Monday, April 29, 2013

On the Dubious Pleasure of Being an Adult

Last Friday I got a raise, and I swear, the first thought that went through my mind was: now's a good weekend to buy a lawnmower.

When did I get so dull?  

I needed a lawnmower. I've been borrowing my parents' mower for a year, and I couldn't reasonably do that forever.  I have my own lawn, I need my own lawnmower. Being responsible and taking care of your things is the right and proper thing to do. And yet...

It's a good lawnmower. It was reasonably priced, it starts easily and it cuts the grass well. I'm glad I have it. I have no complaints about my purchase, except that it's a lawnmower. I spent my raise on a lawnmower.

It bothers me that I didn't think about buying something less practical, like an X-box or a ridiculously overpriced handbag. It never even crossed my mind. I've never been a party girl, but I thought I had some personality. Being responsible and capable is useful and all, but it doesn't have much in the way of excitement or glamour. Next thing you know, I'll only being eating out at lunch (the prices are better) and refusing any caffeine after 2 pm.

The wages of sin may be death, but the wages of practicality appear to be boredom.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Let's get out of the house

I got a raise! Not a lot, but more than I had. Time to go out and celebrate!

I'm thinking sushi, and maybe a beer. (I know. I'm wild.)

I'm already committed to seeing an exhibit of Russian book illustrations (my friends are as nerdy as I am) but there are a lot of things going on this weekend. A few suggestions for those not looking at Russian books:
Is it odd that I find all three equally appealing?

Friday Fun Video
Los Lobos will be playing tomorrow at iFest.  If we're lucky, they'll play this.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Diet Update: Week 1

As promised, the diet update. This is my last week and a half:

Days on the diet: 10
Today's weight: 274.8
Total pounds lost: 8

And feeling pretty good. I have been diligent about cooking so I would have diet-appropriate food to bring for lunch. When I went out with friends last weekend I ordered vegetable heavy items and I limited my drinking to one glass of wine. (Not that big a sacrifice - the wine was not very good.)

I know eight pounds is a sizable loss for ten days, but
  • you always lose more at the start, and
  • the more you have to lose, the easier the first pounds come off
I have a long way to go. A woman of my height (5 ft 6) should weigh between 125-145 pounds. I've got at least 130 more pounds to lose. Sigh.

Still, I've started.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

Angel Oak - Charleston
I'm not going to preach, but if you are interested in doing something in the Houston area:
 or you could just go vegetarian for the day.

And of course, follow Mr. Minchin's advice, and take your own bags to the supermarket.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Small, good things

It's been such a traumatic week; I thought it would be a good weekend to focus on little things that make life worth living.

This weekend, my friends Daniel and Vero are celebrating the 5 year anniversary of their 1st date.

From their wedding - 2011
My favorite webcomic: Girl Genius is still going strong.

Seriously, Agatha Heterodyne rocks.
And Bailey has decided to take advantage of laundry day by building a nest.

Weekend Fun Video
And a great version of a great song


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Updates and a Program Change

Hi everybody, sorry I'm late.

If you recall, I had some things I wanted to do in 2013.  This is where I currently stand:

Still to start
  • Planning my international vacation - I'm thinking early Autumn, but not sure where.  
  • Make a photo-book - I've taken pictures (I always take pictures) but I need to come up with a theme
  • Read Don Quixote - haven't even picked it up
  • Buy a new sofa - still just looking a catalogs
  • Refinish the living room shelves and my old bed - they're in the garage, does that count?
  • Read one novel by Charles Dickens - see Don Quixote
  • Improve my knowledge of MadCap Flare - sigh

Steps forward
  • I've contributed to my Roth IRA.
  • I've posted three blog entries every week (not always long, but always three)
  • I have been very good about taking my lunch to work. I've only missed three days so far, and am doing my best to keep myself organized so that it doesn't happen again.
  • I took the Bamboo out of the closet and tried it out. Interesting, but not something I have a use for right now.
  • A friend and I are seeing if we can go to the Blanco Lavender Festival together.

Steps back  
  • Lose 100 lbs
  • Write a letter to a friend every other week

I started well on the last two, and then things just sort of petered out. I regained all the weight I lost in January and while I did write some letters, I started procrastinating on those too.

