Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trevails of the Travels

Like totally OMG guys! I haven't posted in what seems like forever. Okay, I posted using my phone while on vacation, but still, I don't think that counts.

So onto the Travails of the Travels.

We took the cats back to Colorado with us. We spent the night in Lubbock with Shawn's friend and his family. One of the cats spent the entire night under the bed. Until we were asleep, then he had a party. We go up and drove to Parker. We stayed with my parents and since my parents had been in Hawaii the week before, their dog was still at the kennel so the cats had free reign of the house and interestingly enough, they LOVED it. Quazi especially enjoyed the exercise room because there are floor to ceiling mirrors in there and that cat sure does love looking at himself in the mirror.

On Monday we went to Shawn's parents house and helped them by painting the trim on the chimney, patching holes in the chimney, moving an exercise bike and cleaning out the fridge (as per my previous post).

On Tuesday we went skiing. That was miserable. As I posted via twitter, "The first time I ski is out of love, the second time is out of pure folly." That or being completely shitfaced.

Wednesday I convalesced at Mom and Dad's house and read a book until it was time to meet Grinder at Anthony's Pizza. He claims I was pretty spry. Which is a word you use to describe an 80-year-old woman. So, considering I was feeling like I was 90, I'll take it as a major complement. We went back to my parents place and then Matt showed up after dinner and we watched "War Games: The Dead Code." I'm amazed the boys managed to get through it since they're both major computer nerds and kept pointing out all the flaws in the movie. We also put the cats out in the snow. Quazi did not like it at all, and Ivy thought it was just a hindrance to her explorations.

Thursday (aka Christmas Eve), we went to Shawn's house and Shawn shoveled while I pulled old glassware off the top of the cabinets. At one point, Shawn's mom asked his dad to go get some cardboard barrels out of the attic so the glassware could be packed in them. This is the point where Shawn's dad fell down the second half of the attic steps and knocked out 3 of his front teeth and then bent a fourth one back (so it looked like it was missing at first). Needless to say, Shawn's parents then spent the rest of the day at the emergency room while Shawn and I finished washing the dishes, cleaned the stove-top, organized some movies, and made Christmas Eve dinner. We opened our presents that night. And then headed back over to my parents' house where we opened presents there until midnight.

Friday (aka Christmas Day) we woke up and had breakfast then opened our Christmas Stockingbags (my mom didn't do stockings since Shawn's and my stockings are down here in Austin, but decided to just put everything that would go in a stocking in a plastic shopping bag instead). We started watching Angels and Demons (it was a gift for my dad). We had to stop so I could peel potatoes for dinner. Then the sink got clogged with potato peels (hey man, my mom has ALWAYS put peels down the garbage disposal and never had a problem, I do it once and end up having to use a plunger to get the sink to drain). Oddly, there was one point where I started giggling uncontrollably because I was standing there plunging the sink while Shawn and my dad stood there and watched. We watched some more of the movie until Shawn's parents arrived for dinner. Then we all ate a pound of perfectly cooked roast beef each. We watched more of the movie while Shawn's parents were there and finally ended up finishing it after they left. We then packed up all our crap so it would be ready to go in the morning and finally went to bed around midnight.

We woke up at 730, ate breakfast, packed up the car and the cats and headed back down to Texas. We got to Lubbock around 7pm and stayed with Irwan again where Ivy, once more was a trooper with the toddler and Quazi spent the night hiding under the covers. Once Ethan went to bed, however, then that cat was going everywhere and being everyone's friend. Ethan had gotten a matchbox cars racetrack which of course provided endless amounts of entertainment for the adults because the goal was to do as many loops as possible without having something to wrong. Our record was 3 (it was a total MouseTrap situation and it required each adult setting up 2 cars before the loop was complete to keep it going).

We drove into Austin on Sunday, and other than a small mishap where Shawn got confused between the clutch and the brake, we didn't have any problems. The cats traveled extremely well, albeit Quazi was a bit of a spaz, but Ivy was perfectly content to sit on the console between our seats.

I'll update later with pictures when I get around to getting them off my camera.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


We went skiing today. I did two runs, both green. It took 5 hours. We didn't take breaks, that's just how much I fell. I think I'm gonna be black and blue tomorrow. Surprisingly for as many times as I fell on my hip, it really hurts to sit down. And I may have pulled a groin muscle, and a calf muscle. And I think my knees are all bruised too. As a man wiser than I always said, "I'm getting too old for this shit."

Monday, December 21, 2009


Since shawn was helping his parents by repainting the chimney, I decided I'd help by throwing out all the moldy cheese and fruit that was mushy in the fridge. After I pulled out the fruit drawer, I noticed there was some goo stuff along the back. I pulled out all the drawers and lower shelves and found an egg that had fallen down behind the shelves and broken, thus goo-ifying the back and bottom of the fridge. It required a knife to scrape off the yolk. Hopefully they can keep it fairly clean so they don't have to scrape anything when they decide to sell the house.

Friday, December 11, 2009


What the texan told me: "if you're born in paradise, why leave?"

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


"That 'adopt an Ethiopian for $1 a day' thing does not count as 'dating'."

"I don't think she's retarded; I think she's German."

"Wait, are we going to start a Droid users group in which we all get together, wear matching Snuggies, and set our phones to all say 'Droid' all in unison?"

Sunday, December 06, 2009

lack of mojo

between a cat who still is being tube fed and watered and writing an SER and taking an ethics test in preparation for the PE exam in April, I've lost my blogging mojo.

Don't worry, as soon as i get it back, you'll be the first to know.

On an unrelated subject--I think the PM's Love Theme from Love Actually is the song used for the trailer for The Young Victoria. I like it when they do that--use a song from a different movie for the trailer. Like one of the Lord of the Rings trailers used Lux Aeterna from Requiem for a Dream.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I am supposed to be using today to write my supplementary experience report (SER) in order to register to take the PE exam in April. This is a 6 page report of all the engineering related work I have done since I was hired by the City of Austin.

As you can imagine, I am doing everything but because deep down, I am a procrastinator.

And by 'everything' I mean sitting here in front of the computer finding other things to do on the internet.

God love the internet. What did I ever do before it was invented?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

what I heard

What I heard: Ihad to go for a run on the field of an orgy.

What was said: I had to go for a run on the heels of a gorging.

Monday, November 23, 2009


The waitress comes to the table... The menu clearly states that the chicken fried chicken platter comes with a side salad + one other side.

"I'll have the chicken fried chicken please, with a side of fried okra."

"Which type of dressing would you like with that, sir?"

"None, thanks."

We all give him weird looks. and one of us finally says, "Really, you don't want any dressing?"

"Why would I want dressing? Okay, fine, what do you have?"

"Ranch, Blue Cheese, vin..."

"Wait, you're asking me if I'd like salad dressing on my chicken fried chicken?!"

"no, sir, I'm asking which type of salad dressing you want with the salad."

"oh, fine...yes, I'll have Ranch. I would also like a coke."

"it's okay sir, I understand, let's get some caffeine in you, then it'll all be okay."

one of his friends: "I wouldn't count on it, he'll still say dumb shit."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Phone

Image from Best Buy's website

Today, Shawn and I decided to spend 3 hours at the Best Buy and get ourselves some new phones.

Normally it should not take 3 hours to get new phones--just so you know.

It all started on Friday when my coworker texted Shawn that my phone was ancient and I needed a new phone. (Okay, it didn't really start on Friday, it started on November 6 when Verizon released the Droid.) Shawn texted back saying we would likely work on it this weekend.

Today, after talking to the most affected family members (that is, Shawn's mom since she's on our family plan), we printed the Sears deal on the Droid ($149 with 2-year contract instead of the normal $199 with 2-year contract), and headed off to Best Buy as they do price matching.

We got to Best Buy and sat down with our sales guy. This is when the problems started--some of it could have been because we were transferring our current numbers and we were also switching from Shawn being primary to me being primary. So we sit there for half an hour filling out forms and then we get to the credit check which ends up requiring the copying of my social security card. After a 20 minute trip home and back, we sit down again, re-fill out the application, wait for the credit check...and wait....and wait....and let's go fax all the stuff to Verizon...okay, and wait some more...alright, let's call them to see what's taking so long...and 20 minutes later they tell us to re-fax the information because it was illegible when it was sent the first time. So there is re-faxing...more calling...more waiting...and more waiting...and after 2 hours, FINALLY they decide I must be who I say I am. After that, everything went quickly, except that Best Buy still didn't have it in the system that Droids could opt for a data plan that wasn't the executive one (yay! another call to the help desk at Verizon), AND it also hasn't been added to their "transfer all contact info from one phone to another" doohicky machine.

But, I'm very happy with the service from Best Buy (Adam in particular) and I guess, to an extent, I'm even okay with Verizon--if only because they were doing due diligence to make sure I am me--otherwise it's a very scary concept that we could have just walked into any cell phone store location and said "yes, I'd like to get my current number, which is XXX to be on this phone, with this new carrier." There's no guarantee that the person coming in would be honest and suddenly, you're phone can be hijacked by someone else. What a fun thought. Of course, we were told it was because of 9/11 that they were being so persnickety. Which...okay...but if that's the case, how do you explain the fact that you sell prepaid disposable phones which require no credit check and no contract--what to they require instead, a blood sample, semen sample, and promise of your first born child?


