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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You Say You Want a Resolution...

Well, ya know...We all want to change our ways.

Okay I'm going to hell for that one.

As you might have guessed this post is about New Year Resolutions, or rather it's not. I'm not big on them to begin with and I do believe that like most humans, I've never actually stuck to one.
I suppose I could go with the usual; lose weight, stop smoking, save money...
I'm already losing weight on doctors orders and if I obsess over the last 25 lbs it simply won't come off. I'll likely make 200 more attempts to quit smoking but if I think about it I'll sabotage myself. And as for money, I'm not even going to pretend to be optimistic about my chances of paying off my debts.
Rather, I've decided to focus this year on the things that I can not change and why they don't bother me. Or at least why they shouldn't bother me. So let's get the nit-picking started!

1. My Crooked Teeth
As far as crooked teeth go, mine aren't that bad. I've got a pretty obvious snaggletooth on the left up there, and a couple of chipped and filed down canines. I've never actually put a lot of thought into it until a dentist commented on them a few years ago. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit offended, and I'd also be lying if I said that I didn't get a wee bit self conscious about my teeth after that. But have you ever seen anyone with artificially straight teeth? It's frightening! I'd rather have my goofy grin than look like a Geico caveman or that guy who used to sell motivational videos on infomercials.

2. My Schnozz
We will actually reference this picture for many of my flaws because despite them, I happen to think I look cute in it, so there! And just for the record, the not so ironic mustache that I'm rocking isn't on this list seeing as it is something that I can get rid of and do regularly. I've just been lazy and cold and channeling my inner artist.
Anyway, as you can see my nose takes up 90% of my undersized head (see flaw #3). Though it was enhanced by a few tumbles I took as a child, genetics were already working against me before I got that bump you see on the bridge. I admit that yes, I have obsessed over this in the past. I clearly remember one Thanksgiving day that my brother set up the video camera to record dinner and the whole family laughing when we replayed it because the angle of the camera had me in profile. But I've never considered the possibility of a nose job. I had two friends who have had them (one was necessary, she had horrible sinus problems and talked like she had a cold all the time, the other was a stupid, stupid insecurity issue that actually gave her nasal problems) and just seeing the bruises afterward scared the crap out of me.
I'll keep my schnozz, and delight in the fact that it only makes my Alan Rickman impressions that more believable.

#3. My Tiny, Tiny Head.
As a young child I was very skinny and long with a big ol' pumpkin sized noggin. I ambled about looking like a lollipop until I was about 10 or so then I grew into it. Then I just kept growing. By the time I reached adulthood I was nearly six feet tall, no longer thin, very broad shouldered, yet I still had the same head that I had when I was 5. Most people have a forehead, I have a three head. Maybe a two and a half head. What's more, my tiny facial features are smooshed up together right there in front. I'm the polar opposite of a Bratz doll, yet just as freakish and alien. But that's the cool part: I look like an alien.

#4 My Gray Hair
Okay, so there's only about 10 strands and yes, technically I could change that with a $5 bottle of Miss Clairol, but the can of worms that would open is not worth it.
From the ages of 12 to 30 I never saw my natural hair color. I've had every color of the rainbow on my head at one point or another and just about every rebellious haircut known to man, and many that I just made upon the fly (these usually involved alcohol and dull safety scissors). I decided enough was enough and I'd keep my original color for a while. Then one day I was looking in the mirror and saw a silver thread stuck to my hair. I tried to brush it away and it wouldn't move. I picked it from my hair and realized that it was attached. I actually got excited. I want gray hair, but only if it grows in nice, like a single white shock ala Lily Munster, or all white like an evil villain. If it grows in salt and pepper or steely gray I'm totally going old lady blue.

#5 I Am Blind As A Bat
You see those glasses up there on my head? That means that I totally could not see anything more than 6 inches from my face when I took that picture.
I do wear contacts, but since I got prescription sunglasses I've been lazy about wearing them during the week. I refuse to entertain the thought of Lasik until they find a way to do it without slicing into the eye while the patient is still conscious.
The upside: Objects wearing glasses may appear smarter than they are.

#6 I Am Not Naturally Photogenic

But this doesn't bother me in the least. Why? Because I have a digital camera and I can take 100 photos and simply delete the embarrassing ones before anyone else can see them. Yes, the photo above, which I am calling a "bad" photo of me because of my shiny huge pores and Prince cira Purple Rain 'stache, was the best of about 30 bad pictures. Do you think I'm going to share everything with the world? ;)

So a Happy New Year to all of you and may you love everything about yourselves no matter what. And please, PLEASE be careful out there if you are planning on partying. Be safe!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

First off I would like to say Happy Holidays to everyone and I hope that your day is wonderful!

