10 Things Making Me Happy & Eating Purple Food – Starting 2024 Right

My dear Gentle Reader, how about a post featuring things I’m enjoying that are making me happy right now? I hope it cheers you up, and if you try any – that they make you happy too!

Someone told me about book fans & I’m so excited they belong at the top!

1. Spring at the office

My office is looking very pretty right now. Because my apartment is so small and crowded I have a  separate remote office. That office is kept nice and tidy (as is my wont) but it is also very very VERY cold. I’m so glad the weather is finally turning warm again. The office is both more hospitable now and looking lovely with flowers (no flower at home… cat eats them).

2. Wearing Lip Masks

I’ve talked before about my perennial dry skin and the Eternal Quest for all things that fix that (without causing my equally sensitive skin to overreact in some way). I found this lip mask for evening use (fancy talk for a nice lip balm). The pot is adorable, it’s citrusy, and it works pretty good.

I’m also enjoying this lip oil mostly because it has a slight cocoa sent and my little heart enjoys anything food related.

3. Meeting the maker of The Tea

OK, it’s complicated. Not quite the maker of the tea, but the brother of the person behind the making of my beloved Deep Blue Abyss oolong tea.

He was at the last steampunk event I visited. And he brought me a bunch of individually wrapped samples of my tea. I’ll be including these in giveaways etc. via the Chirrup regularly for a while.

Just letting you know.

And for drinking tea I have also discovered a new travel tumbler I love.

4. Eating rum cake

Speaking of tea and things that go very well with it, I’ve been on a rum cake hunt recently. I know, rum cake is more of a fall/winter kind of thing, but really is it ever the wrong time of year to eat a rum cake? Rhetorical question.

I used to Love these little mini prepackaged ones that they had at the Dickens Fair way back in the day.

I’m convinced that they exist somewhere else (in reality) if I could just find them. So I ordered these ones, and they are good, but not exactly what I wanted. I worked my way, slowly, through all the flavors, just in case.

  • I liked the taste of the Caribbean Mexican Vanilla flavor best but its consistency was more like a poundcake than a sponge cake, and I was hoping for something with a little bit of a lighter feel to it.
  • The Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake actually tasted the closest (whiskey versus rum notwithstanding) and had the best consistency, but it still wasn’t exactly right.

Quest continues.

Soulless Manga Other Graphic Novels Suggested

5. Reading manga & graphic novels

For some reason I’ve been reaching for and reading manga and graphic novels again. I don’t know why, but my brain is really loving this style of story at the moment. And my motto with reading tends to be to lean into whatever is appealing to me at any given time.

Some of these were rereads, and some of them were new to me. Here’s a quick list of my current favorites:

  • Old-Fashioned Cupcake by Sagan Sagan – probably one of my favorite romances in a really long time, plus the live action adaptation was brilliant and beautifully shot & acted.
  • Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern – basically Jane Austen is given the sword and gets piratical. If you’re a fan of my Parasolverse stuff but you wanted a little bit more Our Flag Means Death in the mix then this is for you.
  • The Flower That Seems to Truly Dance by Saki Tsukahara  – this historical romance is just stunning, the art is so beautiful. There’s some gender bending social commentary as part of the story structure.
  • I Cannot Reach You by Mika – I actually enjoyed the live action adaptation (on Netflix) of this yaoi better, but the graphic novel is still very good. It’s a sweet love story that genuinely explores the ramifications of falling in love with your best friend in a gentle and kind way. Friends to lovers is such a common trope but it’s rarely handled with such delicate authenticity.
  • The Bride was a Boy by Chii – I have mentioned this graphic novel before, because it is an almost memoir manga of love and transition that manages to be entertaining, happy, and sweet but ALSO extremely informative. Highly recommended for those who might be questioning their own gender, but also family and friends of anyone transitioning who need a window of understanding.

10 Graphic Novels You’ll Enjoy if You Loved Soulless the Manga

6. Watching Thai drama The Sign

This show is on YouTube but I wouldn’t advise you to just click and go watch it. Please read the rest of my thoughts first:

It is a wild ride.

It’s truly unhinged in the most glorious possible way. It’s a bonkers mash up of a dozen different genres

  • paranormal romance
  • mythological fantasy
  • police procedural
  • suspense & slasher
  • and, of course, BL

Was it good? Not really, but I had a raucous good time watching it.

