Thursday, January 01, 2009
Ate one new thing a week from the farmer's market. It was tough and I learned that I don't like a lot of veggies and things (kale- ick) but I did learn to like new veggies (kohlrabi mmmm.)
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't make any.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not anyone close to me but several friends and interweb people did.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not this year.
5. What countries/places did you visit?
Mostly Houston and LaVernia due to the boy not having much time off.
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
More $$, a new job, a vacation that's not in Texas.
7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Nov 4th for the election.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Nailing down a basic salsa and hot sauce recipe that even Mexicans have told me tastes better than their mamas! Just needs tweaking now...
9. What was your biggest failure?
Finding a new job that pays better.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I discovered a lovely wheat allergy. That's been fun. Yay for gluten-free. Ugh.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our new coffee table. And though I didn't buy it- my programmable slow cooker.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Barack Obama, throughout the entire election process. (Completely agree.)
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Lots of people really. Most Austin drivers.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Debt, basic expenses, the vehicles.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
I always get stuck on this because I just can't remember the songs I liked.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier and more hopeful. Things are starting to look up a bit at work and (crossing all digits) the boy should be getting a raise from his new job.
b) thinner or fatter? A bit thinner, thanks to the step and BodyJam classes I've taken.
c) richer or poorer? Richer in some ways, a bit poorer in others.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Job hunting. Organizing.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Not much really.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
With the boy's family.
21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
More in love with the boy and my furbabies.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Bones, Top Chef.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
24. What was the best book you read?
Oh there were so many. Most of the books by Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir top the list though.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
26. What did you want and get?
A Wii (seriously best video game system ever and I don't really like them), programmable slow cooker.
27. What did you want and not get?
A raise. (Salary freezes at work.)
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Dark Knight, but I didn't really see all that many.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My 31st, and we went out to dinner and then went downtown.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Having the boy less stressed out for the first half of the year.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Making sure things fit but staying within a tiny budget.
32. What kept you sane?
The boy, food.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I was pretty enamored of Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin. (Me too.)
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
35. Who did you miss?
Friends I haven't seen in a while. Mle and Dan getting married.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
Chad and Veronica, Gina.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Working with friends does not always turn out so well. Especially when their values and parenting methods clash with yours violently.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Just dance. or something like that.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Then chaos. I first found about it when the boy called and told me to check the internet or find a tv. One of the Towers had been hit. I couldn't believe it but when I FINALLY got on the net, there it was. The internet was impossibly clogged and slow and it was next to impossible to make a call. I was right by Dulles, so everyone was freaking out. It took me an hour to reach my parents to let them know I was ok.
No one knew for sure what was going on. Rumors were flying- were there more planes? One hijacked plane was supposed to be in the area heading towards DC. We all rushed out because rumor had it wad from Dulles.
Then we heard about the second tower. And the Pentagon. We couldn't believe the Pentagon got hit. And then I saw the video of the towers falling. It was surreal. No one really could believe it. They wouldn't let us go home because no one I worked with thought it was important. Oh how that changed the next day when the FBI swarmed the place, looking for info on flight simulators.
One of my friends lived across 395 from the Pentagon. I went to his apartment the next evening and just stared in shock at the smoke and the gaping hole. It was just surreal.
And then the silence. The awful silence of no planes. Living under flight paths you got used to the noise of the jets. And then nothing. It wasn't right.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The rules are pretty standard:
A. List of 100 items
B. Bold items you've eaten
C. Cross out items you'd never consider eating
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare - So yummy- best one I've had was at an Ethiopian place.
6. Black pudding .
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari -
12. Pho - One of my favoritest foods ever! I could eat this every day.
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - Been a Tuesday night staple lately.
25. Brawn, or head cheese
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters- The crispy fried ones at Jeffrey's are divine.
29. Baklava -
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl- New England only.
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O -
39. Gumbo - The boy's family is from Louisiana. Duh.
41. Curried goat- have not had it but it's on my list to try.
42. Whole insects -
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin -
51. Prickly pear- Fab in a martini
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini- don't like olives
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine- Food of the gods.
62. Sweetbreads- really yummy.
66. Frogs’ legs- Tastes like chicken
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe -
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie -
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam -
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake - Rattlesnake
I will try most things just once. Doesn't mean I like them though.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Country Style Beef or Pork Ribs are generally boneless and the tougher cut of meet. When braised in a sauce they become fork tender and meltingly delicious. We served it them with a wild rice blend and some corn.
1 package country style ribs (I used beef but pork works too)
1 bottle of your favorite bbq sauce
1/3 c ketchup
1-2 tsp hot sauce (siracha is good)
2 TBSP mustard or ground mustard
1 onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 T soy sauce
1 T worchestershire sauce
1 t paprika
Simmer the ribs in the sauce and all of the ingredients for about half an hour. Add salt and pepper if you wish. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 and prepare a baking dish lined in two layers of foil. Place the ribs and sauce into the baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 1 and a half hours. Uncover and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Let cool and serve.
