Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Busy Day!!!

Holy Crap!  It's been a busy day!  Work lately seems to be picking up for me now that I've been assigned to work on actual hardware.  It's fantastic because my day goes by quickly.  At the same time I can't stop myself from thinking of the saying "When it rains, it pours" because there's just so much stuff!  At least my week will go by quickly, which I'm excited about since this weekend I have plans to go see Girl Talk with some friends!

(image from here)

Monday, July 30, 2012


My weekend was only eh.  The Olympic opening ceremony was entertaining - especially with a few Pimm's Cups in me!  My favorite part was the James Bond and Queen Elizabeth parachuting skit, I was in stitches.  Saturday I ran a couple of errands and treated myself to a pedicure, but I spent most of the day with a stomach ache.  And on Sunday I just did chores all day.  I did finally get around to making some rosemary simple syrup and a basil and lemon thyme simple syrup, though.  And so tonight I'm planning to end my Monday with an herb infused cocktail.  I'm thinking either the Rosemary Gin Fizz I posted about a few weeks ago or this recipe for a Grapefruit, Thyme, and Gin Soda.  Decisions, decisions....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Go Team USA!

The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics is tonight!  I'm not usually hugely into the Olympic games - I tend to check in for major events and otherwise vaguely track the statistics through the news and internet.  But this year I'm living near B, who is probably the biggest Olympic fanatic that I know.  I'm headed to her place tonight to watch the opening ceremonies in true London style with our favorite British import - a Pimm's Cup!  We'll see if B rubs off on me and how much more I get into.  The rest of the weekend I have some pampering and DIY planned, so it's looking to be a great end to the month!  Hope you have a wonderful weekend as well and Go Team USA!!

(image from here)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Magic of Stylists

So I can't tell if I want these bumble bee hair pins because I love them, or if it's because I love the way they were styled...  They look so perfect in this picture, but is that a look I could pull off?  Would I wear them if I can't pull it off?  These seems to be happening to me a lot lately.  For example:
That huge, chunky scarf looks incredibly romantic and cozy.  I want it.  But when will I ever a) wear a giant nubby scarf in Texas or b) have super duper comfy sweaters/scarves on while simultaneously styling my hair in a romantic curly updo?  Right?  Or this one:
I take one look at this picture and am trying to figure out how to get my hands on a giant tutu-like tulle skirt so I can pair it with a backwards cardigan and sandals.  Right.  I'm pretty sure if I tried to do this I would look like I was a sugar-high 5-year-old who dressed herself.  But styled perfectly (and in a nondescript setting, because lets be honest, there are few places where a tulle skirt, backwards cardigan, and sandals are appropriate...) it works and I want it.  Stupid genius stylists messing with my head....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

As I mentioned on Monday, I went to Revival Market this past weekend and picked up an absolutely beautiful cut of pork shoulder.  I knew I wanted to go the taco route and I decided to use this recipe as my inspiration since Tasting Table hasn't let me down yet.  The tacos overall turned out fantastic, but the meat was definitely a bit spicier than I can normally handle.  I went into a coughing fit after my first taste test bite of the pork alone and had to immediately down a glass of water to recover.  I think next time I'd halve the cayenne pepper in the recipe and pat the spice mixture onto the meat a bit more sparingly than I did this time.  While my meat preparation was fairly true to the recipe, I mixed it up a bit with my toppings and the flavor combination I chose was pure magic.  The creamy avocado helps to tame the spice of the meat, the queso adds a mellow zing, and the pickled radishes, which I made a few weeks ago using this recipe here, added a combination sweet/tart kick that rounded out the flavor profile perfectly!

Spicy Pork Tacos

2 to 3-pound boneless pork butt/shoulder
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chile powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (piment├│n)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 jalape├▒os, thinly sliced crosswise
Zest of 3 limes
1 Hass avocado
Queso fresco, crumbled
Pickled radishes, sliced
corn torillas, lightly charred

1. Place the pork butt on a cutting board and generously season all over with kosher salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cayenne, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder. Rub the spice blend into all sides of the meat (you probably won't use all of it - in fact I recommend you don't).
2. In a large Crock-Pot or other slow cooker, add the onions, jalepenos, and lime zest.  Place the spiced pork on top.  If you're preparing this the night before, place in fridge over night like this.  If not, or in the morning, place into slow cooker heating apparatus, add water until it is just below the top of the meat and let cook all day (8-10 hours) on low.  That evening remove the meat and set aside until cool enough to shred.  Once shredded, scoop onions and jalepenos from the crock pot liquids and mix into the shredded meat.  Taste and season with salt if needed.
3. To make the tacos, heat the tortillas in a fry pan with a teensy bit of canola oil until you get little char marks.  Then build your taco with a heap of meat topped with crumbled queso fresco, 2-3 slices of avocado, and about a tablespoon of sliced pickled radishes.  Fold, eat, and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rest in Peace Sally Ride

