A bittersweet chocolate cake moistened with brandy syrup with alternating layers of ganache and white chocolate buttercream. It is frosted with white chocolate cream cheese buttercream topped with chocolate curls. (two slices are removed in the pic; someone made off with the first before i could take the photo!)
one of joe's coworkers had this same cake for a birthday early this year, & joe had brought me a hunk - it was SO AMAZING i immediately claimed it for my own birthday & made him send a long string of emails to figure out where it had come from. (& yes, i was surprised it didn't say something horrible on it, haha.) testing4l attended remotely as i cut, & 1" slices were plenty; joe bought the 9" & it served everyone, plus three slices for our freezer, two for the fridge, & several more for folks to take home. (sheeep couldn't come due to babysitter issues, but mika brought an unexpectedly hilarious birthday card jes had made for me, & i made sure she received a nice slice in thanks.)
joe gave me the silk comforter, wrapped in silver & black paper with black duct tape accents & a bloody red bow. (he'd ordered the duvet cover i liked earlier in the day.) we played cards against humanity with decreasing attendance until 2am - i lost the game overall, but my two favorite wins were "the miracle of birth is a slippery slope that leads to a pyramid of severed heads" & "instead of coal, santa now gives the bad children a bleached asshole." a good birthday party indeed.
despite the amazing cake, sic737 was too sick to attend, but a week later he took me out to a wonderful dinner at voilà. i had the peppercorn roasted monkfish with lemon shrimp risotto, & swapped bites with chris to finally taste pork safely served medium rare - it was surprising & delicious & somewhat taboo after 30+ years of being told pork cannot be served pink. we split an order of rather good profiteroles for dessert. chris & i just haven't seen nearly enough of each other in the past year, & we decided to improve upon that with a regular Fancy Dinner Night every six weeks; the trick is to always plan the next one at the end of the current one.
a couple weeks later, joe & i finally rode the giant ferris wheel that i see every day from my office window (i charmed our way into five rotations instead of the usual three), & then went to another omakase meal on the cheap at nijo. eight delicious tiny courses, but the most spellbinding was the nasu dengaku - grilled eggplant with sweet miso sauce. OMG SO good, & very timely as i've been experimenting more with eggplant recipes. mid-week date nights rock!
i've found other photos of our china trip popping up here & there. (& yes, the group is respecting my photo-related wishes.) for those who read my travellogues, i'll note who's who.
Irish Guy in the foreground, NoPork in the pink hat, Cheerleader B pointing her finger over Tina's back towards Apologetic Guy, then joe, PermaSmile's back, joe as a time-travelling cenobyte, me, & an unknown asian.
joe, Harmless, Quietest Wife & Irish Guy
Carlos, Tina (guide), joe
No Pork took this of us on the fucking bund.
White Ponytail, No Pork, joe & me
Carlos, joe's bandanna, the top of my head, the hair of PermaSmile, Super Happy Asian Cutie looking decidedly unhappy in the background, Picky looking picky, & New York's scalp & eye.
Harmless center stage with me & joe - no one else in this photo is ours.
me & joe photographed by Photo Lady, with Carlos's leather-clad back next to the white downy backs of Sniffles & Super Happy Asian Cutie.
Super Happy Asian Cutie & Cheerleader B in the distance next to joe's dreads & me hiding in the crenels, with Sniffles in front.
blurry people: Picky & New York barely off frame, joe, Photo Lady, PermaSmile, Quietest Wife, Cheerleader B, Irish Guy, random asian, Tina, the back of Kind Face's face, & the hairstyle of Friendly Single Woman.
we're not in the following shots, but i figured i may as well try to provide decent pics of our entire group:
Jakson "doyouknowwhy?becows" Li (guide), Cheerleader B, No Pork, & Apologetic Guy forever in the friend zone.
probably Tina's hair, PermaSmile's forehead, Harmless, Cheerleader B, & Deal Seeker on the right
Dai Fei (guide), a bit of Cheerleader B, Carlos being jabbed in the eye by a rainbow, Friendly Single Woman, & half of PermaSmile.
Sniffles being sniffly, Harmless's ear on the maglev train
Picky with the giant bag, New York with orange sleeves, & Friendly Single Woman staring at their magic hands.
Sniffles, Kind Face, No Pork, PermaSmile with her permasmile, Super Happy Asian Cutie, & Apologetic Guy.
i can't seem to find good shots of New York or Photo Lady, or any shots of Adopted Grandma, but i'll update later if more pics turn up.
so on to our anniversary! first off, yes, i posted this year's anniversary montage:
i mentioned getting this deal, but we ended up unable to use it as joe can't get into canada for a while. fortunately, travis bought it off us (& the subsequent less-fancy hotel night i'd purchased), so i reworked our anniversary to stay at the queen of the valley inn in their africa room. it was... not great. :/ oh well, they can't all be winners.
