Monday, January 31, 2011

Pretties


This pendant, a charm for safe travel, by debradane at etsy...




 "Ballgown"
Giclee on canvas
30 x 24

This painting, as well as all the others I could find, by the late Pino Daeni. His understanding of skin tone was incredible.

This women's bluegrass CD I bought at Mast General Store a few months ago...

The most beautiful (and ridiculously expensive) Kitchen-Aid mixer I have ever seen in my life.

(Even Jason drooled over this with me in the Williams Sonoma store)




This song by Ingrid Michaelson


The newest Spectrum book on contemporary sci-fi and fantasy art, Spectrum 17. I own 15 and 16. I would love to own every single book they've ever put out... these are some of the best art books I've seen.


This bracelet I got from my sister at Christmas, which I wore as a good luck charm while traveling on vacation.


"Endeavor"
oil on canvas
50 x 60

This beautiful painting by Britten, whose work was being shown at an art gallery in Beaver Creek when we were there, and which you can see more of at the art gallery's website here.


The King Is Dead, the new CD by the Decemberists, oh so soon to be mine all mine (ah, gift cards are so wonderful).


The lovebirds necklace by the vintage pearl... although obviously the initials I would get on my necklace would be, er, slightly different.

One more, and then I shall end this parade of mindless consumerism. I've been looking at pretty things in-between my stop-and-start attempts to pick up our living room while Jason is sleeping... to do without being loud enough to wake him up. 
 
Which is difficult, since the cat has now decided that closing the bedroom door is a signal for her to start yowling as loudly as she can to try and get in and/or out, depending on which side of said door she is on.

last, but not least...


This tea, arguably the best of all possible ideas for tea. It's a chocolate mint tea, and with a touch of milk and honey it's like drinking a Thin Mint dipped in cream. 

I just drank the last of our chocolate mint tea last night.

This makes me very sad.

Perhaps it is a sign we need more.

(This is what I keep instead of cookies. If I buy cookies... I eat them. This is a problem.)

Instead, I drink tea.

Okay, now done with the pretties and time to force myself to focus 100% on neatening up my living room.

...

Hmmn, I wonder what else there is to look at on the internet...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Concise


I don't have much to say today.


I just have a tired brain and fuzzy thoughts.

Adulthood should really involve less time spent working and more time spent together.


Until I acquired our cat, I had no idea that cats could be as vocal as she is. I had never really heard a cat 'chirp' like this before.

I know that seems random, but she's sitting next to me making little chirpy sounds trying to get my attention.

So it made me think of it.


So here are some photos from our vacation, in lieu of any long and rambling posts about my life, or my feelings.

Those are simple to sum up.

Life is fantastic, mostly, except for when it is isn't.


I feel fantastic, mostly, except for when I don't.


I suppose I'll go make some coffee - Jason during our vacation declared it 'consciousness juice'.

He's probably right.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Showdown at Beaver Creek

Okay, the title has basically nothing to do with the post. I just thought it sounded clever.

Let's move on.

The condo we stayed in was sort of a vertical housing situation. One came in the door, and there was the front landing with coat hooks and stairs down to a sort of 'rec room' in the basement, with a bedroom just off the landing. Up some stairs, you had a bedroom with a queen-sized bed, and then the bedroom with two sets of bunk beds. Up MORE stairs, and you had the spacious little living room area. Up yet more stairs, you had the kitchen and dining area. So our living situation was one large upwards rectangle, basically.

I have photos from the inside of the condo we stayed in. I do. I have a lot of photos, actually. In almost every one of them, however, there are people. Some of those people (*cough* Justin *cough) had just woken up in about four of the pictures, and I decided against posting photos wherein men in pajamas and silly hair are blocking my view of the kitchen or making faces at me.

And, to be honest, most of my photos of the inside of the condo involve either men in pajamas and silly hair, or people making silly faces in my general direction.


Or wearing ski goggles inside the house.

Actually, counting silly faces, almost every picture I took in which a person shows up, they are making silly faces. Hmmmn...

What I do have an unblocked photo of, however, is the glorious Antler Lamp in the living room.