I can't believe people are surprised that New Moon is a blockbuster in spite of the fact that the movie actually sucks. Trust me, all those thousands of fan girls going to the movie aren't going because they expect it to be good. And the same goes for all those mothers and grandmothers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I did something I've never ever done in my life on Monday. I overdrew my checking account. GASP!!!

Every year in October, work gives us a list of like 1000 charities that we can opt to donate to. This charity drive ends November 1. And because I like to get simple things checked off my to-do list, I always do the combined charities almost as soon as they hand it out. I took care of this like October 12. Would you like to guess what overdrew my checking account? That's right. A check I wrote donating money to charity a month ago.

I don't necessarily know if it's ironic...but it's definitely a fucked up life lesson.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


What is with the dancers looking like they're extras from Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome this season on So You Think You Can Dance?

Monday, November 16, 2009


Bond had a very good idea today--in order to get what we want, we have to always suggest something completely and utterly out there first. Therefore, if we want to be able to award people 1 hour of time off, we first have to ask if we can give everyone a large can of Yams that they can give to someone else. Because really, who is really going to be excited about a can of yams?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Just so you know: Either Colorado has been annexed by Belgium, or the public school system in Texas is really, really bad. The other day, someone told me that Fat Tire is brewed in Belgium. I'm pretty sure it is not.

The Count of Monte Crisco

Seriously, it took for the movie coming out in 2002 before I realized that it's CrisTO not CrisCO. Anyhow, I just started reading it this morning on Shawn's digital reader. It's 2990 pages, people. of the digital paper, sure. But that still translates to over 1000 pages in a normal book. This. Will. Take. Forever.

Okay, not really--If I can read the 4 Twilight books in 2 weeks or the entire Harry Potter series in 3-4 weeks, then I'm sure I can handle a silly 1000 pages.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


It's happened.

We have reached the point in the year where the holiday spirit hits me. It usually (since moving to Austin) doesn't hit this early, but what are you going to do?

I can even tell you the precise moments leading to this point-- At Bond and Dave's house I flipped through a foodie magazine that was themed for Thanksgiving. It is 'cold' outside today, meaning it is in the mid 60s and is rainy. I got the Pier 1 Christmas catalog the other day. The day after, I got the LLBean Christmas catalog (this is because all the retailers are trying to get you in the Christmas mood early so you'll buy more stuff). And then finally, the Woman's Day December magazine came yesterday so I've been reading all these Thanksgiving recipes, and feel good Christmas stories, and decorating ideas and gift ideas all day. And that's when it hit me. I'm now officially looking forward to the holiday season.

I'm sure it doesn't help any that last night my dream was about finding an ornament for Ma-Belle, and since she's in a total Disney Princess phase I was trying to find a princess-esque ornament but all the ones I found were all wrong--all the Snow Whites were wearing blue Cinderella dresses, Sleeping Beauty was wearing a Jasmine outfit, etc.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Yankee Sports

God I have missed hockey. Not that I ever really was into it when I was in Colorado. Okay, you caught, me that's not quite true. I was totally into college hockey in 4th and 5th grade, and went to a bunch of the DU games with my friend Kay (Wow, just checked the DU site and Gwozdecky has been head coach for a long time--he was the head coach back when I watched them) . When Denver finally got a hockey team, albeit a farm team (the Grizzlies), my parents got me tickets for my birthday. Then the Avalanche came to town. I remember being most excited because they were previously the Nordiques. Yeah. Weird that I remember that. I helped Kay babysit Patrick Roy's kids once, it was back when none of them spoke English and the boys were, well, boys. But I never went to an Avs game. And then after that I just never really went to any more hockey games.

But tonight I remembered why I liked hockey so much: because it's a lot of action in a short span of area and time AND there are fights.

For example, tonight there were 3 fights in the first 2 minutes and 15 seconds. AWESOME. I'm honestly still a little surprised that the Dallas Stars' farm team (Texas Stars) beat the Canuck's farm team (Manitoba Moose)--the Stars' offense wasn't as good as the Moose's offense...but then the Stars' goalie was better than the Moose' I guess it all washes out in the end.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Every year the insurance people send me a birthday card about how things were in 1981. Things like which movie won Best Picture, which song was on the top of the charts, etc.

One of things is "averages." This is the part that I am going to be sharing today:

Average Income 1981: $25, 065
Average Income 2009: $50, 986

Average New Home 1981: $68,900
Average New Home 2009: $218, 400

No wonder more people are broke today--their salaries only doubled while their house prices tripled.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Cat Rug

I realize this is about a week and a half late, but this is the cat that I had gotten back from the Emergency Vet two weekends ago

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The cat is home. We'll have to do tube feeding for a while--40-50 ml 4 times a day, and subcutaneous fluids 50-100 ml once a day. The goal is to do the feedings for a while until she starts eating on her own, and the fluids every day for about a week, then every other day for about a week, and then every 3rd day for a week.

We have to take her in to get her bandage around her neck changed every 3 to 5 days (where the feeding tube goes in), and blood work needs to be done again as well--we'll see when that gets done because one doc doesn't want to draw blood since they have to sedate her until at least a week out while another doc wants to do blood work when she's in for the bandage change.

The biggest problem with all this? the fact that the Quazi doesn't even recognize Ivy and so we're having to go through and re-introduce two cats to each other, neither of them likes cats, but they put up with each other. Last night Quazi managed to get Ivy stuck on the bed by guarding the bottom so she couldn't jump off to go to the bathroom. That was a fun time at 4 in the morning.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Overheard in the elevator on my way to my office yesterday:

"At one point last night I thought to myself, 'you know, I should really switch to drinking Red Bull and Vodkas now so I won't get drunk.' Obviously I was already hammered."

In other news, I have Ivy sitting on the chair next to me because I picked her up from the E-vet early and have to wait for my normal vet to open. She was meowing a lot which either means "don't take me there", or more recently it's meant "I have to pee now, where's the litterbox? K, thanks" so I decided to stop off at home. Sure enough, I let her out of the kennel and she first headed for the back door (oddly cats that used to be strays and are still indoor/outdoor prefer to go to the bathroom outside instead of a litterbox, no matter how clean the litterbox is). Obviously I didn't let her out, and so she then turned tail and made a beeline for the litterbox. That cat can hold a bunch of urine in her bladder.

Anyhoo, the main point of this post isn't that she's using the litterbox (which is good), but it's more that because since she's gained so much weight on the force fed diet, she's like the really overweight people you see at Walmart--you know, the ones that have to take the little invalid carriages because they can't walk around the store without getting winded? Yeah, the poor cat has to rest after every 8 steps or so because she's getting so worn out. She jumped on the chair next to me and promptly went to sleep for 15 minutes.

well, looks like she's awake, and the vet is open, so I better get her back there.

Sigh...fingers crossed that she can come home soon and we can do fluid treatments here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Prognosis: Still guarded...I think?

today I dropped Ivy off at the e-vet for the night. Yes we're still taking the cat to the e-vet. She has gained 5 pounds. I gave them a slightly overweight house cat and they handed me back a brine filled butterball. And when I dropped the cat off at the vet, the actual vet himself asked me when we're going to be done with this back and forth thing...sounds to me like they're wanting her out of there just as badly as I want it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Grocery Store Run

From my coworker:

"We ran out of children's Tylenol, which wouldn't have been a big deal, but of course the baby ends up needing a dose, and the toddler was already awake. So, at 4 in the morning, still in my pajamas, I take the boys with me to the grocery store because the wife is out of town. I'm at the checkout lane and the cashier asks me 'would you like to buy body wash or one of our WOW! items today?' I politely said no but I was thinking 'I'm standing here with 2 kids who are screaming, we're all in pajamas, it's 4 in the morning. NO I DON'T WANT A WOW ITEM!'"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Prognosis: Still guarded

After picking Ivy up from the E-vet this morning and driving her back to the normal vet, and then waiting all day long for the blood test results, they finally came in. The results are far from great (they're all still really high), but they are definitely better than what was expected. The expected result was that the blood work would come back the same or worse than it was yesterday, but thankfully it came back better than yesterday. Yesterday, there were 4 things that were higher than the normal ranges--Potassium, Creatinine, BUN, and Phosphorus. Of those, the Creatinine and BUN were off the charts--as in the machine couldn't even read the levels they were so high. Today, the Potassium and Phosphorus were in the normal range (elevated, but normal), and the Creatinine and BUN were still extremely high, but the values had come down enough that the machine could actually get a reading. This is good news in so much that it means she's the question becomes whether she can recover enough to be able to survive without being on the IV she has to be able to eat on her own.

Of course it also means that we have to do this normal vet, emergency vet dance until Friday afternoon when they do her next blood test. Here's hoping that that blood test comes out good (or she starts eating on her own by then) since Friday is my birthday and it would doubly suck if she had to be put down then since she is generally considered my cat while Quazi is Shawn's cat.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Prognosis: Guarded

Ivy is at the Emergency Vet tonight. She puked Monday morning at 4 am. Between the time that my inlaws went out for the day (1030 am) and when Shawn came home from work (530 pm), she had thrown up 4 or 5 more times. We figured that the stress of us being gone and then having guests over was a bit much. She proceeded to puke another 4 times throughout the night. I took her to the vet first thing in the morning. They did blood work and diagnosed acute kidney failure and raging bladder infection. She was put on IV fluids and baytril. They called me at 3 pm and said she was doing better, but would need to be transported to the E-vet for observation through the night. I'm then to pick her up at 630 am to transport her back to the normal vet where they'll do another round of blood work to see if her kidneys have recovered at all from the fluids.

