Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We’re Back!

I know, I know. I didn't even tell you we were going anywhere. But Scoob's kinda funny about that, and really, it probably is better to be careful about broadcasting when you won't be home for an extended time. But anyhow we went up to Susanville, CA for a family reunion and then headed out on our own to explore the northeastern part of the state. More on that later. Right now I have make peace with the furry critters after leaving them alone for 5 days and wash the layers of road grime from myself.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Well, today just seemed so fortuitous that it has left me reeling a bit. I started the day by finding some money in an old man-purse Scoob had stashed away in a closet, which we ran across in our weekend packing spree. Granted, it was just loose change. But still, finding cash is always fortuitous. (I'm still stunned to discover that Scoob even had a man-purse. That, and it looks well-worn, too.) He wants to keep it as part of our household emergency kit to hold fire flints, a Leatherman, and other small items. I just want to keep it as evidence that he had a man-purse.

So after I got to work, I found more money! Well, remember how I groused a bit about the company calling the 401(k) fund migration "exciting?" Turns out there's more news—beginning in October the company will resume the employer match AND at a more generous rate than before. I know! Free money!

And, I had been asked to take part in a webinar today. It was a demonstration of a product we're considering purchasing to manage our internal workflow and production. This is the second demonstration I've been asked to sit in on, and my supervisor told me later that I'll be on the team officially and permanently. The recognition feels good, and I know I'll be able to contribute and learn a lot in the process.

In other news—I totally dropped the bomb about moving at work today. Not the out-of-state move that we will eventually make someday, but the move that gets us into an apartment so we can sell this place. I probably should have brought it up with my supervisor in our one-on-one meeting today, and I thought about it, but decided since it was a local move it wasn't something we needed to discuss.

Instead, I opened my mouth at a casual departmental outing and I did not miss the look that flashed across his face. (I've totally got to stop watching Lie to Me, I'm getting a little too good at reading body language.) He seemed to relax as I was asking co-workers about the neighborhoods they live in and how we needed to find a place that would take both cats and be closer to the office. He did still seem a bit nervous that we were looking to rent and not buy.

Anyhow, that was my day. Here are a few nuggets I found online so far this week:

Many thanks to Backpacking Dad who tweeted this article about the evolution of technology and its impact on reading.

I totally want to have a summer backyard barbecue so I can get these cool LED-lit balloons. At $13 for 15, they're affordable and I don't care how old you are, unless you're allergic to latex, everybody loves balloons. Too bad they're sold out. And too bad I don't have a backyard.

A link to They Draw & Cook was in a cookbook-specific publishing newsletter I get at work. I would not be surprised if the site owners get a publishing contract soon, if they don't have one already. It's cute, fun to look at, and informative! Anyone can submit a recipe and artwork, though it's up to the site editors to publish it or not. I think a couple of the hand written recipes are unnecessarily difficult to read.

This could totally make a fun family-in-the-kitchen project. The kids can help with meal prep and learn about cooking, then they draw the picture while mom or dad writes out the recipe. Even if you don't submit the recipe to They Draw & Cook, it would make a pretty cool Family Favorites cookbook. And then you could give each kid a copy when they leave for college (or some other momentous I'm-a-grown-up-now occasion). Oh man, I'm getting all weepy just thinkin' about it. And I don't even have kids!

Okay. That's what I got.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Vacuum Packed

The packing continues. Scoob went on an excursion today to Best Buy and Wal Mart to see if he could get the empty boxes they use for shipping DVDs. I'm still not clear on why we need these specific boxes, but I know he'll feel more comfortable about packing them if they're going into what he sees as an approved container. I've moved once before with the man and have lived with him for nearly 8 years—I think I've learned when (and when not) to keep my opinion to myself.

Case in point, the tutorial I received this afternoon on how to use a packing tape gun. I really, really wanted to remind the man that I worked in a warehouse and know perfectly well how to use a packing tape gun. Ditto for the shrink wrap lesson. But I kept my trap shut and just smiled and nodded. It was far less painful than the ensuing discussion would have been if I had opened my mouth, and left us in exactly the same place. (I still need to work on keeping my opinion out of my eyes and off my face, though.)

Scoob also bought a tool bag while he was out. You see, he's gotten frustrated with how he can never find the tools he needs when he needs them because they never seem to be put away in the same place twice. Hmmmm. I've only been saying the same thing for YEARS and have suggested on multiple occasions that we purchase a tool box. But again, I kept that comment to myself and helped him preen about his acquisition and what a good idea it was.

While Scoob was out on his mission, I was busying myself with my latest move-related purchase—Space Bags. Before he left, Scoob pulled all his bulky winter jackets and clothes out of the closet and we used those as a test run. Apparently we're easily entertained because we vacuum packed and re-inflated the bag several times. So while he was out, I went through the linen closet, an old chest we have, and my armoire, bagging up all the extra towels, bedding, and sweaters and sucking every last puff of air from them.