Some of you who are on my facebook have already seen this photo of the glorious antler lamp. I think, however, that you'll be thrilled to get to see it again.

It simply is that glorious.


Look at it. Don't you want one? I kind of do.

It was snowing when I took that photo. It snowed a lot, off and on. An inch here, two inches there. It was a dry, powdery snow, that kind you sink up to your hips in if you're not paying attention.

For the record, I did not sink up to my hips.

Corey did.




Regardless, though, whenever the sun did come out to play, bouncing off all that bright snow, it was absolutely gorgeous outside. We were nestled a bit up the side of a mountain. The skiers and snowboarders in the group could actually get up to the lifts without that much effort at all. This is, I am told, advertised as a "ski-out" amenity.

The first day we actually had the full day on the mountain was sort of an adjustment day. The whole week, we never really did get used to the time change, Jason and I. We were constantly waking up before dawn or getting sleepy at like 9 p.m. We never adjusted all the way to the altitude; the summit of Beaver Creek is over 11,000 feet above sea level, and while we weren't quite that far up, we were pretty up there. The whole week, going up stairs was some serious breath-stealing exercise, and even sitting still or just walking, every once in a while we had to stop and take a huge deep breath before moving on.


One thing I noticed, too, was very little in the way of wildlife sounds. Birdcalls are sort of a matter of course in my life, background noise I hardly notice. Squirrels chattering away at each other is the same thing. But up in the mountains, we saw some fat pigeons and some odd half-white blackbirds, but hardly heard any animal sounds at all.

It made for a strangely serene, quiet environment.


Full of skiers.

And snowboarders.

And also a fantastic environment to relax and have a vacation with my husband and our friends for a week, you know?

Although I myself did no skiing and in no way can be convinced to regret that decision, I had the best time hanging out, walking around, looking at all these new things and this new area and these mountains unlike the Appalachians I am used to in so many ways.


That's it for today. I need to go help make some food before I go into work. Adjusting back to work has been somewhat of an effort; I am in the silliest of moods when there and have a hard time being serious. Luckily, my job is not really negatively affected by silly moods and often customers seem happier to see me acting silly than serious.

More photos tomorrow, although I may not be quite so wordy tomorrow.

Oh, who am I kidding.

When do I not ramble on and on forever about the tiniest things?

I blame the schools.

Now, to consider changing out of my pajamas before I go into work...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day One


When we left last week, it was actually full on darkness before dawn, still. The sky only beginning to grey at the edges as we took off. We flew west - away from the sunrise, but at some point it caught up with us. Somewhere before Texas we passed the farthest west I had ever been... by the time we landed in Houston for our layover I was already in a part of the country I had never seen.
I did not take this picture while looking out. I can't look out of planes; my stomach drops out and there is some hand-flapping and panic that happens that no one wants to deal with. 

Not that there wasn't hand-flapping and panic anyway.

I told you, I don't like planes. Aren't you so glad Jason sat next to me? I sure am.

I took three photos out the window of the plane without actually looking. I was not in a window seat.

I'm proud of myself.

We landed in Houston, where we pretty much boarded our next plane quite quickly, and then were off to Denver. Denver, which is a very cold place, or at least it is in the middle of January.


My first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains, while we drove along in the Denver area's otherwise mostly flat plateau.

After time spent acquiring ski stuff, our friend Sarah, and food... we finally headed into the mountains. You know, just as the snow started to fall in earnest.

The drive was slow, but constant. Sarah knows snow and ice, having grown up in the Northeast, and was our trusty driver. Jason mostly slept, since he had worked overnight, THEN boarded a plane and had to be awake essentially all day. Justin was our navigator, and I was the little squealy panicking thing in the back who kept thanking Sarah for not driving us off a cliff.


We stopped to take a moment to hit up bathrooms, stare at the 5-cent coffee sign inside the gas station (without actually buying said 5-cent coffee... it just seemed suspicious somehow), and stare at the snow coming down.

video

Once that was finished, back in the car to finish the journey, which Google Maps seemed to think would take about two-and-a-half hours in ideal conditions, and which I believe took something like 3-and-a-half hours for us. Maybe more than that; I wasn't entirely aware of what time it was at any given moment all day, other than "time to board a plane", "time to get off the plane", and "time to drive into a snowstorm".