If so, then great, she'll recover.

If not...well then...what a birthday present for Shawn. :'(

Sunday, October 18, 2009


"There are certain things I ask myself every time we go car camping: Why do we always choose the site next to the drunk college kids? Why do those people have a lantern that is as bright as the sun? And if they have that lantern, why the hell are they still wearing head lamps?"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Charles Kuralt

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

EZ Reader

While Shawn worked for NI, he did some candidate hosting. It's basically a situation where NI brings potential candidates for jobs down to Austin for a weekend. Interviews happen on Friday, there's a dinner to attend Friday night and Saturday night, but otherwise the applicants are on their own in a town where most of them have never been. So, NI has this brilliant idea where they'll pair up an employee with a candidate and that employee's job is to make sure the candidate has a good time in Austin. The employees are required to go to the dinners with their candidate (so yay, free meal), but otherwise it takes up the weekend. To sweeten the deal, NI gives the employees "hosting points" which they save up for goods and services (much like all those sales thingies we did in elementary school). Shawn has hosted on and off the entire time he worked for NI (5 years) and never cashed in his points.

Because Shawn's last day with NI was on Friday, he had to cash in all his hosting points. These points totaled enough for a $200 gift card to Fry's Electronics Store.

So Shawn went and bought himself a Kindle-type reader called the EZ Reader (made by Astak). I find this funny because he doesn't usually read books. The reason for getting that specific reader is because it's got some 100 books already pre-loaded on the thing, and it can read 20+ formats (too bad all the books you get on Amazon require that you use the Kindle, and all the books you get on Barnes and Noble require their proprietary reader), and it's Linux compatible...naturally. The best part about the books that are preloaded on the thing are of the variety that Shawn doesn't read, that is, anything that isn't of the O'Reilly technical books variety. I'm predicting that the only full book he'll read on that thing is the user's manual.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


My coworker was doing some field work the other day, walking down a creek with fenced dogs on either side.

At one point in time he started freaking out because he swore there was a dairy cow in one of the yards, and no matter what people say, he was pretty sure that city code does not allow dairy cows. So he took a picture, and that's when he realized it was just a great dane.

Looks like it's time for a new glasses prescription.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


We're watching last week's episode of The Amazing Race on The video viewer keeps crashing.

After the most recent crash, Shawn has started threatening the viewer with death when it is sleeping.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Theodore Roosevelt

Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.

Friday, October 02, 2009


What I learned today:

If you're going to call someone debonair, you should do it to their face.

And don't believe a small company when they say they'll be open 'til 5pm on the Friday afternoon during ACL.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

George Burns

Happiness is having a large, loving, close-knit family in another city.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thomas Jefferson

I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

In Other News

Shawn has decided to switch jobs. He will be working for RGM Advisors beginning on October 19. The company utilizes linux, and thus he will be doing some programming thingamaboops in said operating system (seeing as how we no longer even run Windows at home, I would have to say that it's his preferred OS).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ronald Reagan

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.

Friday, September 25, 2009


While walking back from lunch today with Bond and David, David states something about how "we need to have a happy hour for just us ladies."

The man is straight.

The man makes up words.

The man really said "Late-ies"

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I don't know why I thought of it today...

Back in the day (about a month after I.V. adopted us as her peoples), Bob and Elsie (aka the inlaws) came to stay with us. They had decided that rather than stay in Austin all week, they were going to stay with us for a few days, head down to San Antonio for a few, and then come back to stay with us at the end of the week.

Not 15 minutes after they walked out of the house to go down to San Antonio, I.V. very purposefully walked into the guest room (aka drum room). She then very purposefully walked over the bed to the center. And then she very purposefully popped a squat and peed on the bed.

And for whatever reason, I found it hysterical.

Then I spent the rest of the day washing the bedspread and sheets.

Monday, September 21, 2009


We saw a commercial for "Big Bang Theory" yesterday (we have not yet watched the season opener).

Scene: Shawn and me in the living room watching Raj, Wolowitz, Sheldon, and Leonard enter the apartment after 3 months in the Arctic. All of them, except Sheldon, have massive ZZ Top beards.

Shawn: Man, every time I see their beards I think they look cooler and cooler. Don't you?


Shawn: What you don't like that look? The rugged mountain man look?

Me: Uh, the homeless look.

Shawn: ::crestfallen:: oh.

Premier Week

Blogging will be very light over the next week. It is premier week after all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


So, I'm breaking my self imposed rule about not blogging about stuff at work (other than funny conversations with coworkers)

But, it is only because too good to not share. Let me entertain you:

Scene: My office, I've just walked in. My boss is talking to the other person he supervises in the office across from mine. He thinks I am listening to what they're talking about even though they are clearly not talking to me. He walks into my office:

"Katina. I've got some bad news. Management has been asked to make some more cuts to our division. So, can you please give me a justification as to why you should keep it for your job?"

"What?! I have to give a justification to keep my job?!"

"Oh good God no! I'm talking about that teleworking program you use. ::ha ha ha::: You thought I was talking about your job? :::ha ha ha::: Oh that's funny, Katina.:::ha ha ha:::"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My New Favorite Show

Hie thee to Hulu and watcheth the "Glee"

Sunday, September 13, 2009


While watching an old video of Julia Child making bouillabaisse on PBS this afternoon:

"You can add lobster to this dish if you want. The way you would do this would be to chop up a live lobster and put it in the stock pot the same time you add the halibut."

"No one really knows how this dish got its name. 'Bouilla' means 'to boil', and 'baisse' means 'low'. But that doesn't make very much sense. When I was in Marseilles, there was a gentleman who used to say that he thought it was supposed to be 'Bouilla la abaisse'. Which roughly means 'to boil a female priestess'."

Oh those French.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


A conversation with one of my coworkers who was born and raised in Texas. He went to UT. He is very....Texan.

"Is there like some crazy rule that states that in order to play as quarterback at A&M or UT you have to have a weird name?"

"Like what?"

"Well, like Chance, or Colt."

"or like Vince?"

"No, Vince is normal. And then A&M had a quarterback named Major."

"Major Applewhite played for UT."

"oh. Well whatever, I amend my previous statement to 'if you want your son to grow up and play quarterback for UT, you have to give them an odd name.'"


"You're still mad about the fact I said Major Applewhite played for A&M, aren't you?"

"Yes, yes I am."

Thursday, September 10, 2009


"Oh yuck! I'm getting sprayed with the car wash water. No, wait, that's rain!"

"yeah, it really has been a long time since you've seen rain, hasn't it?"

Restaurant Week

Austin does a yearly thing called "Restaurant Week" where, for 7 days (though they aren't necessarily all sequential), a selection of the fancy-schmancy restaurants do a prix fixe meal for $25-$35. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Sustainable Food Center and AIDS Services of Austin.

Of the restaurants on the list this year, I routinely eat at Zax (it is, afterall, right by my office), and have gone to McCormick and Schmick's for Happy Hour (hey, they have a $3 burger during happy hour).

Is it wrong for me to want to eat at Zax just so I can get the blueberry crumble dessert?

You can find out about Restaurant Week here: Austin Restaurant Week

Friday, September 04, 2009

Things that make me happy

Engine Block

On talking with my coworker today about the grad schools he was thinking of going to, one of which, was in Missoula, Montana:

"So I was talking to the admissions director and he told me that they had enough on-campus apartments for all the grad students. Actual apartments, not just dorms. And he mentioned that they had engine block warmers in all of the garages. And that's when I asked 'What's an engine block warmer?' and there was silence on the other end of the line.

"Then I asked 'Is that like when you have to run the heat in the car because the engine is overheating during the summer?'

"and the Admissions guy said 'Really? It gets hot enough down there that your car overheats in the summer?'

"'well, yeah. Yours doesn't?'

"'hmm...You should really come up here in the winter before agreeing to go to grad school here.'

Thursday, September 03, 2009


While driving by the large American flag flying in the wind on the way home (at Mopac and Steck):

"man, I love that flag, it makes me feel so patriotic."

"Aren't you Canadian?"

"Your point being..?"

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


My friend, Matt, IMed me this afternoon to tell me the following:

"I decided to Google 'Ninja school' today. I clicked on one of the results and got the 'The website you have requested cannot be found' messages. Well played Ninja School, well played."

Sunday, August 30, 2009


After I posted the last entry, I noticed that I had only uploaded photos from my dSLR and I had some pretty good photos that needed to be uploaded from the Sony point and shoot.

The first step in any photo endeavor is to delete the crap photos, and then to scale the images to a smaller size for internet viewing. I decided it was going to be easier to scale then delete since most of the photos were good enough for posting (there were maybe about 10 that weren't going to make to to the album).

Because I didn't remember how we batch processed the photos, I thought I was supposed to use the "convert image" option under the file viewer. So that's what I did. And then my computer froze. So I killed it. Which effectively corrupted 30 of my 80 photos. It did not corrupt the 10 photos that were so bad they wouldn't have made it to my online album, because OF COURSE NOT.