This does take a while but it's really delicious. And one day, I'll not be lazy and make my own bbq sauce. Use the above ingredients in greater quantities (minus the bottled sauce of course) and add canned tomatoes, molasses, and brown sugar. Plus any other spices you deem necessary. A jalepeno would also work.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
One of my favorites is quick sauteed cherry tomatoes over pasta with yummy cheese.
1-2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 onion, diced
cherry tomatoes, however many you want per person
penne pasta, cooked and drained
fresh basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and parsley
salt and pepper to season
red pepper flakes (optional)
Start a pan of boiling water and salt it well. Add pasta.
Meanwhile, sautee onions and garlic in a pan. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until soft. When the tomatoes are soft, add herbs and seasoning. If you want, add some red wine and cook further.
Drain the pasta and pour the tomatoes over it. Top with parmesean and mozzarella cheese.
We have both sun-gold and regular cherry tomatoes. I really love the sun-gold.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Red potatoes, cubed (amount varies per serving, I used about 8)
juice of 1 lemon
handful of basil, chopped
1 sprig rosemary
garlic powder to taste
1/2 c or so olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar (champagne would work nicely)
2-4 strips cooked bacon (optional)
red pepper flakes to taste
Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until fork tender. Drain.
Meanwhile, make your vinaigrette. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil, whisking thoroughly. Add herbs and seasoning.
Pour the mixture over the potatoes. Add the bacon and red pepper flakes and gently mix.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Anyway, summer veggies are in full swing here. Lots of fresh goodies and yummy dishes.
This weekend we made a smoked chicken with a special spice rub, a warm lemon basil potato salad, and ancho chile carrots. Everything balanced out rather well.
Carrots, sliced lenghtwise
finely minced garlic, 2-3 cloves
1/2 stick of butter
1-2 tsp ancho chile powder
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in the olive oil over med-high heat. Saute the garlic lightly to infuse the butter/oil. Sautee the carrots until just warmed but still crunchy. Season with salt, pepper, and the ancho chile powder. Take off of the heat and stir in the lime juice. Serve warm.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Even for South Central Texas that's not right. I don't mind the heat but
this is insane. Good thing our AC is working well.
I know I've been really remiss in updating this. Really awful. My job has
actually gotten busier and I just haven't felt like staring at a computer
much when I get home. Plus I still have the fun insomnia thing going on.
It's gotten somewhat better but not quite where I'd like it. I've got lots
to talk about but just never get around to doing it. I'm such a
We have a real garden this year. We used what little of our tax return that
we had left over from the fun car repairs we had to make and the escrow
overage check we got from the mortgage company to buy wood and a dump truck
full of dirt. We now have about 12 tomato plants (romas, sun-golds, Italian
ice, and a few others.) and about 6 pepper plants. (bells, serrano, but no
jalepeno :( ) Plus assorted herbs and things. And then there are the
plumeria. Oh my goodness. The boy went down to the La Vernia house and took
a bunch from the greenhouse. He barely made a dent in the thing too. Our
garden now has no other space for anything else. I don't know what we're
going to do next year if we want more veggies.
I am looking forward to having tomatoes and peppers from my garden this
year. I've been collecting pepper recipes and trying to come up with more
tomato recipes. Once our garden starts producing we're going to be eating
them just about every day. I don't mind but I'm going to have to get
creative. I have hit on a new salsa recipe using the sun-gold roma tomatoes.
They're slightly sweeter and tangier than a regular roma. When you add in a
few jalepenos and a couple habaneros you get a really nice combo of sweet
and spicy. It's going to be fun to experiment with them some more.
This past weekend we made an herbed roast chicken, bacon mashed potatoes
(using the bacon put on top of the chicken when it roasts- keeps it really
moist. You remove the bacon after about an hour) and a bibb lettuce salad
with a blackberry vinaigrette. The blackberries were a really nice
complement to the rest of the meal. And they're in season now so they're
fresh. It's peach and berry season here already. The East Coast is just
getting into the full swing of asparagus and things and we're already done
with that. In fact I haven't seen any lately at the farmer's market. I can't
wait for the summer fruits.
I have an interesting cat story that I will save until later. It goes with
our trip to Houston, which is a completely different post. But let me just
say, it reinforced my belief of keeping the toilet lids up when we leave for
a few days.
1/3 cup blackberries, juiced (use a garlic press and don't completely strain
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (champagne vinegar will also work)
juice of half a lemon
Whisk all the ingredients together, using more or less to taste. Making
dressings is all about taste. It's usually a little bit of this and a little
bit of that. We had everything whisked together except the lemon and thought
something was missing. The flavor was there but it was dull and not as berry
tasting. Then we realized that we needed lemon to brighten the flavors. You
couldn't taste the lemon- it just enhanced the berry flavor. A little bit of
acid can go a long way.
We served it over a salad of grape tomatoes, shallots, and bibb lettuce.
Monday, April 07, 2008
I am really lazy. Really. I keep meaning to post but keep finding excuses not to and other things to do. It’s not as if we’re not busy and all but if MLE and Doola found time to post during their wedding stuff, I have no excuse. Oh well.
