Archive for the ‘Wandering Bard’ Category

The final mushroom foray took place in September, and I finally made it to this one. Last year things just didn’t work out, so I’m glad I got the opportunity this time around. It was a fantastic foray with tons of finds and, best yet, tons of food!

We were mostly looking for hen of the woods at this foray, which is a gigantic mushroom that people are always after. Having had some at the last foray, I can attest to the fact that it’s delicious.

At this foray, we found tons of mushrooms — most of which I can’t identify. Most seemed to grow on trees or fallen logs…

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That last one looked super cool. I’ve never seen so many grouped together like that! I feel like there were puffballs of all sorts all over the place. It got to the point where I was so sick of seeing them — it was like they were everywhere you turned!

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Some puffballs you can eat, but not if they look like this on the inside:

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They need to be pure white!

We didn’t just find mushrooms, either. I saw this cool tree and just had to take a picture of it. It reminded me of something out of Lord of the Rings.

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And when we were walking near the edge of someone else’s property, these dogs came over and barked at us. The white one is a Great Dane, which is my favorite kind of dog ever. Ugh, I want one so bad.

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The group’s haul when we got back to base was pretty amazing. Look at all those mushrooms!

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All I could think about was the food and how much of it I was going to eat. This was just my first plate…

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They had the black trumpet cream cheese spread there that I can never get enough of. I could eat that stuff by the spoonful.

Some awesome mushrooms that were found include the massive one below and the little orange blobs beneath that. So cool.

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There were tons of these gem-studded puffballs, too. This is seriously only a tiny, tiny fraction of what was out in the woods.

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I was pretty proud that I found one of these, too. They’re called russula compactas, and I really had to dig for the one I spotted!

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Another mushroom I found was this amazing amanita (very poisonous). I wasn’t allowed to dig it up (bummer!) because someone was doing a study on them and we had to preserve it right where we found it.

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That’s wraps up this year’s foray posts. I’m sure I’ll have more once spring/summer 2014 hits. If anything, I think my obsession with mushrooms is getting worse. Have you found any cool mushrooms recently? What about other things out in nature? As writers, we tend to coop ourselves up with our computers most of the time, but it’s just as important to go outside and get inspired that way, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m in New York City right now, hopefully having a blast at the New York Comic-Con. I’m travelling on press credentials thanks to my job at Hypable.com. And I am so ready to have fun!

This year, I’m mostly looking forward to seeing a couple of the Teen Wolf cast members, but I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of other stuff for me to do as well. I’ve never been to NYCC before, but if it’s even a fraction as cool as SDCC was, I know I’ll have a blast.

I’m looking forward to meeting a couple of authors, as well as a few artists I really respect. Whoo hoo for creative people!

I’ll be sure to report back once I return and recuperate. Send me lots of happy nerd thoughts!

This post is part cake pop disaster, part mushroom foray, and part birthday celebration.

It began with a cake pop disaster. For those of you who don’t know, cake pops are pretty much what they sound like: little cakes on sticks. You basically bake a whole cake, crumble it up, mix in some frosting, mold them, freeze them, then dunk them in chocolate. They’re horrifyingly sweet in the best way possible, and actually quite good.

So, since our August foray happened to fall on my dad’s birthday. I decided to make mushroom-shaped cake pops. Yeah! They were going to be so awesome! Yeah! And everyone would think I was clever and cool. Double yeah!

But…that didn’t happen.

Basically, I started off with the crumbled cake. (Yummy!)

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And I balled them up. (How cute!)

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And then I laboriously shaped them into mushrooms. (Okay, this is getting harder.)

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And then I tried dipping them into chocolate. AND IT WAS A DISASTER.

I don’t have pictures of this step because I was about ready to knock the house down with my bare hands. It was 10:00 at night the day before, and I had five — I repeat, FIVE — cake pops that were done and not ruined. So I changed tactics. I wrapped up those cake pops and gave them to Dad, and made some cupcakes and brought them to the foray instead.

It worked out in the end, but it was a letdown. I so wanted to share those cake pops with everyone! Oh, well. At least Dad liked them. Here’s one of the better ones that I made:

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But otherwise, we had a blast at this foray. We were looking for hen of the woods and chanterelles mostly, and we got to eat both, along with some more sulphur shelf, which we got to eat at another one too.

Here are the two tables we filled with all the mushrooms we found.