One of the biggest inspirations to women in the aerospace industry and the idol of all little girls who realized in the 80's that they too could become an astronaut, Sally Ride passed away yesterday at the age of 61 from pancreatic cancer.  For such a short life she accomplished a whole lot, most notably by being the first U.S. woman in space.  Breaking the gender barrier in the math and science fields has never been easy for women, to this day engineering is a male dominated field, but Sally was the pioneer who showed us all that it is possible.
She didn't stop there, though that is her most publicly known contribution to our society.  Sally was the only individual, not woman but person, to serve on the investigation committee for both the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters.  She founded NASA's office of exploration.  After she left NASA she became a Professor of Physics at the University of California San Diego and in 2001 she founded Sally Ride Science, an organization that supported and motivated children, specifically young girls, to pursue careers in math, science, engineering and technology.  She also co-wrote seven science books for children.  She's been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, the Aviation Hall of Fame, the Astronaut Hall of fame, and won numerous awards. Sally, you were an incredible person and you will be sorely missed.

(images from here and here)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Francophile Redux

I've wanted to go to Paris for sometime now.  And I've always loved the 20's - the Art Deco style, flapper fashion, and general rebellion to the stuffiness of the 1800's and early 1900's made for some incredible art, music, fashion, architecture, and literature.  So the culmination of these in Midnight in Paris made the movie a definite winner in my book.  After a lovely Saturday in town doing foodie thing (Revival Market has delicious food and I'm cooking up my major meat purchase there tonight - I'll let you know how it turns out tomorrow), I went home and just vegged out for the rest of the night with Domino (actually not a horrible movie - Choco and Domino are hot...) and Midnight in Paris while noshing on my leftover gruyere, ham, and carmelized onion grilled cheese sandwhich from lunch.  While the grilled cheese was amazing, the highlight of the evening was definitely Midnight.
I loved the message of the movie.  Marion's character's wardrobe was incredible.  And the soundtrack was classic 20's and French stereotypes, but I immediately pulled it up on Real Rhapsody after the movie ended and proceeded to listen to it for the remainder of the night while I did chores around the house.  Now all I want to do is go buy a bunch of flapper dresses and filigree jewelry, listen to Cole Porter all day, stare at Picasso paintings, and fly to France...

(pictures from here and here)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Have a Fantastic Weekend

I have no big plans this weekend.  I've finally gotten to Midnight in Paris on my Netflix list and I'm really excited to watch that.  I also hope to hit up some gourmet food shops and then spend the remainder of the weekend eating said food whilst I lay in bed in comfy clothes, reading books.  And sleeping in, of course...

(image from here)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Artistic Expression

One of my coworkers introduced me to this incredible art site that updates multiple times daily with amazing work that is being accomplished in the art world.  If you're looking for interesting works of art for your home, this is a fantstic source to scour as most of the posts link to other sites where you can purchase originals and copies alike.  Some of my recent favorites are these laser etching, multiple exposure photography, and papercut projects.  This idea in particular, a gradient of pink carnations, caught my eye.  You know me and flowers - I'm thinking this would be a really fun and artistic way to display them at home that I could easily create myself!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We Are All Stars

 Neil deGrasse Tyson offers a brief and engaging glimpse into one of the many facts that keeps me thoroughly engrossed in learning about and furthering the exploration of outer space...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Filled Up and Planned Out

K and I had a fantastic weekend together!  On Friday I left work early and we hit up happy hour at my favorite bar in town, Anvil Bar and Refuge where I tried 2 of their cocktails: the Elberta and a Pimm's Cup.  Both actually were made with Pimm's Liqueur, which makes me think I need to be investing in another bar staple for my home... It was a still a bit early when we left Anvil to eat dinner yet, so we meandered into some antique shops and wound up at another of my favorite places, Cafe Brasil, where I sipped on some delicious Maine Root Beer.  We were walking distance from a bunch of restaurants I've been wanting to try so we headed over that way on foot and wound up eating some tasty Tex Mex at El Real.  The food was good, but it was still just kind of standard Tex Mex.  And for desert we moseyed on over to Little Bigs where they have the best butterscotch milkshakes.  I don't even like butterscotch, but I like these!  I've heard their food is good too, so maybe I should try that sometime soon too...
We spent the rest of the weekend chilling by the pool, eating some delicious smoked meats at my friends B and H's house, touring JSC, and actually getting down to planning our Thailand trip!  We think we've managed to work out an incredible schedule that includes a seven day tour of Cambodia, both a boat and a night time bike tour of Bangkok, and (our favorite) the Yi Peng and Loi Krathong lantern festivals in Chiang Mai!  I can't wait!!!