Instead I lost some really good photos of my parents, and of Shawn and me (and our vacation photos are sorely lacking any photos of the two of us together), and of Shawn's immediate family at the wedding. Somehow all the photos of extended family at the wedding (except like one or two) managed to not get corrupted.

Still, I'm pissed. There was this really awesome photo that my dad insisted we do at Princeton--there's an Art in Public Places thing where it's basically a large cone, balanced on the point. So I got up on large flat part and then acted like I was balancing the cone. It was a really good photo, and now it's gone. BOO! as well as the good photo of Shawn and me at the wedding. At least there is still some proof of that since I had individually shrunk that photo to put on my mom's Facebook page. Apparently I need to go steal it back. Again, I state: BOO.

East Coast Vacation

Pictures!! I haven't gone through Shawn's photos...don't know if I will. His photos, his problem. :)

I also haven't uploaded photos from the wedding. Don't know when I'll work on it, so if you really really want to see people somewhat related to me, then just keep checking back at the album periodically.

East Coast Vacation

Riding, Riding, Riding...all the way to Crown Donut Shop

After taking a breather for two weeks (because of my knee), we were out in full force this weekend. Okay, so really only a ride to the grocery store on Saturday, and a ride to Crown Donuts for breakfast this morning. Too bad Shawn isn't participating in this bike ride thing. He gets all competitive and has taken it much more personally than I have that our team is losing by 100 trips. As our Team Leader said, "every person on the team needs to do 10 trips just to catch up to the other team." A trip is either 1 recreational ride (no matter the distance), or one way to work, or one way back from work, or one way for an errand, or one way back. Thus it makes the most sense (bang for your buck so to speak) to run errands, or bike to work. This is why I have been riding my bike to the grocery store.

So, right. Today's ride.

Because Shawn feels it's a pain to get the bikes out just to ride the less than half a mile to TJ's, I suggested that maybe we go try the place over at Anderson Mill Road and Pecan Park. It's about a mile and a half away, and we'd never eat there otherwise. So at 9 am this morning (when it was only 75 degrees out. I know!), we rode off to Crown Donuts.

The inside reminds me of the Dunkin' Donuts in Glenwood Springs. Only yellow instead of orange.

Crown serves a variety of kolaches, croissants, and donuts. I had a sausage and cheese kolache, a sugar covered cake donut, and a chocolate glazed raised donut. Shawn had a sausage croissant kolache, and a filled long john.

The kolaches are more expensive than TJ's (by about $0.40), but the donuts are cheaper (by about $0.20), so all in all we spent about the same amount of money...actually less because we got a bunch of donuts instead of our normal bunch of kolaches. Crown does have a beef kolache (which TJ's doesn't), but they don't have any fruit kolaches.

The kolache I had tasted very similar to TJ's, but just didn't seem like it didn't have enough cheese, and that it wasn't fully cooked--the bread around the sausage was doughier than I like. Shawn said that the croissant kolache was good, but still said it was on par with TJ's kolaches. Winner: TJ's.

The cake donut was very good. It was moist, it tasted wonderful, and it didn't fall apart when I bit into it. As I said, the donuts at Crown are cheaper than at TJ's, and it seems that they have perfected their recipe for the cake donuts. Winner: Crown.

The raised donut was very airy. VERY airy. I'd start to bite into it, and it would depress by about half before my teeth actually cut into it. The actual donut part was good, I didn't care for the chocolate frosting (but I normally can't bring myself to order a plain glazed donut because I find them un-appetizing...unless I'm ordering for work). The glazed donut had just been put out so it was ultra fresh. Winner: Tie.

Based on the fact that when Shawn ordered a long john, and the lady asked if he wanted it cream filled, he said yes, and she went running to the back carrying the donut. About 30 seconds later she came back with the donut. I can only take this to mean that they fill the long johns to order. And there was a bunch of cream in that thing. Plus it was the eclair type cream (which I don't care for--i always preferred the frosting filled long johns), which was good for Shawn since he likes that stuff. I've always been surprised that he can eat eclair cream after watching Van Wilder. But anyhow, since he's never had the long johns at TJ's, they obviously can't be compared. He did say, however, that Crown's long johns are good and he'd order them again if we went back. Winner: Wash.

So there you have it. Normal and fruit kolaches from TJ's, Croissant kolaches from Crown (based on the fact that TJ's doesn't make croissant kolaches), and cake donuts from Crown. I think next time I bring donuts to work I may get a dozen kolaches from TJs, and a dozen donuts from Crown.

Crown Donuts is located in the small strip mall at Anderson Mill Road at Pecan Park, it is located in the middle of the center, half way between Mesa Rosa and Emler Swim School.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fantasy Football

As I've mentioned before, I am partaking in the Work League Fantasy Football game this year. It's really only because they needed an even number of people and already had 9 so they needed someone to agree to give $20 for a chance to win much more than that. They asked me because I know nothing about football and therefore am an easy mark.

So, after the draft last night, here is my team (including bench players):
Kurt Warner (QB)
David Garrard (QB)
Larry Fitzgerald (WR)
Santana Moss (WR)
Lance Moore (WR)
Donald Driver (WR)
Cedric Benson (RB)
Reggie Bush (RB)
Jamal Lewis (RB)
Kellen Winslow (TE)
Tony Scheffler (TE)
Josh Brown (K)
Tampa Bay (DEF)
Arizona (DEF)
Terrence McGee (CB)
Quintin Demps (S)

So...seeing as how I've only ever heard of 5 of these people (and 2 of those are the actual TEAMS), I'm not sure how this will go.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stupid Cat

The stupid cat stayed outside the other night. By blatantly running away from us when called. Stupid cats and their not coming when called.

Anyhoo, he came back the next morning sans collar. Sigh...This is why cats cost $10k over their lives.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bah, Humbug!

So some people get all pissed off in the winter when it just seems like it will never end. But here in Austin, we're all getting pissed off because it just won't cool down. EVER. 51 days of 100+ in Downtown Austin this summer. 51, people!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Riding, Riding, Riding...

On Sunday, before I went and gashed up my knee, I went for a bike ride. Odd, I've hung out with so many people who have gone and gotten totally effed up from riding bikes, I somehow just always assumed that if I ever got messed up it would be because I was doing something on a bike (most likely trying to keep up when I'm obviously inept).

[Aside] Have you ever tried to keep your leg straight--like no bending of your knee? because let me tell you, it is fricking tough. For example, right now I'm contorted in some weird position where my right leg is resting on the other office chair, but it makes it so I'm turned at a 90 degree angle from the computer. Sucktackular. However, the cut is looking fabulous and hopefully I won't have any problems with it getting infected or anything. [/Aside]

So anyhow, I got up all bright and early (aka 9 am) and set off on a bike ride. To the bank, then to the grocery store, then to TJ's to get some kolaches and finally back home. I also found out that only the new buildings in Austin City Limits have bike racks (the bank is a new building, but it is on the far side of 620, thus putting it firmly in Cedar Park land, and apparently they don't have rules like the COA does requiring the installation of bike racks). So I rode from the house to the bank and brought the bike into the bank with me. I then off-roaded it to the grocery store to pick up my prescription. As I was riding home, I decided to make a side trip to TJ's for some kolaches since we hadn't eaten breakfast yet. Yes, I can barely control where the bike goes when I'm using both hands, so let's see how I do while carrying a doggybag of food.

Now then, as I joked about earlier, I have decided that I will write a pseudo review much like the Caffienated Wheelmen. But because I dislike coffee, I must find something else to review at the various shops I stop at.

So, I will review the food at TJ's Donuts and Kolaches.

TJ's went into the strip mall by our house maybe a year or two ago. Since I had just had my first run-in with kolaches shortly before, I figured "what the hell, let's get some kolaches" And thus started my love affair with TJ's.

TJ's meat kolaches are always served warm, and while they don't have many flavors (sausage, sausage and cheese, sausage/jalapeno/cheese, and ham & cheese), the flavors sure are good. The kolaches range from $0.89 to $1.09. They also have a wide selection of fruit kolaches that cost $0.79 each.

I, on occasion, bring these kolaches to work where they are snapped up very quickly by my co-workers, thus also attesting to the greatness of this place (and while my coworkers will eat a bunch of stuff that I normally wouldn't, you can always tell how good something is by how quickly it disappears from the break room). I have noticed that the longest lasting kolaches are always the blueberry ones, but that may just be because the filling doesn't look very appetizing (of course I don't think the cream cheese filling looks very appetizing either, but those always disappear almost as quickly as the meat kolaches).

I have, recently, also eaten some donuts from the shop, and while they do have cake donuts (for whatever reason the stores down here do not sell cake donuts), they just aren't as good as the cake donuts I had growing up. The bear claws and apple fritters, however, are very good. I don't think I've had raised donuts, the breakfast tacos, nor the filled long johns from the store yet, and I probably never will because if you have the choice of kolache, why would you go with donut?

As far as I can tell, TJ's is a mom and pop business, and the high school aged kids work on the weekends. The best part about this shop is that it is open at like 5 am. Okay, I don't really know when it opens, but I do know it opens much earlier than the other kolache shops around and it ALWAYS has someone else in there buying some kolaches/donuts. The only other place I've seen this busy in that strip mall is the Dairy Queen.