The Space Bags are much heavier that I thought they'd be, so I won't be packing them into boxes like I planned. But the stuff takes up so much less space. Or it did until Madame Barf-O-Matic decided to taste test one of the bags and punctured it. Duct tape. ☺ Now the bags are in the garage where she cannot get to them.

I found a few things I had forgotten shoved to the back of the armoire, like a little plastic pig with bubble gum coins inside. But the strangest had to be the little zippy bag filled with turkey bones. Not just any turkey bones either, a very specific wing bone. Don't ask me why I thought keeping the bones in my armoire with my clothes was a good idea.

So, you might be wondering what in the heck I was doing saving turkey bones in the first place. No, I didn't start practicing some new version of SanterĂ­a or Voodoo. One of my college professors, who is Shoshone, was constructing a traditional breastplate for his grandson using, you guessed it, turkey wing bones. Similar to this one made with (most likely) hairpipe bones.

Before Thanksgiving one year, he had asked all his students to save these particular bones from their birds. And since I cooked turkey fairly frequently back then, I ended up having several sets of bones. I've thrown them out now.

Scoob has been packing up his magazines and books and even moved his weight bench down to the garage, which has really opened up the living room floor again. I so should have thought that purchase through more before getting it as his Christmas gift a couple years ago. Even though I measured the footprint of the space available for the bench and double checked it against the product spec, I did not take into account the added room necessary to be able to swing weights while using the bench, and as a result it ended up in the middle of the living room floor.

That's our exciting weekend so far. We're going out for Korean food with our neighbors tonight. But I did want to tell you about lunch today. So I remade The Tomato and Snap Pea Couscous Salad recipe and added some sliced red bell pepper and about a tablespoon of cumin and used this Brown and Wild Rice with Quinoa grain mix from Safeway in place of the couscous. Super, super yummy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flower Power

Well, when I read about Rep. Joe Barton's apology to BP this morning I was seriously pissed because it sure sounded like he was saying that he didn't want to live in a country where people and companies were held responsible for their actions, and all I could think was, "Well, go ahead and resign your post, buddy, and make sure your passport's up to date." I just knew I'd come home and rant political here, which I haven't done in quite awhile, but then something happened, Barton was reprimanded (quite roundly, too, from the sound of things) by his fellow Republicans, and it sort of took the wind outta my sails.

(Sorry if I seem a bit preoccupied. I'm keeping a watchful eye on the spider working its way across the ceiling. It passed by my desk staying close to the wall and thankfully far from my head. But now he appears to be circling back. One of the drawbacks to having a home with high ceilings is that I can't reach it to kill the bugger.)

Other than that moment when I worked up a head of steam I had a pretty good day. Nothing special, and yet special in it's ordinary uneventfulness. Started the day with hugs and fresh strawberries and things just seemed to get better from there. I actually got to pretend I was geeky smart today (and yesterday, too). We're working on laying out specs for a new iPhone app and I was selected as an iPhone Power User Geek and asked to be part of the product development group. Well, if checking email and Facebook, and playing the occasional sudoku game on my iPhone makes me a Power User, so be it.

Yet another project group where I'm the only member not in a managerial or directorial position. Scoob is very optimistic this means a promotion in is my near future. Me? Not so much. Oh, and the other smart things I got to do were to help another team out with their Excel spreadsheets, because apparently I'm the office Excel go-to person, though I do know at least two other people in the the office with at least the same (and probably better) Excel skills.

(Okay, that darned spider is right back where he started. You know, I used to solve these little problems with a can of Aqua Net. The pink extra super hold stuff. I figured if it shellacked my hair so it wouldn't move, it would do the same to a hairy spider. And it always worked. The spider would become immobile, drop from the ceiling, and since it was coated with hairspray, it couldn't scurry away to hide and that's when I would kill it. It's a crying shame I don't use Aqua Net any longer.)

Oh, and speaking of work, I had an email this morning titled "Exciting News about Your 401(k)." Apparently they're moving the employee 401(k) accounts to a new brokerage firm. Yeah. That's exciting. No, exciting would be telling us that the company is going to resume the employer match benefit that was suspended December 2008.

Okay, enough of that. On to the Flower Porn!

Dewy California poppies

Gorgeous red poppy, though the unopened ones do look a wee obscene

Ahhh, the elderberry tree. These flowers are teeny tiny. I really like the pattern that a group of them creates, it makes me think of something familiar that I can't quite put my tongue on. It also makes me think of molecular structures. Oh hey, there. I put my tongue on it. Very feminine molecular structures. They're just cute!

An iris we practically watched open. You know, it's difficult to take good pictures of white flowers on a super sunny day. But when it's sunny in Oregon, you don't complain.

Nine Bark mom uses as a hedge along the street in front of her house.
I've never been there when it's blooming before.

