sesame seed balls

9

Animate! Miami 2014 stock.

There is so much. It doesn’t look like it here, but imagine all of those in multiples of about 5 or so. It fills up a small plastic storage box.

I’m going to try and list everything there is.

1. Harry Potter potion bottles: Floo Powder (it glows in the dark!), Felix Felicis, Gillyweed, Pumpkin Juice, Wolfsbane Potion, Skele-Gro, Baneberry Potion. Aaaand I just realized I forgot the Butterbeer charm. D:

2. A pile of Oreo cookies.

3. Rings: Chocolates, pancakes, waffles, crepe, ice cream scoops, rainbow cake on a plate, whipped cream dollops in strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate, hot chocolate, candy cane cookies, a chocolate dipped cookie, chocolate chip cookie, flowers, and s'mores.

4. An assortment of pies.

5. Cookies and ice cream scoops.

6. Cupcakes and bacon slice charms.

7. Gummy bear charms, peanut butter and jelly earrings, burger charm, hot dog charm, pizza slices (pepperoni and cheese), s'mores, chocolate chip cookie, corn dog, ice cream cone earrings (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate mint chip), bacon strip earrings, cookie post earrings, hot dog earrings, cheeseburger earrings, peach earrings, potato chip earrings, cute fortune cookie earrings, ice cream scoop post earrings (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla), rainbow cake post earrings, and s'mores post earrings.

8. Cookies and milk best friend necklace, taco platter necklace, salad necklace, cookie pendants, banana charm, ice cream cone charms (vanilla, chocolate mint chip, strawberry, cotton candy, and one with a scoop of each flavor), banana earrings, taco earrings, pumpkin pie earrings, bottle of bacon, bottle of bananas, Brownie Brittle earrings, pancake charm, pancake post earrings, waffle charm, potato chip charm, and rainbow cake on a plate charm.

9. Misc. Cute food charms I posted before: cupcakes, rainbow cake, bubble tea, s'mores, roll cakes (vanilla and chocolate) rice ball, cheeseburger, sesame seed ball, donuts, pancake, cookie, peas in a pod, macarons, pizza, crepe, fortune cookie, and chocolate chip cookie.

Plus there are mystery bags available for $5 each!

Animate! Miami starts tomorrow and I will be at Booth # 931.

Hope to see some of you there! :)

Musings on Madam Secretary Season 2

Angst over affection. Fighting over fluff. Secrets and strain over silliness. It’s been a helluva season 2. We should all get Xanax and a bottle of wine as a “Congratulations. You made it to the end” parting gift because Lord knows we could use it to unwind from months of craziness, stress and worry. It’s like we’ve all been twisted into an emotional pretzel. Barbara plays dirty… and I love her for it.

For much of the season, I felt like I was watching Season 1, but with a different pair of glasses on, lenses that completely flipped realities between our two favorite fake people. The same professional struggles and personal strife that Elizabeth endured last year manifested in Henry this season: seeds of doubt, feelings of helplessness, alienation and overwhelming guilt that he or she should’ve done more. Henry was Elizabeth’s rock after Iran, standing beside her when she lashed out, begging her to open up. This season, they did a complete 180-degree turn, Elizabeth taking the lead, lending unwavering support as Henry stumbled through two different jobs, lost his father and, oh yeah, had radiation poisoning. “I’d quit this job in a heartbeat if it threatened what we have” were the words Elizabeth emotionally uttered right after starting her job. It’s ironic that Henry’s position was the thing that ended up threatening them the most.

I tend to view Season 2 as two distinct parts:
Part 1 – Russia, Sterling, Elizabeth/Henry can’t talk about work.
Part 2 – Hizb al-Shahid, Murphy Station, Elizabeth/Henry working alongside one another.
The overlapping storyline throughout the entire season: ain’t no one happy.

“If I had to choose between betraying my friend or my country, I hope I would have the courage to betray my country.” That was one of the first quotes Henry directed to his class at the National War College back in 2.01. Foreshadowing, much? He also lead a discussion with his students about “the greater good.” If only we knew then what we know now, I probably would’ve thrown something at the TV. It just goes to show that the writers had a clear and definitive path laid out, and followed it throughout the season. We may not understand week-to-week where the storyline is going, but they do. It’s slightly reassuring as a viewer. In Barbara, We Trust. That said, “the greater good” is one phrase I hope to leave behind in Season 2.