Second, I would like to say that I am not someone who dreams of a white Christmas, but it seems that we have one none the less.
This Picture was taken at about 5pm Christmas Eve:
I'll now remind everyone that I live in Texas and that it was 70 degrees yesterday.

I'm very grateful that work was extremely slow today and I was able to leave early. Otherwise I would have been driving through this and I'd likely still be on the road six hours later rather than writing this.

So at long last it is Christmas and for my last Christmas story of the season I'd like to share the gifts that Jason and I made for each other this year.
Our first Christmas together was not even a month into our relationship so we didn't really do presents, but our second Christmas was also our first as husband and wife and that was the year that we started our tradition of making presents. That year we each made one set of chess pieces for the other so we had a complete, yet stylistically different set. Last year we each built a game for each other. This year we each made a work of art.
Jason actually made five different and completely awesome works of art:

This picture was made with wood dye and pourable plastic. He made everything, including the frame. This photo does not do it justice at all.
The photo below is of a wooden box with a light inside. On the light is another piece made with the plastic and green nylon fibers from a duster:
Melted styrofoam on plywood, again, the picture doesn't do it justice:
Oil paint that has been heated and cracked. Again Jason made the frame as well:
I'm beginning to think this one is my favorite, that is if I had to choose. It's a drinking glass filled with styrofoam and plastic on a base of sculpted foam with an led light:

By comparison I slacked. I'm rather proud of the box I made though. I chose the sheet music lining because Jason is a musician (an extremely talented one at that):

I'm a hack artist and fancy myself more a craftsman so I went with a kaleidescope:
Actually, I made two because I wasn't sure how either were going to work. It's impossible to made wooden tubes:
A view through the scope:

Next year, we have decided, we are going to pick something that we can work together on. The secretive nature of these gifts has been a lot of fun, but we tend to see very little of each other during the holidays because of them.

Now go carve your roast beast, deck your halls and may your day be merry and bright!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Additional Information Supplied By Dad

I was talking to my father the other day about the stories that I've been putting up here and he gave me some amusing information to add to them.
From the story about the Christmas socks where I mentioned my little brother's voice activated truck: At that time my two brothers shared a bedroom and my oldest brother frequently talked in his sleep. Apparently he would speak loud enough to activate the truck, which would wake my dad from a dead sleep.
I do not remember this but my bedroom was down the hall and my parent's shared a wall with my brothers' room. I do however remember a doll that my sister had called "Baby Boo-Hoo" that would cry if its pacifier fell out of its mouth. I shared a room with my sister at the time and would frequently wake up to Baby Boo-Hoo crying for her mama because my sister had shifted enough for the pacifier to fall.

From yesterday's elf story: My father supplies that my sister also had an irrational fear of her dolls coming to life and attacking her while she slept. I do vaguely remember this part only because I remember one highly amusing night when my sister would not calm down. My mother had come to her wits end trying to pacify my sister and decided to take an alternate route which involved saying "Oh my gosh! What's that in your closet?"
Before my sister could scream my mom opened the doors, pulled out a couple of dresses on hangers and proceeded to hum the Star Wars Cantina song and wave the dresses around as if they were dancing.
It worked, my sister was cracking up, I was cracking up, my brother had come in to see what was going on and was cracking up. I'll wager getting us back into bed was a disaster though.
So if anyone wants to know where I get my smart ass from, it's hereditary.

