, feta and crumbs. Toss well to coat, then stir in half the crumbs. 

Spread into a 9x13 baking dish or large nabe. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes. You may wish to cover the pan with foil or a lid to steam the eggplant if it is a little tough.

Sprinkle with feta and fresh mozzarella and bake until the cheese is toasted (10 -15 minutes). Let rest for ten minutes before serving. Is even better the second day.

Updating and Fixing the Blog

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So many months of neglect while I Facebooked my life has left poor old Mediatinker creaky and broken. Commenting only seems to work for the spammers. The server is sloooooow; the version of Movable Type is ancient. There are no social media hooks. The design is unavoidably retro. It is time to upgrade and fix Mediatinker. Please pardon my dust as things progress toward a nicer looking and better working site over the next few months.

And lack of content? Shameful! I didn't post anything at all in March - the first time I have ever gone a whole month without saying something here. Fortunately for me, I was able to archive and download my stuff from Facebook, so I intend to backfill the past two or three years with the things I want to remember. This blog is as much for my personal memory as it is for sharing with the outside world. So all those hairstyle photos from FB will be making an appearance here. Maybe not, but you get what I mean.

I think the backdated posts will show up in your newsreader, so if you are subscribed I apologise for any reruns you might see from the days of your on FB.

Ice Cream Fruit Pie

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recipe-thursday.jpgSummer is full of fresh fruits at the peak of their juiciness. Peaches, plums, melons, and berries of all kinds fill the produce section. Irresistible and so delicious. But after a few weeks, fruit salads and smoothies wear thin. It's too hot to bake. What to do?

Make an ice cream pie with fresh fruit! You'll create a base with a graham cracker crust and vanilla ice cream. Keep it in the freezer and then top it with any variety of fruit you like and you'll have a cool, sweet dessert in five minutes. Creative and simple, my favorite sort of food.

Since it's just me and Tod here, we enjoyed the pie base four times over the course of a week or so. And since it was mostly fruit, it seemed like a relatively healthy indulgence.

By switching out the fruit and toppings, every serving was different. For dessert I fancied up the pie with extra toppings - whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate. I even served it as part of weekend brunch by piling on the fresh fruit, then sprinkling it with dried fruits and nuts. Ice cream granola pie, anyone?

Ice Cream Fruit Pie
8 servings

1 graham cracker crust or 8 graham cracker tarts
400ml ice cream (vanilla, or whatever flavor you like with fruit)
chopped nuts, chocolate chips (optional)

You can make your own crust or use a store bought one. Homemade always tastes better, but my ice cream pie was inspired by seeing a Keebler crust in my Tokyo supermarket.

Allow the ice cream to thaw until it is spreadable, but not soupy. It goes a little faster if you stir as it thaws. Gently spread it in the pie crust. The ice cream layer will be about 2 cm (1") think. Not too much, you want room for fruit. Optionally sprinkle the ice cream with chopped nuts or chocolate chips. These add flavor and texture.

Cover the pie and freeze it for several hours. It will keep, covered for at least a week. 

When you are ready to serve your ice cream fruit pie, take it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw a bit while you prepare the fruit. Slice into the pie and lift the cuts onto serving plates. Return the pie to the freezer, then top your slices with fruit and whatever toppings you like.

Stagaki, the Status Update Postcard Project

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Though I limited my Facebook use a few days ago, I still find myself wanting to update my status when I am doing something vaguely noteworthy or see beauty in the world. I've been trained to share little moments of my day but I decided not to post personal status updates and I want to stick with that.

So instead of updating my status on FB, I am going to create postcards with status updates instead. 

stagaki.jpg

When I wrote out this first Stagaki (status hagaki*) above, I realised how strange it is for me to be telling my 785 Facebook friends that I am indecisive about painting my nails. My choice to keep my personal stuff off Facebook hit home. It makes sense. Who actually cares about this?

But the postcards make a clever art project because it is weird to do status updates outside the context of Facebook.  What I'd do in a moment on FB without considering at all takes a few moments and a little effort to create as a postcard. Making something real from a trivial piece of personal insight shines a new light on the status update concept.

For the project I'm going to create 50 of them because that is how many postcards came in the pack. Some might have drawings, others all text. Some may be scrawled others calligraphed. It will depend on the moment and my mood. As they are written, I will mail them to friends, family and strangers. It might take a few weeks, or if the impulse to update my status wanes, it might take months. I can say that five days into it, I have nine postcards ready to send.

