Author: Luisa Perkins
•10:22 AM
I have lots of little bits chasing themselves around in this brain o’ mine; each one could probably be a post in itself, but I’ll do an eclectic listy-type update instead.

1) Readercon was the best ever. I could rhapsodize for days about:

a) meeting and chatting with several great speculative fiction writers I admire;
b) what a rock star theoretical physicist Carl Frederick is;
c) the wit and brain tossed around with abandon at the excellent panels;
d) the quality of the writing instruction;
e) and the hours of unbroken solitude I got to spend writing in an extremely comfortable hotel room.

And the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition—I laughed so hard and long my gut and head hurt at the end of the evening. It alone (as always) was worth the price of admission to the conference.

2) During the discussion panels at Readercon, I got a lot of a sweater done. This is chunky fuchsia wool bought in Paris 6.5 years ago. The sweater is knit in the round, with raglan sleeves. I haven't used a pattern, just took a gauge, measured myself, and started knitting. I tried on the sleeves every once in a while to make sure my increases were properly spaced. The stash is diminishing…
3) I bought many books at Readercon—riches, I tell you. The first in my juicy to-be-read pile was In the Forest of Forgetting, by Theodora Goss. I’m not generally a fan of short stories, but this woman is extremely talented. The stories are elegant, compelling, and very slipstreamy. I hope she writes something longer soon!

4) I got an award during my sabbatical! Annette thinks I’m a Rockin’ Girl; thank you, my friend. One of the many privileges of Rockin’hood is being able to pass on the gift to five other lucky bloggers. Many of my pals have already received this award, but other key players have not (at least as far as I know)—until now.
I hereby dub Kara, Jenna, Adriana, Bubandpie, and Mental Tesserae fellow Rockin' Girls. Get out there and spread the love, ladies.

5) Eerie coincidence alert: Tuesday night, Patrick and I were at the Broadway opening of the utterly wretched new musical Xanadu. Though we cannot understand how it could possibly have merited the rave reviews it got, we are glad for Patrick’s client, the kind and uber-talented Eric Stern, who is the Music Director of the show (and let me say here that the music sounded fabulous—it’s the rest of the thing that stank).
Olivia Newton-John was in the audience. I felt bad for her, since her trademark breathy singing style and Australian accent were being lampooned right in front of her.

Just twelve hours later, I was waiting in the doctor’s office, when what blast from the past should greet my ears? None other than O N-J’s country hit “If You Love Me, Let Me Know,” which I don’t think I have ever heard on the radio. (My mom had the album, so I know that song by heart.) Crazy, I know.

6) My kids really outdid themselves on their School of Rock essays this week. After watching Footloose and Rock 'n' Roll High School, they had to discuss why some authority figures find rock music to be dangerous and subversive. They came up with some very interesting ideas and organized them nicely; I was quite pleased.

7) Christian and I saw 1408 yesterday. It’s terrific, if you like that sort of thing (and I realize that most of you don’t). The dread is so thick that it’s a little suffocating; we were holding hands through most of it.
I'll never again be able to hear Karen Carpenter sing "We've Only Just Begun" without shuddering. John Cusack was fantastic (when isn’t he?). Afterwards, Christian and I had a great discussion about the nature of self and the symbolism of redemption as portrayed in the film. Who knew living with teenagers could be so great? I'm a lucky mom.

8) My friend Melissa recently adapted a recipe to perfection, and since she doesn’t (yet) have a blog, I must post it for the public good. She took the instructions for Blueberry Breakfast Bars from Farmgirl Fare, cut the sugar in half (believe me, they are still plenty sweet), and added lemon.
These are a must. Do yourself a favor and go make some right now.

Blueberry-Lemon Breakfast Bars

Bottom Layer
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Streusel Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

3-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
the juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (1/4 tsp. if freshly ground)

For the Bottom Layer:
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a 9" x 13" pan. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Press this mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.

For the Streusel Topping:
Place the flour, brown sugar, and butter in a small bowl and combine until the mixture resembles large crumbs (some pea-sized clumps are okay). Set aside.

For the Filling:
Place the blueberries in the bowl you mixed the Bottom Layer in and toss them with the almond extract. Pour them evenly over the Bottom Layer in the pan. Combine the sugar and flour and sprinkle it evenly over the blueberries.

Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the filling. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden, and the edges are starting to brown. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, then cut into bars.

9) I have lost much of my vegetable garden to slugs. Here’s what has survived: a Candy Pumpkin (pie); one each Charentais and Ananas melon plant; the cucumbers; all of the tomatoes; a few of the runner beans; one set of onions, and one artichoke.
I lost the Tigger melons (sob!), the watermelons, the rhubarb, the cardoons and summer squash, and most of the herbs.

The asparagus is doing okay, and I’m going to plant more lettuce today. I must go buy beer for the slugs. That strategy has worked well for me in the past; I just didn’t get around to it quickly enough this year.

10) I was going to cut back my wildly overgrown anise hyssop, but two goldfinches have been perching in it off and on for the past couple of days. I don’t want to take away their jungle gym, so I may leave it for a bit longer.

11) We now have an HD Kung Fu channel—a whole stop on Patrick’s remote devoted to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and their disciples. Believe me, it’s welcome respite from all of the dreck that passes for television these days. It makes a much pleasanter background to my evening reading and writing than endless reality shows.

12) I have officially surrendered in the Battle of the Muffin Papers. About a year ago, I decided that I needed to find an alternative to those little liners. We make so many batches that I was going through those little plastic containers at a rate of about two per week. First I tried the silicone muffin bakers. They worked fine, but were a pain to wash. Trying to get crumbs out of all those little accordion folds was no fun.