It's Not Christmas Until Someone Gets Sick

Around my house there has always been a tradition that no one really likes at all. In fact we've strived to avoid it, but it just keeps happening.
I am of course talking about the tradition of someone, and sometimes many someones, getting sick just in time for Christmas.
Now truth be told, I actually have had the more unfortunate affliction of having had a cold or sinus infection that took away my sense of taste on many a Thanksgiving, which I deem far worse. But I've had my share of Christmas crud as well.
When I was one year old I had the measles which was a direct result of the MMR vaccination. Fortunately I was too young to remember and this information comes from my mother, as well as faded snapshots of tiny me with a lumpy, sad face.
A year or two later (again, well before true memories began to develop) I had apparently eaten an entire box of cherry cordials at my grandmother's house and spent Christmas night alternating between throwing up and sobbing to my mother, "N-no more Ch-chocolates ever!" I apparently forgot saying this very soon after the fact.
Of course later in life there was another incident of over indulgence, this time in the form of far too many screw drivers and stupid coffee with Irish (the half and half essentially didn't sit too well in a stomach full of citrus acid).
But it wasn't just me.
One year when my youngest brother was about 2 years old he got into the anisette cookies at my family's Christmas eve party. Although he was acting extremely silly, no one actually expected that a two year old who acted like a drunk was actually drunk. My mother, who spent the night holding my brother over the toilet, claims that he smelled like a hobo on a cheap ripple bender. What's worse is that all day Christmas he seemed fine, but later that night mom was holding him over the toilet again. She suspects that he may have squirreled some of the cookies away in his pockets for later consumption.
I can't be certain, but I think at least one of us had chicken pox on Christmas.
My father has a great story about how he came down with double pneumonia on Christmas because my mother and grandmother needed him to take them Christmas shopping. Neither had a license at the time and he was already sick, and in his own words; "I got to go to the hospital only after the shopping was done." Priorities, dad, priorities.
This past week Jason has had to take the cat into the vet for an upset stomach, and one of the dogs in for a cut on her lip and a cortisone shot. I am hoping that the this spares the two legged family from any further disasters.

So is this just my family or has this happened to you as well?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Sinister Elf

This is a terrible tale of Christmas terror! (oooooooooo!)


I have been googling for weeks to find a picture of this little guy:
I had hoped that my mother still had him somewhere but she claims he has finally met his demise. For all I know, this is the very ornament that plagued my family for years. This was the only picture I could find of him and it was on an auction site.

My mother claims that she purchased the elf ornament at one of those in home gift catalog parties that were popular in the 70's. You know, like Tupperware and Party Lights and those parties that sell items that are shipped in discreet brown paper packages?
My sister claims the elf fell through a portal from hell.
We had had this ornament for as long as I can remember and it never really bothered anyone until one year when my sister was about 12 or 13 and she decided that the elf was evil. I don't remember how it came up, but I remember her walking over to the tree, declaring him evil and popping him out of his pine cone with intent to toss him in the trash.
The following day the elf was back in his pine cone, staring off into space and clutching his harp.
"Hey Shannon, I thought you were going to toss the elf."
"Holy $#!& I told you he was evil!"
Again she took him from the tree and tossed him in the trash.
And again, the elf was back on his perch the following day.
Several more attempts to rid us of the cherubic spawn of Satan produced the same result.
My sister eventually decided it was useless and that we were all doomed. She stopped trying to destroy the elf and he lived among us for many years to come (well, with the exception of that one year that, inspired by Sweet Valley High, I convinced my mom to let me decorate the tree in all blue and silver ornaments. I wish I was joking).
Was he truly a powerful force of evil?
Was he a misunderstood and benevolent guardian angel?
Or was he simply a slightly dated and off beat ornament that a teenage girl might have felt sorry for and rescued from the trash every night?
The world may never know*

*until they read this post, that is ;)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Gift of Warm, Dry Feet



When I was ten my family moved into a house on the same street as my grandmother. It was a dead end street that became a steep hill about half way up. Grandma's house was close to the bottom of the hill and ours was at the very top. Having grandma's house so close was great seeing as grandma had HBO (which was a very big deal back then in the age of Star Wars and Fraggle Rock), a microwave, and spoiled us in the usual grandmotherly way.
Looking back, this was a sweet deal for us, but not so much for grandma, who worked the third shift at IBM and probably did not appreciate being woke most every day at 3pm because we didn't want to walk up the hill to our own house where we would have to do homework and eat vegetables. We wanted microwaved pizza rolls, string cheese and afternoon cartoons. Plus in the winter she would drive us up the hill rather than make us endure what felt like a sub-zero hike up Mount Everest.
Christmas was pretty convenient during our five year stay in that house. After the novelty of our presents wore off (This typically took 5 to 10 minutes for my brothers, maybe a whole half hour for my sister and I) we children would be shooed off to grandma's house where our parents would meet us once they cleaned up the ribbon and wrapping paper carnage (and likely had a cup or several of strongly brewed coffee).
Now, to be honest, I know that we were not the richest family, in fact at that point I think my dad had just started the job that put us into middle class, but I never once felt that my Christmases were lacking. We all had piles of presents and stuffed stockings. And while mom, dad and "Santa" would bring us lots of toys and games and the occassional package of undies, grandma would usually get us each one over the top gift.
Sadly, I'd be lying if I told you that I remembered all of the gifts that my grandmother gave me (with the notable exception of my very first pair of Jordache jeans). But I will always remember the voice activated RC truck youngest brother once recieved, if only because we had to endure him yelling "LETS MOVE IT NOW!" at the top of his lungs nonstop until the blessed day the batteries died.
On one particularly cold, wet and snowy Christmas, after the lasagna had been eaten, grandma handed out our presents. Each of us had an identical puffy package. We ripped into them with childish glee and each pulled out a package of socks. White tube socks to be precise.
Grandma and our parents both braced for responses that might have ranged from a polite, yet disappointed thank you to a not so polite temper tantrum.
I don't think anyone was expecting our somewhat unusual, yet genuine reactions.