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Here are the chanterelles we found. They were so yummy!

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Here’s just a little bit of all the food I ate. It’s always mushroom heaven there.

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And here are some of the cool mushrooms I saw.

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This one is called a rooted ootie (or something to that effect — I can’t find it online!). Pretty wild, right!?

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Coral mushroom….looks like coral!

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A type of amanita. These are deadly!

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Hen of the woods. These get huge! (And they taste good too!)

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Another type of amanita.

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All in all, Dad and I had a great time. (Just look at the mud on my boots. You know I was having fun!)

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And I got him this super awesome walking stick for his birthday, featuring a wood spirit and a morel mushroom! It’s hand carved on hawthorn and is absolutely GORGEOUS.

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And sometimes, when he holds it, he likes to pretend he’s Gandalf. And I can no longer claim that I’m adopted. We’re just too similar, you guys.

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To say this blog post is overdue would be the understatement of the century. I arrived in California to go to the convention on July 17. It’s now September 11.

Time flies, and all that.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my experiences with you guys as this was my first major convention. The only other one I’d been to before was Book Expo America, and I’m not even sure that counts. Well, I’m counting it. But still. It did not compare to SDCC in the slightest.

Going to SDCC is like going to nerd heaven. You can wear the craziest, most detailed, most outrageous costume and no one looks at you funny. In fact, you’ll get stopped about 300 times a day so people can take your picture. Isn’t that amazing? The celebration of nerdom is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

The costumes there were amazing. There were some strange ones that I didn’t recognize, and other ones that I didn’t know why anyone would dress up like them (a giant version of the orange ghost from Pac-Man, for example). Here’s a really neat Doctor Who costume!

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This seems like the female version of the Eleventh Doctor in Victorian clothing.

I didn’t spend a lot of time taking pictures of people in costumes, but I sure did spend plenty of time marveling at them. There were some really amazing, really intricate ones. I love how much time and energy people put into things like that!

I got to see a lot of celebrities I really respect and look up to. Not all of them were up close, but one of the perks of working for Hypable is that it allowed me in as press. I got to do round tables with the cast of Teen Wolf, which was pretty much a dream come true. I also got to meet the cast of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. How I got through those days without having a heart attack, I’ll never know.

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Meghan Ory from Once Upon a Time! She plays one of my favorite characters, Little Red Riding Hood/Ruby.

I’m going to have tons of memories from my time in SDCC, from all the palm trees, to meeting so many of my Hypable co-workers, to being able to talk to the creator of Teen Wolf. Then there are the not-so-happy memories, like falling down in the parking lot (OUCH) or having several flights cancelled on my way home, that I wouldn’t trade in for the world, because they were still part of the experience.

I would suggest that anyone who thinks they may be into something like Comic-Con to try to get there at least once in their lifetime. It’s an experience that can’t be matched. But watch out! You might just catch the con bug. I know I definitely did, because I’m already looking forward to going next year!

Have you gone to SDCC? What were your experiences? What about any other cons, major or minor? If you haven’t been to any, which ones would you like to attend?

I went to Rhode Island!

Posted: August 16, 2013 in Wandering Bard
Tags: ,

Granted, this was back in June. But saying I’ve been a little bit busy would be an understatement.

Still, I had a blast, and I wanted to share some pictures with you guys.

I got together with a couple of my friends, and we decided to go to the beach and tour Rhode Island. It has been – and still is, I guess – my favorite state. Don’t ask me why. I have no answer to this.

And this is the first time I’ve gotten to visit it. Hooray!

We visited a few shops, and one of them happened to be an antique store (swoon!). I spotted these beauties:

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They’re cranberry glass salt and pepper shakers with a hobnail pattern. The hobnails (those little bumps) are actually milkglass. Gorgeous!

Next, we ventured onto a mansion walk, where we traveled along a paved path between the cliffs that led to the ocean and a bunch of huge mansions. Below is Salve Regina University, which is just breathtaking.

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Then we saw a dog driving a car…

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It rained or was overcast every day, except the day we decided to spend at the beach. Luck!

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(Yes, it really bothers me that my thumb is in the corner of the picture, but I’m too lazy to crop it.)

My friend and I walked to this cool looking place that was alllll the way at the other end of the beach:

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And it was like the Secret Garden inside! (I’ve wanted my own secret garden since I was, like, 10, by the way.)

