Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not the weekend I was hoping for...

Unfortunately this weekend wasn't the restful reprieve I was hoping it would be. I spent yesterday primarily curled up in a cuddle blanket absent-mindedly putting together a puzzle and processing. It just takes time.

Today I was determined to get out of the house. If the rainy miserable weather yesterday matched my mood yesterday, there couldn't be a better indicator that today is going to be a better day than the absolutely perfect weather outside: 65, sunny, a light breeze and everything fresh and clean from yesterday's rain.

A few more photos from our walk are here. Including the ones from me playing with the macro setting on my camera. I realized while walking and taking pictures I'm a point and shoot girl at heart. I don't know if this is something that will change as my knowledge and confidence increase or if it's just a fact. It is somewhat disappointing, as well, to realize that Gavin was entirely correct in saying I could never be a nature photographer because I lack the patience required to successfully wait. I hope that it is also something I can change with practice.

In spite of my blarg mood yesterday, I still got hungry, so I made sausage baguette's courtesy of a Rachel Ray recipe. I was suppose to make them Wednesday but just kept putting it off. I didn't feel like leaving, and had all of the ingredients, so...

I thought it was alright. Gavin seemed to really like it when he got home. He might have just been happy to have yummy food waiting for him.

On Friday my sister came up and I made her what is probably my absolutely favorite new cocktail: The Stormy Night. I didn't take a photo of it when we made it, but for reference, here is an old picture from Wildfire. Fitting, since this is where I first found the drink!

The drink is AMAZING. The basic recipe is:

1 part Effen Black Cherry
1 part watermelon pucker
1 part island pucker.
Shake and serve in martini glass with sugared rim.

Some web research shows that some people put sweet and sour. I haven't tried, but see no reason to mess with such a good thing! Plus the color is absolutely beautiful and I wouldn't want to pollute it with sweet and sour.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Busy, stressful week!

What a long week! Work, wedding, conflicts, chores... sometimes there's just too much! But, I think it's nothing some relaxing this weekend won't help! I don't have tons of free time this weekend (shocking, I know) but I have some. I'm hoping to get the rest of my garden in. What's there seems to be good so far, but any planting will depend on the weather of course. I like watering my indoor plant, but until stuff starts growing, the outdoor garden is a bit boring. We'll see if I change my mind I guess.

Ceramics was pretty good this week. Our project is coming along quite well. Gavin made some beautiful test colors, now we just need to get them to someone who can actually visual colors and shapes to bring everything together. I'll post some pottery pictures sometime.

In honor of Gavin and my anniversary, I cleaned up the house and decorated for spring! I'm not much of a decorator, but my mom supplied the flowers as an early St David's day gift, so I did the rest. Sadly, I was too tired and busy to cook last night and didn't realize he was away again tonight.

Gavin surprised me with a lovely Tiffany charm. Happy Anniversary, babe!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A flyby of the first NAPT

The NAPT (North American Poker Tour) kicked off this weekend in Vegas. I made the trip out with Gavin, although I headed home today to get back to work tomorrow. We arrived late Thursday. Friday we saw my parents for a bit, met up with Gary for dinner and then went to the Celebrity Charity Tournament. I nearly played, but decided 500 with rebuys was too much and watched instead. The highlight was meeting Donny Wahlberg, my serious childhood crush. It would have been awesome to meet him anyway, but it helped that he turned out to be an awesome guy.

After the charity event, Gavin and I met up with Kevin and went to the Stars party. T Pain was really awesome. I wasn't sure how it would be, but I thought it was funny and fun to watch. We didn't stay too late as Gavin had to play the next day and I was heading over to see my mom for her Birthday. Gavin sadly busted late Day 1. But I had a good day with my parents, I helped them with some ceramics stuff and they had their first poker experience. Saturday night, Gavin and I decided the best course of action would be room service and UP!. Excellent decision, in my opinion.
The trip to Vegas was a bit of a whirlwind. I got to see some of my friends, although not much and I missed others altogether! :(

Today, driving home across the desert inspired me to get serious about my garden. I had already removed all the plants from my chosen garden area, but the soil seemed too dense and didn't seem to be draining well. I stopped by Home depot for amendments and ended up with a few tomato plants (I figured I'd be quite upset to work so hard and have no actual planting done to show for it!) "Turning" soil is hard work, even in a mini garden! A few hours later and I think I made progress.

