Cheap fountain pens

I have come to regret purchasing my quasi-disposable cheap fountain pens. The ones that cost less than $10. I thought apart from the ink filling mechanism (cartridge converters and syringe cartridge refills being less expensive compared to piston or vacuum fill), they would all be the same, especially carrying the Pilot name. Not so. At least by my experience. My cheapies leak more. They run dry. They’re scratchy. The caps crack. From now on, I will be staying away from the “toy” fountain pens (under $10, and look almost disposable). One of the reasons for using fountain pens is to be able to use and reuse them for many years as opposed to tossing one plastic disposable pen after another. If cheapies can’t last but a couple of years before they start falling apart, that defeats that purpose.  And if they’re a chore to use, I don’t want to be stuck with it for years either!

I’m talking about my Pilot Petit1 and Kakuno. The Petit is not pleasant to use but otherwise has no issues. I still use (put up with) it.  It’s scratchy and rather short, too small for my hand. The Kakuno runs dry. I’ve swapped the nib and feed with the medium nib from my Metropolitan and it’s improved. The cap cracked just a few months after use. Fountain pens should be pleasant to use, not a never ending chore to drag about.  On the plus side, the Kakuno fine nib swapped on the Metropolitan is a pleasure to use.

Also, one detail I’ve noticed about my nicer pens versus my junky ones is if I pause to think about what I’m going to write, the nib doesn’t dry out immediately.  For example, with the junky ones, I can’t do a crossword puzzle without constantly uncapping and recapping the pen.  With my Pelikan, it can withstand a pause for a little while longer.  Minor detail but it’s a significant improvement to my pen writing experience!

 

 

The key to good alfredo is pepper! Lots and lots of pepper!

I found a bunch of recipes for vegan alfredo online and mixed them up for this:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1.5 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for a few hours
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • lemon juice (1 lemon) – I didn’t have this so I substituted with apple cider vinegar, and it was fine.
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper.  One can never have too much pepper in alfredo sauce.

I don’t remember where I got the idea or learned that alfredo requires mucho pepper.  The first time I had it was from a local Kentuckian chain Italian restaurant and a strong pepper flavor stuck out to me.  I know.  Kentucky, Italian.  This was a memorably good alfredo pasta though.  I think I ate an entire family sized bucket of it in a couple of days.  And it was over a decade ago and I still have fond memories of that bucket of pasta.  Who doesn’t enjoy a nice bucket of pasta?

  1. Stir fry the garlic and onions with a bit of salt and oil. Onions and Garlic
  2. Cut up the cauliflower into big chunks and poach it in maybe an inch of water with some seasoning.  I used a vegetable broth powder, but regular salt and pepper is fine.Cauliflower
  3. In a blender, blend the ingredients together.
  4. Cauliflower Alfredo SauceI added more nutritional yeast at the end to have a richer flavor. I also added about a tablespoon of cracked black pepper. I would have added more but my wrists were tired from the grinding.
  5. Simmer the sauce over low heat for about 30 minutes.  Stir the entire time and cover it with a lid.  Keep the lid over the pot as you move a spoon around in there because this thick sauce tends to spurt bubbles all over the place.

I like to serve it over pasta with green peas. It’s rich and creamy without the after effects of eating rich and creamy. I could eat a bucket of this sauce.

Pi Day

Happy Pi Day!  It’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday.  How fitting.

It snowed pretty hard last night and today.  I went into the office late and most people weren’t around.  It’s kind of nice to watch a satisfying snowstorm before winter is over.  I guess the groundhog, Phil, was right after all about a long winter.  It was springlike weather all winter long and just as we’re a week away from Spring, we get this.

Gym Classes and Noise Level

I’ve been going to gym classes for the past six months or so and I’m fighting a losing battle when it comes to ear protection.  They blast the music to the point where the ground is rumbling and then to make sure we can hear the instruction, they then turn their microphones even louder.  I’ve tried every corner of the class, asking instructors to turn it down, speaking with management, and even wearing ear plugs. As much as they have helped to make it less painful on my ears, the classes are still deafeningly loud, even with earplugs.  I’m considering cancelling my membership to save my ears.

I read a Reddit thread not too long ago about the one thing people would tell their younger selves.  An inordinate amount of responses had to do with not being stupid in their young age about their hearing.  We’re already surrounded by a constant barrage of noise pollution all around us.  Traffic, sirens, television, the hum of fluorescent lights.  I want to be physically fit and strong, but I want that without sacrificing my hearing.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

After my uninformed purchase of the Bourjois foundation which turned out to test on animals (and isn’t very good anyway), I started looking up more information on cruelty free beauty products. It turns out that a lot of cosmetics that carry that label aren’t necessarily so. If a company sells to the Chinese market, they’re required to test on animals. A brand that’s technically cruelty free could be owned by a parent company that tests on animals. So the list of truly cruelty free brands is actually pretty short. Which in a way simplifies things for me. Fewer options makes for easier decision-making.

Based on what I’ve found these are the ones I use or have used that I think are still truly cruelty free:

  • 100% Pure (they sell to China but explain on their website how they do it without testing on animals).  I like their products but they’re expensive.
  • Rejuva Minerals – I like their loose powder foundation, which I use as a finishing powder or just by itself as a lighter foundation.
  • Mineral Fusion – Only tried the lip tint and 3-in-1 Color Stick and like them both.  The Color Stick is a natural looking blush for everyday.
  • Andalou Naturals – Excellent BB and CC creams for everyday use.  I love their 1000 Roses line.
  • Pacifica – My only gripe about their stuff is the perfumes.  It’s on the stronger side.
  • Juice Beauty – Good but expensive.