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And I found my new favorite thing to do on the beach:

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While we were in Rhode Island, we also went to the Brown University bookstore (because Emma Watson was probably in there at one point), I had dough boys for the first time (dough + sugar = dough boys = my new favorite food), and learned all sorts of Rhode Island-ian words (who calls their milkshakes ‘cabinets’? I mean really???).

Have you ever been to Rhode Island? What do you think of it? What’s your favorite state and why?

I was in New York City this past weekend when I went to Book Expo America, and I had tons of fun walking around the city and visiting places I had never been before. Here’s what I did:

  1. Doctor Who Arthur Darvill RoryI walked until I couldn’t feel my feet. Seriously, I was pretty much numb from the waist down. We walked everywhere, and many times it was with pretty heavy bags. You could say I got my exercise on those days.
  2. I visited Times Square. I’d never seen it before, except in pictures, so I was glad we made it there! Our hotel was pretty close to it, so it wasn’t too far of a walk. Lots of posters and video screens. It was cool!
  3. I saw giant tubes of M&Ms, more chocolate than I could ever want, and more superhero merch than I could ever have hoped existed. The M&M and Hershey store, the Disney store, and a comic book store. You can’t really get much better than that. I didn’t buy anything, but boy was I tempted.
  4. I saw Arthur Darvill on the street. No, but really. I SAW ARTHUR DARVILL ON THE STREET. He played Rory on Doctor Who, and he’s in NYC right now because he’s got a broadway show at the moment. He was just crossing the street casually — I mean, I walked right by him — and it took me a moment to realize who it was. Not that I would’ve said anything if I’d had my wits about me because, you know… *flails*
  5. I went to Madame Tussaud’s. Aside from BEA, this was seriously the best thing I did while in NYC. The most exciting part of Tussaud’s? They had the Spice Girls there! My best friend and I were freaking out so much you would have thought they were the REAL Spice Girls.
  6. IMG_1723I saw ‘a’ Naked Cowboy (but not THE Naked Cowboy)…and the Naked Cowgirl. The Naked Cowboy was from afar. The Naked Cowgirl was not. The Naked Cowboy was kind of young and good looking. The Naked Cowgirl was not. *scratches eyes out*
  7. I did not get lost. Not even once. If you knew me well, you would know how incredible this is. My sense of direction is pretty bad. Granted, I was never alone, so that was a huge part of it, but even with three of us, I was glad we never got turned around that badly.
  8. I spent way more money on food than anything else. Which is sad, but oh-so-worth it. We ate at Planet Hollywood, which was fun, and hit a couple of small places for things like salad. I had a really great Greek salad at BEA too!
  9. I did not get mugged, kidnapped, or hit by a car. Again, this is incredible. Not that I was expecting to get mugged or kidnapped, but I felt sure a car would’ve gotten impatient with me. But it didn’t. I had a great time, and never felt worried. :)
  10. I felt totally comfortable in the city and would love to go back. I was hesitant to go to NYC because I am so not a city person, and crowds make me very nervous. But I had a great time, and NYC was much calmer and more comfortable than I thought it would be. I’m really glad I went, and I feel much better about making my way back sometime in the near future!

What are your favorite things about NYC, or any other big city you might live by?

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The first mushroom foray of 2013 has concluded, and I found diddly-squat. Well, that’s not true. I found some stuff, but what I found was pretty worthless.

It was a lot of…”Hey, I think I found something! Oh, no, never mind. Just a leaf.” *sigh*

But still. I had fun. And that’s sort of the point, you know? It’s like a treasure hunt. You’re not always going to find the treasure, but sometimes the act of looking is just as entertaining. I disconnected myself from the internet for the majority of a day (gasp!) and I got to walk in the woods (what is this thing called sunshine? it buuuurrrrnnnsss!).

So, what were we looking for? *points to the right side of the page*

These are called morels. They’re edible and pretty rare. They grow from about mid-May to about the beginning of June. It’s a pretty short window, so you need to be out there quickly to look for them.

I know what many of you are asking right about now…how do they taste? Pretty good, actually. I don’t find that mushrooms have a very strong taste to begin with, so a lot of times they’re fairly bland to me. But with some added ingredients, they can taste pretty fabulous. And these did.

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We cut them in half (—>) to clean them out and to double check that they were the real morels. There are false morels that are NOT hollow on the inside. You don’t want to eat that kind.