we drove up to bow for dinner at the chuckanut manor seafood & grill, which was wonderful. our server there was a total sweetheart, & really entertained by us. they gave us some kind of delicious flat cracker-like bread (like matzo & oyster crackers had a baby) & spinach-artichoke dip to snack on while we decided. we split the appetizer of totten inlet mussels (steamed with lobster tomato saffron broth) & were then brought a really nice 7-grain wheat bread. already near full, we tried to split two mains: the seafood sauté (clams, mussels, prawns, scallops, oyster, dungeness crab, fish, bell pepper, onion, tomato saffron broth) & "today's pacific whitefish", a nicely prepared halibut (mushroom broth, herb salad, caramelized onion, cannellini beans, spanish chorizo). we ended up with a ton of leftovers, & so it only made sense to also order dessert - chocolate toffee mousse cake... to go. we each managed a few bites in the hotel room & saved the rest to go with our leftovers.
the next day, we drove up to bellingham, where i dropped off joe to hike the chuckanuts, & i continued alone up to canada to add to the Grammy Memorial Tattoo. i met up with travis at adorned precision - he came along partly for company & partly because he'll be getting his first tattoo soon & is a bit scared. nomi chi, my artist du jour, put him at ease immediately (though granted travis was fairly well transfixed by her beauty & likely to believe anything she said, haha).
as canada is a country that grammy & i had visited together, we added the name in an "intentional" blue - meaning a shade that doesn't look like a crappy old faded black. nomi & i picked a thick sky blue that'll work with similar blues in other countries to come. a few minutes of her careful work later, i learned how canadian tattoos differ from the US - i was bandaged with tegaderm?! sure, why not. apparently it's a new thing they're doing, & it was suggested i remove it 24 hours later in the shower. chinese stencil oil & canadian tegaderm... this memorial is proving to be technically interesting on top of presenting some cool experiences &, of course, being all kinds of heartwarming.
yes, so! on to the photo:
(for those from the future, the above is a permanent image link for all country additions.)
it's below & to the left of China, still making sure France will fit into the space above. i didn't put it next to China, as i'm sensitive to capital letters, & i don't want to notice weird acronyms when i look at it. i can't wait to find out what will be added next!
travis had backpacked through europe last year, & was pleased to join me to shop at euro-food. he found his favorite coffee & favorite european oatmeal cookies, & i acquired plenty of delicious russian candies & cookies for joe & i to split - & some fancy stone ground mustard as a thok present.
we had lunch at the bellaggio restaurant - holy crap the pollo club was great! chicken, prosciutto, mixed greens, tomato, mozzarella & basil aioli on their homemade flatbread baked in the pizza oven... & served in a reasonable portion size. thank you, canada.
after that, i drove back to the states. the guard at the border crossing was VERY interested in my new tattoo (they ask why you were in canada) & kind of neglected to check my ID - eh, i guess it doesn't matter who comes into the US anymore. i'd arranged a coffeehouse north of the mountain as the pick-up point, with the understanding that joe would text me if he arrives first, or i'd text him when i arrive, then hang out with the wifi & wait for him to report that he's down off the mountain. then i'd collect him on the road (with a nice warm mocha in hand) so he could avoid the boring street stomp back into town. he got there first by a couple hours, so i couldn't mocha surprise him, but i made it only a few minutes after our estimated meet-up time of six. the coffeehouse closed AT six, but the d&d geek shop next door was open, so we met there to compare notes of the day & look ridiculously out of place & adorable. for two very independent people, we missed each other more than is polite to say... but hey, it was our first time being separated by international borders.
we made it home without incident & sleepily played bioshock 2 until i had no more consciousness left.
what else? oh yes, i did this:
it's time for LISH'S COLLECTION POST 2012! - http://stretched.livejournal.com/564971
hi! my lobes have been at 3/4" for over five years. ^_^
the biggest trend/change in my collection since last year is the slimming down of the dichro drawer. my love affair with dichro has come & gone, & i'm left with interest mostly in the more elaborate pieces - spirals, jewels, non-flower honeycombs. the glass drawer is already infringing upon what was once a dichro-specific drawer, & will surely continue to do so.
since the last post, i've sold 9 pairs & gained 11 (5 glass, 3 stone, 3 other), & i upgraded just one. since 89% of my collection is the same, i didn't bother taking a ton of new close-ups; you can refer to the link above for last year's set (or the individual posts linked below) if you so choose. however, it was time for a deep clean of my jewelry box, which gave me the excuse to do this:
(i included my pair of 7/16" abaraka chinese brecciated jasper keystone blade designs in the above image, but they don't fit into my jewelry box & aren't pictured below. i'm still considering selling them.)
on to the in situ pics & full details!
drawer 1 - organics & titanium/steel
14ga fractal creations titanium double eyebrow spike, unanodized by me
6ga fractal creations titanium serenity II captive, unanodized by me (link)
drawer 2 - acrylics/mixed-media & silicone, stone overflow
drawer 3 - stone
drawer 4 - glass
drawer 5 - glass overflow & dichroic glass, luciferins
& some statistics for your amusement:
glasswear studios: 14%
gorilla glass: 8%
industrial strength: 10%
fractal creations (pairs): 4%
relic stoneworks: 11%
middle woodland ear spools: 8%
plugs made by friends: 6%
plugs custom made to my specifications: 31%
& here are some random gudu pics, including joe, me, & the return of kitchenbutt!