Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good and tired

I'm really blessed to have some really awesome neighbors. I'm also cursed with some really terrible ones, too, namely the ones that have had a white leather couch in their driveway for the greater part of a month, but I try not to think about them.

I'm lucky that they have the cutest baby boy, little Hank, and that they enjoy sourdough bread and hummus, that they are just as giving with their time and company. I love people like that. I could hang out and have cocktails with our neighbors until time catches up with me.

We had drinks with our neighbors on Friday, and then Saturday morning Dave dropped off some biscuits with them in exchange for a crowbar. We were doing a major cleanup of our backyard, which meant disassembling an ugly excuse for a water garden that came with the house.

More about the biscuits:

Easy recipe for rolled biscuts: 1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour (I like making them with half whole wheat pastry flour and half unbleached white flour, but to each his/her own) 1 Tbs. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt, sifted in a large bowl. Cut in 4 Tbs. butter until pea sized. Add 3/4 cups milk and stir until dough leaves sides of bowl. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 6 to 8 times until dough is flexible (It may be a little lumpy in some spots, but that's OK).

Roll dough out until it's 1/2 inch thick and cut with cookie cutter. I like to use a 1 1/2 inch cutter, which makes the cutest little two-bite biscuits!

Serve with jam and butter, or maybe even gravy and bacon!

We had our biscuits with jam and butter, served with eggs and turkey bacon. It was a great, hearty breakfast to prep us for a long day of working hard in the back yard. My big mission on Saturday was to compost and prep our garden beds for tilling. That meant hoing up old roots and cultivating the soil with organic humus and manure. Maybe weekend after next we'll rent a tiller and get the garden going in earnest.

We also cleaned up our paths, which I love immensely. They are made of old recycled bricks that have "DALLAS" inscribed on many of them. It's a wonderful homage to the history of my adopted city.

The chickens had a field day just watching me work, and even helping sometimes by scratching around in the composted beds, picking out centipedes and other pests. How thoughtful!

Our chickens have been very exciting lately. We've been retrieving about 5 eggs every day from the coop! We've finally had enough left over to give away to our fabulous neighbors. Our messy ones are going to go without until they get the god-awful couch out of their front lawn and put some pants on their little girl (I swear she's like, 5 years old and still wearing diapers and no pants!).

On Sunday I made more biscuits and pretty much just hung around the house making chicken barley chili and sourdough, watering plants and watching movies. We watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which is juvenile and ridiculous, but the soundtrack is great.

I started on my February Lady Sweater and I'm trying to get it finished in a month. Very ambitious, I know, especially for my first sweater, but we'll see. I might actually be able to do it!

We're getting ready for our house sitter to come and play with our animals for a few days while we take a trip to the Texas Hill Country. I'm pretty excited! :D

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You, complete me.

When it comes to knitting, this is more a demand than a statement. The UFOs in my knitting basket have demanded that I finish them off, and so I've been working to do that, even if it means I'm ridiculous behind on my sewing and magazine reading (I'm just now reading the December 2008 Yoga Journal, but we won't even discuss how behind I am on my Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine and Texas Monthly).

Let's start at the top:


A trendy, slouchy beret made from Joann's Sensations Licorice in a cutie, fruity colorway.


A pair of basic socks I made from OnLine Hiking colors that I started on vacation (in September, no less).

I've also made a basic 2x2 rib watchcap for one of my BILs and I've made plenty of headway on my lace ribbon scarf, but all of this knitting is preparation for the big kahuna: my first sweater.

Am I excited? Am I scared? A little bit of both.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Best made plans

I have made some fabulous things lately. I thought I might share:


Home made english muffins ...


... are especially good with French marmalade ...


... or perhaps an egg from one of our hens.


And after we ate we took a trip to White Rock lake to birdwatch ...


... and I hoped the pelicans and seagulls didn't mind me staring ...


... especially since they seemed like fish out of water ...


... being coastal birds in landlocked Dallas.


That's more like it.


And I devised a recipe that cured my hunger for Spaghetti-O's: Chunky tomato basil soup with toasted Israeli couscous.


Lovely friends have visited, and they have made friends with Hornsby. He has dominated their laps and won their hearts.


It has been cold and icy, and I have loved every minute of it...


... and the gals have enjoyed the warm feed in the mornings.


And we've taken the time to stay close to home ...


... to appreciate what we have instead of griping about what we lack ...


... hugging a lot ...


... and thinking some, too ...


... about what is important ...


... and simple, and beautiful ...


... and charming.


How lucky we are.

The art of relaxing

For some reason completely unknown to me, I cannot relax. This would shock the shit out of the vast majority of my college friends who knew me as one of the most laid-back people.

