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The flowerbud on "Princess Victoria Louise" is roughly the size of a ping pong ball. If I can get it to open without balling/being bitten off by a rabbit it's going to be something else!

Our Icelandic Poppy opened another flower today. This evening we discovered tiny little annual poppy sproutlets in the south garden. With leaves like romaine lettuce. I'm pretty sure they're seedlings of "Lauren's Grape." ::gulps:: I hope that some of the Shirley Poppies grow up, too. I sure did sprinkle a lot of them!

I hadn't realized that our yellow lilac does have a fragrance. It isn't as strong as that of the light purple lilacs, but it's nice. I'm glad that it finally looks like a proper shrub instead of a bonsai lilac!

I've been finding huge holes in the ground in our backyard. I don't know what kind of animal is living in them, and I don't want to know. We sure do have a big problem with chipmunks in our yard again this year. I can't even go outside to take out the trash without seeing one of the little bastards run screaming for the bushes!

On to other things...Gust has a new Atelier game coming out in June that's supposed to be the start of a new series: Atelier Ayesha. I'm not sure what to think of it just yet. Any departure from the Arland series is okay by me--I hate the cutesy moe garbage they've inserted into the franchise. Still, I doubt that Gust is ever going to reach out to its original fanbase. According to the current development team, we should all be married with kids and good little housewives right now. :P I guess that appealing to lolicon otaku males is much more lucrative. I'd rather play as an overachieving megalomaniac alchemist than a simpering loli any day!

I guess that I'll have to see some gameplay videos before I make my final decision. Part of me says, well, so far all the girls have small boobs and I don't see any panties...yet. Another part warns me that the series will never be the same. To be fair, I only liked the Salburg series and Atelier Violate. I'll probably never love again, so why waste $90?
leene_chan: (Default)

Actually, I had wanted to write more in the last post, but it was getting kind of long. Also, this has nothing to do with the contents of the previous entry.


Finished Another Atelier Game. This One Was A Good One. )
leene_chan: (Default)

My order of vegetable plants arrived today. Burpee packed them up very cutely in green plastic containers, but I was annoyed to discover that one of the Fairy Tale Eggplants was bone dry and half shriveled up. After a generous watering, it perked right up. Jeez! What would have happened if I didn't ask for overnight delivery?


All my recent transplants are doing well. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to have any Shirley poppies this year. =_= Starting plants from seed in the spring as opposed to the summer is so tricky in New England. I would have sowed the seeds outside per the package instructions but we have a HUGE problem with birds. Thankfully, I have some breadseed poppies arriving as live plants in a few weeks. Let's see what I make of them!


Whenever I think that I really must have a black thumb, I remind myself that my yard is running wild with immortal clematis. A clumsy gardener who won't be named (it wasn't Kristen) ripped out the nice blue-violet one we had growing against our deck. The one I showed in photographs last year featuring my rerooted Snotty Cat II Koron? Well, someone tore it right out of the ground last fall, thinking it was a weed, but this spring it's growing back stronger than ever. I nearly wept with joy when I saw the vines coming up! So I really have to concentrate on the successes rather than the failures. Gardening is always an uphill battle, but now I have Neptune's Harvest! I swear I'm going to save that yellow lilac this year!


On the gaming front, I've been coping with the loss of the PSN by replaying even older Atelier games, both Marie and Elie. Every time I see new promotional material for Atelier Meruru it makes my skin crawl. It would be bad enough if Gust just overdid the Lolita fan-service, but both Rorona and Totori are actually bare-bones compared to the older Atelier games. Even the GBA Marie, Elie and Anis has more content...


Re-evaluating my ranking of the series. )
leene_chan: (Default)

I can't believe how noisy the birds have been this spring. Is it ever not mating season for them? XD


Today is a damp, clammy, nasty day. And tomorrow is Easter! I think I like it better when Easter's in March. At least now that Lent's over, I don't have to worry about keeping meatless Fridays. I'm not much a carnivore myself, but I hate not being able to use chicken broth.


