Thursday, May 31, 2012

Space X's Dragon Demo Mission a Success!

Space X's cargo-filled Dragon capsule splashed down into the Pacific ocean this morning a little at 10:42 a.m., finishing off what was a ground-breaking and highly successful mission!  Obviously in the long run I'm hoping that Boeing can take on the roll of the next great manned-spacecraft provider, but for now I'm just thrilled ot pieces that SOMEONE is doing SOMETHING to keep us moving forward in our efforts to travel to and discover more about space!  Here are some great images of the last 24(ish) hours of the Dragon capsule's journey:
This is what I was supporting on-console for yesterday morning at the crack of dawn: the final closure of the Dragon Demo's hatch.  This is what the astronauts saw from the inside of the ISS.
Then last night the Dragon capsule successfully unberthed from the ISS, filled full of cargo that is coming back to Earth.  One of the amazing things about the Dragon capsule compared to the current ISS supply vehicles in use, the Russian Progress, European ATV, and Japanese HTV, is that of the 4 of these vehicles, the Dragon capsule is the only one that doesn't burn up in the Earth's atmosphere on reentry and is therefore, currently, our only means of bringing large amounts of cargo back to Earth for study and refurbishment.
I can't determine where this picture came from, so I have no idea if it's a reliable image of reentry.  But it gives you the right idea.  The Dragon capsule is using an ablative heat shield, which means it "absorbs" the heat of reentry by slowly melting away, taking the heat with it.  It's similar to the Apollo era heat sheilds, whereas the shuttle used airpockets (which are characteristic of the ceramic used to make the tiles) to contain the heat and prevent it from propogating.
And finally, here is the image that NASA released only moments ago of the landed Dragon capsule bobbing safely in the ocean as the recovery barge heads out to haul it back to shore, where we will be able to unload all of the payload.  Great mission!

(images from here, here, and here)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Polka Dot Love

After seeing Joanna wear this incredible skirt on her blog, I simply had to find it.  Go figure, it's at one of my favorite stores, Madewell (J. Crew's sister store)  It's not cheap, but it looks so versatile!  I'm fighting it for now, but knowing me I'll wind up caving in to its awesome-ness soon enough...

(Oh, and p.s., an update from yesterday - I'm cavity free!  Yay!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


So my weekend was pretty awesome.  I spent what was probably too much money on a trip into the city on Saturday.  I hit up Anthro and finally bit the bullet on a pair of tomato red pants, snatched up a sweater I've been craving at Club Monaco, and picked up some awesome white tuna and fresh produce from Central Market.  I got home somewhat late and just chilled the rest of the night.  On Sunday I did chores around the house, whipped up a batch of my awesome German potato salad and then headed over to my friend H's house for some great grilled burgers and conversation.  I picked up some rocket popsicles and fudgcicles on my way over there too - when was the last time you had fudgcicles?!  Monday I headed into town again to meet up with H for a late brunch (I had forgotten to bring home Zoe's kitty prozac the night before...).  We attempted to try the Breakfast Klub, but the line wasn't just out the door, it wrapped around the entire front patio and was at least an hour wait.  Ridiculous!  Although it makes me think the food must be REALLY good...  So we headed over to my favorite section of town, Montrose, and tried the Empire Cafe instead, which was quite tasty, followed up by some Amy's ice cream.  I got dark chocolate ice cream with reese's peanut butter cups mixed it - Yum!  From there I headed west of town to a Super H Mart, which is a huge Asian grocery store, to snag some quail eggs so I can test my headache theory.  I haven't tried them yet, so more to come!  I also got some taro root, which I'm excited to experiment with as well!

As for today - I have my first dentist appointment in over a year.  I'm not looking forward to them mauling my teeth with sharp metal tools followed by a lecture on why I should floss every day (I do, it's just that the floss isn't metal and poke-y...)  Also REALLY hoping I don't have any cavities!

Image from here.  p.s. Do you think I could pull off the yellow eyeliner look??

Friday, May 25, 2012

Enjoy Your Memorial Day Weekend!

The Dragon capsule was offically the first commercial crew vehicle to successfully be captured by and berth to the ISS this morning!  Pretty exciting stuff!  You can follow live commentary here.

So does anyone have any big plans for the long three day weekend?? Last night I was over at B's house helping to make what I'm sure will be absolutely delicioius strawberry pie.  I didn't get a chance to taste it yet due to a crust malfunction, so hopefully I'll make it back over there this weekend to taste the (hehe) fruits of our labor!  And I think some friends are having barbecue this weekend too, which will be awesome since I haven't seen them in a few weeks!  Aside from that I'm planning to head into town to return some purchases and swing by Central Market again.  I'm thinking I'm going to give either duck or quail eggs a try and see if they affect me like standard chicken egg yolks do.  I know it's not super exciting, but I'm really psyched at the idea of potentially being able to eat a whole egg again!

