Smallish Bloggery, Day 18: A recipe

I suppose I could do one of those “how to make a happier world” type recipes that are so cliche, you know the ones that go 

1 cup love
1/2 cup kindness
1 tsp fairy dust
2 heaping cups Impeachment

…and so forth, but I think I’d prefer to give you something you might actually be able to use before November.

Since it’s summer and officially hot as balls, let’s have something cold and refreshing, shall we?  This is my favorite iced coffee concentrate that doesn’t require any sort of fancy equipment, just a fine mesh strainer and a quart-sized jar.  

As we all know (okay, millennials and we millennial-adjacents know) cold brewing coffee drastically reduces the acidity and makes for a much smoother beverage.  Plus it’s stupidly easy, and you can use cheap coffee if you want; since you’re cold brewing a lot of the sharp weirdness of crappy coffee leaches out.  I’ve done it mostly with store brands, and it’s always been awesome.

This makes 2-4 servings depending on the people involved and how much creamy stuff they add. I usually cut it half and half with Very Vanilla Silk, which is my nondairy milk of choice, but whatever milk or coffee creamer type additive you like is groovy.  You can also double the recipe and make a pitcher instead of a jar.  And feel free to add more sweetener if you’re so inclined.  The brown sugar gives it a nice flavor, but I typically add a squirt or so of vanilla syrup too.  

Don’t be snooty about sediment here – unless you’re using an actual coffee filter to strain, which will take forever (trust me), you’ll probably end up with a bit of sludge in the very bottom of your jar.  If you pour with care it won’t make it into your glass.  Trust me on that too, I’ve made gallons of this stuff over the years.

Oooh hey, I can use my fancy recipe card plugin! Check it out!

Gorgeous Cold Brew Concentrate
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2/3 c coarsely ground coffee
  2. 3 c water
  3. 1 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1/4 c dark brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a quart size or larger jar and shake the bejesus out of them.
  2. Lid up and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Run through a fine strainer and discard sediment.
  4. Pour over ice, cut with creamy thing of your choice, and add extra sweetener if desired.
Dianne Sylvan http://diannesylvan.com/

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 17: My Patronus

Sing it with me now:  Ma-ma-ma-MYYYYY PATRONUS!

Sorry.

If I had to face down a cadre of Dementors, and waved my wand with a (hopefully) commanding “EXPECTO PATRONUM!” what animal form would jump out and defend me? 

I think when I took the Patronus test on Pottermore I got a Rottweiler or something, but as wonderful as Rotties are, I think I’d be more likely to show up with a bear or possibly an elephant – someone big and protective and able to stomp bad guys with a single big ass foot.  

Or, if we’re going on animals I love and who mean a lot to me, I’d have a pig Patronus – aside from being cute as hell, pigs are very smart, loving, and sort of my mascot animal already as a vegan practitioner.  I have an “adoptive” pig at Farm Sanctuary I support each month, and she reminds me that even when I feel like I’m not making a difference, I’m at least making a difference to one amazing animal, Miss Junip Sydney.

I love that thought, in fact.  An animal people dismiss as dirty and dumb who historically has been exploited and killed but who is in fact a joyful, smart, caring creature, running down the embodiment of depression and despair, making the world a little kinder in the process.  That’s the kind of Patronus I’d love to have.

But I’d take a Rottweiler too.

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 16: 3 Celebrity Crushes

1. Lin-Manuel Miranda

What can I say (except you’re welcome)?  Aside from the fact that the man is a bona fide creative powerhouse and a genius – he’s already racked up Tonys, 3 Grammys, an Emmy, a freaking Pulitzer, a MacArthur Genius Award, an Oscar nomination for starters and he’s only 38 (seriously there’s an entire Wikipedia page just of his awards and nominations) – Lin-Manuel is one of the most relentlessly (but not obnoxiously) hopeful people on the internet, and his Twitter feed is one of the things that make Twitter worthwhile.  (I put him in the same “this is why the internet is not a lost cause” category as Thoughts of Dog.)  