So the Playstation Network has been down for the past few days. Apparently there was some hacking involved, and it seems that it's never going to be restored. Oh well...it happened when I was in the middle of downloading the Golden Week themed Groovy Chat for Tales of Graces f. Those free downloadable chats are so unfunny, it's like there's Christmas every week and you get a lump of coal in your stocking every time. =_= Yet for some reason, I jump to download them every time they announce a new chat on the official ToGf page! I'm like the lab rat who keeps hitting a switch for a treat when all I ever get is an electrical shock. One of these days, I really am going to get a treat...


I had wanted to download Atelier Marie Plus and Atelier Elie off the Japanese Playstation Network. I hear the PSX versions actually have an omake section that lets you save the movies and still pictures. The PS2 port I own doesn't have that option. :P


Speaking of the Atelier series, I managed to get myself of a cheap copy of Hermina and Culus, the visual novel spin-off of Atelier Lilie. I've played through the game twice already, and earned both the "best" and the "worst" ending.


My impressions of Hermina and Culus. )
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I hear it's going to rain all week. That's both good and bad for us. Good because all our garden transplants are getting a nice watering. Bad because I can't leave my poppy pots outside until it lets up. They don't seem like they're doing too well. ;_;


This weekend Kristen and I did some serious gardening, ripping out huge clumps of orange daylilies to make room for prettier, shorter plants. We also finally divided our asters. I think we were about five years overdue for that! Once the weather clears up I'm going to try to pull out as many strawberries from the side garden as I can. Eventually I'd like to fill the whole area with irises. They're the only plants with the invasive power to combat both strawberries and oregano! I love the flower shape of bearded irises, but you can't beat the growth habit of the Japanese variety. Those are my favorites.


We got another butterfly bush this spring: Pink Delight. It's supposed to be the most awesome butterfly bush ever. :D Nanho Purple gave me so much entertainment last summer. Miss Ruby died to the ground this winter but is starting to grow back already. I hope to see a lot of butterflies this year. I know they'll all be monarchs or swallowtails, but I hope to see and photograph lots!


We're going to have three new peonies this spring: Moonstone, Cheddar Charm and Philomele. I hope that at least one of them blooms this year. Moonstone in particular is huge.


I hadn't meant to make this exclusively a gardening post. I've been working hard on writing lately. I've been having a hard time wrapping my brain around the story lately, and I thought it might help if I worked out detailed surveys for the remaining characters. It has helped quite a bit...even if it takes me a few weeks, I wonder if I should do write-ups for everyone before I go back to the main story. I'm not good at writing off the top of my head; I have to plan everything very carefully.


I also started a new rooting project, and did another playthrough of Atelier Lilie (I just loaded an old save at year 4, though, so I didn't need to go all the way through). I'm rerooting my Bluebird's Song III Miu with Lemon Blonde/Cotton Candy mesh. I had been wanting to reroot her for awhile. Her look is cute and all, but her hair is too thin or my tastes and I have the hardest time redressing redheaded dolls. Also, I don't like having the same doll as everyone else. XD The blend suits her coloring really well; it's blond with a slight hint of apricot, and her blush is orange-toned. I will likely give her long, curly hair. I'm so pleased with the way Lili's bob turned out that I'd like to do another short-haired doll, but I doubt it will be Miu.


What I accomplished on my fourth playthrough of Atelier Lilie. )
leene_chan: (Default)

That's what we've been getting lately. Yesterday morning I saw a robin taking a bath in a puddle of rainwater under one of the gutters on our garage. We only started seeing a lot of robins in our yard since we had our roof redone. Up until then our roof was pretty much a starling hotel, and those birds are very territorial. Now our yard is officially robin turf. XD I don't know if I only think so because I'm not used to seeing them around, but the robins around here are really fat!


We've been having a lot of freaky bird action lately. Even at night I hear them peeping in the bushes. A few weekends ago, my parents said they saw two red-tailed hawks mating in the trees when they were out doing yard work. In broad daylight, no less! ^o^;...