So Bone Marrow. The boy got 35 lbs of beef bone marrow from the new meat supplier at work. The restaurant is trying to go as local as possible with suppliers. The new butcher is awesome. He’s very French, and has all sorts of stuff including rabbits, quail, and other lesser used meats. So we got some bone marrow a few weeks ago. I’m going to make beef stock with some of it in the next few weeks but on the day we got it, we just made some for immediate consumption.
Bone marrow is basically sliced up bones with the marrow exposed so you can scoop out the meaty goodness inside.
We roasted the bones at 450 for about 20-25 minutes, a little more for bigger bones. You do not want to over roast these so keep a careful eye on them. I seasoned the tops with garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. The marrow was served with a crusty baguette, gruyere cheese, radishes, and fresh chives.
It was soo good. It’s really rich and meaty, so you definitely need something to cut it. They gruyere was an excellent compliment to it. I would definitely recommend trying this out if you ever get the chance.
Then there are the other birds, the kind we don’t eat. The cats have been doing a good job of bringing us gifts of birds, bugs, and small reptiles. Alex is not a passive kitten when it comes to this. He does help hunt the birds or rather, likes to take over the prey once it has been caught.
I came home one day a few weeks ago to find a carpet of feathers in my entryway. My first thought was, “Oh my god, the bird exploded.” I mean there were feathers everywhere. It must have been a long, hard fight. They went in four different rooms. I followed the feather trail and found the remains upstairs in our office and had to clean out the lovely blood and all. Poor thing never had a chance. I’m also still finding feathers from that.
Last weekend, Punk caught a robin and brought it inside. It escaped and sat in our garage/junk room for a while. I spent a few minutes shooing it out into the yard. As soon as it flew out the door, bam! So did the cats. They ran out and Alex caught the damn thing and brought it back inside. Much fun ensued while I chased him around our bottom floor, trying to get the bird away from him. He would just not let go of the thing. It took both me and the boy several tries to get the poor birdie away from Alex. But alas, it was too late and the bird had to be mercy-killed. And there were still feathers to be cleaned up.
Punk apparently has a penchant for leaving gifts for our neighbors also. One of them told us that she left them a baby possum at their back door a few days ago. They didn’t mind and thought it was nice of her to share the wealth. (They have 2 dogs and used to have a cat so they understand.) Ah, my crazy kitties.
In a future post: chicken jello, gardens, alex and the hole, and condescending moms
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Congrats mis internet amigos!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
So the heater for the greenhouse. A huge, actual heater made for greenhouses. We bought it from Amador Farms, a local hydroponic lettuce grower. The couple who owns it is at the local farmer’s market every week and deliver lettuce and other greens to the restaurant every week. One day, the boy got to talking with them about his greenhouse and they mentioned that they had a heater that they weren’t using, in fact had yet to be used, and would we like to buy it? It was a great deal. We went out to their place one night and toured their set-up and came home with a heater. Their set-up is really neat and we got a lot of ideas from them. They didn’t need an extra heater because lettuce grows better in the cold. They had got the heater because they were initially doing other vegetables before focusing on their cash crop of Bibb lettuce.
So, instead of going to the WEDDING, I got a heater. It’ll be worth it in the long run and it was a deal we couldn’t refuse. Plus we made some really great contacts and I now talk to them every Saturday at the market. (I also get a special friends discount on their product, which is really yummy.)
Insomnia rules the day as usual. I just can’t sleep past 3:30 am or so anymore. Going to bed earlier doesn’t work because I wouldn’t be able to do anything after work. Melatonin isn’t working. I can’t drink anything before going to bed because I’ll have to get up to pee, and getting up just ensures that I won’t go back to sleep. It’s fun. I seem to have the same problem that Cil mentioned, but mine lasts all year. I think I may have to try an actual sleeping pill soon. Fun times. But until I figure this out, I’m exhausted when I get home from work.
Of course Alex does not help things out. He loves to put his wet nose in my face and paw at me when he feels that I’m awake, or I should be awake. I got paw-punched the other morning. Another morning he decided to start whining, though that did end up being a good thing. I had forgotten to set my alarm and his whining woke up me up at the right time. Good thing.
The cats continue to do their fight/play thing. Alex loves to play with Pumpkin, so much that he whines when she’s not around. That does get annoying but it’s cute in a way. He is a bit of a whiner. But then he snuggles up next to you and purrs and you just have to forgive that cute little thing. Pumpkin is just a little tempermental bitch most of the time, especially when I try to get her inside when I come home. She never comes when I call her but all the boy has to do is whistle and yell her name once and she comes running. Sigh.
Alex Tree Rescues: 6 Ladders Needed: 3 Tall Boys Used: 2 Step-Stools: 1
In terms of cooking, I’ve been making my own mayo a lot with the fresh eggs from the farmer’s market. It’s really easy.
2 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, pepper, paprika
1-2 cloves of garlic, minces, more to make aioli
1 c of oil, olive, vegetable, whichever you like but try not to use Extra Virgin, unless you want the mayo to taste like the oil
Beat the egg yolks with all the ingredients except the oil. Slowly, and I mean slowly, whisk in the oil, whisking until all the oil is blended in. Stop every few seconds to completely blend in the oil if needed. This is called emulsification. Mayo will keep for a week or so.