Also, be sure to take a moment this long weekend between the yard chores and barbecues to remember all of the brave men and women who have given their lives for our country!

(picture from here)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lost Arts

I think technology and just the general evolution of society has resulted in many "lost arts".  Such as dating - with online dating and just the general culture of dating, the term "dating" has taken on a whole new meaning.  People tend to get physical in a relationship a lot sooner - one night stands are a norm.  What happened to going out on (multiple) actual dates, adding in a little romance and flowers, and actually getting to know eachother before jumping into something physical?  Another lost art: written notes.  I'm just as guilty of this as the next person.  People now rely on email and text messaging.  Thank you notes and cards are sent solely in anticipation of or as a result of a special occasion.  Even invitations have become electroni-cized.  I was digging through some old boxes as I was unpacking in my new apartment a couple of months ago and I ran across my old penpal letters to my friend C from elementary school through high school - they were so funny and nostalgic.  I used to write letters ALL THE TIME!  Do kids still even pass physical paper notes in school anymore or do they just text eachother?  I'd love to try to start up the trend of writing notes every now and then, but I still don't know if it's something I could commit to.  Maybe these awesome note cards would help....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gin Fizz with a Twist

I try to minimize immediate re-posts from the blogs I frequent, but this one was too good: a recipe for a Rosemary Gin Fizz.
Lately I've been absolutely loving the idea of infusing herbs into unexpected recipes.  Like my new favorite plum, oat, rosemary crisp, and this recipe I've been dying to try for peach, basil, lemon thyme sorbet (I actually have the lemon thyme for this one now!)  So adding rosemary to a gin based cocktail is just a slam dunk as far as I'm concerned, as I've always favored gin-based drinks.  Here's what you need:
  • 1 cup rosemary simple syrup (Boil one cup of sugar in one cup of water with a couple rosemary sprigs thrown in. Boil until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.)
  • 1 cup gin
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 bottle of Prosecco (or 2, if you want the cocktail to be lighter)

 Stir ingredients together in a punch bowl or carafe, and garnish with sprigs of rosemary.
Now I just need to find a good opportunity to give this a try!  Yum!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SpaceX Dragon Headed for ISS!

After a VERY dramatic last second (actually, last half-second!!!) launch abort on Saturday, SpaceX made a quick repair to a faulty check valve on one of their engines on Sunday and proceeded to successfully launch their Dragon capsule on board the Falcon 9 rocket in the wee hours of the morning today! This SpaceX mission is the first demonstration flight that will attempt to visit the International Space Station.  This particular capusle does not have a crew, but it is carrying over 1,000 pounds of cargo to the Expedition 31 crew currently camped out on the ISS.  The big test here is going to be the Dragon capsule's ability to rendezvous and berth with the ISS, as it will be the very first potential commercial crew vehicle (America's next wave of manned space flight) to actually reach our international space outpost!  Rendezvous and berthing are set to occur at 1 a.m. (Central time) this coming Friday and it can been seen live on NASA TV (including a web broadcast)!

You can get more information about the mission here, here, and here. Image from here.