I will not photograph or archive the postcards. This is an ephemeral project for me and a lesson in letting go. What you do with one you might receive is another matter: stick it to your fridge, Instagram it, tweet about it, even post it on FB and tag me.  I don't mind if you share it and I don't mind if you keep it to yourself. As soon as I drop it in the mail, it is yours to do with as you please.

Do you want a Stagaki for yourself or a friend? Send an e-mail to kristen@mediatinker.com with your name and postal address. The first fifty respondents get a signed, numbered original postcards. How delightfully pretentious. Hahahaha.

*Hagaki is the Japanese word for postcard. Stagaki is a portmanteau of status and hagaki; the name was Tod's idea. Thanks, Tod.

Sayonara, Facebook

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Facebook is troublesome. It is the Jekyll and Hyde of online life. Some days I find it a delightful inspiration. Other days, I want to poke myself in the eyes after scrolling through my timeline.

I know I am not alone in experiencing FB as a source of jealousy, anger and frustration. When I see the glamorous, glittery lives of near strangers who appear on my timeline, I feel completely inadequate and full of judgement. That isn't how I want to feel. The self proclaimed goddesses and fairies generally raise my hackles. The people who constantly wave their political views and good causes like flags (I admit to doing this myself; I am not above being awful) make me ignore them and their causes. Worst of all, the people who are doing what I do but getting more positive attention from people whose circles I want to be part of, fill me with self loathing. And I hate them, too. This is definitely not acceptable.

On the positive side, FB connects me to the international and local communities who share my interests. The hooping community used to exist in discussion forums but has largely migrated to Facebook. Also, I am always delighted to see the cool things my sister is doing. Sometimes people who I know in real life post links to interesting articles. I have gotten work, attended events, and learned things thank to Facebook. So it isn't all bad.

Except it's training me to do things I don't like and need to change.

Five Ways Facebook Trained Me

  1. Facebook taught me to communicate in abbreviated form. I'm skilled in writing succinct and clear status updates because more than 140 characters is a burden to my friends, isn't it? I craft a mean caption. I create cute graphics and memes (that go nowhere, see point 3). I haven't posted on mediatinker in a long time because when I think I have something worth writing about, I start and get stuck after a paragraph or two. I can't put together a long thought. I used to write lots, share ideas and recipes and patterns here. Now mediatinker languishes, though not for much longer. I am reclaiming my ability to write in long form. Those dozen unpublished drafts in the system? Maybe you'll be reading them soon.
  2. Facebook showed me how to put my ego in charge. I crave instant gratification and I love numbers, so FB didn't have a lot of work to do on this point. For example, I post a selfie snapped at an artful angle so my hair is in focus and my eyes stare up at you. I get a Like, then another, then there are a dozen. Someone I sort of remember from high school comments that I look great. A hooping friend says I should wear my hair like that more often. More likes. Oh, So-and-so liked this; I haven't looked at her page in a while. I click Like on her cat photos, thereby paying back her like of my photo and acknowledging that I am Paying Attention to her. But back to me! By now, wow, 52 people liked my photo and I have 4 comments. I should post more. It's a wicked cycle. My ego loves it. Then when I post a status update that only 2 people like...ouch.
  3. Facebook trained me to overshare. Modern culture is full of pseudo-celebrities with a group of adoring fans. So why not me, too? And why not you? The expectation is that everyone deserves a trophy and their 15 minutes. I truly want to be recognised and well-regarded amongst my peers. This desire has always driven me in my work. Facebook's easily shareable things allow me (or my idea, cause, event, photo) to become Internet famous for a moment or two. And one never knows what is going to be popular, so I'd better share everything. While I'm are at it, why not make some special things: videos of the event I held, cute graphics with clever sayings on them, holiday greetings that can be passed around to and by my friends.  Ironically, all this sharing and oversharing creates nothing but obscurity. The more I post, the more you post, the more our friends post and who has time to sift through all of that looking for something worthwhile? Who remembers it was me? Oh, you were the guy who posted that kitten and hedgehog video? Sweeet. I'm the one with the hoops, please Like my page.
  4. Facebook coached me not to talk about what I am doing. I promote my events on Facebook. I share my projects there. When I am having a conversation with someone, I don't need to tell them about an upcoming hoop jam or workshop because of course they already saw it on Facebook (though thanks to point 3, they probably didn't). The introvert in me thinks this is terrific. No self promotion! But it means that my events don't always reach a critical mass; they aren't getting to the right people; they aren't anticipated. Did you know I'm teaching at two flow events later this year? Oh, you must have missed that status update...
  5. Facebook taught me who my friends are. This point is a positive one. If I eat a meal with you more than twice a year, I probably like you lots and you are a real friend. You get a reprieve on the once a year thing if you live on another continent and we have a history of meals together. Other people in my "friends" list on Facebook are probably acquaintances, colleagues, or people from my past. They are good to know and touch base with, but they aren't actually friends right now and I don't need to see their activities all the time. Let me focus on the people in my real life circles.
Saying Sayonara to Facebook