The funniest part about TJ's is that the family that owns it is of Asian descent. As one of my coworkers always jokes while he's eating a kolache, "He must be one of those Czech Asians because these things are GOOD."

So, if you're ever in the 183/620 area, look up TJ's Donuts and Kolaches. They are located on the southwest corner of 620 at Lake Creek (in the Papa Murphy's/Dairy Queen/Subway shopping center).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tina's First Big Boo-Boo

Since I'm out of work-appropriate clothes to wear, I did some laundry last night and transferred it to the dryer right before bed.

Today I decided to transfer the laundry from the dryer to the clothes basket for folding.

For whatever reason, Shawn parked my car very close to the house while pulling into the garage last night, and of course there's always the gathering spot for all sorts of extra crap (cat litter, charcoal, car oil, windshield fluid, etc.), which happens to be at the front of the garage right between the two cars, and then there's Shawn's car, which is always parked close to the front of the garage on account of it being a truck with a full sized bed (I know, it's a bit odd thinking of the Rabbit Pickup as having a full sized truck bed, but it does). And I have to go through all this to get to the washer and dryer.

As I start working my way around the front of the truck, I hit my knee on the license plate and think to myself, "oh shit, that hurt, I hope I didn't cut myself" and then get to the washer and dryer before I look at my knee (not that I could have really looked at it before).

And this is the part where I start to hyperventilate. Because my knee is sliced open. Pretty deeply, too. Probably only an 1/8 of an inch or so, but I'm a girl, who, while being fairly tomboyish, never had any major wounds. In fact, I think the biggest 'wound' I ever had was a toenail that, after dropping a cabinet door on it, turned black and fell off.

So back to my gaping wound. It's not bleeding much, but I can definitely tell that it is deep, so I slap a hand over the wound (even though it's been about a minute from when I sliced it, and it's not bleeding), and start hobbling back into the house, having to go back around the license plate of death, the cat litter, the charcoal, the motor oil and washer fluid, and finally skirting around my car before getting to the door, which I open, and then gimp my way to the bathroom. I then have to finagle my way to sit with my knee under the tap so I can start rinsing.

It's at this point that I yell to Shawn, who is sitting in the study, as to whether or not I need to go to the hospital to get a tetanus shot if I had my last one 3 years ago, but I sliced my knee open on his license plate.

He meanders down to the bathroom, takes a look at my knee in the mirror and says "wow, that's deep. If you go to the doctor they'd definitely stitch that one up. Not that I would go to the doctor if it was me. I mean, I've had worse and I didn't go to the doctor. They're all stitch happy there."

By this point, I start looking at the cut and start feeling a wee bit woozy. So I ask Shawn to go get some gauze as I sit on the toilet, trying to keep the affected knee straight (to keep the wound closed), while also keeping my head as close to the ground as possible.

What seems like 5 minutes later I yell to Shawn about the gauze that he was supposed to have been pulling from the first aid kit, which is in the closet in the study, on the ground, next to my wedding dress, which doesn't take any time to find, why am I the only one that knows where anything is in this house? GAH! So he comes back into the bathroom with a little gauze bandage from our first aid kit, and starts laughing at me being almost passed out. He cleans up the cut some more with the peroxide and puts a bandage on it (to keep it closed), while we debate on whether to go to the doctor or not since I don't care about scars, and the wound was a very clean cut, but it does have the bad luck of being on a knee which means it will try to reopen every time I bend it.

I pretty much come to the conclusion that since it isn't bleeding, is a straight cut, and as long as I'm not bending my knee a lot, it probably would be fine with some butterfly bandages. So I ask Shawn to go get some butterfly bandages from the store, since I'm pretty worthless, what with the almost blacking out and feeling like I'm going to puke and everything.

Right before he left, he was going on about how cute I was--because I had never had a big boo-boo before, and I guess with the generally looking like hell. Yeah, because that's something I can control. Okay, I probably could have controlled the lolling my head about and going "guhhhh, I think I'm going to puke" a little better.

And here I never thought that I was the passing out type, or the type to get woozy seeing blood, but apparently I am.

the funny thing? It was painful, and still is (I mean I only sliced it open maybe at 2:10pm), but that part doesn't bother me--the part that bothered me was feeling so nauseous. I can even handle the almost blacking out part, just please don't make me feel like i'm going to yark. And this, ladies and gents, is why I would never be able to go through natural childbirth--because it would make me feel like I needed to yark.

I think it's probably more telling that after cleaning and bandaging, my first thought is "man, I really ought to blog about this."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On talking with my mom

A couple weekends ago, I was talking on the phone with my mom, as I am wont to do. She asked me if I had any news, so I told her of the hermit crabs (something she has been trying to convince me to do since I was 21...apparently she thinks hermit crabs do something instead of spending all their time sitting in the same spot in their tank). I also told her that I had joined the fantasy football league at work.

Now then, if you know me, you also know that I don't know jack about sports. And your normal response would be "Well, go ask Shawn, he'll tell you all about it." But you'd be wrong because he doesn't pay attention to normal sports (not that fantasy football is even a normal sport).

So, fantasy football. It will be interesting. All I've gathered from it is that there's a list of 500 players and I have to try to make up a team out of that list of players while going all round robin style with the other people in the league.

So I was trying to explain this to my mom (who also doesn't know anything about sports). And as examples, I was using players that I actually know of. So what if they were all retired?

"So yeah, I think you go through and select players by position, or if you want, you can select the entire defensive line. So if I wanted John Elway, I could get him, as long as no one else got him first. Or like if I needed a wide receiver I could get Ed McCaffrey. But of course there's this whole thing about you actually have two teams because I guess you can't have the same team every week or something, so you'd get like Joe Montana as your secondary quarterback."

"umm, honey? I don't think you're going to do so well if you keep choosing players that are all retired."

So yeah, this game promises to be fun when the only players I know are the ones that are in the news...and most of them are in the news, not because they do well at football, but because they do stupid stuff.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I am so behind the times

I totally did not know that Hugh Heffner has dropped all his old girlfriends like hot potatoes (Kendra, Bridgette, and Holly), and now has himself some younger playthings. Twins and a spare.

And really Kendra and Holly for sure left him. Funny, that.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Association of Caffeinated Wheelmen

I recently joined the Spare Tires at work.

The Spare Tires is a group of people at work who, during the month of May, did a bike to work challenge. They lost by 5 points to one of the other work groups (Team ERM). So the Spare Tires challenged Team ERM to a rematch. The rematch is supposed to be taking place right now. And so, I bring you the list of 5 reasons why our team leader is a rat bastard.

1. He set the challenge for August. In Austin, TX. AUGUST!!!
2. He then decided to take a vacation for the first week of August.
3. He forgot to tell Team ERM about the challenge so we are currently competing against ourselves. Hey, you always get first place when there's only one team competing.
4. He told us the challenge started on Saturday August 1st, so I rode my bike to the grocery store on Sunday the 2nd. Only to find out on Monday that the challenge didn't actually start until August 3rd.
5. And 5, I don't really have a 5...rather, I did earlier when I first made this list last week, but now I forget. And I just checked Greenlight again and found that the team leader for Team ERM set a new challenge, it is supposedly starting on Tuesday...but of course I think our team leader is the one that has to accept it.

Maybe, once this challenge actually gets underway (if it ever does), I'll do something like ride my bike to the local coffee shops and then write about it...of course I'd have to choose something to drink there instead of the coffee because I don't do coffee...I prefer to get my daily dose of caffeine through cola means. In any case, I probably should write to Brad and Jon and get an Association of Caffeinated Wheelmen pin. At least I now kinda qualify.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Lack of Blogging Mojo


I have totally had a lack of the blogging mojo. Like totally and completely. Except. Every day something happens in which I go "I should totally blog* about this" but then I don't. For whatever reason.

For example:
On Saturday we went to our niece's birthday party (she's now officially 2 years old...and friggin' cute as hell). On the way home we got stuck in Giddings at 1030 at night because of a train stopped on the tracks, so we went through Serbin to go around the train. We had a total Detroit Rock City moment where Shawn said "A lot of pornos start like this." And my response was "Yeah? So do a lot of horror movies." Alternately I kept thinking of the Axe Murderer Bud Light Commercial. Only instead of the Axe Murderer, I kept thinking of Alice Cooper in that Bridgestone commercial. Scary, I know.

I read a few good articles. There was one about how society is totally going to be 'effed in the coming years because girls are told via pop culture that real guys stalk you and then wait until marriage for sex while boys are told they're supposed to be having lesbian threesomes. (And now the hits too my blog have quadrupled because of the p0rn and lesbeen references). You can read that article here: Vampires Suck

I also read an article about how older people looking for jobs nowdays should really try to keep up with times technology they should be down with the blogz and tweets and what have you. They may also want to put their Linked In profile website on their resumes. Plus use a Gmail account instead of the one that is handed out by the ISP. That article is here: Landing a Job When You're Over 50

We've finished watching the TV show "Dead Like Me" and we may try to find the movie that recently came out.

The girls at work were joking that we were going to do a pregnancy pact like those high school girls, just to get even with all the guys at the office for being mean to us. They apparently all fear pregnant ladies. Odd. The most scared were the guys who most recently had pregnant wives...