Close up of a Nine Bark bloom. There were just lousy with bees, too.

(Crap. I've lost track of the spider. Okay, now I'm getting the creepy crawlies.)

I tried to do some high-contrasty stuff here with these black and white iris.
They were stunning.

This is a bloom from one of the two tulip trees mom planted in her front yard. I had to use a massive zoom to get this shot because the blooms are high in the trees, and they're so subtly colored. Mom says the blooms have now turned solid orange.

Not a flower, but still a pretty girl. This is Gracie, mom's new dog.

And this, this is my favorite shot. I hope I had the resolution set high enough, because I think I want to blow it up and frame it.
The focus is a bit off though, so I won't be able to blow it up too big.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tomato and Snap Pea Couscous Salad

I made this recipe last weekend and loved it. The snap peas in the couscous were a sweet surprise when I bit into them. I'm pretty sure I'll keep this in rotation as the weather warms up since it doesn't require much in the way of cooking. I'm sure it would make a nice side for just about anything.

Tomato and Snap Pea Couscous Salad

Cooking time: 5 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes

    2 Tbsp olive oil
    1 cup couscous
    ¾ pound cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
    ¼ pound snap peas, thinly sliced
    ½ cup torn fresh basil
    ½ tsp grated lemon zest
    2 Tbsp lemon juice
    salt and pepper

  1. Place the couscous in a large bowl. Add 1 cup hot, almost boiling, water, cover and let sit for 5 minutes; fluff with fork. Add the snap peas, basil, leamon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to combine.
  2. Add the tomatoes just before serving.

This was really tasty and the leftovers disappeared quickly. A note about the leftovers though—If you expect to have leftovers, keep the tomatoes separate from the rest of the salad. I didn't do this when I made it and the couscous that stuck to the tomatoes became very soggy and pasty for leftovers.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Eyes. Must. Close.

I know it's been awhile. Again. There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day. We're gearing ourselves up for another push on purging in preparation for our move to I-don't-know-where, which should happen right around I-don't-know-when. But we're definitely making progress. In baby steps.

Last weekend I went through my shoes and boxed up 8 pairs to be given away. I've since run across 3 more pairs that need to go. Why do I insist on buying uncomfortable shoes? Whoever said "Oh, they'll be fine after they break in," should be shot.

Shoes don't stretch and men don't change.

Oooo, I bought myself a new straightening iron while I was visiting mom. My old one has been around since… Well it's definitely not the same one I had in high school, but it's old nonetheless. The casing on it had cracked and it would pull out or break off hairs with every swipe if I wasn't careful.

So I've been playing with the new one and doing this little flippy thing with my hair. I kinda like it, but it doesn't work well with this cut, which has finally grown out to a length I like and can pull back easily. I want to get the ends trimmed but I know we'll end up taking too much off again and I won't be able to do anything with it again. I need a new cut.

I got the kitties some treats while I was in Oregon, too. Greenies. Mom had heard about these for helping with dog breath and well, Tank has some wicked rancid breath and they make Greenies for cats, so I decided to give them a try. The cats love them! Inhaling doesn't quite describe how quickly they wolfed down their treats. Since the whole point of the treats is to help keep their teeth clean, it would probably help if they chewed that darn things!

So I was pretty pleased, thinking I'd found a new goodie for my kitties that they liked. Then Dozer started yakking. Not an incredibly uncommon thing for Madame Barf-O-Matic. But the solid green mass in her mess makes me think I won't be giving her those treats again if it's just going to make her puke.

Come to find out this is not an uncommon problem with the Greenies products, at least with dogs. Just now as I was looking up the Greenies link I ran across this Snopes article. Even though it hasn't been confirmed, it also hasn't been proven a hoax. Now I'm thinking I'll just toss the rest of the Greenies in the trash.

So, since I bought something for myself and something for the cats, I figured I had better get something for Scoob lest his feeling get hurt. Movies and video games always go over well, but I got him a jar each of marionberry jam and apple butter from Heaven on Earth in Azalea, OR. Darn expensive stuff, but I'm glad I did. Scoob was tickled that I was thinking of him.

Oh, when I left town I'd placed a Going to Miss You note on his pillow thinking he'd find it when he went to bed. When I called him the next day and he didn't mention it, I debated whether it would be bad form to ask if he'd found it. It could have been that he'd found it and it wasn't really as thoughtful as I'd hoped it was.

I did finally ask him and he hadn't noticed it at all. When he went to look for it he found he'd shoved it in his pillow case while he was sleeping. But I could immediately hear the smile in his voice when he read it. So I'm glad I asked.

Anyhow, it's late and I've got to get to sleep. I seem to be having a hard time keeping my eyes open anytime after 4:00 p.m. these days. But I wanted to pop in and at least say something. I've got more flower porn from mom's garden that I'll need to get up soon. And it seems I've had a good streak in the kitchen since I got home and I've got a few new recipes to share, too.