Monday, August 25, 2008

Its my Veggie-Versary!

Tomato bud in our garden

Today marks one year since I made the decision to stop eating meat. I would quit all animal products, but I like cheese too much. :)

We've been keeping busy the past few weeks working on the condo some more. In our continual effort to organize and streamline our lives we put up new shelving. In the patio closet we installed two sets of Ikea's Aspvik wall shelves. We finally have a nicely organized closet out there and its easy to find things. And yes, that's a machete hanging on the door. Gotta be prepared and all.

An organized patio closet

In the kitchen and adjoining laundry area we installed Ikea's Grundtal wall shelves. I have one shelf over the sink for my cookbooks and a few other items.

The green book is my favorite, Bittman's
"How to Cook Everything Vegetarian"

There's a matching rail on one wall to keep my oven mitts handy. By the way, that picture above the rail is a print of a painting done by my third-grade teacher Mr. V. It always hangs in my kitchen, through all the apartments we've lived in. It makes me happy.

I have two sets of shelves above the dryer/cat feeding station, high enough so that I can hang some of my pots and pans (freeing up cabinet space for my nesting mixing bowls).

There are three sets of shelves above the washer for more storage too.

Ayla always hits the vertical blinds in the living room to notify us that she needs to go out. It gets annoying, especially when she only wants to go out and doesn't need to actually do anything. Its like a kid whining that he's bored. So I took them down and replaced them with Ikea's Kvartal (sensing a theme here?) panel curtain system. I love how low-profile it is, and we can use just one row of the three-panel-deep panels to let light in but still keep our living room private. And Ayla doesn't hit them! She just looks at us now, which is almost as annoying but not as loud. A definite upgrade.

Bonus Mac-booty shot, curly pig tail and all

Other than working furiously on the condo, organizing and sorting and all, we've had a little time for relaxation. I'm geeking out with the Firefly DVDs and loving the show. Too bad it was dropped after 14 episodes. I've been taking walks with a few neighbors on the golf course in the evenings which have been great. Between the three of us we have five dogs, so the pack runs around, plays in the sprinklers, and they wear themselves out while we chat. I also completed the Traveling Roses scarf.

Lace work close-up

It turned out too short due to my yarn substitution choice, but I don't think I've seen my intended recipient wear a scarf so she can use it as a runner or something. Even though the color doesn't photograph well, I think its pretty and I enjoyed the process.

Full-length shot

The last thing I have for now is this:

Lasagna and salad topped with grilled tofu

Lasagna doesn't photograph well either, but this one was made with eggroll wrappers rather than noodles. I have seen a recipe on the wrapper package for lasagna and was intrigued. It was good: I layered it with half marinara and half pesto sauce, as well as ricotta, mozarella, and a little cheddar on top. I made the pesto from our bountiful basil harvesting - its growing like crazy on the patio and in the Aerogarden! The lasagna was a bit doughy for my taste, but I liked the thinner "noodles". I'll have to try fresh noodles next.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my little brother!

I remember coming home from college after my first year and realizing you were 3 or 4 inches taller than me. I guess you're my not-so-little brother!

This day in history:
On this day Annie Oakley, Alfred Hitchcock, Fidel Castro, and Danny Bonaduce were also born. Interesting company you keep, Clay. The first taxi hit the streets in New York City. Bambi premiered at the Radio City Music Hall. The 28th Olympic Games opened in Athens four years ago. And The Beatle's "Help" and the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" were released.

And what's a happy birthday wish without an embarrassing picture?

Love - your big sis.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Busy Bees

I've done a lot over the past week or so!