Like DJ Khaled, President Obama and the Yankees for much of the last decade, Elizabeth had a lot of wins during Season 1. Those were the days. Season 2 started with a win, but Secretary McCord wasn’t even allowed to enjoy a full episode of success before Craig Sterling slithered into the White House. Talk about a cancerous dude. Conrad hired Sterling without even consulting Elizabeth, a move that set the tone for their entire working relationship. From the start, Sterling couldn’t be bothered to even listen to Elizabeth’s perspective or suggestions, often simply waving her off like she was trying to sell him a set of knives. I’m still in awe that she never punched him. Lord knows I wanted to for both of us. Of course she managed to sever her tongue by biting it week after week, slam after slam, knowing she couldn’t stoop to his level, instead using wit and knowledge to outsmart him. Reason #456 why Elizabeth is a better person than I am. Elizabeth was quickly boxed out of the inner circle, an outsider to the Good Old Boys Club. I swear they had a secret handshake… which probably involved a middle finger and some bro back slaps. If there was one good thing that came out of Sterling breathing, it’s that he challenged Elizabeth, pushing her to look at alternate views she maybe wouldn’t have, forcing her to dig deep into her morals. Did she need it because work was getting stale? Not really, but I appreciate the opposition he brought, which allowed her to shine. There. I said something nice about Sterling.

As much as Elizabeth wasn’t influenced by Sterling, Conrad was. I swear someone could’ve asked Conrad if he liked chocolate cake and he would’ve looked to Sterling for the answer. It was rough to watch him defer major foreign policy decisions to a guy he just met over someone he’s known for years and personally pleaded with to take the position. I often just wanted to hug Elizabeth… and thump Conrad’s and Sterling’s heads together. Somewhere halfway through Sterling’s tenure, Conrad found his sesame seed-sized balls and started making his own decisions. Of course they were decisions Elizabeth didn’t necessarily agree with, but at least he was finally starting to act Presidential. Or “Presidential.” As the season moved along, Conrad even stood alongside Elizabeth, figuratively and literally, as she faced foreign leaders, showing his support. The drastic change between keeping her in the dark about Sterling in 2.01 and asking her to be his running mate in 2.23 gives me whiplash. I’m still not a card-carrying member of the Conrad Fan Club, and I think he has miles to go before I’d consider him to be a successful leader, but he’s made baby steps. It’s also ironic that we started 2.01 with Vice President Delgado’s health (puking on a golf course) and ended with his health (the reason Elizabeth may assume that position).

“I find the whole ‘not getting personally invested thing’ challenging.” No kidding, Henry. And that sentence right there sums up Henry McCord’s time as a DIA handler. Clearly Henry didn’t read the full job description because the realization that he was tapped to be a handler didn’t set well with the ethics professor. Once he was on board (as on board as one can be while being dragged into it), it was Henry who brought Dmitri in as his asset. Jane and the rest of the DIA wanted Ivan (RIP, Ivan), but Henry pushed for Dmitri, citing various reasons. It’s no wonder he took the boy’s fate so personally. In his mind (and, kind of, in reality), he was responsible for whatever happened to Dmitri because he hand-picked the kid. Proving that he’s a better professor and father than handler, Henry had an issue lying and was often more worried about Dmitri’s safety and state of mind than what Dmitri could offer. This didn’t stop him, though, from strong-arming Dmitri, using his sister as leverage. It was an ironic move for an ethics professor, and quite the opposite of Season 1 when Elizabeth wondered if her position was making her morally compromised.

It was Henry’s jobs (and his reactions to his jobs) that took the real toll on Team McCord. The first half of the season, Dr. and Mrs. McCord were doing a weird little dance. Unlike during Season 1 when Elizabeth couldn’t talk to Henry, Season 2 saw both of them having to hold their tongues, something that put a significant strain on their marriage. Duty over family. The McCords can’t pull that off very successfully over long periods of time. Even though their work overlapped, and in the interest of world peace they probably SHOULD have been able to swap information, they couldn’t. Not even some light spy pillowtalk. This lead to serious frustrations for both of them. Elizabeth wanted Henry to open up about his feelings, but he’d simply shut down and change the subject. Henry wanted to divulge to Elizabeth the information he knew regarding Russia, but she’d shut him down with concerns about prison and protocol. Those same deep-rooted communication problems persisted, even with Henry in his new Murphy Station position. Both Elizabeth and Henry were working out of the White House for the same goal, able to discuss every aspect of their jobs, but the fracture was already in place. Henry couldn’t get past the Dmitri situation and was taking it out on Elizabeth, even though he tried his best not to show his demons. There was a silver lining to Henry’s new position, however. It provided a few sweet moments in the middle of their days when Elizabeth and Henry could connect as best they could as a couple amid the chaos, discussing things like broken washing machines. Heaven forbid they actually talk about something important like feelings, I know, but at least they were talking.