I've found this last week or so that just keeping track of what I spend money on is enough to get me to save money. Now that I've come to this conclusion, I'm going to stop blogging about it because I start sucking it up when I blog about finances...that and I cheat on my budget whenever I set one--it's kinda like dieting I guess.

One of my coworkers found this website this morning. It's great fun. Translation Party.

HAHA, after looking at all of the possible tags I've created, I just realized that I totally haven't done any work on any of the pictures from our last vacation. Yeah...totally sucking it up man.

*I still find it funny that Blogger tells me that "blog", "blogger", and "blogging" are all misspelled words.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Freaking Jury Duty

Again! Again I have been summonsed to Jury Duty. It's at a different location than it was before (the previous one was for traffic court, and I'm guessing this one is for something a bit more important than a seat belt violation). But still! How the hell can I have lived here for 4 years and been summoned twice while in my entirety of living in Colorado I was summoned twice. AND SHAWN HAS NEVER BEEN SUMMONED. EVER! I think I'm going to go to said Jury Duty and ask if they can put my husband on the roster for the next summoning.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I've gone and gotten myself some work kritturs. Said critters are 3 hermit crabs. I have not named them yet, two of them were extremely active on the way home, the other is actually quite the hermit and didn't even move until it had been sitting in the terrarium (the crabitat if you will) for over an hour.

I set out some fresh food from Bond (grapes and spinach) so we'll see how much they eat.

The biggest problem with said crabs? They're nocturnal so I probably won't get to watch them move around much.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Update on Baby Projects

So, by the time I wrote my last entry about the baby projects, Miss Sarah's newest addition to the family was already 5 hours old.

I told you the baby wasn't going to wait until Friday.

Baked Ziti

And the last recipe to be tried out of the Best Skillet Recipes book before I had to send it back: Baked Ziti.

Of the three dishes, this is probably my least favorite. It was also the only one that I didn't pre-measure everything before starting. It maybe took an hour to do (from beginning to end), and about half of that time was used boiling and peeling tomatoes and dicing a jalapeno.

Note: The recipe did not call for fresh tomatoes, nor did it call for a diced jalapeno. It called for whole peeled tomatoes in a can and red pepper flakes. but I had like 10 tomatoes and 8 jalapenos, so I figured I'd just use the fresh stuff instead. Also, I normally don't have whole peeled tomatoes in a can lying around the house.

So, after boiling, cooling, peeling and pureeing the tomatoes, I weighed them only to find out I was a little short on tomato weight--I could have just boiled, cooled, peeled and pureed more tomatoes since I only used half of them, but decided that was too much of a pain in the butt since I was already hungry. So I used a can of petite diced tomatoes in addition to the homegrown and the Farm to Work tomatoes.

I diced a jalapeno because I had it on hand, and I need to use them. These I got from the Farm to Work thingy-ma-bopper and from Bond.

I also peeled some garlic (which, I hopefully will have growing in my garden this fall. woot!), and garlic pressed it.

I then weighed the penne I had on hand, and I only had 8 of the required 12 oz. So, since I was lazy, I decided to just add elbow mac to make up the difference instead of running to the store to pic up another box of penne--bad idea. I did at least wait 3 minutes between adding the penne and the mac to try to get them to cook to the same doneness (oh yeah, I used penne because I had it on hand instead of the ziti, and just so you know, DO NOT add elbow mac to a recipe if you're already adding a larger noodle...which I already knew, I just hoped it would have worked out).

So I cooked the pasta on the stovetop in the skillet for about 18 minutes, and then I added the cream and basil. I also decided to add in a spoonful or two of the ricotta cheese that I still had left over from the Pasta Alla Norma. Stir, cover with mozzarella cheese and bake until melted and bubbly. Let cool.

Or you do what I do and practically forget about dinner cooling on the counter because you're too busy playing on Facebook. Which is only impressive because I was HUNGRY.

So we ate dinner, and it was alright. It would have been better without the elbow mac noodles (duh), and it still seemed to be missing something...more cheese maybe. I think the ricotta was a good addition. I think the biggest problem was that I like my baked pastas to be more saucey than it was (so I should probably just add some canned spaghetti sauce to my plate). Of the three recipes we tried from the book, I think this was probably the biggest disappointment, though it is easier than most baked ziti recipes that require you to boil the ziti seperately from the sauce. Of course, even though it's a disappointment, that doesn't mean that I won't make this ever again. It is relatively easy--especially when using canned tomatoes and pepper flakes, and the ingredients aren't too out there. The only one that I for sure won't usually have on hand is the heavy cream. But seeing as how the Pot Pie recipe uses heavy cream, I'm sure we'll just do the two recipes back to back, thus making the buying of cream not such a big deal.

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie

I figure I'd write more about the recipes we've tried out of the Best Skillet Meals cookbook that I originally blogged about here and here.

I had bought all the stuff to make the pot pie at the same time I bought all the stuff to make the Pasta Alla Norma, but due to life, was unable to cook the pot pie until 4 days later, and even then, it was more of a "oh crap, this stuff is going to go bad if we don't use it" thing.

I first pulled out the pie crust (Pillsbury "just unroll" variety), fluted the edges, and cut out vent holes. Then I put it in the freezer as per directions. Of course I should have measured to make sure it would fit in the skillet. Oops. I chopped celery and carrots, measured milk and wine (which I had to substitute white wine since the grocery store doesn't sell Vermouth), and patted dry the chicken breast (and can I just mention how disgusting it is to pat dry raw chicken? EW!). I added a clove of garlic because I had one ready to go, even though the recipe didn't call for it.

I mixed, I cooked, I shredded chicken, I added the frozen peas right at the end as per directions. And then I tried to add the pie crust, only to find out that it was still bigger than the skillet, so I had to try to bend frozen pie crust just so it would touch all the delicious gooey goodness. Then I threw it in the oven for 5 minutes less than the recipe called for (Hey, it said 30-35 minutes or until the pie crust is golden brown, and it was golden brown at 25 minutes). I also didn't let it rest the full 25 minutes because we're big kids and I told Shawn that the gooey innards were going to be piping hot.

But still, we ended up eating dinner at 930.

But it was also the best pot pie I've ever had (not that I've had that many pot pies). At first Shawn said that he thought it was good, and the only downside was the amount of time it took. But then by the time he got to his 3rd helping, I stated that I was pretty sure he liked it. And he did agree that it was also probably the best pot pie he'd had too (I don't know how many pot pies he's had).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pasta Alla Norma

So I made a recipe from the aforementioned skillet recipe book.

The recipe itself was easy, and simple, with simple ingredients.

It did, however, take 3 hours from start to finish. I would like to say that's how long it took for all the chopping, dicing, mincing and other what-have-yous, but that would be a lie. It should only take about 50 minutes to do the recipe from start to finish (including prep).

The reason why it took so long? I was talking to my mother for an hour and a half during the prep work. And since she gets all frustrated when I do things while talking on the phone (I'm not allowed to get ice for my drink, chop things on the cutting board, or type on the computer). I'm pretty sure that 'using the food processor' goes under the list of 'things not to do on the phone while talking to your mother'. Actually, i'm pretty sure that using the food processor is one of the more benign things on that list, but you get my point.

So I had to entertain myself by boiling, icing and peeling some garden tomatoes that I needed for the recipe and measuring everything out in little bowls (it could have been worse, I could have yelled "BAM!" when I added the garlic). And taking pictures. Which I won't bother to show here because I am lazy like that.

After getting off the phone with my mom, I followed the recipe and properly pulsed the tomatoes until they were smooth. Then I cut up the eggplant (I didn't want to cut the eggplant earlier because a) see list of things I'm not allowed to do while talking to my mother on the phone, and b) eggplant starts to turn brown right after you cut into it), and put it in the pan and slowly browned until done. Which was really more like I didn't want the pieces to look like shit so I took them out before they were actually done. After pouring all the eggplant into a different bowl to sit around until they were called for, I cooked the garlic, and tomato pulse puree for a while before adding the requisite amount of water and penne pasta. Stir, cover and simmer. Of course, stirring was a bit difficult as the pan was full to within 1" of the top. Anyhow, simmer until the pasta is done, stir in the cheese and cooked eggplant. And serve.

See, easy peasy. As long as you use the right cheese. I just looked at the recipe before going to the store and saw "Ricotta Salata" cheese, but didn't bother reading the part that explained that Salata is the hard ricotta, not the soft stuff I'm used to. So I added the soft cheese instead of the correct cheese...which of course imparts a gritty/grainy texture. So there you go, I can't read directions. Never mind that I also only used half the amount of eggplant and a different type of pepper than called for, plus garden tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes instead of only canned, peeled, whole tomatoes.

Shawn said he thought it was great, and thought I was crazy when I said I would either use the correct cheese, or less of the soft cheese. In fact, his only complaint was that I didn't cook the eggplant long enough. but some of the problem there is that he's used to mushy eggplant and I can't do that--all my veggies must be slightly firm except for mashed potatoes (and even then, I'm told I like dry mashed potatoes because I don't like them to be too thin and watery). So yes, I think the next time I make this, I may just use the HEB brand crushed tomatoes (they really are like tomato puree as opposed to the name brand stuff which tends to have little tomato chunks in it), and skip the eggplant, unless I have it on hand of course. And since I ate some of the pasta before adding the cheese, it is do-able, but the cheese really does take it to the next level, but just not as much...or maybe mix the cheese with some milk.