"SOCKS! YES! THANK YOU GRANDMA!!!"


All of us ripped open the plastic packages and kicked off our shoes and pulled on the heavenly cotton-poly blended tubes of warmth.
For what ever reason, whether we lost them, destroyed them or simply had not done laundry, none of my siblings nor I had any clean socks to wear so we simply went without (much to the embarrassment of our parents). Which of course meant that all the way down the hill we had snow hitting the bare flesh of our ankles and packing into our shoes.

We had foiled the plan.

"Well, I guess you won't be needing these."

Our "real" gifts were Christmas cards with a crisp new $50 bill in each, which was awesome...

But so was having dry, warm feet.





Sunday, December 13, 2009

Well No, He Doesn't Sparkle...

But his name is Bela, which is kind of like Bella* right?
Tis the season and as such, I'm going to dedicate all of my blog postings for the next two weeks to telling amusing stories of my family's holiday antics ala Gene Shepard.
So how does Mr. Lugosi fit into all of this?
I'm starting with a very recent story. So recent in fact, that it happened today. You see, somehow over the last 15 or so years of my life I have become a reluctant collector. This comes from having unusual tastes, friends with unusual tastes, and many, many geeky friends who do in fact collect things such as dolls (excuse me, action figures) and movie/TV show related items.
It started out innocently enough when, as a fresh faced 18 year old out in the world for the first time, I snagged an extremely part time position at a local movie theater. One of the last free standing, single screen theaters at that! Any movie posters and reels of film trailers that were passed up by the full time staff were mine for the taking.
One poster in particular started the collecting "craze."
The Nightmare Before Christmas.
No one had paid much mind to House of Cards, Bleu, or any of the other "art film" posters gracing the walls of my apartment, but then I acquired The Nightmare Before Christmas and suddenly my birthdays were full of gifts in homage to not only that film, but to most everything Tim Burton or those of his darkling ilk made.
Then one day I bought a Star Trek Barbie and Ken set, then a Breakfast at Tiffany's Barbie, and suddenly I was collecting dolls. Not just any dolls though, only collectible, stay in the box dolls that were slightly off beat.
Fast forward to the last 5ish years of my life when I realize that I have far too many dolls suffocating in their plastic packages. I've given many away to people who I trust to to give them to their kids, who will take them out of the boxes, give them punk rock hairdos and love them in the destructive way that only a child can. I thought about ebay and Craigslist, but to be honest, I didn't want the headache of trying to sell these things only to end up with a couple bucks.
So today I rounded up the remaining toys and headed out to the Toys for Tots drive at the local Toys R Us.
I walked up with a full garbage bag, lawn sized at that, to the two marines in dress uniform and their eyes bulged a bit.
"Is everything in here new?"
"Well the boxes have never been opened, but some I've had for years."
I handed over the bag, and I think that for a minute, one of them was going to thank me for my generosity, when the other pulled out the top box, a Bela Lugosi as Dracula 12" collector series doll, beautifully done in black ans white. I then got a puzzled look.
"Um, vampires are very in with teenage girls." I gave my most winning smile and walked as casually back to my car before they went through the rest.
Here is a list of donation items that I remember off hand:
Nosferatu 12" doll (same series Bela came from)
James Bond 12" doll from Dr. No, complete with guns and Martini shaker and glasses
12" James Dean from Rebel without a Cause
12" Outer Limits character from episode The Sixth Finger
John Stewart Green Lantern action figure (which, seriously, someone bought me because I though that the fact that his name was John Stewart, like, the Daily Show host, was funny. I didn't know anything about the comic beyond that)
Crazy Harry Muppet action figure
A Goth Girl Bobblehead
Mr. Spock 7" action figure

I just made some aspiring fanboy's Christmas extra special.

