WeekEnd Review February 22, 2016

Weekend before last was President’s Day weekend here in the US, and a nice little reprieve from normal life. It got warm here, which I hesitate to call hot given my time spent in Florida and Texas, even so it was bad timing for baking. I had planned on the third attempt at the Tartine croissant recipe, but laminating dough and butter in an 80 degree non-air conditioned house is a recipe for… well… not disaster, but annoyance for sure. More on that later though.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the pen world! LA Pen Show, FPN drama, the Omas news. And in my little life it’s been a little, if not busy exactly, full of distractions. I made some pretty big life decisions, reversed some plans, made some new ones, etc. It’s all for the good, but meant my mind wasn’t on the blog for a lot of those days. I missed last weekend and as you can tell (it’s barely Monday after all), basically missed this one, but I’m back!

One thing relevant to this blog’s normal subjects, I have finally purchased a new desk! I’ve always held off on taking pictures of where I keep pens and where I write because my desk was such a disaster. It was around 45 bucks from Bed Bath & Beyond probably 5 years ago? It had become rickety and had no storage. Thanks to some good news at work I realized I could spend a little to upgrade. I’m a little in love with the new set up. Still organizing and figuring out just where things should all go, but it’s great to have actual shelves to display some ink and my two Dudek(/Kara’s Kustoms) pen holders. See below for a peek at the new setup in progress.

On to the links!

WeekEnd Links

The Clicky Post Posts
Collecting the Impossible
Kum Masterpiece
Both of these are great posts. I’m on a spending freeze for new pens until at least April, so no grail pens, definitely no grail sets. I have a nice list of pens I want but am focused on enjoying what I have and finalizing a list of things to sell off. I want that Kum Masterpiece though!

Guide to Handheld Pencil Sharpeners - Pen! Paper! Pencil!
Nice guide, and a bunch I’d never heard of before.

LA Pen Show Day 1 - The Pen Habit
I am not that far from LA, but just couldn’t make the timing work so I had to miss this show. Matt did a great job recapping, this is the first of four posts on his blog, recommend them all to get a taste of the pen show experience. I’m already looking forward to the SF show(tk) in August.

Pen Economics on Pen World Drama
FPN Hullabaloo
Vale Omas
Less pleasant, but worth a read. I have no real stake in the FPN controversy. I tend to agree it’s a bad look to remove posts at the request of a manufacturer when by all accounts the posts were just discussions of new products. I’ve never spent much time at FPN and with this information, regardless of if Dr. Dean is 100% right, don’t see that changing. The Omas news is sad, and I hope they figure out a future. I haven’t had the scratch for any of their recent L.E. pens but still love those cocktail ones and looking for a used one is on my someday-buy list.

Nakaya Decapad Mini Kuro-Tamenuri - Alt Haven
In SF this year I am really hoping to try out a Nakaya. I’ve had them on my list since seeing them the first time, but I really want to feel one in hand. This is a great write up of an absolutely gorgeous pen. Very few pens appeal to me as much as the Nakayas.

Cleaning Pens: Meditative or Just Annoying - Gentleman Stationer
This is pretty in line with my feelings too. I like that a few folks are starting to come out as converter fans! I’ve always loved the convenience of that filling mechanism, and honestly I wouldn’t even benefit from some of the larger capacities. I write throughout the day and do a little journaling in mornings/evenings, but for the most part a standard converter lasts me a good long while.

If My Toddler Ran the Library - Put It Where It Goes
One of my favorite people in the world updated her blog! Everyone go visit her and enjoy her hilarity.

Clairefontaine Triomphe - The Pen Addict
A great reminder that I have one of these and really should get it out to write some letters. InCoWriMo totally passed me by. I didn’t start on the 1st and then let life get in the way. I’ll say it here on the blog, next week I hope to start the WeekEnd Review reporting on two letters written and sent! And on this lovely paper

WeekEnd Bake

A few weeks of baking to report on. The biggest successes were my two parmesan/black pepper loaves. I made one as sourdough, with my trusty new rye starter, and one with standard yeast and a bit of fresh basil. People at work went crazy for these breads. I have a certified hit on my hands. It’s two huge flavors clashing, and while I do think I can do some tweaking (slightly less black pepper mostly), I’m very pleased.

Last weekend like I mentioned above, was croissant attempt number 3. The schedule for these puppies is a little crazy, feel free to read through it here. My apartment acts almost like an oven itself, so if it’s 75 degrees outside it’s usually about 80 inside. Butter and 80 degree ambient temperatures are not really friends. So not flaky as they should be, but still delicious. It’s hard to go wrong with 400 grams of butter.

I’ve also been making more pizzas again. For awhile my housemate and I called our place House of 1000 Pizzas because between the two of us it was normal for there to be 4 to 6 pizzas made in a given week. Things got busy, we both moved on to other food obsessions, etc. But the last couple of weeks I’ve been making a lot again. A few are below. I linked it before, but for a starting pizza crust, the recipe in this NYT piece is easy to work with and totally workable. For a more advanced option, the Reinhart recipe is perfection.

Finally this weekend was a simple weekend, a batch of two sourdough loaves. I was a bit hasty in using my new starter originally. And while it has performed well I wanted to take this past week and be very rigorous in my feeding schedule. Baked the two guys in the last picture of the slideshow below this morning and it would be an understatement to say that I am very pleased with how they turned out. Visually, these are two of the best loaves I’ve produced, and that follows through with taste. The best crust I’ve achieved for sure, and a good tang when fresh, developing into a solid sourness over the next few days.

Consumed

Wrapped up M Train, the most recent book by Patti Smith. As I said on GoodReads, I’m not sure why I liked this book so much. Nostalgia? Affection? Who knows. But it was nice to dip in and out of over the course of the last few months, little glimpses into her world.

I started something large, this collection of John Ashbery’s writings on art. I love his poetry so much, and this has been sitting on my shelf for years. It felt like the right time to dive in. I may not go straight through, although the first few I’ve read made me think I might just binge on it all.

Finally, a video game! Firewatch is a game made by a small company of very talented people. You play as Henry, a man looking for a summer of solitude for some very big, personal reasons. The gameplay is simple, easy to pick up if you’re not really into games, and the real draw here is the beautiful art and the really well done story. There’s been a push towards more sophisticated writing in games of late, and I think Firewatch is one of the best examples of this. The interactivity does something here, and while you could tell similar stories via fiction, THIS story is definitely one best told via a game. It runs on Mac and PC and is out on the PS4. It’s only 20 bucks and is well worth your time.