I hope that hunting down the rest of my plants will keep me busy (well, in addition to my regular activities...) while Gavin is away this week!

Monday, February 15, 2010

An evening of difficult cooking

Tonight our ceramics class was canceled because of Presidents day. As a result, we decided to make a more complicated meal that our normal weeknight cooking. Tonight's recipe menu was Tomato Bisque and a Vegetarian melt, both William Sonoma Healthy Cooking recipes. In my experience so far, the only major problem with these recipes is they tend to use difficult to find or use ingredients. This recipe wasn't too bad, but it was only our second time cooking with eggplant.

Both recipes were a bit labor intensive. I wouldn't recommend making them together again. Actually, I don't think I'd make the soup again at all, although the Veggie melts are certainly worth repeating.

In other exciting news, my small amount of hard work is already paying off in my from seed garden! I've been using an AeroGarden for a while with quite a bit of success, but as I have a yard now, I'm ready to have a dirt garden too (I don't know if that's the right phrase to use...) I planted some seeds that will be transplanted into my garden when I get it going in a few weeks. Look at them go!

I know it's not much to look at now... but someday!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gucci Goo

I am so happy that I've had to completely revamp this post which I worked on several times yesterday.

While I promised this blog wouldn't be all 'emo' it nearly was yesterday. Yesterday morning Gavin and I woke up to find that Gucci was gone. Gucci is our six year old Bengal and the most adventurous of our animals. The other cats had also gone for an adventure, but theirs ended about four feet from the door in the safety of our yard furniture.

Gucci decided to take off. We had no idea how long she had been gone or where she was. We first went to all of the neighbors houses asking if anyone had seen her. Gavin searched the trail and I checked with every animal agency I could think of by phone and online. We then made fliers and Gavin took them to local grocery stores and vets while I set up her favorites food and treats at all the doors. I alternated between watching to search everywhere and knowing it wasn't going to work. I tried to get Penny to find her, but she was more interested in playing than looking!

I ended up spending most of my day sniffling in the back yard calling her name and shaking her treats. I convinced Gavin that heading to play the 1k rebuy at Commerce was better than sulking around waiting for Gucci to return with me. Sara came up to hang out and keep me company. Eventually she convinced me I needed to eat. While she was gone, I went out to uselessly yell for Gucci again and I heard her little meow! I ran out and found her in our yard hanging out in a bush. Apparently she had already raided the front door and side door kitty treat stashes, and besides a minor limp, she looked perfectly fine!

I am so grateful to my neighbors for helping to search and my friends for offering prayers, well wishes and comfort! I am ecstatic to have my furry family all back together! With the help of a new GPS tracking system and some luck, I'll never have to see this photo on a "Lost Cat" poster ever again!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Something Else Creative!

As I mentioned, Gavin and I are learning to cook. Since yesterday's meal was pretty much a bust, I decided I'd post something else creative.

Gavin and I frequently visit Disneyland. On a recent visit, we found these awesome aprons. The only problem was that the Minnie Mouse one was only a waist apron. My most frequent kitchen messes are above the waist(and all over the kitchen, but that's a different problem). We bought Mickey and I decided to make mine.

I bought a sewing machine about two years ago when we moved into the house. I have down some sewing in the past, but I am no expert. Apparently, I also have little interest, as the sewing machine sat in the box in the activity room unopened until a week ago!

I borrowed a pattern from my sister. It was awesome because I didn't have to deal with the horribleness that is cutting the pattern. I needed a little help laying it out, which my sister was willing to provide in exchange for some vino. Overall the sewing took me about two hours (and the rest of the vino!) although I was pretty laid back about the progress.

One of my discoveries is that kitty's LOVE pattern material. It's like kitty fly tape, the minute I'd turn around, the cats would run over and start running and flipping over all over the pattern pieces. Not very good their structural integrity.

Another is that hems are hard on curves. For straight hems, I just ironed them the way I wanted to sew them and flew along, the curves were worse. Before my next project (if history is an indicator, I have at least four years) I should sort out this problem.