You can use this mayo to make a simple dressing. Just add equal amounts of mayo and buttermilk. Add in other flavorings such as dill, other herbs, and my favorite, blue cheese. It’s that simple. This goes great over Bibb lettuce and some shallots.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I have more in a longer post about it. But it's a nice, fancy, powerful heater that comfortable heats up a 20'x60' greenhouse and then some. And we got it from the lovely people of Amador Farm. I wish I had a link as they are just awesome people who run a hydroponic lettuce farm.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Just like I promised. New photos of the kitties. When they aren't sleeping, they are fighting. They fight/play a lot. Alex still hasn't won. Punk can rebuff him whilst still catching some zzzs.
The outside pics are from Alex's first day outside. He had a blast. He's already climbed 3 trees and had to be rescued twice by ladder. I give up.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
The New Year started with a whimper more or less. The boy had to work until 11:30 so that made for a real grumpy start to the New Year. (The restaurant was out of nearly everything but still open. It was a bit of a mess.) At least I got New Year’s day off and got some stuff done.
I’ve been using most of my new toys like mad. (Still haven’t got around to the sewing machine yet. But I think I will this weekend.) I got a mandoline slicer and have made waffle fries, potatoes au gratin, and today I will make French fries. Oh I do love this thing. Plus I got tons of cast iron and well, it’s been nice knowing a lot of my other pans. Cast Iron rocks!
Our household has been obsessing a bit over Anthony Bourdain recently. We both watch No Reservations whenever we can. Plus A Cook’s Tour is being re-broadcast on the Food Network. (Bourdain left the FN when they wanted him to tone it down a bit. His sarcasm and cynicism are what make the show IMO.) I’ve read all but one of his food-related books. (Got a copy of Nasty Bits for Giftmas. He’s also written a bunch of spy novels too!) The boy got me a bunch of cookbooks for Giftmas too- Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook included. Now that’s a cookbook to actually read. He’s voice is ever present. Bourdain just has a great sense of humor and a love of food. I think he’d be a blast to travel with. I would kill to go to Vietnam with him. Oh that stuff looked so good.
In other food news, I’ve been experimenting with the slow cooker and pot roast. I made a beef pot roast a few weeks ago. It was good but needed something acidic. I used a chuck roast, sliced onions, carrots, garlic, a bit of Worcestershire sauce, and a can of cream of mushroom soup. (salt and pepper too. Always.) It tasted good overall but really just needed something. We both thought paprika would be nice. Plus a lot of recipes add in an onion soup mix. So yesterday I tried one with a pork butt. Ohhh it turned out so very yummy. I used the same ingredients but added a packet of onion soup mix and paprika. That made such a difference. (Cooked for about 6-7 hours on low.) The meat was falling apart. I made mashed potatoes to go with it and made a roux and thickened the gravy up. (The amount of liquid that ends up in the pot is pretty amazing.) It’s definitely an easy thing to do. I really don’t like using the processed food stuff but it’s made a big difference so far. I plan to experiment much more with other items for the crock pot. It is rather nice to come home to a dinner that’s ready to serve.
Then there are the kitties. Pumpkin is, well her aloof self. She only seeks people when she wants food or attention. But she does like Alex. Ah Alex. He is a riot. He loves his snuggling. He also will eat anything and everything. I’ve caught him so many times on the counters trying to steal food that has been left open. So far he’s eaten bacon, chicken, pasta, potatoes, and some frosting off of a cake. (Boy did he have a sugar high after that. I put the plate down to go the bathroom and next thing I know he was there.) He’s a little sneaky thing.
On Saturday, as it was mid-70s outside and gorgeous, I decided that he’s old enough to go outside now. He’s been begging for a bit as he’s watched Punk go out. (We set the kitty door to one way so Punk could get in but not easily get out. Of course, smart girl she is, she figured out how to open it on the locked side.) He had a blast exploring the yard and playing with leaves and things. Punk kept an eye on him for the most part. The only problem to this is that he is absolutely TERRIFIED of the kitty door. Unless it is held open for him, he will not use it. I think the noise and the swinging scare him. But I am not going to be opening doors to let him in and out all day long. Plus they are outside when there is no one home- who’s going to open the door for him then? So, he’s stuck inside until he can get over it. He wants to go out. He begs, he whines, he runs to the door. But until he can use the kitty door, not happening. He’s watches Punk do it. I’ve sat there and tried to nudge him through, but he cowers and mews. Poor little baby. He’ll learn eventually if he really wants to go outside.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I marinated thighs in buttermilk overnight. Then seasoned with salt, pepper, onion, garlic powder, paprika and a bit of cayenne. Coated in Italian bread crumbs. I then baked in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes or so. Till the juices ran clear. They turned out moist and delicious. I served with mashed potatoes and made from scratch country gravy. (Make a roux with equal parts butter and flour, cook for a bit, add milk, salt, pepper, paprika to taste. Heat while stirring until thick.)
I do love a good meal.
In kitteh news, they are doing fabulously well. I am starting to think Punk likes Alex better than she ever liked Gabby. I know but she totally mothers Alex and watches over him. She's even sleeping on the bed with us now. There's a difference.