I find the call of the mourning dove to be especially soothing. I know that they're just pigeons, but I've always liked those birds.


I'm finishing up a rooting project I've been working on for a long time. I've rerooted my little Volks Nakoruru with Ash Blond/HiHo Silver mesh. That doll has a cute face, but her hair was terrible quality. Rerooting a black-haired doll with blond hair is kind of nerve-wracking. I usually always prefer the brunette dolls, after all! I hope she turns out all right. I think she'll turn out all right. I'm not sure what kind of hairstyle I'll give her yet...


On the gaming front, I'm continuing with my obsession with old Atelier games by playing Atelier Marie, Elie and Anis for the GBA. The game is pretty much shovelware based off Atelier Elie, but it's proved to me that I can handle a sound and graphical downgrade from the disk games if I like the characters and scenario. The game is much better than Atelier Annie. It did, however, reveal something to me about a certain character in Atelier Lilie that I've apparently been too thick to catch onto, even though I've played through the game three times already.


The true identity of Gerhard. Oh, my lovely man... )

Success?

Apr. 4th, 2011 04:41 pm
leene_chan: (Default)

My poppies are germinating! XD


I was starting to get a little nervous. I'm used to starting bigger seeds like cosmos and sunflowers; if the weather's warm those can pop in twenty-four hours. The Shirley poppies took about a week to germinate. I've heard from some sources that they can take as long as twenty days. I'm glad I didn't have to wait that long only to have the pot grow mold and kill the seeds!


I hope they turn out well. I'm going to wait until the seedlings resemble more than sprouted beans, then set them outside with mesh over the pots instead of plastic wrap. From my experience, birds can and will rip out three inch long seedlings and eat them. They'll kill all your seeds in one afternoon. Don't let me get started on the groundhogs. -_-


The Third Time Around In Atelier Lilie. What I Accomplished. )
leene_chan: (Default)

I still haven't started my Shirley poppy seeds. It's been too cold lately. I've never done poppies from seed before, and all the annuals I started from seed last year were late summer as opposed to late spring/early summer bloomers, so I really don't know what I'm doing. :O I read that some people even throw the seeds on top of the snow, which is not plausible considering the amount of birds we have around here. Who knows? I'll probably try sowing one pot tomorrow.


If all else fails, I'll still have my breadseed poppy "Lauren's Grape" showing up some time in May. I ordered those as live plants from Select Seeds. I'm assuming I won't kill them. I'm determined not to kill a plant that shares my name.


So now that I'm editing Chapter Five, I realize that it's a badly-written piece of trash. It's going to need a lot of work before it's even fit to show to one person. And it happens every time...XD


You can never go back. Attempting to replay Atelier Totori. )
leene_chan: (Default)

I finally finished Chapter Four of my novel tonight. I think I can afford to call it a "novel" rather than a "story" at this point. It's 136 pages as of today. XD Sometimes I worry that I'm overwriting, but then I remember that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was over 800 pages long. I'm not aiming to write a monster book. I'm just coming to terms with the fact that I'm probably going to have to split the story into 3 or 4 books that are about 350 pages long. I'm trying to be concise, but I feel that I have a lot to tell.


I still haven't finished Anna Karenina. My God, I swear that book has been growing pages. At first I thought it was 850 pages, then I was sure it was 920 pages. Now I flip to the end and find out that it's actually 944 pages!! Come on! The titular heroine is out of the picture--the story is over! I don't need to read any more about Levin's spiritual struggle or agriculture in relationship to the Russian peasant. No disrespect to Tolstoy. Honestly, I think most of the book is great, but enough is enough now. I want to read something else...I still have 20 pages to go. =_=


I finished Atelier Totori a few days ago. Considering how much I disliked Rorona and the other recent entries in the series, I actually enjoyed Totori quite a bit. What a surprise! The game did have bugs (it froze on me in the first ten minutes of playing, but never again) I was thankfully able to complete the game without having to wait for a patch. With the aid of a half-completed Japanese FAQ, I managed to get the two-year extension and earn the Normal Ending. Not the perfect playthrough, but at least I didn't have to hang my head in shame!