Monday, May 21, 2012


So I write about lots of stuff that I tried or want to try and I haven't really given any updates on how a lot of that is going.  So here are some updates on some of my recent successes and failures...
- As planned I DID get around to making spring rolls last night!  I prepared all of the ingredients at home and then brought it over to B's house for dinner.  They were delicious (we both loved them) and I highly recommend you give them a try!
- I'm working my way through my DIY list.  I've started on the antler project and have finished 2 of the 4 that I purchased.  I think they're turning out great!  I'll post some pictures after I finish the last couple.  While I had a spray painting booth set up on my balcony I also tried out the spray painted rhinestone necklace.  It did not turn out well.  The paint didn't go on smoothly and the result has uneven gobs and is flaky (it turned out more plain yellow than neon yellow too).  Bummer.
- I wound up using my meyer lemons to make the frozen yogurt with blueberry swirls.  I substituted agave nectar for the sugar and used non-fat yogurt.  Not the best ideas.  It was a bit more tart that I would have liked and I think the sugar would have helped with that.  And you definitely don't want to freeze non-fat yogurt - it turns into a solid frozen block that even a minute in the microwave couldn't thaw to eatable form.  Lessons learned...
- I found the same exact gold hair cuff/band from my inspiration picture!!!  I ordered it on ebay for probably a bit more than I should have spent, but I really liked that exact style compared to the others I was finding.  It just arrived in the mail on Friday, so I can't wait to test it out this week!
- The lemon thyme and heirloom tomato plants that I bought on my Brenhem bluebonnet trip are actually still alive!!!  I've been following a watering schedule and even repotted them!  Only time will tell, but so far I'm pretty darn proud of myself!
- As for the war I'm waging against my weight, I'm kicking butt!  I've been reducing my portion sizes to stay within the limits provided to me on my LIVESTRONG iPhone app, which I pre-set so that I lose approximately 2 pounds per week.  I'm still eating healthy and my workouts are about on par with what they used to be.  Just reducing the portion sizes has allowed me to drop 15 lbs in about 8 weeks, which means I'm right on track!
- Habanero grapefruit margaritas are delicious.  Word to the wise when infusing your tequila with the habanero: only leave the pepper in the bottle for 30 minutes.  The recommended time is an hour but I'm a wimp when it comes to spice, so only did the 30 minutes.  30 is enough - trust me!  Very good, though!

Ok, that's it for now!  Sorry I don't have more pictures, but if you want to see pictures of some of the results just let me know!

(2nd and 3rd pictures from here and here)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

Aside from my culinary foray into spring rolls, I have no plans for the weekend.  And I'm kind of thrilled about it.  I've been really busy for a while now and I know June is already filling up so I'm looking forward to getting a few things done around the house and then just relaxing!  Sitting back and reading some books, sleeping in, maybe cleaning out a junk box, tinkering around with some of my craft projects...

What about you?  Any big weekend plans?

(image from here)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fresh Spring Rolls

Ever since I went to visit my good friend D in Boston a few years ago and we hit up this tiny little asian restaurant where we made our own spring rolls (which where a) healthy b) pretty easy to make and c) insanely delicious!), I've been determined to try to do this on my own.  I've actually had all of the ingredients to do so since before I moved out to Texas (I bought them at a huge asian food market in Kansas City when I was out there for C's wedding last September), but I just haven't gotten around to it.  Enter goal #1 for my weekend!  I still have most of the ingredients at home, except for the basil, which is crucial to the taste!  And I want to add some shrimp to mine for a little bit of protein so I'll need to pick up some of those too.  And maybe some avocado too?  Not sure on that one yet...  I can't wait to see how they turn out!
Check out the recipe here!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kate Spade Monster Sale!

I'm not saying I spent more money than I have - I didn't - but I definitely spent more than I should.  This sale is dangerous!  Here are some of my top picks:
Love Kate's Essex Scout bags.  I'm definitely digging this aqua color.  I however, decided to splurge on this style in my favorite Japanese floral pattern, which is now sold out...  They had my wallpaper on sale too, but even at $175/roll (vs the original $350/roll) it was still a bit too pricey.  It is also sold out now.
I've actually blogged about this one before - I LOVE the brightly colored, ostrich embossed leather.  It was actually sold out for a while, so when I saw it on the site again and at that awesome price, I freaked out!  I may or may not have purchased this one as well.  I figured if I've been obsessed with it for over a year it must be a good pick!
And here it is, that AWESOME Japanese floral pattern in dress form.  I absolutely love it, but that particular style of dress is not exactly suited to my figure, so I had to pass.
And from the jewelry department we have this awesome fringe necklace and blue stone ring.  Love them.  Somehow managed to talk myself out of buying them.
And finally, they have a killer deal on my favorite fragrance, which I also snatched up.  I'm actually kind of reluctant to share this one as I don't really want all of my friends smelling like me.  But it really is one of the best perfumes and I'm okay with you knowing about it as long as you promise not to wear it when I'm around...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tall Girl Problems

I'm 5'9", which isn't really that tall, but it definitely seems to be at the higher end of the spectrum for girls.  I had one girlfriend back in Florida who was actually a little bit taller than me and just standing next to her, it felt like I had found a kindred spirit! (not to mention she was wicked funny as well!)  And I guess the bigger part of my problem is, most of my height is leg.  I have a short torso and monster long legs. It becomes an issue in a few key situations: wearing heels on a date (don't want to tower over the guy), finding a seat with decent legroom on the airplane (I always shoot for the exit row), buying pants (thank god J. Crew has longer lengths that fit me perfectly), I can't fit in a bathtub (I start drooling when I see those 2-3 people tubs that I might actually fit in...),  ...  I'm probably a bit more sensitive about it lately too because 1. the itty-bitty, petite secretary at work stood next to me during one of my first days here, looked up at me and said "Good God, you're tall!" and it's kinda stuck with me and 2. I'm trying out online dating and I'm painfully aware of the number of cool guys that are inches shorter than me and who I'm too insecure to date.  Anyway, I just found this blog called Tall Girl Problems that I'm totally relating too...