The emotional rift between Elizabeth and Henry lead to a physical one, as well. Gone were the days of familiar kisses, long hugs and light-hearted moments that made us first fall in love with the McCords. Season 2 was a dry as the desert, with fluff scenes as difficult to find as winning Powerball tickets. It makes sense. I get why the writers did it. I don’t have to like it, though. Before Elizabeth left for Iran, we saw the tongue-in-cheek-but-set-in-reality discussion about Henry remarrying if Elizabeth wouldn’t return, followed by computer passwords kisses. Before Henry left for Pakistan… nothing. No happy reunions this season. Few fun, breezy connections. Hell, much of their “alone time” was spent dealing with something work or dark emotions related. Even when they had a late-night moment, sharing a puzzle, they were talking about Stevie and her screw-up du jour. Season 2 was very PG… hardly ever PG-13. Here’s to Season 3 making up for this.

The scorecard for Henry’s troubles during Season 2 is quite rough: not being able to stop Ivan’s suicide and then finding his body, losing his father, having his sister blame him for his father’s death, getting radiation poisoning, the Dmitri mess, losing Mimi and nearly dying in Pakistan. Can someone put this family in a bubble, please? I’ve gone into detail at length about why I think his questionable and, at times, asshole-ish actions were expected. I don’t justify them, but I understand them. There were also a few nods to Elizabeth’s continuing battle with PTSD this season, which I appreciated. The woman watched her husband wither away emotionally in front of her, listened to him scream at her that he sees his failures when he looks at her, worried about her standing as Secretary of State for at least half of the season and moved mountains to avoid World War III a good 3 times. Man, Season 2 was rough.

Despite all they’ve been through, the McCords are still “relationship goals.” Lesser couples would have checked out much earlier, but Elizabeth and Henry are “all in.” Their empire of two may be a bit fractured, but the foundation is strong. They may have had some below-the-belt fights, but they also knew when to stop. Henry, still pissed at Elizabeth about trading Dmitri, hugged her when she returned from Switzerland, yet walked away because he didn’t want to say anything hurtful. Even though Elizabeth needed Henry the most when she was losing Buttercup, she told him to leave because she knew he needed distance from her more. And what did Henry do? Put his feelings aside and returned to help her grieve. Elizabeth could have walked away more times than I can count, but she chose to stay with Henry, much like Henry did when Elizabeth lashed out post-Iran. It goes back to what Barbara, Lori, Téa and Tim have all said about the couple being committed to each other in good times and in bad. I don’t want their troubles to magically disappear over hiatus. The writers spent an entire season fracturing the couple, so I feel more than AN episode or A trip to Dr. Sherman is needed to rebuild their trust. However, I’m ready for more team moments of Elizabeth and Henry slaying dragons TOGETHER. Bring on the Merry McCords.

Each of the McCord kids had their own mini freak-out/scandal this season: Stevie, Alison, Stevie, Jason, Stevie, Stevie. Season 1 Stephanie McCord was alive and well into Season 2. Stevie started this season in a hotel room with Harrison and his magical heroin coat, and quickly moved on to being drug tested by her parents. “How many dumb moves are we gonna give her,” Elizabeth pondered, as if speaking for much of the fandom. Fast-forward 22 episodes and Stephanie McCord is working to be a lawyer, taking on the role of mini Elizabeth at home with her siblings and is engaged to a yet-still-seemingly-too-perfect, Jareth. Alison had her own teenager-y angst this season: a bout with mean girls bullying, crashing a car and not telling her parents, lashing out at Elizabeth for not giving her attention and basically having a case of Middle Child Syndrome. The Girls McCord had a few moments of bonding, though. Their college tour escapades will go down as some of my favorite scenes from Season 2. Then there’s Jason. The poor kid is fumbling through life… pun intended for the football player. He wanted friends and made friends, but then hated himself for not sticking up to his friends. Jason’s anger has steadily grown throughout Season 2. Early episodes show him jovial and joking. Halfway through, however, that shifted. He rarely smiles. He screams at anything. He’s filled with anger. He clearly has serious issues with his father’s job, making negative references to it so often. I’m not sure if Elizabeth and Henry are so wrapped up in their work, each other and Stevie that they’re tossing this aside as typical teenager behavior, but I feel like he’s the next McCord to blow.