(pictures from here, here, here, here, and here)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Have a Truly Wonderful Weekend!

I'm not traveling anywhere right now, especially not to New York.  But I had to post this picture because my wonderful, lovely, amazing friend K is in town visiting me this weekend and this picture just completely and totally reminds me of her!  (it was the theme of our first major road trip together)  K is my best friend from college and due to unemployment, moving, living in different cities, and work we haven't seen each other in ages and I'm just thrilled to bits that I get her to myself for a whole weekend!  I know my weekend will be truly wonderful, here's hoping yours is too!

(picture from here)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Awesome Little Skull DIY's

Ever since my friend L took me to this crazy little art shop downtown that's basically a thrift store for art supplies and I discovered these tiny little skull beads, I've been 100% completely obsessed.  I discovered that you can buy them in "bulk" in every color imaginable on etsy, here, which I of course did.  I've found some great DIY inspiration for them, and even created one little project on my own.
The first was my Day of the Dead necklace.  I used headpins to thread the skull beads and also some accent beads, and then used round nosed plier tool to create a loop at the top. I then attached them to a store bought length of chain with jump rings and finished it off with a clasp on one end and another jump ring on the other.  I'm thinking I may want to move the skulls a little closer and add another one or two to each end to make a slightly closer approximation of my inspiration piece, but the first draft did turn out pretty incredible.  Don't think I could pull off wearing this to work though...
This cute little bracelet is far more work-appropriate.  It was made with very similar materials to the necklace except this time I used an eyepin to attach the bead, so I only had to make one loop with the wire. I used the same chain, clasp, and jump ring to finish it off. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nailed It!

So I had a presentation last week at the Program Review Board that I did less than stellar on.  I blame my manager.  I know I'm new to this subsystem, but I have been a working engineer for 8 years now and I have made many a presentation and have even represented Boeing at the KSC press site.  I know how to do it.  Regardless, he spent SO much time before the meeting doubting me, asking for a dry run so he could critique everything I did, and reminding me of menial presentation tips that I've known since high school like "don't say um" and "don't read straight from the slide" that I walked in there ONLY thinking about those things, and then, of course, doing them.  The item passed through the review board, but I definitely needed some "Presentation Redemption".

I got it today.  I had another presentation at the Pre-Program Review Board and I NAILED IT!  My manager tried to second guess me before hand, but I stuck to my guns and basically pissed him off enough that he eventually got annoyed and just left me alone.  It's not like he's going to fire me for being confident and knowledgeable....  anywho, it worked and the presentation was awesome and I'm feeling pretty darn good right now!

(image from here)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Morning Boost

I don't drink coffee, cappuccino, or any variation thereof  - it's a bit too strong and bitter for me, and I'm not at all a fan of the aftertaste.  This rocket espresso cup that I found on pinterest this morning has me reconsidering, though.  It's really expensive for what it is, but I'm ridiculously obsessed with it.  Thinking I may get one as a jewelry catch all and just stick with my morning tea.  In which case....
RIGHT?!?  Do you see them?  The tiny little rockets that orbit the tea kettle when the water is hot?  Isn't it SO perfect?!  They were made in 1999 by Kamenstein and, naturally, Alton Brown has one.  And now that I've discovered them I'm desperate for one of my own.  Too bad they're discontinued and practically impossible to find.  I've also seen these before and figured that I'd get one as a consolation prize:
 Such a cute little rocket shaped tea ball!  Too bad I can't seem to find these anywhere anymore either... the caffeinated world is conspiring against me!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

I had a fairly uneventful weekend.  In strong contrast to my previous two ultra-productive weekends, Saturday and Sunday were kinda rainy, gloomy days that just inspired me to stay in bed and read a book or two.  I did meet up with friends for a game night on Saturday and on Sunday I caught a movie and then headed over to B's house for another fresh spring roll dinner (yum!).  The highlight of my weekend, though, was probably the movie.  I saw Moonrise Kingdom and I have to say that the reviews don't lie.  It was phenomenal!
I'm not always 100% in the Wes Anderson camp - I wasn't at all a fan of Life Aquatic, though I liked Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited and I loved Hotel Chevalier.  Moonrise Kingdom fits more in to the Hotel Chevalier category.  It's the story of two misfit kids who run off together on an island up in the New England area, set in the 1960's. 
The acting was fantastic, the filmography has a wonderful vintage appeal, and I can't even express how much I loved the costumes and props (but you know me and the 60's...)  It's a little on the weird side, as most Wes Anderson films are, but if you can handle a little bit of weird then I HIGHLY recommend it!

(images from here, here, and here)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Have a Tasty Weekend!