At some point, ragged and ready to collapse in a heap, we turned into the gateway to Beaver Creek, drove in a winding way up the little road past all these beautiful houses and condos, and finally pulled into a driveway.

We were here.


We were also exhausted.

Our bags and bags of food were emptied, hamburgers were eaten, stuff was tossed in bedrooms, and at some point we all sort of collapsed into our various beds. Jason and I stayed in a room with two sets of bunk beds, sleeping below our friend Justin, with Ted and Corey in their respective bunks as well. It was a very... close situation.

It reminded me a lot of dorms in college.

Or it reminded me of that the next morning, after I woke up. At first all it made me think was zzzzzz...

Well, that's day one at least. A lot of running and catching things, driving and groceries, delicious food and sleeping in the end.

I work tonight, until close. It is not the most excited for work I have ever been, but eh, they pay me to be there, and that is a beautiful and glorious thing.

Still, looking at the photos I took to decide which ones to post over the next few days makes me think I'll spend my entire shift daydreaming about Colorado and the mountains.

Well, at least it'll keep me cheerful, right?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back With a Vengenace, Kind Of

I was here for a week:


and now I have returned.

More later.

For now, I am attempting to adjust back into the kind of life where I have to go to work, and get groceries, and cuddle with my kitty... instead of miss my kitty, hike in the snow, drink delicious hazelnut lattes and eat gelato two-thirds of the way up a mountain.

So...

more later.

I'm glad to be back.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

leavin' on a jet plane

At 3:30 AM, everything is very quiet, and my stomach is angry with me for being awake.

I am heading to the airport soon to board a plane to Colorado!

Not sure on my ability to update while I'm there. I'll try; but I can't make any promises.

Everybody have a good, fun, safe week!

I'll be back next Wednesday, at any rate.

Also my hands are cold.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Silliest Post of All


Oh yes. That is yours truly, looking terribly confused, so many years ago.

I am wearing a frilly bonnet.

Why am I wearing a frilly bonnet, you ask?

Only my mother knows the answer to that question.


See, this photo makes perfect sense to me. 

I was playing with my toys, and then I decided to sit in a cabinet. 

But also to leave all my toys out, in a perfect circle where I had been sitting.

Just waiting for some poor unsuspecting parent or sibling to step on them.

That makes much more sense than wearing a frilly bonnet.


This one should be my drivers' license photo, in my opinion.

The cop would still recognize me. You can't not recognize that absolute level of supercool.

Some things never change.

Except now I don't wear barrettes, and you can't make me, nyah nyah nyah.


... and sometimes...

there are those pictures where you wonder if negotiations were involved.

I mean, come on. I am wearing a headband with a little floofy thing on it.

I am wearing a sailor suit dress. To my recollection, dear readers, I have never been in the Navy.

...

and my socks have little bows on them, too.

This picture of absolute proof of how much I love my parents.


...

I really, really, really love my parents.

And I can't wait to have kids, so that I can dress them and take pictures of them and two decades later they can point to those photos and go, "What happened here? Who is responsible for this?"

And I will gladly reply, "It is the inherent right of every parent to dress their children in adorable clothing, regardless of whether or not that clothing is a frilly red jumper or a sailor-suit dress. Now go wash some dishes."

And I will laugh.

Oh, how I will laugh.

The end.

So... Much... Packing...


 Two days out from leaving for our trip with friends to Colorado and I have discovered I only have the ability to pack between the hours of 11 PM and 2 AM. Not long ago I discovered my cleaning abilities are at their best at roughly those times, as well. I'm guessing it comes of trying to keep myself busy while Jason is at work.

I suppose I could go to bed like decent people do, but... that just ain't gonna happen.

I had Iron Chef America playing on Food Network for the last hour or so. There's just something about Bobby Flay snapping at his poor helpers when the pressure cooker isn't going fast enough that makes the packing experience so much better.