Speaking of “blow,” I’m going to say it: enough bombs. I’m tired of bombs, threats of bombs, actual bombs. This season alone we’ve had the bombing in Switzerland, the dirty bomb at the conference, the bomb that killed Mimi. Am I missing any? Enough. Bombs. If there’s one plot point I feel jumps the shark, it’s this. Don’t get me wrong. Bombings, bomb threats and nuclear issues are a massive part of everyday foreign policy. I’m just tired of seeing a McCord in the middle of ground zero. Our running total for that thus series far – Elizabeth: 2, Henry: 1.. or more if you include Pakistan. Let’s keep the bombs away from the McCords next season, please.

This season, we delved deeper into just who Elizabeth’s State Department staff is as people, not just job titles. We heard their backstories and saw them outside the State Department walls. Nadine has a son, was a dancer and went to law school. I feel like I learned the most about her as a person, not just as Elizabeth’s Chief of Staff. She took a more active role in her fellow employees this season, mentoring them and offering advice, both personally and professionally. Matt was also revealed to us a little more, as were Daisy’s hopes and fears. Jay continued on his journey as Elizabeth’s policy advisor, a position he holds successfully. Those two are able to connect on levels outside of simply boss and employee. They’re able to let their professional guard down at times, talking like fellow parents and friends. Then there’s Blake. He remains as unflappable as his starched suit. Maybe we’ll learn more about him in Season 3. I can picture him as a toddler with a pocket square.

Will Adams can come back to visit anytime, as far as I’m concerned. His single episode allowed us an inside look at Elizabeth’s family, something I’ve been desperately hoping for. Their relationship is quintessential sibling: love you to death, but I also know just which buttons to push to piss you off.

Evita. She lived. She died. No one needs to tell her story.

Téa appeared much more comfortable in the role of Elizabeth McCord this season. The tone in which she said certain lines and the way she often interjected subtle mannerisms made me think, “That’s totally a Téa move.” The woman is excelling in this dramatic role, but she’s also bringing a sense of comedy that was much needed during this dark season. I’d often find myself smiling or laughing at how she chose to perform a line or play a moment. The physical comedy of Elizabeth avoiding the Oval Office chair, the way she’d struggle to take off her coat during a stressful scene or her facial expressions when she was wronged, right or confused were glorious. These moments showed that Elizabeth is human with feelings, not a robot. She also uses dry humor and sarcasm as a coping mechanism. Oh, honey. Don’t we all. (Or maybe it’s just me?) Of course Henry and Tim are just as adept at the comedy, both physical and literal. Let’s not forget the epic ad lib when Russell called, “Oh, it’s your boyfriend.”

“She tried her best, but people still got hurt.” How fitting is that quote to wrap up the entire season?

My favorite Season 2 quote, however, comes from Madeleine Albright: “There’s plenty of room in the world for mediocre men. There is no room for mediocre women.” Preach, woman. Preach.

Other things:

–This season brought about the “How long have they been married” debate: 23 or 25 years. Can we get another (and better) anniversary celebration to nail this down?

–The writers eerily “predicted” the death of Jihadi John, down to the details. Creepy.

–There were a lot of bathroom scenes this year, more so than bedroom scenes. Bedroom = good. Bathroom = angst. More bedroom scenes in Season 3, please.

–The running jokes about Elizabeth vs. the Quakers will never grow old. I never want Alison to graduate because I need scenes like this every few months.

–In 2.02, Elizabeth told Henry they needed to plan a vacation without the kids, cell service, internet or people.. except for a masseuse and a chef. Still waiting for that. You think I’ve forgotten about those possible scenes?? Falls Lake. Make it happen. Perhaps for the anniversary trip.

–I’ll never hear Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” again without thinking about Madam Secretary and seeing Patina, Bebe and Erich bopping along. I’m perfectly fine with this.

–Tie blouses, tie blouses, tie blouses. My very unscientific research indicates Elizabeth wore nearly a dozen different tie blouses or blouses with a black tie throughout Season 2. She even has the same tie blouse in several different colors and patterns, and may have two different white versions: one with a big tie that hangs like her light blue and red ones; one with a smaller tie. At this point, I feel like the wardrobe department is trolling me.

It’s difficult to adequately wrap up 23, hour-long episodes without missing some critical moments and insight. Feel free to shout out your favorites/thoughts.

Season 2 has been one hell of a carnival ride. I’ve wanted to puke. I’ve cried. I’ve raged. It’s made me dizzy multiple times. However, I’m sad to jump off for a few months.

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How to Make BAKED Sesame Seed Balls / Jin Deui (芝麻球 Recipe) 揚げないヘルシーゴマ団子 (レシピ)

Ooh, someone come over and make these with me. xD