Friday, March 25, 2011

More Family Trip Picks

Check out my Mom's blog Creative Crone from Studio Q and see more pictures from our trip!!

Besides, you all should check out her blog anyway....she posts a lot of her art stuff out there, which I find to be amazing!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Knife Skills

Last night I went to Central Market and took one of their cooking classes, which I really enjoyed. I guess this sorta plays into my resolution to cook more for myself, so yay me!!

The class that I took was a Cooking 101 Class Called "Knife Skills" and it was all about learning how to use the big knife in the drawer and to properly chop vegetables and fruit without cutting your own flesh. Mind you up until this point the only knife I ever REALLY used consistently was my pairing knife and even with that I have a big scar on my hand where I went through the flesh of an apple right into the flesh of my palm...but that is history.

The class was basically a beginner's course on how to use a chef's knife (the big one), how to hold it, how to curl your fingers on the other hand, how to slice, julienne, dice, etc. I know all of this seems pretty basic and yeah I knew a lot of it, I now know how to do it using the big knife. We started out chopping up celery and carrots, then moved on to bell peppers (and I learned how to get the seed pod out easily), onions, avocados, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, and finally oranges...all with the big knife. We then got to sit down and eat and have some wine (I can't understand why they wouldn't give us the wine before we started using the knives....)

We started with fresh guacamole, which is the only way that I'll eat guacamole. We learned how to cut up and pit an avocado and tomato and some other stuff. I already knew this as I have made fresh guacamole before, but what I did learn was to douse it liberally with lime juice and storing the avocado pit in the guacamole does nothing to prevent it from browning, the way to prevent it is to use lime juice and cover tightly with saran wrap.

Tortilla Soup where we as a class chopped up the vegetables (onions, peppers, etc.) and they Incorporated the already cooked chicken. I was told something about the process you should follow when cooking vegetables and spices and something about a "hot spot" but I was also really tearing up from the onions and don't remember 100% of what was said.

Dessert was orange slices (cut by me) where we cut off all the rind and then went into the slices and removed just the pulp of the slice leaving the husk part. They then came around with a scoop of caramel panacotta and sugared pecans...yummy!!

There was also a salad that we had prepared, but I didn't have any of it because it contained a lot of the vegetables that I wasn't a big fan of.....but it did look lovely.
I think I'm going to take more classes....if for nothing else having a good meal and wine.

2011 Resolution Update

So, here is my Resolution Update for the first quarter of 2011.

  1. To reach my goal weight (surprise, surprise). UPDATE – Yeah, really haven’t done much to get this one off the ground….but I’m doing another weight-loss kick-off meeting with myself this week. Hopefully I’ll have more to report in the next quarter.
  2. To finish at least the same number of books in 2011 that I read in 2010 and provide my faithful audience with a review. UPDATE – So far, so good. I have completed and documented 5 books thus far, however, I’m technically WAY behind on getting this met. Right now I’m considering updating this resolution to reading 2/3 the number of books that I read in 2010….
  3. To finish half the quilts that are currently in my UFO pile. UPDATE – Again, no real progress. I even totally spaced on International Quilting Day on March 19 and spent the day reading and watching television….
  4. To open an ETSY store and try to actually sell something. UPDATE – Since I haven’t really done much for resolution number 3, which directly impacts this resolution…..well you get the picture.
  5. To create and stick to a budget. UPDATE – I’ve actually done part of this. I have started a budget and am pretty much sticking to it.
  6. To implement a REAL filing system and stay organized. UPDATE – Ummm, yeah…. Can my REAL filing system be considered a stack of papers?!?
  7. To buy more shoes (oh no, twist my arm on this one). UPDATE – Dang It!! I don’t think I’ve actually done anything towards this resolution either… Although, I have looked at shoes on (that is the happy place I go to when I’m having a bad day…).
  8. To cook at home more and actually invite people over, which means I have to keep my house clean. UPDATE – Sheesh…I haven’t done a single one of my resolutions. I have made the decision that I want to get a maid, only because I REALLY hate cleaning house and it ain’t gonna get done if I don’t have somebody else do it. Once I start having the maid come, I will definitely start having people over as I still need to have my Open House/House Warming Party!!
  9. To complete all of the exercises in The Artists Way and Writing Down the Bones. UPDATE – See my response to everything else….yep, you guessed it, haven’t done diddly on these either, except get the books off my shelf and into my reading rotation.
  10. To watch less television...I still need to come up with a reasonable number of hours a week. UPDATE – So based on this past weekend, I certainly did not follow this, however, I have decided that a reasonable number of hours a week to watch is 11 hours…. Golly-gee-whiz, if I actually stick to this, just think about all the stuff I could get done. By the way, I’m not counting the hour that I have the TV on in the morning while I’m getting dressed, since it is on the news and I don’t actually sit and watch it.
  11. To get my PMP Certification. UPDATE – Ummm, yeah, maybe with number 10 stated, then I’ll actually do this…of course, I could bring my books to the office and read at the office when I have downtime…yeah, that is EXACTLY what I need to do!! Note to self: put book into bag for tomorrow.
  12. To come back in 3 months and provide an update on these resolutions. UPDATE – DONE!!
  13. To become more involved in my community...or a community....maybe a community of squirrels would like me to join..... UPDATE – I have done this, sorta. Since I’ve decided to do the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk here in Dallas in the fall, I’ve decided to join a team of walkers and I’m calling that my “community”. You’ll be hearing more about me doing the walk and begging for donations in the near future.
  14. To get my passport and in turn do some traveling. UPDATE – Definitely need to get this taken care of because a friend of mine (who I’ve actually never met, but have spoken to and we have mutual friends) has invited me to go to Italy (Rome) next spring and I am all on board with doing that!!
  15. To open my heart to love (and actually join and contact the guy that I've been stalking out there). UPDATE – Yeah, can’t do this until I get a decent picture of myself, which won’t happen until I’ve made good progress on resolution numero uno!!