No more. The last time I wrote a lot of letters I had a regular letter writing night. I even used to make notes for myself, so I'd remember things to put in the letters. So I am re-instituting letter night. Wednesday nights seem like a promising time for that.

Last, and definitely not least, my weight. I re-started the diet on Monday. I think I need more accountability on this diet, so instead of Wedneday recipes, I will be posting a "state-of-the-diet" report.  My apologies to those of you who really like the recipes. I may post recipes again later on, but right now, my focus has to be on removing the pounds.

Monday, April 15, 2013


3 dead, 130+ injured, and one question: why?
Every idea I had for a blog post has left my head. All I can think of is why do people do this? How can anybody do this? And the plan was for more. I suppose it's a small grace that the other bombs didn't go off. 
But it's not enough. It's not nearly enough.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cooking with Shakespeare

Friday Fun Video
Since I only made hash this week,  a more entertaining recipe for your enjoyment.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Easy cooking for a bad day: Turkey Sausage Hash

Some days you're just tired.  You're behind on everything at work, the neighbor keeps you chatting about the health of the trees, and then the cat trips you, causing you to drop a dish, scattering glass shards and strawberries all over the kitchen.

In a perfect world, you'd be able go back to bed and start the day over.

But in reality, you have to make dinner, after you clean up the scattered glass and fruit.

This is not a fancy dish. Elaborate food is for when a person is confident and all is right with the world. This is for when you are feeling totally frazzled, but you still need to eat. It tastes good, it's a snap to make and it's even good for you.

Turkey Sausage Hash

1 package sweet Italian turkey sausage, skinned (about 1.2 lbs)
1 onion, diced
1 apple, diced
olive oil
parsley (optional)

1. Put a tablespoon of olive oil (it may seem like a lot, but turkey sausage is almost fatless) and the diced onion in a large frying pan. Cook until the onions have started to brown.

2. Add the skinned sausage and treat like hamburger, mixing it into the onions and browning it.
3. Add the apples and cook until heated through, but not mushy. Take off the heat and serve. Toss in a handful of parsley if you feel the need for greens.

The sweet crunch of the apple contrasts nicely with the savory sausage and onions, You don't even have to season it, because the turkey sausage has enough spice to spare.

About four servings.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hill Country Idyll

I'm sorry I missed yesterday, I'm still getting my act together after having been out of town all weekend. I was attending a not-a-wedding.

What is a not-a-wedding? It's a ceremony for a couple that eloped; complete with blessing the couple, cake, sit-down dinner and dancing, but it's NOT a wedding because:
  1. They are already married, &
  2. The not-groom very firmly says "It's NOT a wedding" everytime anyone says the word "wedding".
I'm teasing, of course. My favorite moment was during the blessing. We were all standing around the couple, and a little boy (about 4) walked up to his father, handed him his shoes, and walked away. They told him to be quiet during the ceremony, and he was, but I had a hard time not giggling.

The party was lovely, particularly the setting. If you are going to get not-married, do it in the Texas Hill Country in spring, when the wildflowers are at their peak. I'm thinking of asking them to do it again next year, so I'll have an excuse to drive around looking at fields of bluebonnets.

I also had some time to look around New Braunfels and Gruene, which is a daytrip from San Antonio or Austin, and an overnighter if you're coming from Houston or Dallas. The main reason to go New Braunfels is tubing on the river. There are several companies that rent tubes and drop people off 4-8 hours upstream. Then you can spend the day floating lazily down the Guadalupe, drinking beer (they rent cooler tubes) and enjoying Nature.

But, since it's only the beginning of April, it was little chilly for tubing, so I walked around taking pictures instead.  I think I found all the museums and monuments in town. I also visited the oldest bakery in Texas - Naegelin's Bakery, est. 1868. I recommend the springerle and lebkuchen. Yummy. Also, the Phoenix Saloon had the best hamburger I've had in a year.