*Please note that I have never actually read the Twilight series or seen any of the movies.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Believe It Or Not I'm Flyin' A Plane!

Okay you were supposed to read the title to the tune of the theme song to The Great American Hero, which was a television show in the 80s that was far less memorable than the theme song.
Ahem...

Anyway...

This is me!I have to say that flying an airplane was the coolest, yet most terrifying thing I have ever done in my life.
Originally I was scheduled to have my lesson at 9am on Saturday, but we ran in to some slight complications. Like the plane not starting. It was below freezing and there was a bit of ice and frost on everything. I was told to return at 2pm, when it was supposed to warm up a bit.
Of course I would pick the coldest day of the year to have a flying lesson!
Before finding out that the engine was too cold, Bob, the instructor, went over the basics including how to operate the rudder, how to get into the cockpit without falling off, and why none of these gauges shown below are really important at all (okay they are, but they weren't at the time. It made sense somehow):
I wasn't prepared at all. I had been under the impression that I'd be learning a lot on the ground. I was wrong.
All of the lesson was going to be in the air.

We came back at 2pm.
Hooray! The engine started.

And then it stalled.

But it started again.

I admit that at this point I was a little freaked out and asked Bob if this was going to happen in the air as well. He said no. I wasn't sure that I believed him.

This is the airplane, a Diamond 20 or DA20 (link has a lot of technical info on flying these) or "a popsicle stick with a cockpit" as Jason called it.
Mr. Airplane has a slightly bored expression.

My first hands on lesson was how to taxi the plane to the runway. The rudder is guided by left and right foot pedals with brakes at the top. I was told to follow the yellow line. It seemed easy enough. Not really. Trying to drive with ones feet is a lot like playing THIS GAME. I was swerving all over the place.
Bob got us off the ground and handed over the controls at about 1600 feet, and told me to bring us up to 2000 and level off. Once again this was easier said than done. I've played a lot of video games in my life, and while I may be well prepared for the impending Zombie Apocalypse, I never did have a knack for any of the flying games. Or driving with a joystick for that matter. The slightest touch would send us up, down, right or left and every gust of wind was like a category 3 hurricane. Did I mention that I just ate lunch? I didn't get sick, but I admit that my stomach was more than a little queasy during the flight.
Despite the sensitive controls it seemed that when ever I was supposed to be making a turn I had a hard time getting the nose going in the right direction and could not get used to being nearly sideways for some of the turns. I'm pretty sure anyone listening in was having a laugh as I was apparently channeling Keanu Reeves (woah!).

The further I get from the experience, the more I want to do it again. Who knows, maybe I will. But I've got to work on the "look."

Pilots don't wear pea coats* and dollar store Jackie O. sunglasses.
*I think that's the navy actually.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Warning; Scattered Thoughts Ahead

We're supposed to get ice tonight.
This is Texas. This is not supposed to happen!
Okay, who am I kidding, we've had at least one ice and snow day a year since I moved here from the land of the ice and snow. Ugh, did I really just quote Led Zepplin? Did I really just do it on purpose? And while listening to Blue Oyster Cult, on purpose.

I'm slightly out of sorts.

Seriously.

I had a week off of work and it turned me into the laziest person on the planet. I was supposed to finish all of my Christmas presents and I'm not even half done.

I did make this amazing little wonky tree out of dowels, pvc pipe and leftover holes from a hole saw cut:
We've decorated it, but I haven't taken a picture yet. It's about 4 feet tall with the 'star.' It's very Charlie Brown Christmas.

So I've moved on from Blue Oyster Cult to Pink Floyd, a much better choice. My favorite band of all time, actually. Though perhaps I shouldn't be listening to "The Wall" as I've been having very vivid nightmares lately.
Listening to music is distracting. I'm not the kind of person who can do two things at once. But I felt that 2 weeks was too long to go without a post, and at the same time I really need to go through this pile of terribly old and scratched compact discs to see what can be salvaged.
There's also a pile of materials on the table next to me just begging to be turned into something worthwhile.

In completely unrelated news; Saturday I am going to learn to fly.

No, I'm not going to take a bunch of LSD and jump off a building.