I packed the way I always pack; Set spaces on the carpet that represent specific days of the trip, and make sure I have underthings, shirts, and pants for each of those days. The idea is to use as few clothes as possible by making sure most of your clothes can be switched out with each other or layered for warmth without looking absolutely silly.

Not that I worry that much about looking silly, but there will be other people with us, you know. People who have feelings about my cat sweater that don't consist of it being the cutest 5$ sweater ever.

I attempted to start packing for Jason, too. I'm not sure how successful I was, really. There are clothes which belong to him that are in the suitcase. He has enough to get through a week. That's an accomplishment, at least.

This being a vacation, and me being the kind of vacationer I am, one of the most important parts of packing is deciding what books to take. I am limiting myself to three (possibly four if the fourth is a very small book), one small notebook, and a small sketchbook. That seems like a lot, but...

You know, I don't really have a defense for that, other than I like books, I like writing, I like to draw, I like to do those things on vacation too, so there.


So I've got The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing, which I've had for a while but never did get all the way through, Bloodroot, and Our Lady of the Forest. I suppose I'm on kind of a Strange-Women-Living-Strange-Lives kick right now.

In any case, I'm trying to do a little bit of cleaning up before I have to work this afternoon, a closing shift. I'll come home tonight and attempt to do a little more to spruce the place up, since we'll have a friend coming over to make sure our kitty is fed while we're gone.

Tomorrow is a day shift, although thankfully a short one, since Jason and I need to do some last-minute running around before we're set for our trip.


For now, I'm going to attempt to fight off this massive nasty headache and do some cleaning before work.

It is non-stop excitement at my house today.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chicken Curry Salad & My No-Good Terrible Very-Bad Day

It was not, all things considered, a good day.

I didn't get much sleep last night, thanks to the siren song of Dracula and my own night-owl nature.

One of my coworkers came into work feeling awful, barely moving, headache-y and dizzy. Sometime later, she passed out in the back and her mom came to take her to the hospital. Last I heard she was getting a CAT scan. I worry.

I just received a text from her; CAT scan was clear. Oh thank God.

We were absolutely slammed, my other coworker and I, after that point, and the two of us could not keep up, just could not keep up with the rush. I remember at one point looking over at the seemingly endless line of drink cups marked-up and despairing.

I dumped boiling coffee on my hand.

Which, by the way, is no fun at all.

I didn't really burn it badly but it sure hurt like the dickens for an hour or so.

Just.

Just not my best day.

I was meant to go to a party tonight, but decided to not force my own lousy attitude on anyone else just yet. Instead I stayed home and made Not-Quite-Feijoada.

Which, by the way, is wonderful.

I don't have much else beyond those few points in me. These are all the words about my day I have for you, my readers. Instead, I'm going to give you yet another recipe. Then, in a few minutes, I am going to make some Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea, curl up on the couch, and continue on with Dracula.

I have high hopes for tomorrow, though.

This is the chicken salad recipe I was working with Friday. No mayo, full of crazy awesome flavor, just wonderful.

When I had finished it, I thought, I bet my mother-in-law would really like this. That's how good this is.

Chicken Curry Salad


Ingredients
 
Around 2 - 4 tablespoons Extra-Virgin or other olive oil
3 lbs chicken, thawed, diced into 1-inch cubes.
1 yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
4 heaping tablespoons yellow curry powder
2 cups raisins
2 apples (any kind - I used granny smith) peeled, cored, diced
1 cup chopped cilantro
4 green onions, sliced and chopped small

Onto Creation!

Heat your olive oil in a LARGE skillet. I mean large. I mean this recipe makes what I estimate to be around 8 servings of curry chicken salad, but you want to have some serious room to work with. 
 
 When olive oil is heated, toss in your chicken. Stir around until juuuust cooked through. If you cook your chicken too much at this point, it will be dry in the actual salad. Test by pushing in with your spoon to see if there is pink under the skin. When everything seems completely cooked, set your chicken aside in a small bowl.

Add yellow onion and celery to the same skillet you just took your chicken out of. Cook until your onions are translucent (for a couple of minutes). Add all your curry powder, and stir around and really mix it in with the onions and celery. Cook for about five minutes, then add raisins and garlic. Cook for another minute-and-a-half to two minutes or so. 