There's a goldmine of these sayings on that site!  More to come, I'm sure...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

Have a lovely weekend everyone and don't forget to pamper your mothers!  Like I mentioned last year, I like to order my cards from tiny prints - my mom already got hers earlier this week and she loved it (said she even cried a bit)!  And if you're looking for some good gift ideas, you can try these chocolates, these flowers, or you can check out Zingerman's delicious bakery options (or if you're mom loves New York deli's like mine does, you could even go for their homemade Reuben Sandwich Kit)!   Happy Mother's Day!

(image from here)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I May Be a Little Late to the Game on This One...

I've developed a new obsession with Lana Del Rey - I know there was a whole SNL debacle with her a little while back that made her known to everyone else, but I've just been catching snippets about how awesome she is on the blogs I frequent and decided to check her out on my own.  I REALLY like her music!  In fact, it's been on heavy rotation on my Rhapsody app on my iPhone.  You can get her album here or on itunes.  Here's a preview:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I'm a mess at both ends today.  Somehow (I was sitting in a chair doing nothing special) I managed to pull a muscle in my neck today and now it's painful to move my head.  Always fun on a "yoga day".  Grrr.  And then on Monday I was literally attacked my mosquitoes - my ankles look like I have chicken pox and I've been buying up so much benadryl cream to contain the itching that you may want to consider buying stock in the company... the bites still haven't gone away and they still itch like crazy.

(image from here)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Careful - It May Be Contagious...

I have too many shoes.  I know this.  That doesn't mean I don't want more.  It's a sickness....

Polka Dot Flats | Blush "Jelly" Sandals | Leifsdottir Mixed Leather
Glitter Mid-Heels | Red Ankle Strap Flats | Turquoise Kitten Heels
 Must... exert .... self .... control.....

Monday, May 7, 2012

Houston Cultural Attractions

Growing up with the amazing museums in Chicago spoiled me a bit.  The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute, and Adler Planetarium are still some of my favorite places to visit.  And living in central Florida for 7 years was like a cultural void in my life - Disney, Universal Studios, and an exhibit about Harley Davidson at the local "art museum" do not a well rounded city make.  Which is one of the reasons I was excited to move to Houston and be near a "real" city again.  And I have to say, so far Houston has not disappointed!  Their zoo was large, pretty, and well tended.  The caged animals had the usual effect on me (depressing) but as far as zoos go, it was really nice!
The aquarium building of the zoo had a lot of really beautiful tropical fish and it was the first time I've ever actually seen an octopus swim out from behind a rock and propel itself up to the viewing window (I'm bummed that I was so transfixed by this rare sight that I forgot to take a picture!).
True to form, they had some Texas themed areas too.  My favorite was this sign!
And then of course they had the standard lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) as well as giraffes, rhinos, monkeys and apes, birds galore, and my favorites the elephants and baby elephants!  There were 2 babies and we were kind of obsessed with them...
After the zoo we hit up the art museum which was actually pretty phenomenal!  They were focusing on collections of realistic paintings that were incredible - the gold threads in the tapestries and the life-like appearance of metals and fabrics was stunning!  My favorite area was the Audrey Jones Beck collection, though.  That woman had truly unbelievable taste in art!  The book above, which I'm probably going to buy next time I head to the museum, actually has an image of my favorite painting on the cover!  We also walked through a really fascinating collection featuring modern sculpture and focusing on ceramics.  I only got to see about half of the museum, so I definitely plan to go back sometime soon to check out the rest!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Have a Fantastic Weekend!

I'm switching things up this weekend - Saturday is going to be my "chores" day and Sunday I'm going out and exploring the city with friends!  I'm desperately in need of an oil change on my car, I need to make flash cards for my Russian class so I can actually learn the HUGE amout of vocabulary that's been thrown my way, and I'm hoping to try to get some of my DIY's done, so that's the (theoretical) list for Saturday.  Then the plan on Sunday is to hit up the Houston Zoo and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston!  I sometimes find zoos a little depressing, but I do still enjoy watching giraffes and monkeys so I think it's another of those "don't think about it too hard" types of things - like eating meat.  And I always love a good art museum so I'm excited to see how Houston's stacks up!