My massage on Saturday afternoon was amazing. It was so very therapeutic. Side question: Is it inappropriate to hug your masseuse after you're done, re-clothed and being walked back to the front desk after the massage? Also, I asked a lot of questions about how I might soften my super tense (we're talking unyielding and rock-hard) shoulders in between massages.

Nothing about massage makes me uncomfortable. In fact, especially in yoga class, I have no problem with being touched. My yoga teacher, whom I greatly admire, adjusts my poses at will, helping me to stretch and feel comfortable in poses that might go beyond my frame of reference. I know some people are anti-touching, and I can't understand why.

But back to the point: I am never relaxed. I am always sitting up, looking into a little screen, watching the stitches slip from needle to needle in my lap, or reading something too close to my face.

And then I read an article on relaxation in Yoga Journal. I am not the only one that never relaxes, it appears.

My new goal: Relax for 30 minutes every day to help melt the tension away.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Irrational behavior

Sometimes I get my best ideas in the shower. And then I promptly forget them once I step out of my steamy enclosure into the ice-cold room.

What is it about the hot water streaming down that makes you think logically? Does it free up all the energy and brainpower you normally use to doubt or criticize yourself?

My shower is a portal of relaxation. I am not averse to the half-hour shower. I know this makes me a water waster, but I consider it a luxury, not a necessity.

So, I come up with fantastic blog posts in the shower, and like I said, I promptly forget them upon exiting. Perhaps someone should invent a waterproof netbook just for this purpose.


I must be seriously PMSing right now. Just a few moments ago, one of my superiors forwarded me some half-assed copy and wanted me to edit it. I found this completely unreasonable. This copy was so disgusting that I wouldn't have come in contact with it even if someone threatened to skewer me with a harpoon. So, while editing said shitty copy, I stewed and muttered profanity under my breath. This is so not like me.

Also, Dave is a fucking awesome man. I'm getting a massage on Saturday, thanks to my husband. Whee!!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In the land of Seinfeld, the dork is king (Episode V)

It was our final day in New York City. I was effing glad. The agenda wasn't action-packed, but we did have a very important event to attend: Yankees vs. Rays.

We didn't really have a breakfast. I think Dave and I grabbed coffee juice and muffins and then busted out of town. The subway ride was grueling, especially since there was a service disruption, and the train we needed to take was delayed. Dave gets antsy at the prospect of being late. We had to get to Yankee Stadium in The Bronx from the Upper West Side. We had to take a local to Times Square and take an express from there to the ballpark. The subways made Dave nervous to begin with, just because public transportation is a far cry from jumping into your own car and heading out to the game.

So, we get on the train, and we're late, according to Dave. The trains don't care about your schedule, though.

We get to The Bronx, we find Yankee Stadium and we make our way through the crowds after checking Dave's bag. We find our seats and we take it all in:

Grounds crew is prepping the field for play

Memorial Park

The most pristine home plate

Hours later, there were pretzels, hot dogs, beer and baseball...


And some knitting, too...


And Dave kept score, as always ...


But perhaps the most interesting part of our game at Yankee Stadium was the old, crusty New Yorker we sat next to. The man was a typical crank with more hair growing out of his shirtsleeves, nose and ears than was to be found on his angular and misshapen pate. He studied a Daily News police blotter from two days ago in between keeping score and shouting at the home team. All of the sudden my future flashed before my eyes... Could this be Dave? Will he get old, crusty, loud and inconsolable at ballgames?

Yankees lost that contest against the Rays (yay!), who went on to have a pretty decent postseason.

After the game, we took a stroll around Yankee Stadium to get some photos before they tore the old gal down.


And we also got a peek at the new Yankee Stadium. With the limestone exterior and gold engravings, it really evokes a national monument, which, considering the franchise, is probably what Steinbrenner wants.


After that, it was time to meet the crush of humanity in the too-small subway station. Dave, if y'all didn't know, is quite the claustrophobe, so the train station, packed with people and hot like a sauna, was pure hell for him. I am so proud that he didn't have a panic attack.

We headed from The Bronx to Morningside Heights for an early dinner at Tom's Restaurant, or, if you're a fan of Seinfeld, you can call it Monk's Diner. I had the roasted chicken and rice, which was good. The coffee was also very good. Dave enjoyed his turkey sandwich and salad. Good food, but nothing outstanding. ANd it was definitely a comfortable joint. I could see why George, Jerry, Elaine and Kramer would want to hang out there.

We met Dave's best friend Mike and his brother Ashley at Tom's. We all ate and did the obligatory picture outside the restaurant.


We then went back to the shitty hostel to change and put on more deoderant. New York was unseasonably humid and warm during our visit, and since we were away from our room all day, we were kind of gross. A change of clothes was definitely required before we headed off for a drink.

