Friday, January 13, 2012

Is anyone still out there?

So much has happened since I last blogged! I am sorry that is has been so long, but I have had my eye on a few prizes, and it only now feels as though the world is slowing down a bit. By way of a quick catch up, here is what I have been up to in the past few weeks...

-Tom and I took our trip to California where we celebrated Thanksgiving in style in Tahoe. We ate, and drank, and had a lot of fun with the ever-growing brood we call our CA family.

-I got a new job! A few days after returning to Texas, I got the call that I had received a contract event coordinating position at AMD here in Austin. I'm all corporate now.

-We celebrated the winter holidays with the St. Louis family, and were spoiled rotten with love and gifts. We played spades, saw many cherished friends and family members, and Uncle Tom got to meet little Clara for the first time.

-We got laptops! And wi-fi! So, now I have no excuse. I can literally blog from anywhere, including my back porch.

-I turned 31. I am officially "in my 30s." It's cool. I like it. I feel smarter and better each year. Here's hoping I continue on that track!

-I left an old job and started a new. Like I said, I am corporate now. It's kind of rad. No mandatory lunches, flexible scheduling, free access to the company fitness center and a team filled with easy going, friendly and strategic people. Much more about this soon, I am sure.

That about covers the updates. We are still living in Austin. The weather is still mostly beautiful. We continue to find excellent new places to eat and drink and have fun. And we continue to make friends, which makes Austin feel more like home. I hope to get back to blogging at least weekly now that I have my super sweet MacBook Air and wi-fi in the house, so stay tuned for more.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey friends! I guess it has been a while since I posted. The past few months have really flown by, and I keep getting surprised when someone tells me the date.  How is it possible that it is already *late* November?

Life has been pretty normal here in Texas. Tom is nearly finished with the fall semester. Work for me is the same as it ever was, except now I have a lot more stuff to do, and get paid a tiny bit more to do it. But that long stretch of normal is coming to an end soon, as we anticipate the Thanksgiving holiday!

Next Tuesday, Tom and I are getting on a plane to fly out to California to have Thanksgiving with his family. We will once again be in the mountains in Truckee for the weekend. We had to skip last year, so we are both really excited to be reunited with our beloved Thanksgiving traditions, which look a little something like this:

We will do puzzles and play board games.  I don't know about everyone else, but I will drink wine before the sun goes down without apology. There will be skiing, hot tubbing, snow ball throwing and lots of laying around and reading books. I will make many pies. We will all regularly exceed the recommended daily caloric intake. There will be running charades and we will play a fantastically nerve-wracking card game called, innocuously, Kitty. I will wear my Christmas monkey pajamas to bed on Thursday night, as I gleefully welcome in the Christmas season. Friend family feuds over college football will be sparked. We will bask in the simple joy of spending so much time with so many people we love so much.

I hope you all have equally wonderful holiday traditions to look forward to, wherever you may be.  And since all the travel preparations will probably prevent me from writing again before the big day, I just want to say, "Happy Thanksgiving!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Poor Homey

Homer is a pretty rough and tumble dog.  He will, without thought to how he is going to land, leap several feet in the air to catch a frisbee. He will also leap from our porch over our side fence to go after a squirrel, and climb several feet up one of the trees in our side yard in hot pursuit.  He is energetic, and loves to play, and has had his fair share of minor scrapes, slight sprains and bitten tongues. But this Saturday, a seemingly minor injury, has knocked the wind out of his sails.

Tom noticed him limping during a game of fetch on Saturday, and so cut the game short.  A short while later he seemed good as new. We didnt notice anything else was awry until Sunday morning when Tom and Homer were rough housing in the office and Homer reacted as if in pain after Tom brushed his right paw with his foot. Upon closer inspection, we saw that one of his little claws was cracked up above the point where the quick was, near where the nail leaves his paw.  There was no blood but we could tell he was in pain. A quick call to the vet confirmed that we would need to have him checked out the next day.

The vet checked it out and said that he needed to remove the damaged piece of claw in order for it to heal. That meant cutting it off through the nerve endings and blood vessels in the nail. Homer was as good of a sport as he could be, but even with anesthetic drops, it was obvious the removal still hurt him quite a bit. The vet put some ointment on the nail end, wrapped it up good, and sent us on our way with aftercare instructions to reapply ointment (antibiotic and anesthetic) and watch for infection.