On a side note, I hopefully will be able to grow everything needed for this recipe (except the pasta and cheese) next year in my garden since I have eggplant seeds, garlic heads, pepper seeds, and tomato seeds.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Baby Projects. Again

So all of the friends that have already had babies are now all on their second round. The first baby is due in 6 days (and I'm guessing that Miss Sarah isn't going to be able to make it to the actual due date seeing as how she's smaller than me, and they went and induced labor 2 days before her due date with Mya). Anyhow, I'm still working on the baby gift. It's not even that what I've chosen to do is all that difficult, it's just that I haven't been in a sewing mood. At all. I think it's got something to do with the weather--I get all into sewing when the weather starts to get colder. Of course, you'd point out that the last time when the girls all had babies, it meant that I was sewing through the summer. But I think I started the sewing when it was still cool-ish outside and just had to keep it going through the summer as opposed to this time where I started in the middle of the summer.

Plus after 2 baby gifts that required embroidery, 15 embroidered towels, 4 baby blankets, 2 stuffed animals, 2 soft books, and a Christmas stocking, I think I'm a little burned out on the sewing.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Our administrative assistant needs help.

On the 2nd, the first thing he said to me (at 9 in the morning) is "Wow, you're shirt makes me thirsty." I look down at my shirt. A plain lime green T-shirt. I give him a funny look and he concludes "it makes me thirsty for a margarita because your shirt is colored like a margarita."

Today, the first day I've seen him since I've been out of town for a week, he says "mmm, your shirt makes me thirsty for a Blue Hawaiian" as a greeting to me at 10am.

Aside from the fact that it looks like we might have to introduce him to Betty Ford, who says shit like that to someone? "mmm, your shirt is maroon, it makes me thirsty for a Dr. Pepper."

Cook's Illustrated

Back in the day (before Christmas, because it's the reason why I got a Dutch Oven as my Christmas present from Shawn), I had ordered a Cook's Illustrated book called "The Best Restaurant Recipes". I ordered the book because i have a weakness for cookbooks. I rarely ever use them, yet I love to look through them and what have you--I've got multiple cookbooks with pages marked of things I'd like to try. And I'm sure the librarians out there (or the ones raised by librarians) would be appalled to find out that I routinely make notes in my cook books--usually they're along the lines of whether the food was good, or suggestions for changes. I've actually made a couple of things out of said cookbook though (lamb ragu and shepherd's pie come to mind), and they've been pretty good (though I think the lamb ragu would be better with ground lamb...and I still need to make the Osso Buco, which was the reason I got the book in the first place).

The only problem I have with Cook's Illustrated is that they always send you crap. Crap as in unsolicited cookbooks. They usually send a little postcard first so you can send it back with the check next to "Please do not send me this cookbook", but if you forget to send that postcard, or you don't get it back to them in time, they will send you said cookbook. You have something like a free 21 day trial before you either have to pay for it or send it back. I'm guessing that most people are too lazy to send the book back (they at least give you a pre-paid packing slip), and end up paying for the book.

Anyhow, what a long way to say that I didn't ever see the postcard this time around, and so it came as a shock that I received a copy of "The Best Skillet Meals" in the mail the other day (or rather, it was during the vacation, but still, it was a surprise). I thumbed through the book and it seems like they have some good recipes--a baked ziti, a different recipe for shepherd's pie, and pad thai all look very good. So it seems that I will have to make some of these items before I have to send the book back. Maybe I'll even do a food review like Eric did on Kristie's blog. And I only say that these reviews will turn out more like Eric's reviews because I don't know anything about food other than whether I like it, and whether I find it easy to make.

Also, if any of you loyal readers (so in other words, the people that I actually know and have met face to face) want a Cook's Illustrated book, just let me know and I'll order it for you (I of course expect to be paid at cost) so you don't get all this propaganda.

I feel like such a drug dealer. Well then, I think I may need to get some black boots.

More Vacation

So much has happened since we took the Yellowstone vacation. For example, there was the week of work (not bad since everyone wanted to know stuff about Yellowstone), and then the week of training. I swear if Hell froze over, it couldn't be colder than the training room we were in. I was cold enough that my coworker who took the same training ended up giving me his jacket so I would stop shivering. And I was wearing pants, long sleeved shirts, and my jacket already. I seriously thought about bringing a hat. Then I took The Test. The Test not being the P.E. (which I do have to take at some point in the near future), but being the CFM test.

So, there you have it. I am now a Certified Floodplain Manager. Which doesn't necessarily mean anything. I guess it makes me more marketable if I want to get a job somewhere else, but it doesn't get me a pay raise or anything (like the P.E. will).

Then there were 4 days of work (it was the week of the Fourth, after all).

Then I went to happy hour where I found out everyone has smoked, or otherwise partook of the nicotine. Well, that and they told me to go back to Yankeeville.

Of course, they said that because (!!) Shawn and I were about to embark on another vacation. One to the East Coast to burn some more of his copious amounts of vacation time, plus it coincided nicely with going to his cousin's wedding.

The trip started out with me getting home at 10 at night and then having to clean and pack for the trip, so we didn't go to bed until 130 am. Which is only a problem because we had to get up at 430 to make our flight. Oddly, we did the same thing on the trip back...though that time we stayed up late because of the aforementioned wedding.

Pictures coming soon. I ended up having to delete some of them mid-trip because on Thursday Shawn looked at the camera and said "hunh, you only have 32 pictures left before the card is full." Which means there are like 450 pictures or so on my camera alone...which actually does mean something since we went to the DC zoo and only used my camera.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Yellowstone: Day five (Friday)

I woke up when my alarm went off (since we had to drive through the rest of the park, and make it back down to the car rental place by 1145, we didn't want to oversleep).

Antler Arches. There is an arch like this at all corners of the town square. The antlers are collected by boy scouts at the Elk National Refuge just north of Jackson Hole.

We wiped down the tent and packed up the gear and hit the road. The drive was uneventful and so we got to Jackson Hole pretty quickly, we parked the car in front of a large outdoors store and then started doing some window shopping. I ended up buying myself a shirt from one of the many T-shirt shops (I've started this new rule that every time we go somewhere for vacation we need to buy a Christmas ornament--something my mom does, and that I have to buy something to wear--I originally wanted it to be all t-shirts, but when we went to Vermont last year I had to buy a strapless bra, and since that was so expensive I couldn't justify spending more on a t-shirt, so now it's really more like 'buy a clothing based item').

We went to a little restaurant called The Bunnery for an actual decent breakfast, and while it was a very healthfood-type-breakfast place, the food was mighty tasty.

We made it back to the rental place right at 1145 and then headed off to the airport. We made it through security mighty quickly (what do you expect when there are only like 6 gates?) and then settled in for the long wait.

When it was finally time to board the plane, they had us walk out the door and down to the other end of the airport on the tarmac. That was fun. The flight was fine, and we landed in Denver 10 minutes early. Then we had to wait for our connecting flight which was 3 hours later. I finished the first Twilight book, so I went and bought the second, and had to convince Shawn to go buy a book for him to read. So we waited, and read. We flight got down to Austin at about midnight and then, officially, our vacation was over.

Of course, since we came back on Friday, and therefore had the rest of the weekend, I went ahead and finished off the second Twilight book, and then moped about all day Sunday about how it was going to take forever for me to get the third book through the library.

All in all, the trip was fun, and I wouldn't mind doing it again...though I probably would only take 2 pairs of pants instead of 3, and one extra shirt instead of 2...and I'd bring at least one more pair of underwear. Yeah. Definitely. I'd also want to spend more time in the Tetons, and in the Lamar Valley...but that's what next time is for. :)

Yellowstone: Day four (Thursday)

We woke up and killed some time around camp, but we did put our sleeping bags and pads away pretty quickly. We almost had a breakdown over the tent--Shawn kept insisting I was folding it wrong when I was folding it the exact same way I'd been folding it ever since we got it. That was not one of our shining moments, though we managed to get through with just hissing at each other under our breath. I might have thought about smacking him with the tent pole, but I didn't because he had gone and somehow managed to slam the car door into his hip. hard. I don't know how he did it...skill and finesse I guess because I sure can't figure out how you can put a ton of force into slamming a car door when you're standing between the door and the car...but what can I say, the man must have skillz.

Anyhoo...we eat, we pack, we start driving south and then proceed to stop at every geologically marked feature we come across. The Paint Pots, the lower, mid, and upper geyser basins, etc. We get to the Old Faithful area around 430 and go into their general store to look for some oatmeal (which they were selling for $8 a box), and to pick up all the other stuff we needed to get--magnets, huckleberry syrup, Christmas tree ornament, etc. We leave the store and walk over to the most well known geyser in Yellowstone about 10 minutes before it's supposed to erupt, so talk about good timing. Though honestly I was a little sad, if only because if we had gotten there right after an eruption, then we would have walked the geyser loop, but because we hit it just right, Shawn said he didn't care to walk the loop and we'd just watch Old Faithful and then be on our way. I guess I was okay with the decision to not walk around because I had managed to get 2 big blisters on my ring toes. I don't know how I did that...I mean the ring toes, what random toes to get blisters on.