I never thought I'd play a game with multiple endings without the help of a complete FAQ. I have an irrational fear of earning bad endings in video games! All's well that ends well, I guess. I'll probably play the game again in a couple of months. I hear the True Ending's nearly impossible to earn, but I still feel I have more juice to squeeze out of this plum...


So...my series ranking up until this point, out of the games I've played, is: Violate>Lilie>Totori>Elie>Marie>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Rorona>Annie>Judie


My cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen. I never thought I'd see the day.

leene_chan: (Default)

I had actually started to post an entry yesterday but never got around to finishing it. It was mostly me whining about raccoons emptying my birdfeeders into their stomachs on a nightly basis. Ah, the joys of communing with nature...


Thankfully...::knocks on wood:: the groundhog hasn't finished off all the cosmos in the front border. The sunflowers are officially toast, though, except for the plants in the pot. The groundhog might have been able to instant-kill one pot of bachelor's buttons, but I still have a strong and healthy specimen in a place where evil cannot harm it, ready to bloom in a few weeks. I set my potted flowers on two wrought-iron tables on our deck. I am eagerly awaiting their flowers. I've tried to place bets on which flower will bloom first, but I really have no idea. I'm guessing the cosmos. The sunflowers still have a lot more to grow, and the California poppies still don't have flower spikes.


Two of my potted tomatoes have the dreaded blossom end rot, a condition where the tomatoes rot from the bottom up before they have a chance to ripen. It's either caused by a calcium deficiency or drastic changes in the water level of the plants. I've tried watering the plants more frequently (twice a day, argh!) and mixing ground-up egg shells in the soil. I'll just have to see what happens.


Growing tomatoes is such a pain in the ass. I think it would be hilarious if none of them ripened this year.


I currently have too much basil. My jalapeno peppers are doing pretty well. The yellow rose bush is doing great--it's now double its original size, and that really surprised me! The sweethearts of the season have to be the raspberries, though. Picking them every morning is loads of fun, they're easy to grow and they taste 500 percent better than storebought. If anyone is interesting in growing raspberries on their property, I heartily recommend the cultivar "Caroline!"


I've been dragging my behind finishing Chapter Four of my novel. It's about 25 pages now, but I keep having to go back and tweak the prose. Sometimes I think the whole story--plot, characters and setting--is a complete drag. Sometimes I wish I wasn't writing a period piece, or fantasy--at times I think my prose is stilted and my characters are all obnoxious-- everything else out there seems more appealing and alive than what I'm writing. I guess that's just the way it goes, though...


Lucas has been doing fine. The heat's been getting to him, but he still finds time to make cute noises and act like a total freak. He's adopted the strange habit of throwing his mylar ball toy into either his litter box or his food dish at the end of each playing session. I'm not sure what he's thinking, there. At least he's enjoying himself!


I know I had vehemently stated that after being disappointed in Atelier Rorona I wanted nothing to do with Totori, but the influx of positive reviews from Japanese players piqued my interest. After having spent about a week playing the game, I have to say that in spite of its middling Famitsu score Totori is much, much better than Rorona. I actually prefer it to Elie as well. The game has a much freer and more broad format, the battle system is faster and the soundtrack is a lot better. The characters are still meh...for the most part...but they grow on you. I do think that Totori is less obnoxious than Rorona.


The game froze on me once. I'm enjoying the game a lot, so I hope I don't have to wait for a patch to finish it.

leene_chan: (Default)

Springtime is Allergy Time! I always get the sniffles when the pollen count is high. My allergies have never been severe enough to warrant taking prescription medication, but...I could really use a cup of tea! Too bad I've already had four today!