Homer was pretty happy by the time we got home as is evidence by the photo below...

Home-Slice on the mend.

Unfortunately, the anesthetic wore off later in the evening, and he now has a pretty pronounced limp. It's clear that it is hurting him but unfortunately all we can do is keep applying the ointment and wait as the nail heals. I hate to see him limping around and slowed down so dramatically, and I hope he is doing okay at home today by himself. Keep my little guy in your thoughts as he heals!

Friday, October 7, 2011

What I Learned (v9)

Pardon me while I cram 3 weeks worth of lessons into one post...

Everything is better on a boat! The week following the september play performance one of Tom's collaborators rented a pontoon boat and took us all out for an afternoon on Lake Travis. The lake was around 40' below normal levels, and and it was quite a shocking sight to see so much of the bank and cliffs exposed. Rest assured there were still plenty of deep spots to swim in, and swim we did since it was in the 90's that day. While most of you (in places that are not Texas) were enjoying your first taste of autumn, we were hanging out in our swimming suits on a mother freaking boat. It was awesome. And yes, we did drink champagne.
The Millionaire and his Wife.

My heart belongs to Chicago. Tom and I were back in the Windy City two weekends ago for a friends wedding, and it was so great.  We crammed a ton of stuff into just over 50 hours, and I loved every minute of it.  I just felt such a sense of energy and excitement when we were driving into the city from O'Hare. And my love only grew as I saw got a chance to catch up with so many of my friends (including my bestie Camilla who lives in Spain, and who I haven't seen since my wedding.) Did I mention I got to meet Cam's boyfriend too? And speaking of...

Cultural differences are a bottomless well of entertainment. Duncan, Camilla's BF, is Scottish. Given the fact that we speak the same language, I didn't think the cultural differences thing would really be able to entertain us the whole weekend, but it did. Duncan got to eat his first southern style biscuit (not a cookie), and more than once I found myself laughing so hard I was crying. There is something so wonderful about seeing someone you love in a relationship with another amazing person. Cam and Duncan are awesome together, and it hurts my heart that they live so far away.

Weddings are even better when you are married. I may have already proclaimed this at some point, but it is so true, and I have always loved weddings! Now that I really understand what it means to pledge your life to the person you love, nothing can compare to seeing friends and family get to have that experience. This time, the person getting married was Libby Ford, my wonderful friend from college, and the esteemed officiant at our wedding last year. There was no way I was going to miss seeing Libby marry the love of her life on a little farm in Pekin, IL. It was so fantastic. Not only was there a definite snap of autum in the air, but there were hay bales, a miniature horse, a big bonfire, and dinner in a barn. Libby married Josef, who will always have a place in my heart as he willingly and enthusiastically helped us load our moving truck on our last night in Chicago, just days after his first date with Libby. I knew then he was a keeper!

I am experiencing football withdrawal! I have obviously been feeling the love for the past few weeks, and have managed to keep quite busy despite the fact that we  have had 3 weeks in a row now with out a UT Football home game. The quarterback situation has been settled, and the freshmen are looking awesome. I don't think anyone could have envisioned the team would start the year 4-0. It has been so much fun to watch it happen (we've caught the aways games on TV), but I can't wait for the next home game.  But before they come home, the Longhorns have what may be the biggest game of our season to play, Red River Rivalry happens tomorrow night at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against OU. And with UT leaping ahead in the rankings over the past 5 weeks, and Oklahoma slipping ever so slightly, we might just be able to pull this one out.  Hook 'em horns!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What I Learned (v8)

My Husband is Amazing. Okay, so I have knows this for a while, but we recently spent a few weeks barely seeing each other, and now that we get to see each other again, it is just so nice!

I am not as young as I used to be. I need my sleep. I can't pull an all nighter, and it takes me days to recover if I get less than 5 hours of sleep in a night. Last Saturday/Sunday I probably did actually get 7 hours of sleep, but those were broken into three distinct chunks of sleep, and only about 3 hours happened while it was dark outside.