So, based on this progress….well, I got a lot to get done over the next 9 months!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Its Not Easy Being Green

I recently saw this on a co-worker's email signature:

Help us save the Earth, Go Green ***It's Easy Being Green - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle***

But according to Kermit the Frog, It's NOT Easy Being Green:

What's That Wednesday?

This week's What's That Wednesday is: Javelina

I was mentioning to the Queen about some of the wildlife that could be found in the Davis Mountains, where I spent my vacation last week, and one such beast was the Javelina.

Javelina, also referred to as a peccary or skunk pig. Javelinas are medium-sized animals with a strong superficial resemblance to pigs. Like pigs, they have a snout ending in a cartilagenous disc, and eyes that are small relative to their head. Also like pigs, they use only the middle two digits for walking, although unlike pigs, the other toes may be altogether absent. Their stomach is non-ruminating, although it has three chambers, and is more complex than that of pigs.

Javelinas are omnivores, and will eat small animals, although their preferred food consists of roots, grass, seeds, and fruit. Pigs and javelinas can be differentiated by the shape of the canine tooth, or tusk. In European pigs the tusk is long and curves around on itself, whereas in javelinas, the tusk is short and straight. The jaws and tusk of javelinas are adapted for crushing hard seeds and slicing into plant roots, and they also use their tusks for defending against predators.

By rubbing the tusks together they can make a chattering noise that warns potential predators not to get too close. Javelinas are aggressive enough in temperament that they cannot be domesticated as they are likely to injure humans.

Check out Wikipedia for more information.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big Bend Family Vacation - Recap Day 4

The final day of our trip to West Texas was spent once again lazing around the pool in the morning and then heading off to visit Fort Davis Outpost in the afternoon. Fort Davis was a West Texas fort built and maintained at the edge of Indian Territory in the late 1800s. It is slowly being rebuilt and restored for the purpose of showing the world the history of the west.

Colin and I hiked up to the scenic overlook to look down on the fort....

After the tour of the fort, we went back to the ranch did some packing and relaxing. On our final night at the ranch, we cooked hotdogs and s'mores over the fire by the pool and played cards and had the most wonderful time just being with family and not being distracted by the outside world. (In this picture we have Mom and Graham sitting by fire-pit with Dad standing by it. In the shade by the lodge, we have Marti, Kathleen, and Colin left to right reading.)

The next morning we woke up early and loaded up the car and headed home. This was one of those wonderful relaxing vacations where I just got to spend time with the people that I loved. Oh, and I came to the realization that I'm definitely a desert/mountain girl. I could so see myself living out in that part of the world unfortunately, if I lived out there I would become such a hermit that I might forget how to actually speak to people.

Happy Birthday, Queen!!

Yes this is from a couple of years ago, but you haven't changed a bit!!

I hope you are having a wonderful birthday and that your favorite month of the year is meeting all your desires!! Thank you so much for being my friend!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Big Bend Family Vacation - Recap Day 3

The third day of our trip started off really quiet with all of us sleeping in a bit (even though I did accidentally forget that I had a meeting reminder on my phone that kept going off and woke my mom and dad up earlier than expected). We didn't have much scheduled for our morning, but we did have a busy afternoon and evening.

We had plans for a horseback ride in the early afternoon and then were off to the McDonald Observatory for a Star Party in the evening/late night. Sadly, I have very few pictures for this day.
The horse ride was fun, dusty, but fun. My Dad, Graham, the kids, and myself were the only ones that went while my Mom and Sister stayed in town and wandered around. Unfortunately, the horse ride didn't start off very great when the trail boss yelled at Kathleen and I while we were still getting mounted.... I understood why he had to yell as the horses were starting to bunch up and there was concern that things could get dangerous but it wasn't very enjoyable for either of us. This horse ride was very different than the rides I had taken while in California.... but I think a lot of that could have been due to the fact that we weren't going to be stopping half-way through the ride and have a bite to eat with some wine.... ah well....

After the horse ride, we went into town and got some ice-cream then out to the ranch for getting cleaned up and then off to the Observatory.

The Observatory was definitely one of the hi-lights of my trip. We got a tour of the night sky and then we were allowed to look through telescopes and look deep into the depths of the universe. The most exciting thing was to be able to see Saturn and its rings. We also got an up close look at the moon and the Orion Nebula. The temperature did dip down as the evening wore on, but we had all dressed warmly and it was completely worth it. I loved every minute of this night. If you EVER have the chance to see the stars from one of the darkest places on the planet, I say TAKE IT!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big Bend Family Vacation - Recap Day 2

On Day Two of the family trip to West Texas, we piled into the car and drove to Big Bend National Park and neighboring areas. The drive was a couple of hours from where we were staying.

Big Bend is an amazing place. It is dry and rugged and uninviting and yet also beautiful and amazing.

Of course, as with any place in the Wild, Wild West, you must be aware of the wildlife and know how to take the proper precautions....

We had a picnic lunch at the Visitor Centers at Castolon and then headed down to the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook Trail. Marti, Graham, the kids, and I did the hike, while Mom and Dad people watched in the shade.

The hike was up through the rocks along the river and then back down.... truly incredible.

After the park, we drove through Terlingua and Marfa and then back into Fort Davis where we stopped for pizza and then back out to the ranch and dropping into bed.