I am actually going to learn about and possibly fly a light body aircraft.

This was the other anniversary gift that Jason gave me and I am just now getting around to/getting the courage to actually take the class. It's something that I've always thought that I wanted to do. Well, always at least ever since I got over my crippling fear of flying that I had until my early 20s.
Jason is going to take pictures from the relative safety of the ground. I'll post them here. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Kitchen Bliss

I've been kicking around the idea of separating this blog into separate blogs about different things, such as cooking, travel, crafts, etc...
But then I realized that would be more work and I scrapped the idea. Once I have a bit more free time, around the beginning of the year, I do want to dedicate certain days of the week to blogging about different things. In the meantime, I'm going to share some more scenes from my kitchen.
First up in the squash soup that I mentioned in a previous post:

I use a base of onion, garlic, celery and carrots with some pepper and sage sauteed in butter, then add some vegetable stock. The butternut squash is steamed until soft and mashed into the mixture. Cream is added at the end to thicken slightly and lighten the color. The cheese you see in the back ground is Cabot's extra sharp cheddar and gruyere, though I can't remember the brand. We picked up this island over the weekend from, of all places, Big Lots. It's bamboo with a stainless steel surface, and gives us the extra cabinet and counter space that we so desperately needed.


And because we now have a huge fridge and ample cupboard space, we can go to the grocery store and buy enough produce for the entire week. And because I have a digital camera, I can waste 5 minutes artfully arranging the produce and snapping pictures of it:

Here is the side table which holds the Star Wars cookbook. Yes, it does say "Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Treats." How cool is that?

A close up of the freshly harvested pecans. Sadly, most of them are wasted as it is physically impossible to harvest the sheer numbers that fall off the tree out front:

Ingredients for a cheese sauce that I put over broccoli, cauliflower and brown rice. We ate it before I could snap a picture. I just like the color composition in this one...
Tonight's special treat:
Banana Bread!!!

Relatively low in carbs and sugar. I used one tablespoon of raw sugar (vs the cup that the recipe called for) and substituted the flower with a mixture of Fiber One cereal, oats and milled flax seed.

Very delicious with tea.
My kitchen "experiments" have been working well so far. I have lost a small amount of weight, but more importantly, my blood sugar has decreased dramatically.
When I was diagnosed, I had a fasting level of 175. In case you don't know what that means, a normal person would have a reading between 80 and 120. I was getting readings of 240 after eating. I'm now on only one pill for control and I am getting readings right around 110 and only going up as high as 150 when I eat . I'm not "over it" yet, but I plan to get to where this is completely under control without medication, and without ever ingesting artificial anything.
I go for my next A1C test in a few weeks. The first one was a 10, which is very, very bad. I'll post the results of the next one here as well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Excuse For Not Blogging #3845

Sewer backed up and spewed vile unmentionable waste all over the unfinished bathroom.
I wish I was joking.
I hope to get back into the swing of things soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happiness is...

...having a husband who thinks I am the best cook in the world. I love cooking and I love food. Well, obviously I love food, I didn't get this physique from rice cakes and celery ;)
I was hoping to show off a few of my creations here today, but apparently the absolutely beautiful pictures of my butternut squash soup were eaten by my sd card so it's a Mexican fiesta themed blog.

First up is a simple tortilla casserole:


It's not pretty, but it's delicious and is packed with nutrients in the form of spinach, mushrooms, onion, peppers, black beans and quorn meat crumbles. Using less tortillas and cheese (about half the amount you would find in a similar restaurant dish) also keeps it low in carbs and fat.



Cilantro and lime...


...are not only photogenic, but an absolute must have for any Mexican inspired meals that I make. I'm way more of a fan of Pacific coast or Baja style dishes than Tex-Mex. And it's healthier too.


Our convection oven recently crapped out and rather than spend a lot on a new one we got this inexpensive toaster oven ($35 at Target):


I love that it's stainless steel so it matches the motif of my kitchen. I also love the glow, it's somehow comforting.