Every city needs Mrs. Johnson's. If you are in dire need of a sugar fix at a late hour, Austin is the place to be. Around midnight last Saturday, I hit the Mrs. Johnson's drive through for two dozen mixed, and the fellow working the window gave me not one, but two doughnuts fresh out of the glaze. The apple fritter was too hot to hold! Yum.

It is terrifying and cathartic to create something beautiful just so it can be destroyed. Last Saturday/Sunday (are you sensing a theme?) I spent several hours with the crew of september play creating a massive paper mural out of 100,000+ 1"x1" squares of paper. It was a labor of love as part of a piece created to explore the questions, feelings and memories surrounding the attacks of September 11, 2001. The mural was completed after many many hours, by many many people, and the end results were stunning. It greeted the audience members coming to see september play on Sunday evening and was promptly destroyed by two leaf-blower wielding men at the beginning of the play.

A time lapse video was shot during the creation of the mural, which I will post here if I can get my hands on it, but in the meantime, enjoy a few of the photos I snapped of the finished piece...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pints of Pickled Peppers

I wish you could actually pick pickled peppers, but you can't, so Tuesday I spent my evening making my own. I relieved our two pepper plants of their enormous bounty and set about preserving their spicy goodness for colder months.

The Harvest
The pepper are a mix of baby jalapenos and Big Jims.  For whatever reason, our peppers haven't grown to their normal size. Our jalapenos are only hitting about 1-2", while the Big Jims are hitting only 3-4". Big Jims, an Anaheim-style chile often used in Chile Rellenos, often grow to be 7-9". But despite their somewhat diminutive size, both peppers have nice flavor. The jalapenos have a traditionally spicy kick, and the Jims are more on the mild side, with just a hint of heat. I used a simple brine of cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pickling spice.

The Results

I think the finished product is really beautiful, and they were incredibly easy to make (the hardest part was waiting for my 4-gallon canner to boil.) And I am already dreaming of ways to use them. I will, of course, use them to top quesadillas or burritos (and in my scrambled eggs), but I am also devising a plan to use them in a queso recipe. I think the acidity that the pickling process adds to the chiles will pair nicely with the rich cheesiness of queso dip.

Oh, and homer was running around the yard when I was shooting the peppers last night, and he was really curious about what I was doing (and also why wasn't I throwing his frisbee).  I just couldn't resist this shot...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Make 'em eat sh*t!

Have you heard? Tom and I decided to splurge and buy season tickets to UT football. We figured Tom is only a student for one more year (hopefully!) and the student tickets are by far the least expensive option to see football here at UT. In the words of Tim Riggins, we just could not pass up this opportunity to "make some memories."

So! When college football kicked off this past weekend in Austin, Tom and I were right there with the other graduate student season ticket holders cheering on the Longhorns. Proof:

We're sweaty.
And the team totally kicked ass. They had their fair share of young team/new season mistakes, but they looked solid, scoring 4 touchdowns (including a pretty fantastic reverse flea flicker). The defense looked pretty good too, keeping Rice to just 3 field goals. I don't know. Rice isn't the toughest team we will face by a long shot. But the team looks really good, especially considering how we looked at the end of last season.

I also want to take a moment to mention the insane amount of tradition that Longhorn football is steeped in.  There is the fight song, the shocking amount of burnt orange, the odd little crowd chants (including this post's colorful title) and of course, the hook 'em hand sign \m/. There is Smokey, the banging of Big Bertha and the changing of the color of the Tower, and of course our revered mascot Bevo. Oh, and did I mention our cheerleaders sometimes wear chaps? And the band members often wear fringed pearl snaps and cowboy hats?  It is all just really excellent. And it makes for such a great time.

I will leave you with the lyrics to The Eyes of Texas, UT's fight song and all around creepiest song you will probably ever hear. It's less "we've got your back" and more like a hostile version of Sting's I'll Be Watching You.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, 
All the live long day. 
The Eyes of Texas are upon you, 
You can not get away. 
Do not think you can escape them 
At night or early in the morn- 
The Eyes of Texas are upon you 
'Till Gabriel blows his horn.