He’s also inspired my activism in new directions since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and now I’m paying attention to causes I never did before, specifically the immigrant crisis (and of course PR’s recovery after the disgusting and unforgivable inaction of the US government toward its own citizens).  He never comes off bitter *or* naively optimistic, just determined, smart, and with a true belief in the strength and goodness of people.  

He’s been responsible for two of my favorite musical things in the world, Moana and Hamilton, so just for that much I’d adore him forever.  But he also just seems like a good person, one trying his damnedest to make things better.  I’ve been saying for over a year that by the time all the shitty men are driven out of Hollywood it’ll be Lin-Manuel Miranda, Patrick Stewart, and Chris Evans left, and that will be just fine.

Of course, my crush on Mr. M is not the stuff of trembling lady gardens – it’s an emotional and creative one.  He’s got a mind I’d love to orbit around and bask in.  But when we’re talking theoretical sexytimes, well, I gotta go with

2 – Tom Hiddleston

*sigh*  

Oh, wait, I was writing.  Okay.

He’s currently sporting a bit more facial hair than I tend to like on guys, but I love this picture because it showcases one of my favorite Hiddlefeatures:  He has such extraordinarily kind eyes.  Lately to me they seem kind of sad in pictures; I suppose it could be because of the presumed end of his most popular role, or it could be because not too long ago he got Kleenexed by a particular female pop star not known for being particularly good to men.  I imagine the former is more relevant at the moment after all the recent Infinity War press and media hype, especially if it turns out this really was his last turn in the MCU.

I would personally be happy to offer whatever solace is required for any and all hurts, real or imagined, good sir.

But apart from the pretty, Tom is a gifted actor (he actually makes Coriolanus a sympathetic character and makes me root for Henry V even though the entire story of that play infuriates me) and, at least on the surface, a genuinely good guy.  Obviously you never know with celebrities; I’m sure 80% of what we see is a mask whether good or bad.  It’s all acting even if it’s not (honestly that applies to most people whether famous or not; how much do you really know about what’s going on beneath the surface with anyone?), but like Lin-Manuel, Tom gives off a very sweet vibe.  They both make me think of puppies in the most positive way you can imagine; it’s just that Tom makes me think of other stuff too.  Ahem.

3 – Danai Gurira

The women of Black Panther were the best thing about it, in my opinion, and considering I loved almost everything about it that’s high praise.  But Danai Gurira’s Okoye was just…magnificent.  And the woman herself, well, holy smokes.  She’s an award-winning playwright with a Master’s Degree, a Broadway actress, and started an organization to teach the arts in Zimbabwe (where her parents are from and where the family returned when Danai was five, though she herself was born here in the US in 1978).  She speaks four languages.  You can see the intelligence and wit in her smile if you’re not bowled over by its radiance.

Yeah, I’m being flowery, but Danai is one of those women who is so regal and gorgeous looking at her is like staring at some celestial phenomenon that will only happen once in your lifetime.  There’s actually a woman at my day job who reminds me very strongly of her, and I find her utterly mesmerizing; I feel like she should walk everywhere barefoot on a carpet of rose petals.  I can only imagine what a complete and utter doofus I would be if I actually ran into Danai somewhere and had to speak to her.  Based on my interactions with the aforementioned coworker, I would bring great shame upon the house of Sylvan.  

Incoherent drooling will do that.

 

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 15: An unsent letter

Allow me to be extra self-indulgent here.

Dear Sylvan circa 2010:

You’re in the middle of writing Shadowflame, right?  Well, you know that thing that’s going to happen in the story that you’ve been planning since book 1, or before that actually, and you’re hoping you can capture all the heartbreak and confusion and betrayal so that the reader will feel it?

You’re gonna do a great job.  In fact you’re going to do it so convincingly you’ll be screamed at a lot on the internet.  People will tell you to kill yourself over it.  They’ll tell you that you’ve committed unforgivable sins against monogamy and moreover heterosexual monogamy.  Dear God the homophobes are going to lose their fucking MINDS.  People who didn’t bat an eye at the ultra-tropey rape in Book 1 are going to FLIP OUT over Big Gay Adultery.