After we did that, we cut them up and added some onions and wild leeks (basically, more onions), and then cooked them up in a pan and added some white wine and a couple other things. Then we just ate them like that! Wow, they were really flavorful. And they would’ve tasted sooo good on a steak.

It’s too bad we didn’t find more of them, but they are pretty rare. We’re lucky we found these! Some years you can find a lot, and some years they’re just not there. It depends on the weather, especially how much rain we’ve gotten up to this point.

But we all got a taste of the morels, and it was fun looking for them anyway!

Next up we had some Dryad’s Saddle. This is another edible mushroom, but only when you catch them young and small enough. If they’re too old and large, they get really hard and inedible.

That’s what you see below, in the pan. The wild leeks are on top (the green stuff).

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I didn’t like these nearly as much. They were kind of bland, but that’s really nobody’s fault. Sometimes mushrooms just taste that way, and you can only fix it by taking the time to cook them up in a sauce or by adding them to something else, and we had limited time.

But still! Mushrooms are mushrooms, and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. These are mush less rare, but getting them young enough can be a bit of a challenge. We found more of these than any type of mushroom, but the majority of them were HUGE and inedible. You’ll see them in the picture of our findings down below.

We found some other things as well, but those were the two main ones. This was a good hunt, but my favorite one is still the third foray of the year. Last year I found dozens of different types of mushrooms. Not all of them were edible, but it was a lot of fun finding types I had never seen before. Some of them came in awesome colors like bright yellow or purple.

Our next foray will focus on finding black trumpets. You’ll get another post them, sometime near the end of July.

Till then, check out some of the other pics I snapped:

Our loot. Look at all those mushrooms!

Our loot. Look at all those mushrooms!

Everyone brings a dish to pass, and the food is GOOD. I made broccoli salad.

Everyone brings a dish to pass, and the food is GOOD. I made broccoli salad.

Probably the most exciting thing I found. Because, you know, the deer is so elusive in this part of New York.

Probably the most exciting thing I found. Because, you know, deer are so elusive in this part of New York.

Fiddle head ferns! These are edible as well, but only if you grab them earlier enough. These are too old.

Fiddle head ferns! These are edible as well, but only if you grab them earlier enough. These are too old because they’ve already started to unfurl.

My haul. Pathetic. A couple dried up puffballs, a few common mushrooms (no idea what they are), and a couple of fiddle head ferns.

My haul. Pathetic. A couple dried up puffballs, a few common mushrooms (no idea what they are), and a couple of fiddle head ferns.

Have you ever found any mushrooms in the forest? Did you know what any of them were? Would you ever eat a morel if someone offered it to you?

It’s been a while since I’ve added to my Wandering Bard series, and I miss talking about traveling. It’s one of my passions, and I’ve learned so much from all of the places I’ve visited.

But I’ve only been to handful of countries outside of the United States, and I’ve already shown you some of my best pictures and told you some of my best stories. There’s certainly more where they came from, don’t worry, but variety is the spice of life, right?

Right.

So, I’m offering you a chance to tell me about your experiences. The rules are pretty simple: It must be somewhere you have not been before. That can mean the United States if you’re from the U.K. or Russia if you’re from Brazil. It can also mean California if you’re from New York. The point of this series was to educate people of other cultures and share what I’ve learned in my travels, even if I didn’t go far from home. I learned about a whole group of women called the Hons when I visited Maryland, even though that’s a fairly short trip for me.

The posts I write are usually between 500 and 1,000 words. You must provide YOUR OWN pictures. Preferably, it’d be nice if you chose one aspect of that country or place to talk about (ie. my first post was about La Pieta when I visited Italy). Not only will the subject matter be more manageable, but it means you can keep coming back. ;)

If you’re interested (and I hope you are!), please e-mail me at Roughtkm15 at hotmail dot com, with the subject line “Wandering Bard Guest Post.” We’ll get all the details ironed out then. You also don’t have to have a post done when you e-mail me, so don’t feel pressured! I’d like to get a feel for the demand and who exactly is interested so I can keep tabs.

If you want to see my previous posts, visit my Wandering Bard category.

Looking forward to hearing from you guys!

P.S. I’d certainly be up for a post swap if that’s the case. Just mention that in your e-mail!