Toss together with your cooked chicken, then refrigerate until cool.

When all of this has cooled, add in your apples, green onions, and cilantro.

Mix really, really thoroughly, then place back in the fridge until serving time, or eat it right then!

I will say: this was delicious last night when I made it, and it was equally or more delicious today when I had the leftovers for lunch. 

Experiment: Success!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Series of Thoughts


1. There is nothing better than snuggling up under all my blankets at 1 AM and reading Dracula until my eyes give out. Nothing. Bram Stoker's novel, considered by many people The Original Vampire Novel, is one of my favorite books to pick up over and over and over again. There's so much there, so much subtext both that Stoker intended and subtext that we only see now as a 'modern' audience that he didn't really seem to intend at all.

It's such a good story. And curled up under the blankets with a single lamp and a candle going, I don't know, there's just something incredible about reading like that.

2. I love my fleece-y plaid blanket. I know I've said before that I love it, but I'm not sure you, my lovely readers, understand just how much I love it. It might as well be socks or a shirt for how often I am seen wearing it... it's just one fo the first things I put on when I get up, and I wrap it around my shoulders and keep it on them until I must leave.

3. No, I'm not pregnant or planning to get pregnant. I just like chickpeas. (See my last blog post for the reason I felt the need to inform you of something I am not, heh).

4. I am making curried chicken salad for my Food Experiment of the Day. Tomorrow is sausage and spinach soup or pasta or something of that nature, and Sunday is the feijoada experiment. I am excited.

5. Wednesday, I will be flying out to Colorado to enjoy some time with my friends and have a vacation. I'm excited, and terrified.

Both at the same time.

6. Upstate South Carolina is finally starting to thaw out. Finally. I was beginning to think people would drive 10 miles an hour on a 40 mph speed limit road forever.

7. I picked up Bloodroot, a fairly new book, at the library today. I'm intrigued. I'll let you know if I like it!

8. There is nothing like the smell of chicken and onions and curry and garlic and ginger and yum in your kitchen... or if you live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment like I do, your whole apartment. It is such a wonderful set of smells.

9. Nothing like the sound of sizzling onions, either. Except... other sizzly things, I suppose. Hmmn, should have thought that sentence through a little better.

10. I am concerned at my own growing domesticity.

I fear there may be something wrong with me.

Oh good heavens, what if I start actually cleaning up after myself next?

Terrifying thought. I'd rather think about Dracula some more.

You want a real horror movie, just set a vaccuum on for two hours and tape my reaction.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Eh, it's Wednesday night and I'm feelin' wordy, so I suppose I'll toss this recipe up.

My New Year's Resolutions are, in a small and limping fashion, coming into effect. The most successful resolution has been my ongoing attempts to eat more healthily. I have a book of recipes from Clean Eating which is really just an empty sketchbook I took and pasted in recipes from the magazines, when my pile got too big and I realized...

The Rule of One More was about to kick in.

The Rule of One More is Jason's attempt to reign in my natural hoarding tendencies. The tendencies lead to thirty-two coffee mugs in the cupboard or a box full of shells and rocks just because I like shells and rocks or so many books they sit around in crates on the floor because we don't have enough room for them (yet).

Or the seven different large candles I have... although in my defense, most of them are almost burned out.

Or the moisturizers which appear to be multiplying somehow of their own volition.

In any case, the Rule of One More is a simple thing: If you get one more of (insert object here), you must get rid of one.

I work hard to take this rule to heart. After all, my poor husband does have to live in the Apartment of Rapidly Multiplying Body Lotions. And he did bring me a mug from his workplace one night.

So I do what I can. I cut out what I wanted and rid myself, in general, of the magazines.

The recipe I am about to share is mostly from Clean Eating, although of course I shift things up just a bit.

It's in my new sketchbook / recipe book.