Like seriously, they’re going to threaten and bully you.  You’re going to lose a shit ton of readers and a lot of sales and in all likelihood your series will never go any farther than the shelves because of it.  The queries you got for your sub rights for Queen of Shadows will vanish like a fart in the wind.  People on the internet are shitty little cowards and they are mean just because they can be.

I’m not telling you to shake it off, because I know you, and I especially know what you’re like at this age.  You’re still on shaky ground, creatively, after That Nasty Old Harridan made you give up writing for years and only fan fiction brought you back.  You made yourself incredibly vulnerable even trying to write QoS, and you should be way prouder than you are!  But on this side of it, looking back at what you’re going to go through, if I had to do it all again, here’s what I would do:

MAKE EVERYBODY GAY.  MAKE THE WHOLE STORY SO FUCKING GAY.  EVERY CHARACTER, EVERY PLOTLINE, GAY IT UP TO ELEVEN.  BISEXUALS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE.  MIRANDA TRANSITIONS TO AN ASEXUAL MAN AND SHE AND DAVID HAVE AN OPEN MARRIAGE FROM DAY ONE WHERE HE WEARS CORSETS AND GIVES HEAD AT COUNCIL MEETINGS.  GRAB THE MOST HYPERMASCULINE PRIME YOU CAN, ROLL HIM IN GLITTER, AND PUT FOUR DILDOS IN EACH ORIFICE.  VIOLATE EVERY STUPID GENDER NORM YOU CAN THINK OF.  GET FAITH A GIRLFRIEND WHO LOOKS LIKE JOHN GOODMAN AND TURN THE NEXT ELITE TOURNAMENT INTO A GIANT ORGY.  BUT NOT UNTIL HALFWAY THROUGH THE BOOK, JUST TO MAKE IT A SURPRISE. 

FUCK THE HATERS, FUCK THE HOMOPHOBES, LET THEM KEEP THEIR MONEY.  IT’S NOT WORTH IT.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU EVER TO FEEL BAD FOR TELLING THE STORY ESPECIALLY IF IT’S MORE INCLUSIVE.  YOU ARE LOSING NOTHING BY ALIENATING GARBAGE HUMANS.  YOU’LL PROBABLY HAVE A DAY JOB FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?  YOU’LL ALSO HEAR FROM PEOPLE WHOSE WORLDS OPENED UP A LITTLE BECAUSE OF YOUR CHARACTERS.  AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOUR WORK WILL LOVE IT EVEN MORE BECAUSE IT’S REAL.  MISOGYNISTIC MANBABY TRASH DOESN’T DESERVE THE WORK OF YOUR COLON, LET ALONE THE WORK OF YOUR HEART.  THEY CAN DIE MAD ABOUT IT.

YOU’VE GOT WORK TO DO.

Love, 

You, nearly 10 years in the future.

 

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 14 – A weird thing I do when I’m alone…

I have a lot of oddball solo behaviors, some of which I would never ever divulge in mixed company (or any company), but the one that I think is probably the most entertaining is my habit of narrating.

I frequently walk around speaking aloud to myself, but not necessarily to myself.  If you catch me wandering round the house muttering, I might be:

1 – Narrating what I’m doing as if I am hosting a TV show; this is usually done while cooking or making something, and often involves funny accents.  I’m not sure why the accents other than it’s way more fun to describe what you’re cooking in a terrible English or outrageously exaggerated Southern accent.  When I’m cooking alone I turn into a Food Network host – or, at times, I become Ted Allen on Chopped as well as a contestant.  

2 – Acting out a bit of dialogue that I can’t get right in a book.  Yes, I playpretend as my own characters, and yes, I do voices.  I tell myself it’s part of my writing process, and it is, but let’s be real here, it’s also fun.

3 – Giving myself a pep talk.  You can spot this one pretty easily by the nicknames I give myself; when I’m trying to encourage myself I use terms of endearment like “love,” “babygirl,” and “sugarbeet.”  

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