I've been obsessively playing Atelier games lately. Here, I'm going to talk about them! )
leene_chan: (Default)

Sorry to everyone I owe a response to--I've been busy lately, and I'll get back to you shortly! It's hot and humid today. I normally dislike hot weather that accompanies spring and summer, but it's always fun to watch the flowers pop open. ^_^


Today, our Chinese peonies bloomed!



This one's called "Blue Butterfly." The flowers are huge--eight inches across!


One More Peony. Cut for big picture. )

This one's "Green On White Jade Tower." It hasn't bloomed true-to-form since the first year; it's supposed to be crown-shaped, but for some reason it's anemone-flowered! It's still pretty, though. I wonder if it was corrupted by "Blue Butterfly?"


There are a lot of plants that are supposed to be "easy care" that we have a hard time growing, like oriental poppies, beach roses and globe thistle. We do exceptionally well with peonies, anemones and...::gasp:: clematis. Clematis grows like a freak in our yard with little care at all, especially the huge-flowered kind. It think it has to do with the clay content in our soil.


On the gaming front, I am attempting to earn the true ending in Atelier Elie. The game doesn't have as much fun stuff as Lilie but I like the setting more. I prefer Elie over the other heroines, too, because she's so plain that you have to feel sorry for her! Her schoolmates treat her like crap, even the supposed nice guy Nordis. Even if you have max friendship points with him, if you score higher than him on the yearly contest he sulks in his room with the lights off until Elie's main rival comforts him!


I'm still annoyed by the downward turn the series has taken over the past three years. Still, there's so much to do in the four games I like that I'll probably never need to buy another Atelier game again. I wonder if I'll replay Violet any time soon?

leene_chan: (Default)

Sometimes, you need the rain. Particularly when your whole state has been under red-flag fire warning for the past week.


Kristen is almost completely better. It's been more than a week. The last time I tangled with salmonella, it took me two weeks to get back to normal. She still gets icked out by food occasionally, but it turned out that her refusing to eat more than a few saltines whenever she got hungry was actually making her feel worse. Not eating more than 800 calories a day for eight days would screw anyone up inside. She's lost five pounds during this ordeal. I've probably lost about three, because we ate pretty much the same bland diet for convenience's sake! XD I made her tomato risotto this weekend and encouraged her to eat it. For some reason, having an orange and some sweet potato fries made her feel worlds better.


For people who take a lot of joy in preparing food and eating, having to deal with food poisoning sucks more than most illnesses.


At least my ankle's feeling better now.


I haven't done much writing lately, for obvious reasons. Replaying Atelier Lilie for the PS2 has been my big stress reliever. I finished the game for the second time on Sunday. I managed to accomplish a lot of what I failed to do the first time, but still, no perfect ending!


Some chatter on what I consider to be the best entry in Gust's Atelier series. )
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Lauren's Cure For Food-Poisoning Induced Nausea:


Wash and peel a one inch piece of fresh ginger root. Pour two cups of water into a small saucepan, add ginger root and one tablespoon of turbinado sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for five minutes. Remove ginger root and pour ginger tea into two eight ounce mugs. Recipe may be halved if only one person feels like they're going to puke. Or the patient can drink both cups if he/she likes, or share it with a friend.


WARNING: This stuff tastes good, but don't overdo it and drink more than two cups a day. It'll cure your nausea but give you the runs!


Kristen has been suffering from a mild but annoying case of food poisoning for the past few days. We made beef stew on Thursday with anchovies that had been in the fridge for three days, and apparently that is a big no-no. Canned anchovies, even in a separate bowl under refrigeration, need to be completely submerged in oil and used ASAP or else they can give you what's known as schombroid food poisoning. It's caused by a build-up of histamine in the fish. I don't think it's as bad as something as salmonella or e coli, but it's been a lousy experience just the same. I got some stomach problems as well. I don't know why Kristen got it so much worse. She didn't throw up but she came close a few times. :O We've been living off ginger tea and Rhodes White Dinner Rolls (which are excellent, even though you have to rise them for several hours).