 Tis the season of the grill and the king of the grill, in my humble opinion, is the burger!  Just this weekend I've been invited to two events in which someone "may fire up the grill and cook up some burgers", not to mention the ones I just ate on Wednesday for the 4th.  I like a standard burger topped with onion, avocado, ketchup and mustard any day, but my trip to Umami Burger in LA a few weeks ago definitely gave me food for thought, so to speak, about what a "great" burger is.  Well guess what?!?  Umami burger now has an online store where they sell umami enhancements for at-home cooking use!  I'm planning to snatch up some of the Umami Master Sauce, which is what Umami Burger restaurants actually use in their namesake dish.  And my foodie streak continues!  Here's to a super tasty weekend!

(Picture from here)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How ISS Benefits Humanity

It really irks me when I hear people talk about NASA being a waste of money. "Why put money into research in space when we have so many problems to deal with here on the ground?"  What kills me about this is the lack of understanding just how beneficial NASA research is to us "here on the ground".  I know I've gotten on my soap box about this before, but I just happened across a NASA publication entitled ISS Benefit for Humanity that details what benefits have actually funneled down to the general public that they have no knowledge of. 
Medically, there have been studies on bone loss in space that can help with osteoporosis in the elderly, salmonella and MRSA vaccines have been tested, advanced ultrasound equipment is being developed and tested for better medical diagnosis, experiments have been conducted on micro-encapsulation of cancer fighting drugs for better delivery of cancer treatments to the affected tissues, and water purification methods have been developed and tested that can be used around the world in areas where people lack access to clean water.  The latter is a direct result of the ISS system I currently work on and above you can see pictures of the Water Recovery System racks (taken from the publicly available document I link to above).
The ISS is also instrumental in Earth observations that help with emergency and disaster response, climate change, and tracking of oceanic traffic (seen above).  Not to mention the education of children around the world through public affairs events.  And this is just some of the stuff that's going on right now...   

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Too True

Not to mention work has been crazy busy lately since I was finally assigned a piece of hardware to work on.  It's great having work to do, but when the subsystem lead goes on vacation a week after I start working with him and leaves me to present two issues to the Program Review Board while he's gone, things get pretty insane pretty fast.  And as a result, I haven't had time to start up my Russian classes again either.  Thank goodness tomorrow's a holiday and I get to sleep in and chill by the pool with friends (take that you jealous alarm clock!)

(Images from here and here)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Weekend in Review

Despite the fact that the gloomy, rainy weather tempted me to sit on the couch all day in pajamas and watch TV, I was actually quite successful in having another productive weekend!  After an afternoon date in town on Saturday I found I had some free time before the stores closed so I hit up Central Market again and stocked up on more goodies.  I stored it all away when I got home to be used with abandon the next day and instead devoted my Saturday night to some more DIY projects (ok, not exactly a wild and crazy Saturday night, but I did go out on Friday night AND I had a date Saturday, so I'm not a total dud...)
This one was inspired by all of the painted rhinestone necklaces I've been seeing online.  I spotted the original rhinestone version of this baby on etsy and knew immediately that I could have a field day with that awesome chevron pattern, which is so of-the-moment in the design world.  I never would have worn the original rhinestone version (too glitzy for me), and to be honest I didn't really know how wearable the "after" would be, but now that's it's done I'm kind of loving it...
And I FINALLY got around to making my belt!  My iphone camera wasn't in top-form in my 12:30 am apartment lighting situation, so sorry for the crappy photo.  But I'm loving the way my belt turned out!  And it looks really close to the original on the left, no?  After I finished those two projects, I got some major cleaning done and then called it a night.
Sunday started off with one of my awesome Central Market purchases from Saturday: duck eggs!  While being able to use quail eggs as my chicken egg substitute is awesome, they're kind of ridiculously small, so I was excited to see a half dozen carton of duck eggs sitting in the egg display at the store.  They're actually a little bigger than chicken eggs, so baking with them would be so much easier on me.  I scrambled one up for breakfast with some sauteed onions and shitake mushrooms - yum.  Only problem: turns out I'm sensitive to duck eggs too.  I've been fighting off a headache ALL DAY today - a clear sign of an egg reaction. Bummer.  At least I still have the quail eggs, though...
I spent the rest of my Sunday running errands and going on a MAJOR cooking spree.  I made a lot of stuff including that recipe for carrot marmalade I've been wanting to try, a big batch of pesto, some parmesan polenta (not great on its own, but fantastic when paired with some super delicious broiled salmon, asparagus, and fresh pesto!), and I also tried my hand at pickling for the first time!  I made some bread and butter pickles from this recipe and I also tried pickling some radishes.  I haven't tried them yet as they're supposed to sit for 24 hours, so I'll see how they turned out tonight!

(top image from here)