And I love it.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas


Ingredients:

2 cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and well rinsed.
Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon (or whole, depending on the sweetness you desire) maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp coriander, ground (or smashed with a spoon if you're me and don't have a spice-grinder)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt and black pepper
Cayenne pepper - start with a pinch, add more to taste
Hot sauce, optional

Onto the Creation!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Make sure you really mix it in there. When I did this, I actually put all the spices, olive oil, and maple syrup in by themselves, mixed 'em a little, and then added the chickpeas. Make sure the chickpeas get really coated in the mixture.

Spread your chickpeas out on a foil-lined baking pan. I used a nice big thin one. Try to make sure you only have one layer of chickpea-deliciousness.

Roast in oven for roughly 15 minutes, then toss chickpeas thoroughly. Return to oven and roast for another 10 minutes, maybe a little more depending on how crispy you want your chickpeas. A good thing to look for is dark brown spots; you want quite a few of them, but you don't want the chickpeas to burn.

Shake on hot sauce to your heart's content; devour in a delicious food haze of wonder and ask yourself why, oh why, did you never realize how wonderful chickpeas were before?

For those of you who don't like spicy at all: I found that using everything as measured except for the hot sauce - even with a pinch of cayenne pepper - it wasn't spicy at all. I added hot sauce and fixed that problem right up, but for those of you who don't like spiciness, the recipe as is is actually very mild.

This is a great snack food; just to munch on in small servings throughout the day. Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans are really calorie-dense, but this is because they're very high in protein, fiber, and iron. They're also really high in folate, which makes them especially good food for women who are planning on having kids soon or pregnant already.

I know, I kind of sound like this is a sermon at this point, but man, this stuff is good. So... so good.

(For Once, An Actually) Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day Two of the Big Chill


Tentatively scheduled to work a few hours today. By the time I got up around 8 AM and looked outside, I knew there was no way I was going to make it, even if I did give it a shot. Everything that didn't have snow on it yesterday, and much of what does have snow on it, was also covered in a nice thick sheet of ice.

We broke apart the ice on my car and, for your knowledge, it was about half an inch of ice accumulation on top of the snow... which in places which have not been trampled or driven on or half-heartedly plowed was about six inches in my part of Greenville.

Gorgeous, but also pretty dangerous.

Workplace was closed again today, which I can't say I was entirely surprised to hear.

Or, you know, at all surprised.

So we settled in for Day Two: Return of Cabin Fever.

I spent the morning bemoaning my sorry lack of listening to my southern compatriots, who had stocked up on what had seemed like obscene amounts of staples like bread, milk, and eggs in the days before the snowstorm. My own three sorry pieces of bread and fridge quite empty of any calcium-heavy substance seemed like clear evidence to me that I hadn't taken them seriously enough.

Well, South, this transplanted Midwestern Yankee has learned her lesson.

I understood that everyone was very worried, and that they were stocking up.

What I underestimated was the extent to which everything shuts down, just how impassable the roads really would be, with the lack of snow plows and salt trucks I have taken for granted in Illinois. The fact that the road we live on, one of the more popular roads in town, appears to have gone entirely without snow plow or salt-truck attention for two whole days, is something that I was pretty startled by.

Sure, I thought the plows would be fewer and would run more slowly.

I didn't realize roads just wouldn't be touched, and the overwhelming understanding would simply be to shut everything down until the snow mostly melts on its own...

Next time, I shall join you in your entirely justified panic.


I have a lot to learn.

Down the hill to Justin's. He felt better and he had made coffee and come hell or high water (or, in actuality, very slick ice), I was going to have some.

Justin, you see, has milk. Delightful, delightful milk.

We discovered, on our walk down, a single truth: the whole complex we live in was covered in very slowly melting ice, just coated in it. Stairs, roads, even the leaves.



We curled up in Justin's place with coffee and food and video games for the better part of a few hours, before Jason got a call that while they still weren't sure on whether or not his third-shift job would be running that night due to the problem of all this melted snow and sleet re-freezing and making the roads even worse than before, they could pull him in on second shift at least, and it is hours and pay.

So back up the hill we went. 

So Jason is napping for now, before going in. I am scheduled to work a four-hour shift tomorrow.

For the evening it'll just be me, hot chocolate, a bowl of popcorn, and about fifteen blankets.

Okay, that's an exagerration.

We only have eight blankets we have out right now.