At about that time we got in touch with dear Livvy, who was just finishing up shopping and running errands and was ready for a drink and a meal. We told her we'd wait for her at our landing spot: Burp Castle -- Cathedral of Beer.


This is perhaps the third most dorkiest photo of the entire trip. I was just glad to be sitting down and drinking a really good hefeweizen with people. And the bar was pretty unique, in that every time the clamor of the crowd rose above a manageable din, a horde of folks would shush everyone with a loud and authoritative hiss.

Livvy arrived, proclaimed that she was famished and didn't drink beer. She downed a glass of vino and we moved on to greener pastures, which happened to be this little cafe off of Amsterdam (cannot remember the name! Help me Liv!). It was great, and I had a good time hanging out with everyone. Here, Liv seems to be quite tired of our antics, and I am one Guinness away from being a REALLY good time!


We headed back to the shitty hostel and packed our bags. The next morning we would get up ridiculously early and head for Penn Station...

Monday, February 09, 2009

It's time to relax

I went to bed last night with a mild case of indigestion and woke up with the most violent case of acid reflux this side of Jesus' birth. It was so bad that I was acutely uncomfortable in any position other than mostly prostrate with my chest slightly elevated. I did not sleep. At. All.

This morning I was as close to useless as human beings get. My throat was raw and dry. Swallowing was like rubbing two pieces of sand paper in the back of my mouth. And even after almost the entire bottle of Tums I was still having heinous heartburn.

Needless to say, I worked from home until I could drink something other than my own saliva.

But, as if that wasn't awful enough, it was raining this morning. That means two things ... wait, make that three things: wet puppies, mad hens and no Internet. For quite some time, likely until about 9:30, I was scared that I would have to go in to the office not quite yet recovered. And then, just as I'd was being transferred to the customer service staff with Mother Fucking Time Warner Cable, my iGoogle page pops up and I am connected to my home WiFi. I didn't even get the chance to get my gripe on.

Oh, and Gloria was so loud today after I fed them! She was really barking out the traditional chicken cluck that everyone imitates: bawk-bawk-beCAW! She was even up on her hackles, really craning her neck and throwing her voice. Good thing all the folks that weren't up all night with acid reflux were likely already at work.

The moral of this story is that I may just need to take an effing chill pill. This heartburn junk is not what I signed up for.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Take a gander...

I'm thinking about starting a new photo-oriented feature for teh blog called "Take a gander ..." in which I'll choose the best of the photos I've taken lately and tell the story behind them.




Chickens are really difficult to capture. They have so much personality, and being true ladies, they really demand that you do them justice. So, I've been working on doing portraits of all the gals. Perhaps a project that will end up somewhere other than the pantheon depths of my photo file. These are my favorites of them all.

Here you see Effa Manley (top) doing her best to pose for the camera. Her head is cocked to the side, somewhat inquisitive, and she's showing off her luminous waddles.

Then there's Scout Finch (middle) who is the youngest and most precocious of the gals. She often bites off more than she can chew with Gloria, but is often rescued by Effa or her loyal buddy, Jane Gallagher (bottom). Jane is inquisitive, and you can see that here from her craned neck. I also wanted to capture her wild-ish features from the Araucana traits: the tufts at either side of her eyes and her lack of a comb or waddles. She is, though, a sideshow in that she's our only gal with a beard.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Can't deny the evidence

1) I have not put pictures on my Flickr account in several weeks. I have been busy, but that's no excuse, really. Well, that and it takes FOREVER to upload photos now that I'm not using a card reader and the file size of the format I like to use with my 40D is HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE. Upside is that, although uploading is a pain, I love my new camera!

2) I put on a pair of my favorite lined suit pants today for work. I feel like I'm crammed into a sausage casing. Why did I decide to wear them today even when I knew they fit snug BEFORE I gained 5 pounds over the holidays? Am I that hard up for clean clothes? Am I a glutton for punishment, or just a glutton?

3)My sister, K., came to visit this past weekend. It was awesome. However. When I hang out with my family, I tend to overeat. I have a proximity eating disorder or something. That, and when someone tempts me with double-stuffed Oreos or Lindt Creme Brulee squares, well, I lose all willpower.

4) No. 3 could explain No. 2.

5) In an attempt to reduce the amount of caffeine I consume, I've switched to tea after my morning cup and stopped drinking so much diet soda. Now I'm addicted to coffee, tea AND diet soda.

6) I've been going to yoga more often and I have been trying to not be a couch potato, but it's so hard when most of your hobbies are sedintary. Knitting: gotta sit down. Sewing: sit. Reading: mostly sitting.

7) No. 6 could likely explain No. 2 as well.