Ah, it’s been a while since we traveled anywhere, hasn’t it? Well, you’re in luck! This week we’re heading back to Greece and sometime very soon we’re heading somewhere even more interesting and new! In fact, even I haven’t been there! More on that later. ;)

Last time we were in Greece, we hit up the Acropolis. This time we’re at the Delphic ruins – my second favorite place after Athens.

This is the archaeological site at Delphi where the Delphic oracle once lived. The oracle was a priestess at the temple of Apollo and was famous for reciting prophecies handed to her by the god himself. She was the most prestigious and well documented oracle in Greece, and a whole host of authors and famous historians have documented their meetings with her.

The mountains around this area surround it like a fortress.

The most prominent attraction in the navel. The story goes that Zeus took a rock and threw it, saying wherever it landed would be the center of the universe. It, of course, landed right here in Delphi! People would touch it and get a boost of energy and power.

The above rock is actually just a copy, but the real one is in the museum just off-site. You can see it below:

Here’s a temple to Apollo.

This wall was like a newspaper. There’s Greek written all over it and people would go to it to get their news!

Here’s an ampitheatre.

And cuties like this were everywhere!

What question would you ask the oracle if she deemed you worthy enough to see her?

You may remember that my last mushroom foray was a little bit of a disappointment. It’s not that it wasn’t fun, just that we didn’t find too many mushrooms. The year had been dry up to that point, and that doesn’t bode well for fungi-obsessed folk.

But this foray was incredible. We found so many mushrooms, it filled two entire tables. And they weren’t small tables. I love searching for mushrooms because it’s like a treasure hunt for me. How many can I find? How many types can I fit into my basket? There’s always a little spike of excitement every time I see something I’ve never seen before.

And this foray was filled with tons of those moments!

I started the trip off right away with this beauty:

No idea what they are, but the tree was just covered in mushrooms. It was too neat not to take a picture of it.

You know what else we discovered right away? A beehive in the ground. That got our blood pumping early in the morning! It’s a good thing I can run faster than most of the other people in our group. ;)

One of my favorite finds was this cool purple mushroom. (Disclaimer: This time around we found so many mushrooms that I can’t even begin to tell you what most of them were. About 99.9% of them were inedible anyway.)

We also found tons of Russula’s. This one is a very nice specimen (don’t I sound smart!) because it was still quite young, very vibrant, and hadn’t already been partially eaten.

About the time I found this one, one of the guys from our trip showed me another mushroom. It was white and he cut it open, then told me to touch the tip of my finger to it and taste the liquid that came out of it. At first nothing happened, but a few minutes later my tongue started burning just a little bit. It tasted a bit like pepper and was just a tad spicy. That stayed with me for a good half hour at least. It was kind of neat!

It’s a wee bit blurry, but this one is called Old Man of the Woods. This is a young one, which is quite light still.

Here’s a picture of an older one that’s a bit darker.

I liked these because they were really soft and fuzzy!

We also found whole patches of Crown Coral mushrooms.

And here’s just a neat picture of two different colors of the same (?) mushroom.

Here’s a nice picture of the gills of a mushroom:

And these are some GIGANTIC puffballs. I’ve never seen them this big before! Some varieties of puffballs you can eat, but not these ones.

These are chanterelles, which is what we were really after. I didn’t find any (bummer!) but we got a nice handful here. No tasting-testing this time though, because I had to leave early. :(

I also found this crazy mushroom on a tree. No one was really sure what it was, but it was HUGE!

And Dad found these itty-bitty guys. Aren’t they cute?

One of the guys in our group found this thing. No, you’re not seeing some strange new mutation of mushroom. That’s a skull. I think it fell out, but the reason why he picked it up was because a mushroom was growing inside of it! Anyone have any idea what it could be from? They thought it was a raccoon at first, but if you look along the bottom portion, it actually has a tusk!

Wasn’t that just loads better than the last foray? I walked away feeling proud and satisfied by how much I found. And considering there were about 20 people in our group, we came backs with TONS of mushrooms. Check out these tables:

I didn’t get a picture of it, but the best part was when the president of the mycological society showed us a “blue staining mushroom.” It’s whitish-yellow on the inside for just a split second when you cut it open, but then it turns blue! I’m not even joking!! You can see it in real time in a video on YouTube right here.

Now tell me that’s not about the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?

So, what do you think? Quite the haul, right? Which one did you like best? Have you seen any of these varieties before?