Because I use FB for events and connections in my hooping life, I am not going to drop off altogether. But I can address the points above with some actions. The obvious thing is to reduce my time on Facebook as much as possible. I already deleted Facebook apps from my mobile devices. I will reach FB only from my computer. So no more checking in while I am on a train, waiting for someone, or lying in bed.

I will make a concerted effort to release my need for instant gratification. This is going to be the hardest part. It means caring less about the views and likes. Talking directly to people about my work and projects to build enthusiasm and having a vaguer sense of who is interested to what I am doing. Telling my ego to STFU. 

I will stop oversharing personal stuff. No more selfies, dinner pictures, rants about the weather, or happy notes about ukuleles. I will also stop liking your posts. It doesn't mean I stop liking you, of course. I might not even read what anyone's got up on FB.

I will tell you what I am doing lately. You'll hear about my projects when we meet. I will still have event info on FB and Twitter and the Spin Matsuri site, but I am going to assume you never see them.

I will reach you by e-mail, not Facebook PM/chat. If I don't have your e-mail address, please send it to me. I might call you if I have your phone numer.

I will write more here. I have things to say; they will appear here fully fleshed out in a length more than two sentences  You can subscribe, or whatever you do with blogs these days. Put me in your Flipbook. I will post videos to YouTube and photos to Flickr, not to Facebook.

I will invite you to dinner or somehow make more of an effort to see you in real life. If I want to keep having social connections, I need to make sure my friendships are not only virtual ones.


Doing Without Report #2

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I missed writing the June report on my ongoing experiment in non-consumption, so this one will do double duty. I feel I failed overall. I bought a few things and I haven't gotten rid of nearly as much stuff as I wished to, but I have been mostly mindful. I will work harder at it this coming month.

Successes
  • Gave away over a dozen hoops at 4th Sunday Spin
  • Donated ten hoops to charity, using up my pipe supply & lots of tape
  • Pared down my shoes by almost half.
  • Planted a delicious garden of herbs, tomatoes and newly flowering chili peppers. 
  • Used some old hair dye. Interesting color results.
  • Replaced two ratty old pj tshirts with lovely nightgowns
  • Chucked out some seasonal clothes that had seen too many summers
  • Cleaned up some of my digital archives
  • Broke some drinking glasses; didn't replace them.
  • Created a "fairy garden" with pretty things I had on hand

Failures
  • A summer blouse and a summer dress. I haven't discarded anything yet - but I will.
  • A long sleeved black shrug from Inga
  • LED mini hoops.This was a work-trade barter from a hoop friend, so it's actually partially on target.
  • Buugeng. Bought them from Dai Zaobab while he was in town. A flow toy I have wanted to play with for years, but...new stuff.
  • A pair of character shoes and some performance costume pieces. But earned money with them.
  • The remnants of Inga's travel detritus before she left Japan: a spoon, chopsticks, a rug, a veg peeler, sunscreen. They remind me of her visit, so they are sort of nice
  • A pair of orange pillows for the Tibetan bells to rest upon.
Plans
  • Make a concerted effort to archive digital projects neatly and back them up
  • Reduce my coats and bags
  • Sort through my jewellery and accessories for a give away
  • Drink my way through the liquor cabinet (just kidding, but there are some weird, crusty old bottles in there that need to go)
  • Change how I use Facebook to reduce mental clutter (more on that soon)
  • Drag the things down to the trash that are waiting in the pantry for action
  • Sort through my books and give lots away



Recent Comments

  • Robert Parent: I have learned to not let pass the subtle hints read more
  • Jenn(y): This is a good, goal-oriented way to approach the new read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): I am such a loser - sent off my cards read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): Hi Babe, Haven't seen you in ages it seems. Ash read more
  • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlBlcLTfxgMWRgxf2_TuNkGW8AwePJPekQ: Hi Kristen, Tell me about it. Our last (3 month) read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): "We deeply apologize to our customers for the heavy burden," read more
  • Carolyn Farwell: Oh the gif you've created is so funny! You have read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): I am going to miss you!! read more
  • Eric Smith: Hey Kristen: Met you on a train a couple of read more
  • sar: Hey beautiful !! you have some mad drawing skills ! read more

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