Did I mention that too much ginger tea can give you the runs?


For some reason, vanilla ice cream, particularly Brighams Vanilla in a sugar cone, is the ideal food for a weak stomach. XD


I haven't tried taking Lucas out in the stroller again, for obvious reasons. I have managed to get him to hop in to eat treats and a few bites of canned food. I know it seems that I'm pushing the issue just because I want to take him out for walks in a cute pram, but the idea of squeezing him into his old carrier seems ludicrous at this point. It's like he's become Godzilla overnight. Ragdolls are usually done growing by age 4, and Lucas turns 3 at the end of the month. I think the carrier was designed for terrier-type dogs. I think BooBoo could gobble a terrier at this point, and he isn't even overweight.


More Atelier Talk From the Lady Who Decided She'd Rather Replay Lilie.Some Mild Rorona Bashing Here! )
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It's Cherry Cobbler with Butter Cookie Topping from The Best Recipe!


A view of it fresh out of the oven. )

So..we made this a few days ago using three jars of Morello cherries we picked up from Trader Joe's. I have a history of not liking cherry desserts, but I thought this was very nearly excellent. The filling called for optional kirsch or almond extract. We use amaretto. ^o^


The only thing that kept it from being perfect was the fact that the underside of the cookie topping got melty in some places, rather than baking properly. We've had this happen with the Butter Cookie Topping before. It still tasted good, but I would prefer it if it baked all the way! Kristen says she thinks it'll bake more evenly if we refrigerate the dough for longer before we use it. It appears the butter in the dough is melting before the dough bakes. Oh well, practice makes perfect!


I'm trying to keep my spirits up, but I'm not a happy camper this weekend. I seriously overdid it with the jogging for the past few weeks and messed up my ankle. I'm going to have to lay off until it stops throbbing and buy some better shoes. =_=


Also, I was using the microplane to grate Parmesan cheese for Pasta all'Amatriciana(Spaghetti with Bacon, Onion and Tomato) last night and grated off the skin on my right thumb knuckle. It bled so much it soaked through the Band-Aid. =_=


So..I've been continuing with Atelier Rorona for the past few nights. I have to say that even though there is fun in the game, I can't even declare it better than Atelier Marie. It definitely has less content, unless you're only looking for little girls with huge boobs shrieking all the time. =_=


The characters in Rorona really, really suck.

leene_chan: (Default)

Ugh...I had an entire post typed out a few hours ago and LJ died when I was in the middle of saving it.


It was incredibly hot today. It always surprises everyone in New England when we get these days of intense heat in early spring, but it happens almost every year. I personally hate hot weather. Unfortunately, as we learned last year, a pleasantly cool spring and summer means DOOM for all things green. Moldy tomatoes, herbs that never grow past sprout stage, the works. I should know better than to wish for that kind of weather. Just the same, it's tough when you see the high temperatures reduce your bouncy long-haired cat to a lethargic pile on the floor. =_=


He felt much better when we turned the AC on.


We finally got our stove fixed. Considering how much the electronic oven control cost to replace, I was expecting the repairman to come in carrying a gigantic panel, not a silver box the size of a VHS tape. o_o Twenty minutes and 400 dollars later, our broiler was working again! Kristen and I are going to celebrate by baking a cherry cobbler with the jarred Morello cherries we got from Trader Joe's.


Here's Some Talk About What I Finished and Started This Week. JS and Mr N and Atelier Rorona. )
leene_chan: (Default)

Actually, it was supposed to be much windier last night, but I didn't notice anything. XD


I was nervous about losing power last night, so I temporarily abandoned my PS2 in favor of my Nintendo DS. I don't have a lot of the games for the DS--for an import gamer, the PSP is a much better console!--but I had picked up a Japanese copy of Atelier Annie around Christmas. I am a huge fan of the series, and had been looking forward to trying it...


My Impressions of Atelier Annie. )

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