Tonight was fajitas. I had to take a picture of the peppers and onions because the colors were too pretty:

And from last night, I bring you "Lucky Mud Luvs Nomming Asparagus:


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Huge Refrigerator is HUGE


Jason and I acquired this behemoth from his mother last year. It sat in our garage until recently, owing to the fact that until recently, our kitchen was a hole in the middle of the house.
Last night we went grocery shopping, I mean REAL grocery shopping. For the last several months grocery shopping was a small, sordid ritual of buying what we needed for that night's dinner. Last night we bought everything we could think of to stock up for at least one Kroger-free week. We used a trolley instead of our usual hand basket. My car's spacious trunk wa full. We bought 5, FIVE loaves of bread (good, sprouted grain low carb bread) and 4 cartons of soy milk! It took both of us two trips to unload the car.
And this fridge...
...still looks empty.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Invisible Blog

Good lord it's been two weeks since I've had anything to say?
Well, that's not true, I've had plenty to say and most of it peppered with four letter explicatives.
A lot of crap is going on here, especially the newly diabetic stuff. I think I have a pretty good game plan as far as diet and exercise goes, but I'm in serious need of some medical direction. No really, my doctor just about tossed a glucometer at me and kicked me out of the office. So that's pretty much what I've been up to.
That and making some sweet sweet boxes.
One of the local "Up In Smoke" cigar shops sells their empties for a dollar each and the money goes to local charities. I've donated $16 so far.
Here is an faux art pic of said boxes after being stripped on their cheap fasteners and most of the stickers:
Most are made of cheap basswood or something similar, very soft wood that gets powdery when sanded.
Here's a close up showing how some of the printing is stamped into the wood:

Perfexion X, I think I'm going to leave this on here, it's so...something....

I've been sanding them down and painting or staining them and adding cork, felt, or paper to line the insides. Most of these were made before Jason bought a belt sander so I had to hand sand or distress the wood over the stamps. The belt sander makes the job a lot easier:

Finished products. These are going to be Christmas packages. If I get really good at refinishing them I may try to sell them. I'll have to find some nicer hardware though. The local craft stores have a very limited selection and the hardware stores do not really have anything small enough.
Jason and I are going to check out a woodworkers store in Addison this weekend. I'm really excited, so is he. He's been making drums and they are absolutely beautiful. If he lets me post some pictures I will.

I've also been annoying Luke:



Why? Because he lets me. Only Luke would sit still long enough to let me drape him in ivy, or be comfortable in his boy-dogness to allow me to tie a pink polka dotted ribbon around his neck.

In other news, somewhat sad news, the European vacation is likely canceled. Mostly due to the fact that I'm newly diabetic and still working out what drugs I need to take and coming to the realization that the swine flu could indeed kill me now. Partly due to money as well, but more because of the medical uncertainties. But, because I got such a great response to my scavenger hunt challenge, I promise to do something awesome to post here.
In the mean time I'm going to sit back with a cup of unsweetened soy milk and catch up on your blogs.
I promise not to stay away so long next time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Too Damned Busy!

As you can see, I've had little time to write lately. And I apologize to those of you whose blogs I follow. I am reading, but usually on my breaks at work, through my phone, so I have no comment ability. I promise to give you all some love soon!
We've been full steam ahead on the house renovations, I've been making nifty boxes for Christmas presents, work has been insane and I am likely diabetic, but that's okay because I've lost six lbs in two weeks by cutting out the carbs AND Lindt makes a 90% cocoa chocolate bar that only has 3 grams of sugar per serving.
On top of that I'm gearing up for our trip to Europe which is only a month away and I am so very not prepared. I know, poor me, right? I should explain that I am not a rich jetsetter. Earlier this year I randomly won 4 free tickets to Europe in a Northwest promotion and I wasn't going to waste any of them. The trip in June was my first trip off the continent ever, this will be my second and unless some more free tickets fall in my lap, I think it will be a long time before trip number three happens.
So here is your mission, dear readers, should you choose to accept it:
Give me a scavenger hunt for my trip! Think of something crazy and random for me to photograph and I will do my very best to find it and post the results here when I return. We are going to be based in Brussles and plan to visit Bruges, Lille, Calais, Paris and Amsterdam. And no, I have no plans to photograph hash bars or prostitutes in Amsterdam.
Be creative!
Now I'm off to catch up on your awesome blogs!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Realizing The Dream

Well alright, it wasn't quite six lbs, but I finally made mashed potatoes in my kitchen with my mixer! Skins on, a dash of pepper and bam! Potatoes.
I'm rather pleased with life at the moment.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Groan, Shuffle Shuffle, Groan, BRAINS!!!