Alex caught a lizard today. Punk wanted some of it too but he was not sharing. Oh no. He growled every time she came near. It was just too funny. After he did his thing with it, Alex did eventually share and they both finished playing it to death. So cute.
And yes, I have more pics. There are more in the kitty post below at the end- updated with links to picasa and photobucket. (carimwc for photobucket but the pics are the same in both.) I also have more coming. I'm taking a bunch to make an album for my Aunt so there will be tons more. My aunt is about 5 mentally, so the kitty pics will bring at least a week's worth of bragging and talk for her. She asks about them all the time. I don't know why I never thought about this before!
Monday, November 26, 2007
These boards aren't cheap either. It sucks.
Last month was the civic's tune-up in order to keep it running and inspected. And Alex and his vet visits. Oh and Gabby and her cremation. And the boy dropped his phone in coffee. That was just last month. We've been having a series of mini-disasters. Anytime we bring up the S-word and think we're doing ok, something happens. Like clockwork.
I'm tired of this crap. We need a little bit of good luck. Just a little. Anything.
Looks like another night of sleeping in the cold.
Monday, November 19, 2007
It’s gotten a bit better this past week but it’s still not there. At least I’m not feeling too zombie like. There were days when it was all I could do to make it home. Forget about cooking dinner or something. I didn’t trust myself near a stove those days. I shouldn’t even have been driving. (Case in point: one zombie morning, while backing the truck out of the driveway, my sideview mirror hit our brick mailbox. Thankfully the mirror is just cracked and I can order new glass but still. Not so good.)
Alex is a love. He and Punk are getting along. They’ll lie near each other and joyfully chase each other around the house. Alex actually starts a lot of it. He’ll attack Punk and then run away, forcing her to chase him. It’s really cute.
He is a super snuggler. He forces his way onto my lap or shoulder and then makes himself comfortable so he can snooze. He loves to rub his face under my chin and give kisses. It’s all cute until it’s 4am on a Saturday and he starts whacking me with his paw because I’m not making any effort for him. Yeah, that was fun. But he’s a doll and a really great addition.
Punk is dealing quite well with this newcomer. We’ve been letting her run on the weekends but not during the week as Alex is not outside material just yet. Plus we wanted to make sure that they got along and as she would have spent most of her time hiding outside, we felt the forced interaction was best.
She is also keeping her super hunting skills up to par as Friday night she caught a rat. A lovely, furry, largish, rat. I was just sitting on the couch with a sleeping Alex half in my lap, when in walks Pumpkin meowing like crazy. She dropped her present on the floor at the entrance to the living room and stood proudly, waiting for me to come inspect her catch. She got lots of praise and petting while I hurridly ran for the broom and the camera. Upon further inspection, the rodent was still alive. Yikes. I quickly swept it onto the dustpan and brought it outside where I hope it either escaped or died. Either way, Punk got locked inside for the rest of the night as she has a tendency to re-capture things. (She caught the same field mouse 3 times before playing it to death.)
Our Thanksgiving plans have just changed. We were going to drive out to Louisiana to spend time with the boy’s relatives but we’re most likely going to stay around here now. We were only going to be there for a day or so anyway. Staying home makes so much more sense with gas prices the way they are. So I have to go find a turkey today. Joy. At least I have most of the fixins I need to make dinner. I was already going to make the pies. I plan to brine the turkey but I don’t know if we’ll smoke, roast, or fry it. We’ll see. I’m making an herbed pecan stuffing to go with it. We have tons and tons of pecans from the trees around the La Vernia house. Either way, we won’t be lacking in food.
UPDATED: More kitty pics here
Sunday, November 04, 2007
This is Alex. I know it's only been a few weeks but a new kitten was somewhat of a necessity. First, I needed a new little one, and Punk couldn't get too used to being alone. She was already becoming the diva of the house again.
So last Saturday I went to PetSmart to check out the rescue organizations and their adoptable kittens. I was looking for a tabby, preferably orange but then Alex poked his nose at me. I took him out and we snuggled. That was all it took. He was so lovable and playful I couldn't resist. So I took him home.
It was great timing as about 5 minutes before I walked in the door, Punk caught her first mouse. I had called the boy to warn him so he could prep the Punk but of course she had other ideas. She was all wild and proud. She scared the little one and he hid under a dresser for about 7 hours or so. (Punk spent the rest of the day outside.) During those 7 hours of hiding we could pet him and discovered he loves having his paws played with. I took him from his spot every once in a while and as long as I had a hand on him, he would snuggle and purr and be happy. But move that hand and bye bye!
But after about 7 hours it was like a light switch went on. He came out and started playing and generally going crazy. He also started meowing. Yes, I have another talker. He's not nearly as loud or as constant as Gabby but he loves to meow. He's a chirper actually. It's cute for now. We'll see.
He's a love. He loves to snuggle and curl up with you. He loves everyone. He likes to perch on your shoulder and then stretches out upside down. Strange little thing.
Punk is less than thrilled but she's coming around. She doesn't hiss and growl constantly and can stand to be in the same room as Alex now. They're due for a fight soon. I'm not worried though. They're making progress every day. I don't expect best buds immediately. He's got big shoes to fill.