Two Saturdays ago Stef and I went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. We got there in the early afternoon and were famished after driving in the traffic, so we stopped at one of the first vendors for lunch. I had a Greek salad which was ordinary and Stef had a lamb gyro. It was very hot out so we decided on beer. You have to get in one line to have your ID checked if you're under 30, another line to buy a beer ticket, and then head into the beer tent where you get in yet another line for your beer. I'm not a huge beer drinker, but it sure did taste good by then! We walked around, looked at the arts & crafts booths, found the gourmet alley where I got garlic bread dripping in butter, watched some cooking demos, stood in the rain tent (with overhead misters to cool us off, along with about 30 of our now closest friends since it was crowded in there) and at the end watched a swing band. We also laughed until our cheeks hurt and talked until our voices were hoarse. All in all, a good time!

Stef in front of the flaming garlic

Me in front of the flaming garlic

Sampling the garlic wine... one sip is enough

On Wednesday I met up with a couple friends from grad school for dinner at Chow in Lafayette. It was great to catch up with them, find out what they're up to now that we're two years out of school, and have a nice dinner (the bruschetta was great!). I also learned how dog-friendly Lafayette is - there were a number of dogs with their owners on the patio where we ate, as well as quite a few walking by.

This past Friday I went with a couple of my neighbors to the Summer Concert Series at Blackhawk Plaza (a ritzy shopping area in Danville). And since well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome I brought Mac along. We had dinner at a little burger shop - yeah for Gardenburgers! - and listened to the band play fun funk/rock music. Mac absolutely loved it. He got tons of attention and pets from the crowd. A lot of people told me about their bulldog at home, the bulldog they used to have, or their friends' bulldogs... welcome to the club (its the same when I take Ayla out). One person was saying hi to Mac and asked him to sit, which he did of course, so I told him to ask for a high five. Mac did his cute little high five and about 20 people around us "ahhh"ed at the same time. Another lady came by about 3 times to visit and the last time nonchalantly said, "Ok, I'm just going to take him home now!" He definitely draws attention, but just loves meeting people and is a complete joy to take places, and I think he's probably contributing to a rise in the population of bulldogs in our area just by being cute. By the end of the night when my neighbors and I were chatting in the parking lot Mac was so tired he was trying to drag me home. It was great! We're going again this Friday - I think its a Neil Diamond tribute band this time.

When did I get such an active social life?

This past weekend Chris and I decided we needed to do more home improvement. Well, Chris decided and I got roped into it. See, we hate our carpets. Carpet is intrinsically unsanitary, and having pets (going through two puppies no less) doesn't help matters. Chris was talking about replacing them with a Berber carpet and wondering if we could DIY such a job. I told him I didn't want carpet at all and if we were replacing them we should put wood down instead. Well, he got that familiar gleam in his eye and planned out the project within 2 minutes.

Friday afternoon we headed to The Home Depot and picked up 12 boxes of Dupont Laminate Flooring in Maple and three rolls of 3-in-1 underlayment. Saturday morning Chris got up bright and early at 8 and started moving furniture and ripping out carpeting in the living room. I sleepily followed (what a role reversal!) and helped out. Taking up the carpet wasn't nearly as bad as we had expected. We had to do about half the room at a time so we had space to shift the furniture around. Unfortuntely we (and mostly Chris) had to do all the plank cutting by hand with a hack saw. That hurt, and still does. By midnight that night we had about half the room newly floored and the other half prepped, as well as all the old carpet out in the dumpsters. The next morning we got started around 11 (Chris had to run back to the store for transitional flashing and I took the dogs to the park to play) and completed the rest of the flooring around 9. By 10 we had the new floors cleaned, the furniture rearranged, and were very much ready to sleep.

I really like the end result. I still have to finish tacking in and sealing/painting the baseboards, maybe next weekend. With rugs down Ayla seems to be doing okay on the slippery floor, not looking like Bambi-on-ice as she usually does on semi-slick surfaces. She was a major consideration in this, but we just had to feel clean and decided to figure out a way to deal with her needs. Chris bought an awesome crimson shag carpet rug that I love, and a larger area rug that she can play on. I think she'll get better and better with time and exposure too (fingers crossed).

The only down side... Chris is now eyeing the bedroom carpet.