Tropes included (but are not limited to)

  • soulmates
  • fated enemies
  • band of brothers
  • doomed lovers
  • reincarnation cycles (red thread, gender bending)
  • pre-cog & supernatural abilities
  • shape shifting alter egos
  • and it gets pretty darn sexy.

If you’re a fan of my San Andreas Shifters stuff, you might enjoy this, but if you can’t/don’t get the first episode, it’s not for you, I give you complete permission to just drop it and walk away.

FYI: A few if you have asked, and I am indeed planning a third installment in the epic series of blog posts I did a few years ago (during lockdown) on Asian dramas, and BL in particular. It’s just taking me a while to write up all of the reviews for the new spate of shows we’ve had (that I have watched, and want to recommend) since the last installment. Watch this space though, I promise it is coming.

In the meantime, if this sort of media interest you here’s a two-part series that I did on the subject:

BL Dramas Analyzed from a Writer’s Perspective: PART I

BL Dramas THE LIST: What to watch? PART II


This show, The Sign, is very much a BL of its time, in that I don’t think we would’ve gotten something like this if there wasn’t an established track record in Thailand of previous successful BLs. It’s so off kilter and experimental, and that’s for me part of its charm.

Wild Wild West Con Header 2024

7. Traveling again!

I cannot articulate how exciting it is too once again be consistently traveling. After I got back from Thailand I had to go on hiatus for a while to deal with some pretty extreme family drama.

But now I’m back and in gear. I was in Colorado Springs for superstar writers, I turned right around and went to Wild Wild West Con in Tucson, and this month I am off to both Seattle and later Portland (Pendleton). I enjoy travel, for the sake of it and to be in motion and go new places, see new faces, and eat new things, but I also very much enjoyed going back to familiar territories and seeing old friends and readers again.

Upcoming Events

8. Receiving a Tippy Golden Teacup Award!

I am the proud winner of a Tippy Golden Teacup Award for Tea Maven of the Year.

I’d like to thank the Mum, Madame Askew, the Grand Arbiter, and all who have helped turn me into the tea sipping malcontent I am today.

9. Cosplay!

I honestly have no idea how long it has been since I did any kind of cosplay. I forgot how much fun it is. At Wild Wild West Con this year, I participated in an informal Star trek steampunk cosplay group. A couple of friends told me they were doing it, and I happen to have a dress and corset that would work perfectly for red steampunk Star Trek, specifically a sort of take on an officer in ST:TNG.

Here we all are:

Wild Wild West Con Steampunk Cosplay All Smug Gail Red Outside Steampunk Star Trek the Next Generation

10. Purple Food!

A little while ago I did this thing where I collected a bunch of purple food and then sampled it on video and relayed my unfiltered thoughts on the matter. Anyway my favorites of the ones I ate were these Hopia Purple Yam Cakes which reminded me a little of moon cakes and very fresh tasting roasted yammy, not too sweet, quite filling. Quite enjoyable. If they were a little easier to get hold of I could imagine snacking on them regularly.

Gail Carriger Facebook Live Purple Food Showing Biscuit One handGail Carriger Facebook Live Purple Food Eating biscuit both handsGail Carriger Facebook Live Purple Food Curious Thoughtful Examine contemplate

I should say, I generally really like purple yam (ube) things. But because it is such a delicate flavor, I prefer this kind of execution to its use in baked goods or ice cream. It’s too often cut with vanilla or something else and it’s own natural sweetness doesn’t come through properly.

Case in point, I got this lovely (looking) ube cream filled croissant. But while it looked gorgeous, it tasted quite bland. And the pastry, which has to carry the day under such circumstances, was really disappointing (stodgy). So all in all, I was sad about the whole experience. And I probably won’t be going back to that bakery anytime soon.

Honestly, I didn’t mean to end this on any kind of a downer. The purple food experience was, in general, quite pleasant.

Also that Live in which I essentially did an accidental mukbang (Accidental Mukbang = the name of my Kpop cover band) was my most well attended video for the past year . Made me wonder if I should integrate eating strange snacks into EVERY live video (oh, woe is me).

No hardship, I’m always eating the strangest things I can get my mitts on.

I always joke that my tombstone is probably gonna read

“She only wanted to try it once.”

And on that note, I’m off. Probably to go stuff my face with something inexplicable.


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One Response

  1. Debbie Bretschneider said:

    My son went to the Victorian Christmas thing last year and says this tea shop was there and their store has rum cake most of the time. Celtic tea shop on Pearl and Brahnam in San Jose.

    I suspect that is a bit out of your way, but perhaps a friend would check it out for you!

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