I will always miss Gabby and she will always be my little baby. But Alex is here to stay and will help fill the hole that was left.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
She's gone. My kitten, my shadow, my baby. She was hit by a car this morning.
She wasn't waiting for me to get up, she wasn't begging for tuna, and didn't come when I called. I knew something was wrong. I opened the front door because sometimes she got stuck out front and there she was in the road. I screamed but there was nothing to be done. She had been dead for a few hours it seemed.
I'm heartbroken. She was my loud, curious kitten. She was afraid of cars and the road so I have no idea why she was out there. Pumpkin is waiting for her pal to come play. She's looking for her friend.
It all happened this morning. We took her to the vet to get cremated. It's only been a few hours. I can't stop crying right now. This was my baby. She was MY cat. She followed me around and not the boy.
I miss her so much. I just want my loud, crazy kitten to come running up to me now.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Anyway, Austin City Limits Music Festival is this weekend. It's my 30th birthday 3 day weekend bash. I was looking forward to it. Especially Saturday, my birthday, when I was going to hit the trifecta of Amy Winehouse, Indigo Girls, and the White Stripes. Not so anymore.
As the world knows, Amy Winehouse is not touring for the foreseable future. Le sigh. Yesterday it was announce that the Striples are canceling tour dates for the next few weeks. Argh. Now, I understand that Meg White had a nervous breakdown and all but sigh. That stinks. The Stripes were the Saturday headliner. Now Muse is going to fill that spot and well, eh. I'm not a huge Arcade Fire fan either. So it looks like we'll be leaving after the Indigo Girls. Ah well. Still not so good.
People are not happy about the way things are happening. Bob Dylan was not a happy choice to close and now the Stripes with no other real big headliner? Not so good.
Ah well. More to come when the festival actually starts. I did get my wristbands today.
Food updated: sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil, added chicken, salt, pepper, italian seasoning, some smoked paprika. Let cook. Added bacon, a can of drained chickpeas, grape tomatoes, and basil. Let cook until the tomatoes are warmish. Serve over greek seasoned roasted potatoes. Top with parm if desired. Total yum.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
On Wednesday I dragged myself to the doctor only to have them tell me that well, yes, you are sick but we can't do anything for you. I don't have a fever and they don't want to give me antibiotics. I have to get worse first. Awesome.
So it's been fun. OTC meds, the good kind that you have to ask the pharmacist for and prove that you don't have a meth lab, and lots of tea. I still feel crummy but there's not much I can do about it.
And then there's work. I swear the position of the head of my department is cursed. This makes boss #4 in a little over 2 years. Yeah. It was supposedly a mutual decision but I'm pretty sure it wasn't. And of course this all happened on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, while I was gone. Argh.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I think I've managed to fix my sleeping issues. Well, mostly. I've been taking melatonin, extended release caplets. They've actually helped me to sleep through the night and I only wake up around 5:30 now, which is much better than a few times a night. It's been really nice. I do like feeling rested more often than not. Yay.
I made more salsa this weekend. The roasted garlic and roasted red pepper salsa came out excellent. I've tweaked the recipe a little, decided to use a lot less lime. My only problem is that I seem to filling up the jars too much. I've left plenty of room at the top for expansion, but it doesn't seem enough. The jars don't explode per se but they leak and when you open them, well, it's best to have a bowl underneath and do it in the sink. And open slowly. I haven't lost much, which is good. I did lose a jar while sealing. It just broke and let out all the salsa into the water. A whole quart! And it was my hot stuff too! Oh well. I've got lots more to make for the next few weekends.
Monday, August 13, 2007
I could rant on and on about the whole left handed thing but I won't.
I'll just leave you with the neat fact that my immediate family, all four of us, is all left-handed. Right handers who came to dinner were truly the odd people out for a change. Ha!
Monday, July 30, 2007
I don’t have a set recipe as of yet. I’ve made 3 different brines but the basic ingredients are the same.
Vinegar- I used cider for most of it and a combo of white and cider for one time. Use any kind you like.
2 T sugar
Red pepper flakes*
Bell peppers, red and green
Garlic cloves- Use however many you want.
Cucumbers- sliced, speared, or whole if small enough.
Put water and vinegar in a pot, a 3-2 vinegar/water ratio works best. Add seasoning. Use whatever you like to taste. This is just what I used. Sugar is a must though, to help the cucumbers stay together. Bring brine to a boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
While the brine is cooling, sterilize the mason jars by boiling just the jars for 10 minutes. Place dill, whole garlic cloves, onion slices or pearl onions, diced jalepenos, thyme, whatever other flavoring you like, in the bottom of the jar. Place cucumbers in jar, leaving at least ½ inch at the top. Pour the brine in, along with any other pieces like the bell peppers or garlic. Leave room at the top. Repeat for each jar. 8 cups of liquid makes about 4-5 quarts.
Seal the jars by placing the lids on them, and tighten but not all the way. Place in about 3-4 inches of boiling water, about halfway up the jar, and cover. You will hear a pop and the jar is sealed.