In my opinion, the final product came out pretty well. The color is slightly off from Gavin's and the hems turn out a little, but they are both cute enough that we hung hooks to display them in the kitchen!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cooking for Uno

Gavin's out of town. Almost all of the time this means I will either eat out or eat something dumb, like porridge or frozen food, for dinner. It’s difficult to cook for one person and annoying when there is no one there to tell you what a tasty meal all of your hard work created. I decided yesterday I was going to cook for myself. My blog can be the thing that tells me what an excellent job all of my hard work produced! Had I thought about this in advance, I would have made a prettier meal, but sadly I didn’t foresee me photo-documentarying my cooking experiences when I did my shopping this week!

I use to think I was a bad cook and that was just a fact of life. I now realize I am not a bad cook. I was bad at following directions. It’s somewhat bizarre that this is true, since I almost always read my manuals cover to cover and am overall a great student. The problem is that I thought cooking should be easy, cheap, and efficient. Turns out cooking isn’t necessarily any of these things. Instead of reading the recipe before I started, I would just take the first step. This would often result in me desperately trying to cut up onion so I could add them after two minutes, etc. This is obviously very easy to fix once I put my ego in check and acknowledged that cooking was going to take some effort. I now have a system for cooking. Seems to me the most important step is preparing.

1. Get out all ingredients. This ensure I HAVE all ingredients and that I won’t be making a mad dash to the neighbors for some sugar.

2. Prepare all ingredients. This was previously irritating to me because I felt like I was wasting time chopping everything up front. Turns out it saves stress, food from burning, and a lot of effort. It does create some unnecessary dishes, but you can pretend you are on a cooking show adding things from little bowls!

3. Eat.

This particular recipe is not a keeper in my opinion. It was a Rachel Rays turkey potatoes and veggies in burgundy sauce recipe. It wasn’t bad, but I probably won’t make it again.

Tonight, its back to eating out. I don’t really have a choice as I have ceramics tonight and by the time I get home, I’ll barely have time to hug Penny before class!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Inspired and ready to go!

Inspired by Nathalie, I think I'm ready to start blogging again. The problem is, I've started blogging about four times in my 'adult' life (if you count college as part of ones adult life).

I'll admit, the first blog I started, which I an unable to locate, was started primarily to battle the blog started by my then roommate in some kind of good triumphs over evil effort on my part. I imagine on retrospect I'd find it petty and irritating. Since then, I've blogged on and off, mostly on live journal. I've had two primary complications. The first is that I only truly feel like writing about my feelings and almost exclusively when my feelings suck. So instead of a nice mix of good days and bad days, which would be an accurate representation of my life most of the time, my blog read like that of a preteen emo girl. The second is fear of people I dislike getting in all my business (better known as privacy concerns.) I suppose that the second is likely directly related to my first complication of using my blog as a diary.

This blog is not a diary. Should solve both problems! This blog is intended as a way to explore some of my new interests and maybe get some insights! In an effort to curb some enemy infiltration, don't expect to see last names, birthdays, social security numbers or mothers maiden names.

What I do intend to post is a chronicle of some of my more creative interests. Cooking, Photography and gardening are all likely to be recurring.

Cooking? Yep, I'm learning to cook. Actually, Gavin and I have been learning together for a little while now. In fact, I would say we cook well over half of our food now. I actually find it easier to cook regularly then sporadically. When we were cooking sporadically, food would almost certainly go bad in the fridge, we wouldn't have the items required and grocery shopping took forever. Now that we choose our food ahead of time, shopping is easier, we have what we need and it doesn't take nearly as long. Plus there are certainly health benefits to eating fresh home cooked food over prepackaged, fast food, or even restaurant food. (Even when you are making food that is more delicious than necessarily dedicated to nutrition as shown here!) Maybe I'll post some of our favorite recipes as well!

Photography! For Christmas this year Gavin bought be a new Digital Camera! It's not quite like my other cameras, a fujifilm waterproof and a cannon power shot (both of which I love). This camera, a Nikon D90 digital SLR, has enough settings to make me read the manual more than once! (Actually, I'm not even through it the first time, yet!) One of my favorite things about the camera, however, is that even without really understanding the features, it's still easy to catch a few great shots. The photo taken on the right was taken on full auto. I won't tell you how many pictures I took... Actually quite a few of the pictures are good, I just think this picture is great. I love how it captures the water coming off the dolphin and avoids almost all of the people/trees/interference. I know you can't really see the detail in this image, but trust me it's very nice! After I get a little bit better at using the camera, I intend to find and use a basic photo editing software to remove unwanted bald heads and things, but for now I'd like to spend more time on actually shooting instead. Practice makes less bad!