Gruene Hall
Catholic church and coffee shop dog

flea market dummies

Golden beets - farmer's market
High Brehm Hat Store
Golden birdbath - Gruene

Springerle from the oldest bakery in Texas (1868)
Sunday swim practice - see the wetsuits? Cold water.
Most outrageous dessert buffet I've ever seen - including two(!)  not-wedding cakes
New Braunfels train museum - free admission!

Friday, April 5, 2013

I'll tell you on Monday

 I'm at a wedding. Sort of. Well, yes it is a wedding but no it isn't really ...

What it is, is a long story, and I'll have to tell you later.

In the meantime,  have a wonderful weekend. Take advantage of the glorious weather we're having! There are all sorts of festivals if you're at a loss.

 Have a great weekend and I'll tell you all about the not-really-a-wedding next week.
This weekend
Friday Fun Video
Nobody does it like the king.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013


You've probably figured out by now that I gather books like other women gather shoes, and books on food and cooking are especially welcome.  A few years ago, I picked up a book called Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honeybee. I bought it mostly for the title, which comes from a story by Jonathan Swift (the author of Gulliver's Travels) that I have always liked.  In it a bee and a spider are comparing the merits of their work (web v. honeycomb). The bee wins the argument handily:
" We have chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax; thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light."
At that point I knew nothing about honey other than it was sticky stuff, made by bees, that came in jars. The book turned out to be fascinating. For instance:
  • Honey is naturally sterile, and was used to dress wounds to prevent infection
  • Honey does not go bad. Ancient honey from Egyptian tombs has been re-constituted and found to be completely edible.
  • Honeybees are not native to North America, but a European import
As I started getting interested in honey, I found that there were as many types of honey as there are flowers. The clover honey in the supermarket is barely scratching the surface. And honey is a terrific souvenir, there is almost always a local honey for sale.

The honey I picked up in Mexico - isn't the Mayan bee great?
I have 7 jars in my house at the moment. Some are from vacation (NYC, Mexico) one was a present (buckwheat) and the rest I picked up during regular shopping. They all have very different flavors, though in general, the darker the honey, the more agressive the flavor. Chestnut is a bit metallic, the buckwheat is almost like molasses, and the rosemary is distinctly herbal. My favorite, the one I'm hoarding because I can't get it anymore, is walnut, which is very complex, almost bitter. Plain yogurt and a spoonful of walnut honey makes me a very happy woman.

I don't eat honey every day. Not even every week, but as I said before. it doesn't go bad. So having seven jars of honey in the cupboard isn't that big a deal. And if it crystallizes, you can zap it in the microwave, or just stick the jar in hot water. It will liquify either way.

I don't have a recipe for today, though if you want to do something easy, beat a couple of spoonfuls of honey into a stick of butter. The resulting compound butter turns toast into a gourmet experience.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Identity badges

I was scolded this weekend by a friend of mine for not changing my Facebook icon on March 26th. Now I did know that the Supreme Court was hearing two cases on marriage equality last week, but the "change your icon if you support it" thing passed me by somehow.

The thing is, even if I had known, I don't know if I would have. I have a difficulty with labels, even self-applied ones. I run the Breast Cancer 5k, but if I don't wear pink while I do it, does that make my donation any less valuable? I give money to AIDS organizations, but I don't wear the twist of red ribbon. Back when Lance Armstrong was still kosher, I gave money to the Livestrong Foundation, but I never wore the yellow rubber bracelet. And while I am totally behind LGBT rights, supporting them both with my vote and my voice, I'm not wearing the red equals sign.

I prefer not to wear badges declaring my affiliations to the world, not because I'm embarrassed by them, but because I find it showy. Unless you are at a conference where everyone is wearing one, it's a little - "look at me, I'm so virtuous." 

It would be different if I thought it would actually make a difference, if "turning Facebook red" would change the law. But the Supreme Court does not make its decisions by polling Facebook.  

"But it's about showing support for the cause." Anyone who knows me, knows what I support, and for those I don't know, isn't it better that people approach me without the pre-conceived notions that would be engendered by a badge?  I'm more likely to be approached by someone from the opposing side, because I'm not wearing my affiliations on my sleeve. Then instead of the "Gay Rights Supporter" I'd be the average person who completely supports gay rights.

One of the few times I agreed with Seinfeld