LESLEY'S LIST: The Rad Things I'm Obsessing Over This Week

Vikings, canvas bags I can't kill, the joy of sprouting, prettiest cookbooks ever, and how the brain perceives an illusion. ALL FOR YOU.
Publish date:
April 12, 2013
bags, television, delicious food, cookbooks, sleep that's where I'm a viking

Vikings on TV

I know some of y’all are going to feel me on "Vikings." This is a scripted series on the History channel, and it’s PROBABLY not very historically accurate, but it IS kind of interesting fun. The vikings are loveable assholes except for when they’re literally horrible, like when they’re slaughtering unarmed monks or, um, raping people. Rape seems to be a dull shorthand for “This guy is a bad guy” on this show.

I keep watching it, though. Kind of like I keep watching "Game of Thrones" even though the only character I give a fig for is Tyrion Lannister and even then only because he is seriously hot (as an aside, did you know the Game of Thrones theme music lends itself perfectly to being sung with “Peter Dinklage” over and over again as the only lyrcis? My husband has perfected this and I should totally put him on YouTube).

BUT VIKINGS. No, it’s not that historically accurate, but even the best way-distant-history television series fail there (looking at you, Rome, no matter how much I love you). The main characters are drawn from what few written records exist from the era though: The main viking dude is Ragnar, a legendary Norse hero, and he’s appealing in a Charlie Hunnam kind of way, but it’s his wife, Lagertha, who is way awesome.

In the historical record, they met when Lagertha dressed in men’s clothing and fought alongside Ragnar after a conquering king ordered her and her female family members into a brothel. Ragnar was impressed and showed up at her house to ask her to marry him, but she sent a bear and a dog (which apparently she kept around to guard her property) to attack him. He killed both, and they were married. VIKING ROMANCE. Later Ragnar would divorce her, but Lagertha would still show up to his battles with her own ships to bail his sorry ass out.

In the show, Lagertha is still a a shield maiden who accompanies her husband on raids to Northumbria. She and Ragnar also have hilarious sex fights, so if you’re into that kind of thing. Anybody else watching this show?

Otium Bags

Basically every time I go out of town for longer than three days, I wind up buying a new shoulder bag for the trip, which I carry instead of a regular purse or whatever, as when I’m traveling I tend to lug more stuff around during the day.

I wind up buying a new bag every time because apparently I utterly destroy bags on trips.

I have NO IDEA WHY. It’s not like I’m actively beating the crap out of my stuff. But by day five or six, the strap will be separating or the lining will be ripped or a seam will be coming apart. It happens like clockwork. I don’t know, maybe I AM beating the crap out of my stuff and just don’t realize it.

Of course, some portion of my problem here is my refusal to just buy some plain black ballistic nylon thing and use it forever. I like COLOR. And I hate nylon. I like a canvas bag. I also like it to be affordable. And I like it to have some interest to it.

I think my bag problems are over, because now I know about Otium, purveyor of a wide selection of shockingly sturdy canvas bags and backpacks via Amazon. I found the brand whilst searching for military-style canvas options, and ordered a coffee-colored canvas messenger bag just to see if it really was a cheap piece of crap.

It wasn’t! Actually I filled it with heavy stuff and dragged it around San Franscisco for a week and it looked virtually unblemished even at the end of the trip. The canvas is heavy without being stiff and all the seams and stitching held up to my punishment like a champ, even when weighted down with all my usual bag stuff plus an iPad, a keyboard, and a couple full bottles of water. When I got home I ordered a “dumpling” bag and it’s just as nice.

NOW all I need to do is cover them both with awesome patches, like I used to do with band patches in high school. Etsy has been a brilliant source of inspiration for this, like this honey badger patch, for those times when you need to tell the world you don’t give a fuck without saying a word.

Or this Cat Flag patch, which is possibly one of the greatest things ever to be empatchenated.

Delicious Foodz

It’s a bit early yet to get my epic small-space container garden started. Well, okay, that’s not true, as I’ve already planted some cool-weather crops in hopes they’ll give me some delicious local produce by the end of May (go radishes, go!). But I won’t be really getting into gardenfreak mode for another month or so.

Fortunately, there’s an edible thing I can easily and quickly grow indoors: SPROUTS. I really love me some sprouts, although I’ve been off the sprout wagon for a few months because I just haven’t had the attention span for their upkeep. Also, my current sprouting apparatus, which was one of these multi-tray affairs, just wasn’t draining right anymore -- and this led to a lot of depressing rotting sprouts.

Then I tried the old-school mason jar method. To be fair, you can hypothetically grow sprouts in almost anything, even an old plastic yogurt container, so long as you can rinse and drain them on a regular basis. But my mason jar attempts were not super successful. See, the trick with sprouts is to keep them rinsed a couple times a day, but to dry them as much as possible between rinsing, to keep them from rotting. For this to work in a jar, you have to store the jar open end down, at an angle -- they make special mesh lids for sprouting, but I just use cheesecloth and some string.

My jars kept falling over, or just not draining fully. So I finally gave in and ordered the univerally lauded and virtually unchanged-since-its-invention (like even the packaging has kept its same 70s appeal) EasySprout. Legend has it that the EasySprout’s inventor, Gene Monson, had a dream in which the design was revealed to him. Isn't that how Doc Brown figured out time travel in "Back to the Future"? Anyway.

I got two of these magical sprouting vessels and they are just as awesome as everyone says. After a good soaking, the seeds were growing like mad within a couple of days. It’s practically impossible to screw it up. The only down side is that I have accidently grown about ten pounds of various sprouts, which means I’m eating them as much as I can, in salads and smoothies mostly.

Oh, and in the most delicious sproutfood of all -- on homemade bread with cream cheese. I DON’T KNOW WHY THIS IS SO DELICIOUS TO ME BUT IT IS. But if any of y’all have any other suggestions for sprouts (specifically alfalfa and radish, as that’s what I have way too many of), I welcome them.

In other food-related news, I am kinda obsessed with these Leon cookbooks. Leon is apparently a chain of restaurants in the UK that specialize in making “fast” food that also tastes good and is not bereft of nutritional value. I don’t know, I’ve never eaten there, because I am not in the UK (but on that note, if any UK universities or whatever want to invite me to come speak on PRETTY MUCH ANY SUBJECT I would cheerfully oblige so long as they pay my freight to get over there -- just throwing this out there).

So I know almost nothing about the restaurants, but I know I love these cookbooks, which are are pretty to look at as their innards are useful and delicious. I mean there’s whole pages of things to put on toast. How can you not love that?

"You are doing the best you can"

Finally, a short film -- the first in a series of eight -- entitled “Illusions,” which is about illusions, but only about illusions in the way that a movie like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is about a breakup. Best fullscreen. Just saying. Enjoy.