You can also use a pressure cooker to do this but as I don’t have one, this also works.
I made 4 quarts of salsa this weekend too. I need to make lots of sauce and more salsa next weekend. All this fresh, fun produce!* And it’s so easy to do!
*Sadly, I’ve had to buy tomatoes. All the rain we’ve had is not making our tomatoes do well- they’re just not getting enough sun. Plus we now have leaf-footed bugs which suck all the sweet goodness out of the ‘maters and prevent them from growing really big. It’s been hard to deal with because it’s always freakin’ raining and it just washes away anything you try to do. I’m using a soap and water spray to combat them but I don’t know if I can really save them. We’ll see. We did just get some baby plants so that might save the day.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I warned you.
Here it comes.
Ok, Harry Potter Book 7 info below.
I went to one of the midnight release parties to get my book. I am a big dork. I had a good time though. There were lots of kids and adults in costume. At the Barnes and Noble that I was at, there had to be at least 5-600 people there. At least. They gave out tickets in groups of 50 from A-Z and they were on P for the reserved copies and were on C for the unreserved. It was madness but in a good way. I was in group J and got my copy around 12:45am. The line moved quickly and I was home around 1am. I was originally going to read until I feel asleep but I stayed awake until I finished the book around 5-5:30am. I think it was the combination of coffee and adrenaline that kept me awake. Plus I didn’t want to put it down for the last 200 pages or so.
Overall, I am happy with the book. All my questions were answered and then some. I laughed but I also cried. It was well thought out and very detailed, too detailed at times. The beginning flew by but the middle sort of got bogged down a bit. I really didn’t like the last chapter but I understand the need for it. It just didn’t seem to fit in for me, plus it gave me so many more questions like what does Harry do? What are the jobs? Who’s the headmaster or mistress of Hogwarts now? But that’s ok. There are supposed to be questions. I think that’s the mark of a good book. Plus it leaves things open for more.
There was no real wait to get to the meat of the story. The first chapter dived in right away to reveal Voldemort and his Death Eaters planning their overthrow of the wizarding world and the attempts to finally get Harry Potter. Voldemort wants his revenge and wants his one failure to be gone. But of course that doesn’t happen.
This was not a peaceful book. It’s dark and there is a lot of violence and quite a bit of death. Some you expected (Snape, and the big V, yes he dies.) but there were quite a lot of unexpected. I totally did not see Dobby dying. Poor little house-elf. And Hedwig! When Hedwig and Dobby died, I figured that anyone was fair game. I would have been ok if one of the core three had been killed but it wouldn’t have felt right. I had predicted that Neville, Hagrid, or McGonagall would die, but that was not the case. I’m still not sure how I feel about both Tonks and Lupin dying but I can see it to make Harry be the godfather that he never got to have. And what is George, holey George, going to do without his brother? I wished we had seen his reaction, though it may have been too much for readers to take. I did get some comfort out of the fact that Fred went out with a joke.
Dumbledore is not perfect after all, he is fallible. I had always suspected that he was up to something that belied his stature and grandeur but I never suspected the family story nor his long-ago friendship with a Dark Master who was very anti-Muggle. The quest for the Deathly Hallows, that makes sense to me. That fits Dumbledore’s personality. But the story behind his family was a bit of a surprise. Dumbledore had been rather full of himself but he also gave off the air that he understood it too. He made mistakes, quite a few of them, but didn’t always admit them to everyone. He did know his limits. (Never accepting the post of head of Ministry.) I think this realization and discovery did help Harry become a better person. Everyone does make mistakes and keep secrets.
I always knew Snape had some good in him and that Harry’s mother played some part in that, but it was still a nice revelation that he did end up caring for Harry because of Lily and her kindness, even though she did separate herself from him because of his dark tendencies. She was one of the few people to like Snape for himself. Snape’s capacity to love is what made him different. He loved Lily and was able to love her son. I loved how his Patronus was a doe and not something else. Snape really was an old softie.
Love, of course, was a big theme in this book. The ability to love and feel will conquer all. Snape could love, Dumbledore could love, the Malfoys loved their son, Harry loved and was loved, etc. We all know that Voldemort’s biggest downfall was his inability to love, to feel remorse, really to feel anything. He was all hate and pride, and that ultimately destroyed him. He couldn’t imagine that anything could be stronger than his supreme talent and power. I think that was a great theme for the kids to believe in, love is always there and always important, no matter what happens. If you can love, you can do anything.
There were a lot of other underlying themes- a lot of racial implications. The whole purity of the wizarding race just reeks of Nazism. They hunted Muggle-born wizards and forced them to give up their wands. They had no guilt in just killing off Muggle families. Half-blood wizards were seen as of lesser status. It’s all so reminiscent of the Holocaust. There’s a take off of a well known about how they came for the jews and I did nothing and they came for these people and I did nothing, etc. Lupin makes that point on Potterwatch about how first it’s the Muggle-borns, and then the half-bloods, and then the purebloods, and then it will be just the Death-Eaters. You can see the progression. The undercurrent was just there.
