Playlist of music in this post: Spotify
July: A Very Social Month
At the end of June I set out to have A Very Social July: 3 small group hangs at my place, plus 1 cabin weekend and 1 Brandi Carlile concert. 
Three Small Group Hangs
- Ciders, Beers, and Party Games
- Sparkling Wine Tasting
- Cocktail Making Laboratory
I'm a fan of setting a general vibe for gatherings. A loose intent helps me build a focused guest list, and it allows invitees to opt-in or opt-out based on their inclinations. The introverts can pick their events wisely, the achievers can practice some drinks before they come over to make cocktails, and I can target my friends who like party game for party game night. Setting and communicating a focus can influence behavior and increase the odds the party people expect is the one they get.
Party Food I Would Make Again
Caprese Skewers with Tortellini
These take a while to assemble, but they aren't particularly complicated and they're very tasty. I've used both fresh basil added to the skewers and also a dusting of dried basil over the entire platter. Experiment with olive oil, a balsamic glaze, herbs, salts, etc.
Hard Cider Floats
A sidequest during the Ciders, Beers, and Party Games hang was experimenting with "ice cream" floats, using ciders. The two winning combinations:
- Pearsecco & lemon sorbet
- Spiced peach cider & mango sherbet
August: Quiet, Productive, Recovering
Toward the end of A Very Social July, while fun, I was solitude deficient and close to going mad. August saw some secluded and creative time, which produced some good work:
A review format that felt right...
A revived interest in listening to Album of the Year nominees...
Finally finishing a post that was originally multiple posts, some of which were in my drafts for years.
Have you heard of this whole video thing?
First of all: As a way of future-proofing myself, I've been working on skills I find genuinely fulfilling that I also think could be future-handy.
Additionally: Instagram ditching pictures and TikToking itself finally prompted me to check TikTok.  It turns out Instagram has a point: TikTok is fun. Resultantly, I've been using ActualTok more and InstaTok less: thanks for the idea, Instagram!
I did some videography back in the day, which I enjoyed, and I've been reacquainting myself -- it seems future-handy. In a happy bit of serendipity, I got a chance to shoot a bunch of video at my friend's event, The Uptown Swingout, with a variety of cameras. (Including a SWEET AF Sony that I absolutely cannot justify purchasing but want desperately.)
After the event I grabbed Davinci Resolve (a different friend's recommendation) and jumped right in -- so far so good.
The Best Science
Rosemary shortbread with lavender whipped cream
I found a recipe for stabilized whipped cream, which made it pipeable:
Spinach Tiger Stabilized Whipped Cream Icing
Chocolate and Chai Shortbread
I'll muddle the chai in the future... there were black pepper bits that gave the occasional surprise.
Upside down berry cake
I made an upside-down berry cake and the "cake" part was much cakier than I was expecting. Although it's clearly called a "cake" in the recipe, I was expecting a thinner, crumblier base. Better luck next time.
(It was totally delicious, for the record: Berry Upside-Down Cake By Melissa Clark (behind NYT Cooking paywall).)
As noted a while ago, I broke my cookies when I switched to weighing flour... they haven't been right, since.
After many, many experiments (👆) I went full nerd (👇).
I found a different recipe, also excellent, and compared the ratios of flour-to-other-ingredients: as a result, I added 75 grams to my original recipe. Those cookies looked a little too dense, so the tinkering will continue.
Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, Alanis Morissette
Natural Brown Prom Queen, Sudan Archives
Last Night in the Bittersweet, Paolo Nutini
Yasuke, Flying Lotus
A Brandi Carlile concert I almost completely ruined for myself with food poisoning, but only sorta ruined for myself with food poisoning. ↩︎
This still allows for surprises... for instance, the people at the sparkling wine tasting unexpectedly knew actual wine stuff, so it was genuinely educational as well as a buzzy laugh fest. And the people at the drink making lab came with 🔥 recipes. ↩︎
All the best dance tutorials are on TikTok and, with soil and sky as my witness, I will learn the gwara gwara; I don't care if it's a million years old at this point, IT LOOKS SO COOL. ↩︎
Remind me to tell you about my dream kitchen at some point. ↩︎