But to kick of my weekend tonight I'm planning to get a refresh on my pedicure and then hit up the movie theater for some Avengers! 

(image of a painting by Andre Derian hanging in the MFAH from here)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Next DIY Binge

I seem to go in spurts when it comes to my DIY projects.  I let them pile up for a while and then BAM!  I bang them all out in a week.  Well my pile is starting to get big again, and I'm thinking I need to get cracking.  Here's what's on the line-up so far:
Yes, it's a deer antler - don't judge.  I did not kill any deer to make this happen.  Trigger happy gunmen already did the work ages ago and I found the antlers in vintage shops, k?  Ok, I'm a little sensitive about these myself and despite the fact that the purchases were made in vintage shops, I was a bit squeamish about buying deer antlers, but aesthetically I love the look and so I'm going to give it a try...
I'm OBSESSED with these little skull beads, so any project I find that uses them immediately jumps to the top of my "DIY To-Do" list, starting with this fun leather tassel!
I feel like I'm 10 years old again because friendship bracelets are back with a vengeance!  Aside from cool varations on the standard embroidery floss construction like these and these, I'm also digging the cool versions here that utilize gold vermeil links and chinese silk cord to upgrade the look from pre-teen girl to pre-teen girl in the body of a 30-something.  I've already ordered my supplies and can't wait for them to arrive!
This is another project I've already stocked up for.  I got some cheap rhinestone necklaces on etsy and some white and flourescent yellow spray paint from the hardware store.  Now I just need to set up a little spray paint booth on my balcony and go to town!

There are a few more projects I have brewing as well, so I'll be sure to keep everyone updated as they are completed!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another Citrus Conundrum

I've already raved about my love for blood oranges and tested a few different recipes incorporating them.  I've now moved on to another of my citrus obsessions: Meyer Lemons.  They're a slightly orangier, slightly sweeter version of a regular lemon and I love them.  I actually have a mini meyer lemon tree on my patio that I've managed to keep alive for about a year now (I killed the first iteration, luckily it had a waranty), but I still haven't managed to grow any fruit on it.  So I picked a couple of meyer lemons up at Central Market last time I went, about a month ago.  Citrus lasts practically forever, but I think a month is getting close to the point where I need to use these suckers.  So now what do I do?  I've narrowed it down to three options:
1. Meyer Lemon Frozen Yogurt with blueberry swirls (optional) - Despite the fact that this is a desert, it really isn't that unhealthy.  The recipe is very simple and only calls for yogurt (I could easily use low fat or fat free), 1/3 cup of sugar and lemon juice and zest.  That's it!  The blueberry swirl doesn't have very much sugar either.  Leaning toward this option.
2. Meyer Lemon Cake - apparently this is the recipe for "The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake" according to Saveur magazine, which I'm going to place a lot of culinary clout in. Naturally I'd replace the whole eggs with egg whites only. Only problem is, I'm on a "diet", as are a number of my friends, so cake may not be the best option...
3. Meyer Lemon Ricotta Muffins - These actually aren't too horrible.  Once again, I'd replace the eggs with just whites and the recipe actually calls for whole wheat flour so slightly better than the cake.  Of course there's still the full fat ricotta, cup of sugar and the stick of butter to contend with, however at least with muffins you have pre-portioned out sizes.

What do you think I should make?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What an Eventful Weekend!!!

So the weekend with my parents was awesome (more on that later), and of course there was the news of me hitting a major milestone - the big 3-0.  But that was nothing compared to this:  MY BROTHER AND HIS AWESOME GIRLFRIEND GOT ENGAGED!  I've known it was coming for about a month because I was a member of the "ring hunting team" back when I was in South Florida at the end of March.  For obvious reasons I couldn't share the amazingness of helping him pick out a ring so as to not ruin the surprise for her, but he finally popped the question on Saturday and everyone in my family now has wedding fever!
Now for what I actually did this weekend besides jumping up and down and clapping....  I'm so exhausted from my long weekend that I think need another weekend just to recover!  My parents and I stayed busy exploring the Houston area.  Kemah was fun, it was great seeing our friends, Galveston was enjoyable with the highlight clearly being the old fashioned soda shop/ice cream parlor/candy store - YUM!, and the JSC tour was incredible thanks to the help of two wonderful friends who know far more about Houston's role in the space program than I!  My parents really enjoyed being able to get up close with a shuttle cockpit simulator and some interesting experimental projects that JSC is working on!  This was one of my favorite parts of the weekend too since I'm still learning about JSC myself!
Can you stand all of this excitement?!?