You can see it even more with the talk of Grindewald’s camp for non-followers, Nurmengard, and the slogan over the gate. (Wish I could remember it but it’s very reminiscent of “Work Makes You Free”.) It’s very World War II-like. (Even to the little details of no tv and just a wireless radio. Potterwatch and the Order= the resistance.) And it all stems from the fact that Voldemort was more or less screwed over by Muggles in his childhood, even though he is half-blood himself. (Sound familiar to anyone else?) Younger kids might not pick up on it, but anyone who has studied history most likely will. It’s not that subtle.
All in all it was a satisfying end to the story. The battle scene at Hogwarts was fantastic. Neville rocked as I always believed that he would. (And his gran? Awesome lady.) The little details were well thought out and interesting. (Loved the use of the Room of Requirement and McGonagall leading a battalion of desks was priceless!) The last chapter seemed a bit of out of place to me, but I can see where it would be necessary. It is nice knowing what happened afterward and it does leave an opening for more books featuring the kids.
I have so much more to talk about but this will have to do for now.
The books may be done but the phenomenon lives on. Long live Harry Potter.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Yes, I have read the news reports about all the spoilers but I’ve tried to keep myself from reading them. I accidentally heard something on the radio but I don’t know if it was one of the real or fake spoilers and I don’t care to find out. Whoever posted them has way too much time on their hands anyway. I know people pay big money for something like this and there are the few that will do anything to find out what happens, but part of the hype is waiting and finding out with everyone else what happens. Boo and hiss on those people who are trying to spoil it for everyone. Most people don’t really want to know right now. Really. We can wait.
I am a Harry Potter fan. I really just fell into it in college when I was home on break and a neighbor said here, read this book. (I baby-sat for them and we exchanged books once they realized what a book nerd I was. The dad introduced me to Douglas Adams too, something for which I will be eternally grateful.) I don’t care if these books were meant for kids. They are very well written and draw you into the story. You can imagine yourself as part of their world. I think that’s one of the biggest draws of the story. Plus the attention to detail is incredible. Yes, it’s a trendy thing in some ways but it really is a worthwhile series. I’d read it if it weren’t popular.
I will be at the midnight release party at my local Barnes and Noble. (The closest store to minimize time not reading.) I want my copy as soon as possible so I can start reading. (Yes, I am one of those fans. I don’t care.) I probably won’t stay up all night reading but I do plan to spend all Saturday reading. I won’t go immediately to last page. I’ve never done that and don’t plan to. Plus the last page doesn’t always completely give away the ending anyway. I’ll probably end up posting something about it this weekend, so if you are a slow reader or waiting, I’d watch out. I’ll note major spoilers and all that but if you are in any way connected to the world, you’ll probably know by then anyway.
It’s nice that this series has promoted reading and has sold record numbers of books, but literacy is still down. People just aren’t reading like they used to. Library hours have declined and their use is really now more for computers than books. It’s sad. I got special permission to start checking out more adult books when I was 9 or 10 because I had already gone through the children’s area. I feel sad for those kids who will never understand the thrill of reading and imagination. It’s about creating a fantasy world with your own pictures, not one that someone else has given you. (The movies about books do spoil that somewhat, though I will say that the movie HP looks a lot like how I imagined him.) I hope that the kids reading Harry Potter continue reading in any way possible.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Our AC is now running better than ever. It’s been nice. We can actually feel the air coming out of the vents upstairs now. We just thought it was old ductwork but that obviously wasn’t the case. The AC guys said it was one of the worst cases they had ever seen, it was that bad. But there’s definitely no way we could have got it that bad, having only been here a year. Bad previous owners!
We went to a friend’s going away party this weekend. They are moving to Atlanta for grad school. We volunteered to do the food for the party as it’s easy for us to do. We scaled back from what we would have normally done (stuffed pork tenderloin, homemade coleslaw, hummus and pita, and stuff like that) and just did fajitas and a lovely watermelon spiked with vodka. I made salsa and pico de gallo from the tomatoes in our garden and the peppers that I bought at the farmer’s market. It turned out excellent. Recipes follow.
4-5 tomatoes, chopped to fit in processor
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cayenne peppers*
1 serrano pepper*
2 anaheim peppers*
2-3 jalepeno peppers*
1 red bell pepper
1 purple bell (green also works)
1 small bunch cilantro
1 ½ limes
couple tablespoons olive oil
Roughly chop and put all ingredients into food processor and pulse. You may have to puree some of the tomatoes down at first in order to fit everything in. When done, you should have a semi-chunky but smooth mixture. Almost but not quite a puree. Let sit for one hour or more for the flavors to mix. It gets better as it sits.
For extra spice add Tabasco or siracha sauce. Extra peppers work too. A scotch bonnet would be a great addition or maybe instead of the anaheims. For a slightly different flavor, roast some of the peppers.
Remember, all of this is to taste. Add/delete what you want. This is a bit spicy- it creeps up on you. Leave out the * peppers for less spice. There’s so much you can do with it to make it your own. Cumin and chili powder work. Maybe some paprika.
Pico de gallo
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeno, minced (optional)
1 small bunch cilantro, rough chopped
1 lime, juiced
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for one hour to let the flavors mix. Sometimes I add garlic powder for a little extra flavor.