So what's up with Zombies? Seriously, zombies are the new "it" creature of the night.
I'd like to blame sparkling vampires for this, really, I would. But I think there's a deeper rooted cause. The economic crisis.
Think about it. What's so great about zombies? Wouldn't you rather be a glamorous vampire or a fierce werewolf or even a witch? Zombies are weak. I should know, I play a lot of Castlevania and zombies are a level one enemy which means they die when you breathe on them.
But in all seriousness, or as serious as I can be talking about zombies, I think the allure of zombies is the fact that there is no allure. Zombies are brainless, soulless reanimated corpses whose sole purpose in life...er...death...is to eat brains and make more zombies, kind of like the Borg, but without the hive structure and cyberpunk accessories.
We are living in dark economic times. Who in today's world can relate to the rich, aristocratic vampires living in castles? Dracula certainly has enough money to avoid forclosure, but the mcmansion owners don't. Who can relate to the predatory werewolves? I'd venture to say not even the hot shots of Wall Street, these days.
And that leaves us with zombies. Soullessly, mindlessly plodding along with the crowd, performing the same redundant and meaningless task day in and day out. The unemployed, the under employed, everyone who has taken a pay cut to avoid a lay off, who can't relate?
Personally, this is my favorite zombie of them all:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Angst? Moi?

Okay so I let slip in the comments of another blog that once published a book of awful angsty poetry, and one Ms. Glory von Hathor has called me out on the comments of my previous post.
I'm not sure I want to post some embarrassing poetry here just yet. After all, this is a happy and upbeat blog, innit?
BUT...

I am perfectly willing to embarrass myself with some photography! So here is a picture of me back in my poetry writing days, to give you an idea of exactly how awful and angsty it is:


Ah yes, back when I didn't have a nose. Tragic, that was. I remember the mishap at the hospital when they did the nose transplant and accidentally gave me a third eye:



And in all fairness, the book is still available. It's called The Monster and The Machine, Temperamental Musings of a Reluctant Poet. It's over priced. You are better off picking up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but you get the idea.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

So This Is A Week Late...

...but Deemack left a pirate joke in the comments of my Talk Like A Pirate Day post which made me chuckle. It also made me think of the pirate joke that once inspired my whole office to become pirates every time they were frustrated.

It's a PG-13 joke.

A pirate walks into a bar, with a steering wheel sewn to the front of his trousers. The bartender comments, "That doesn't look very comfortable, why do you have a steering wheel attached to your trousers?"
The pirate replies, "It drives me nuts!"

Thank you, I'll be here all week.

Feel free to tell a joke in the comments, the world needs more funnies. Keep it clean-ish :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Have We Been Up To?

I'm in pain. Serious pain. I have soreness in places that I didn't know exist. My absence from the blogging world this week is due to the reason I am so sore. We are almost done with the kitchen and we have been working our butts off. Actually, Jason has been doing 200% of the work so I shouldn't complain, but last night we grouted well into the wee hours of the night and I paid for it today.
We began serious work over Memorial Day weekend, 2007, with a bathroom renovation that was supposed to be a weekend project:

This is what we had at the end of the weekend. Rotted subflloor, lead pipes, rotten insulation, rotted piers. The bottom picture shows the laundry room, bathroom and a bit of what would become my office. The original bathroom dimensions were 4ft by 4ft or something equally small. We used the fact that we had to cut out so much rotten floor as an opportunity to extend to a full bath.
About a year later we were done, and then it was on to the kitchen and back room.
This picture of Luke shows the horrible linoleum that was the previous kitchen floor:
I have pictures of the completed bathroom, but I can't find them :(
Here is the evolution of my office:


The last picture doesn't look al the way in, but it's better that way, you don't need to see the chaos. Not too shabby though right? That's Jason's guitar, Penny's just trying to look cool posing with it.
The kitchen used to be Galley style, smack dab in the middle of the house, with claustrophobic cabinets that sat too low leaving only about a foot of space to work on the awful yellow tiled counter tops. I don't have any pictures, I wish I did. It had a crazy copper tiled wall which might have looked nice in another room, but not this one.
We knocked out a few walls and put up a cedar support beam. We're planning on doing cedar trim throughout. I picked the color, it's Valspar's Paris Green. The opposite wall is going to be a slightly darker accent color that will run the entire length of the kitchen and living room.



And here's a picture of the amazing husband in motion, without whom none of this would have ever got done, or at least, without whom this would have been done half assed and would have fallen apart already:

And here's me, looking like I did a lot of work, when really I just like making a mess:

We are so close to having a kitchen that I can almost taste six pounds of mashed potatoes!