Well, that and the fact that I had managed to hike 12 miles without any problems, and then we get to the day that we're driving around and only doing a half mile there, a quarter mile here and I get blisters. Weird--but I did moleskin them right up and I was good as new. So instead we went and waited for the geyser.

It erupted.

It was geyser-like.

We went to the diner and had dinner there instead of having our last backpacking meal. Then we drove south without stopping until we reached Colter Bay in the Grand Tetons again. We got our camp assignment at loop F and so we went and set up the tent just as it started sprinkling. I decided that I should go wash my unmentionables because after three days straight of wearing the same pair of underwear, they start to feel really grimy and icky, and since we weren't going to be taking showers before getting on the planes, I wanted to try to clean up some. Unfortunately, I forgot that the Grand Teton Park bathrooms do not have the hot air blowers like the Yellowstone Park does. Cold, wet that's a hoot.

We tried to burn through the rest of our fuel by having hot chocolate and hot tea, and even once just burning the fuel to warm our fingers. We still ended up with about 3 ounces left afterwards. We went to bed around sundown, and I found out that I must have been acclimating to the cold because I was too hot wearing my normal clothes and being in the sleeping bag, so it was the first and last night that I slept with the zipper open and no cinching.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yellowstone: Day Three (Wednesday)

At some point during the night, I wake up to Shawn pulling my sleeping bag toward him, and then reaching under me to my sleeping pad and doing the same, so I figure that it must be raining, and I somehow slid to the side of the tent. So I, in my sleep stupor, try my best to assist. Then he kinda laughs a little. I ask what he's laughing about and he says "Oh, there was a mouse under your sleeping bag. But I think he ran out. He was just looking for a dry place out of the rain probably." And my retort back is "whatever, it's a mouse. I can handle a mouse." and then I go back to sleep.

The next morning it's bright and sunny, but it looks like some rain clouds are moving in again so we get out of the tent and go have a breakfast of more Nutrigrain bars and hot tea. We head back to the tent and start wiping it down again (as mentioned before, tents, when packed wet, end up smelling like vomit). We pack up all our gear, don our packs and head out.

After hiking for about 30 minutes we start to shed our clothes (I was wearing the long john bottoms, the long john top, pants, a long sleeved shirt, a wool sweater, my rain coat, and my winter hat). We stop to take a picture of one of the mostly whole elk bones that we passed on our way in and I notice that it's kinda spread out (which is to be expected), and postulate that the head back at our camp possibly came from this animal, as well as the leg we found on our day hike. We keep hiking. Shawn stops and stares at the ground. I come around and he points out a footprint in the wet mud. It's a large canid or feline paw print. Probably about 3" all the way around. And we know these prints weren't here when we came by two days earlier. So, um, yay, we weren't eaten by the Wolf or Cougar? There are a few more bear prints (black bear), and more deer/elk prints, with a smaller set (probably a baby).

We make it to the point where we turn onto the main trail (by 2H6), and pause to look at the scenery, eat some food, and look at the lake. I notice there's an antelope, so I get out my camera to take a few shots. It was a good thing I did because the antelope goes from grazing to trotting away from something like it's being harassed, but not actually chased. So I zoom in on whatever was chasing it. And it looks like another marmot...only gray...with a black and white face. HOLY SHIT, IT'S A BADGER!!! We take pictures of it until it runs off over the hill toward the river.

As we enter the forest area again, Shawn's trudging along talking back to me when I tell him to stop, and he's like "We just took a break, we should keep moving." and I retort "We can't go on. Not unless you want to get gored by the three deer over there." And then he's all like "okay, very slowly turn around so I can get your camera..." and then he takes some photos of the deer. And when they move off, but not far enough from the trail for us to continue on without passing within 30 yards of them, he turns his attention to the chipmunks...and takes like 50 bazillion fuzzy photos of them. Finally the deer go over the ridge and you'd never know they were there (which makes me a little worried about what other animals were that close to us that we never knew about...).
Non-Fuzzy picture of Chipmunk.

We get back to our car at about 230 or so and head back towards Mammoth Springs. We get there and decide that since we haven't had real food in a while, that perhaps we should eat at the diner. While eating our food we watch the dumb idiots of the human race go and box in an elk that was close to the general store. Yes, that elk is running at you and acting crazy because you've gone and cornered him. If you want him to act normal, you need to give him an out. Idiots. It's no wonder more people are gored by the vegetarian animals than by the predators every year. We go look at the hot springs (I seem to remember them actually flowing when I went as a kid...).

And then we head down toward Norris to the campground for the night. And of course have to pull over when we see 20 people on the side of the road, all with binoculars. Mostly because when there are a bunch of people, and all of them have binoculars, it means "Bear." And sure enough, there was a bear. Of course I never even saw it through the lens, but there is a picture so that means Shawn at least saw it.

We got in before sunset and went to the "walk in" sites which really mean "park your car here, walk 30 yards to your campsite there." We set up the tent and and I headed down to the river to take some pictures, plus there was a buffalo in camp that was very entrancing.

We made dinner and oogled the ginormous tent that was set up in the site next to ours (the sites, by the way were very close together--it really was 'pad' (aka 12' x 12' sanded area for your tents), picnic table, 'pad', etc. so you could hear the neighbors talking). We also thought the lady on the other side was crazy setting her tent up in front of the bear locker. And then there were the kids who went down to the buffalo and started throwing pine cones at him. Then the tent-people came back and they brought an entire grocery store with them. They had so much food that they ended up keeping some of it sitting outside their tent because they ran out of space in the bear locker that was meant for them to share with the other camp site (admittedly no one stayed in the other camp site, but still, the point is that the bear locker can hold 2 large coolers plus have space left over and they had that thing totally packed). Besides, I don't know if it did much good to put most of their stuff in the bear locker when they obviously ended up keeping a couple bags of food just outside their tent (like open cans of soda, and bread).

And then the girl who set up her tent in front of the locker decided to keep food in the locker. Which would mean that in order for the bear to get to the locker, it would have to go through her tent.

And then we noticed one of the campers pulling branches laden with green pine needles off a tree close by and we asked what he was doing. "Gathering firewood" was the answer.

Additionally, the group of people (the ones that set up one of their tents in front of the bear locker), had bought a fire starter kit that the general stores all sold--it had pieces of wood (maybe about 1x1x8 and smaller), a lighter, some paper, and the cardboard box it came in. They tried to light it but failed miserably, mostly because they laid all the pieces of wood flat, laid the paper and cardboard pieces on top, and lit the paper.

And that's about the time that I started questioning what would happen if we had a world-wide catastrophe that made it so everyone had to live like it was 1770 again...well, it would probably thin out the gene pool...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yellowstone: Day two (Tuesday)

The Artwork by the previous tenants. They had also made a large river rock and antler thing down by the river. That's where I got the antler mentioned later.

I woke up the first time with sun streaming into the tent, so I grabbed my handy dandy hat and pulled it low over my eyes and went back to sleep.

Then I woke up later and woke Shawn up so we could have breakfast. We had oatmeal. And hot tea. Shawn went off to the bathroom and I was accosted by a yellow bellied marmot. Only at the time I didnt' know what it was, so I thought it was some crazy sort of land beaver (it looks like a beaver, but with a squirrel tail instead of a beaver tail).

Our shoes and socks were still wet from the hike in the day before so we set everything out in the sun, went and got some water (and treated it with the Miox) , grabbed our sun hats and cameras, donned our watershoes and went for a couple hour hike toward the boundary of Yellowstone Park.

We stopped every once in a while to look across the river, and we did see a deer and an elk, but never got any pictures of them. I made Shawn walk in front with the bear spray, and then reprimanded him every time he didn't call out around blind corners. Dude, I did not want to be lunch for some bear.

We headed back toward camp around 1 pm and then lazed about in the sun, soaking up the rays, because it was finally nice. We went and got more water to treat (and I saw some snakes, and didn't totally run the other way screaming). Around 4, Shawn suggested that we should start looking for dry wood to make a camp fire. HAHA, dry wood, like we were going to find that. We each brought some pieces back and Shawn started building a fire...or attempting to. After an hour of trying (at least it seemed like an hour), the fire finally caught and then we had to run around looking for larger pieces of wood to burn. We sat by the fire and ate dinner (vegetarian backpackers' lasagna), the dinner wasn't very good because I didn't stir it well enough when Shawn poured the hot water in, so all the seasonings were at the bottom of the bag and some of the noodles were crunchy.

After dinner, we lazed about until the fire went out. I finally changed my underwear (yes, i had been wearing the exact same outfit since Sunday morning, is that strange to you? Just so you know now, I ended up wearing the same shirt and pants for the entire trip, and I never washed them the entire time...yeah, we were in dire need of a shower when we came back), and we went to bed. After I got in the sleeping bag, I bothered to look at my watch (it was still somewhat light out). It was only 8:45. And the sun doesn't set up there until about 9:15. That's right, we were in bed before the sun set. I told Shawn we were pulling a "Beachy", as one of my coworkers comes in bragging every time he goes to bed before sunset, or every time he eats dinner before 5pm. It's like he's a 70-year-old man in a 30-year-old's body.

Yeah, relatively boring, but considering how sore we were from hiking in the day before, it was a welcome respite. I never took a picture of it, but the 'branch' I used to help push the bag full of food and other smelly stuff into the air was actually a 4' elk antler. Yeah, it was awesome.

View from right in front of the camp fire.