Then I tried stoneware muffin pans. These produced a nicely browned muffin, between each dozen, I had to wait for the pans to cool, then scrub them out, dry them, and re-butter them. This took forever. I stopped making muffins as often, and my kids complained.

My new plan is to buy the unbleached muffin papers by the case (they come in cardboard, not plastic) and use them in the stoneware pans. I made muffins this morning, and it worked great. Since the papers are unbleached, I can compost them once they’ve done their job. I realize how scintillating all of this is.
13) Tonight, we get a visit from the legendary Carmen! She’s sleeping over on her way back to London. I’m making my famous Chicken Enchiladas in her honor. Gotta go roast that chicken....
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On 13/7/07 , deb said...

ah, the blueberry lemon breakfast bars.... i'm still shooting for clafouti this weekend.

On 13/7/07 , Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

Mmm, I'm trying that recipe soon.

I left behind an anise hyssop at my last house. (sniffle)

Sorry about your garden losses. I was going to say, "try beer!" because I heard it worked. You beat me. :)

On 13/7/07 , NH Knitting Mama said...

You've been busy! (You rockin' girl, you!)

On 13/7/07 , bubandpie said...

Aw, thanks! I need something to cheer me up today.

On 13/7/07 , Heather McNiel said...

Congrats on your award! I frequently have so many ideas to write about in my head that I shut down and can't blog at all! :(

On 13/7/07 , Brillig said...

Wow... so much here! Look at you hobnobbing with broadway royalty! Wow! Glad readercon was so great--I can only imagine! And I have to hide this recipe because if my husband sees it he will beg like a puppy to have me make them for him (blueberries and lemon do strange things to him) and I'm just.too.lazy. Still, filing it away for a non-lazy day!

On 13/7/07 , Jenna said...

Loved this post! And you're nominating me for an award? Whoa. So, what does this mean? I need to award 5 more people? Thank you so much, my dear! Glad you're back.

On 13/7/07 , dawn said...

Great post idea. I have a million things to post about, and here I am reading because my gumption is sapped. I am sorry to hear about your garden. Does it help to liquor up grasshoppers? I have stoneware muffin bakers, and I don't cool then re-grease. It seems to work okay, but your idea for the composting of the unbleached papers is a good one. Congrats on your award, and glad you had a great time at your conference.

On 14/7/07 , Tristi Pinkston said...

I've got muffins in the oven as we speak, and I have to say, the papers are a must. Sure, they cost money and they're sorta wasteful, but it's the only way to get the things out of the pans!

So where do you get these unbleached liners?

On 14/7/07 , Sirdar said...

Wow...13 different and interesting topics. Not being a writer...I've never heard of Readercon...but I went to the link you left and saw what it was. I bet it was interesting.

Congrats on the award. I gave Dawn one the other day.

School of Rock essays? And I thought that movie was just made up :-)

HD Kung Fu channel? I don't think we have that here...mind you I don't have an HD reciever.

Dawn makes many wonderful things with her stoneware. It comes out soooo good...

On 14/7/07 , Adriana Velez said...

Hey, thanks for the love! I'll have to pass it on once I officially resurface (busy with the in-laws here). For now, though, I'll cherish the one time I'll ever be referred to as rockin.

I did find your muffin cup story interesting, by the way. I kept chanting "unbleached paper, unbleached paper" until the end, wherein I cheered.

Hello to Carmen! Tell her Jasper still loves doing high five and cut the pickle.

On 14/7/07 , Luisa Perkins said...

Deb--Can't WAIT for details on the clafouti.

Millie--I can send you a cutting, if you like. Anise hyssop can survive most anything, including cross-country postal travel.

NHM--Not as busy as YOU! I cannot believe how much knitting you get done. You're awesome.

Heather--thanks for visiting. I hope you'll come back!

Bubandpie--The pleasure is all mine. You've cheered me up many a day; I'm glad to return the favor.

Brillig--I'm a little jaded with all the hobnobbery, I'm sorry to say. But not jaded with those breakfast bars. ;)

Jenna--You're very welcome! Go to the award link I posted for the particulars.

Dawn--I haven't tried the beer on grasshoppers. But I can have fun fantasizing how THAT would work.

Tristi--The brand is Beyond Gourmet. My local grocery store will order anything by the case for me, and they do give me a discount. I've been buying butter by the case for years. I'm sure the manager thinks I'm a little odd, but that's really nothing new.

Sirdar--Readercon is for readers, too. You and Dawn should come out next year. I made up the School of Rock syllabus myself, based on Jack Black's course divisions in the movie: Rock History, Rock Theory, and Rock Appreciation. We're having a blast.

AV--You're welcome! I'll tell Carmen you said 'hi' when she wakes up.

On 14/7/07 , Radioactive Jam said...

I completely, utterly want a Kung Fu channel.

On 14/7/07 , Luisa Perkins said...

RaJ, call your cable/satellite company. They may offer it in your area soon!

On 15/7/07 , Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Rockin' Girl Blogger, Luisa. You so awesome. It's nice to still be referred to as a girl sometimes, though in years past I would have screamed "WOMAN!" Now, not so into the distinction...

I'll have you know I have been singing the theme song from Xanadu since you and Patrick went to see the opening and actually had a dream about skating around that hollowed rink in my leg warmers and torn Flashdance sweatshirt. Oh no, now I have "She's a Maniac" in my head. Stop the flashback!!!!!

On 15/7/07 , Anonymous said...

Grrr... Supposed to be hallowed rink. Darn blogspot and the no edit comment section!

On 17/7/07 , Anonymous said...

Ooh--hi to Carmen from me, too! And big smooches.

On 18/7/07 , Lindsey said...

Those sound yummy! I am going to make them as soon as it gets cool enough to turn my oven back on!