Friday, November 30, 2012

Have an Exciting Weekend!

Well, here goes - this weekend I start my move into my  new place in the city!!!  I'm meeting with my landlord tomorrow to pick up the keys and then I get to start painting my kitchen and dining room.  The kitchen will go from hideous 70's wood paneling and cabinetry to dazzling white, and the dining room will go from plain white to a moody black!  I'm really hoping I haven't bitten off more than I can chew here!  I'm also going to start moving all of the smaller things from my house like books, DVD's, art supplies, etc.  It's going to be a lot of work!  I'll also be sure to take lots of before and after photos along the way for your viewing pleasure.  Fingers crossed it all goes well!

(photo from here)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Black Hole Sun

Today's Increasing the Awesome video will take us beyond manned space flight and cover some of the other exciting things that NASA is doing with its budget.  NASA is responsible for launching satellites and probes that allow us to investigate and develop a deep understanding of our universe.  One such example is the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission which detects the precise location of gamma-ray bursts (wavelengths of energy that are stronger than x-rays and occur in strong pulses), phenomena that are detectable only about once per day by our current technology in various corners of our universe.  Gamma-rays in astronomy are typically associated with dead/dying stars, active galactic nuclei, and most notably black holes.  The Swift satellite recently found a previously undiscovered black hole near the center of our Milky Way galaxy.  Check it out:

(top image from here)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cocktail Carrier

While my dream bar cart (pictured above) is sadly WAY out of my price range, I have found a couple of suitable alternatives that I'm considering for my new place.  My parents are chipping in on my newest addition to my home as a part of my holiday present, which means I do have a little more leeway regarding price, though.  Here are a couple of the options I've been eyeing:
They all fall within the Hollywood Regency/Mid Century Modern design aesthetic that I love, but I can't seem to decide what material to go for.  The lucite option is freaking fantastic, but it's pick up only in Ft Meyers, Florida which makes it less than convenient.  I've been eyeing the two gold versions in the upper right and lower left for a while, but I'm considering getting some brass shelving for the same room and I don't want a gold overload, so I'm not completely sold on them.  And the wood version is just classic MCM and would go with all of my other furniture, but since it will share a room with my dining room set and my piano I worry that it will be too much wood.  Sigh.  Decisions, decisions.....

Monday, November 26, 2012

When it Rains....

While it's a total cliche, I definitely have a "case of the Mondays" today.  My flight back from Chi-town got in at 1:30 last night and it was 3 am before I got to bed.  I apparently slept through my alarm this morning (gee, wonder why....) only to wake up at 8:45 and realize that I was supposed to be supporting on console this week and I should have been tied in to the net 15 minutes ago.  Great start to the day.  Luckily a coworker was willing to cover for me as I hauled ass to get myself presentable and then proceeded to hit every red light on my way into work.  On top of that, management caught wind that one of the parts I support won't make it's upcoming launch date and the you-know-what proceeded to hit the fan.  I'm not sure why, but it's a certainty that on the week I'm supporting console everything else blows up too.  I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off all day getting updates and passing them on to management, all while operating on under 6 hours of sleep.  Not to mention that I start the big move to my new apartment on Saturday and I have a huge list of stuff I need to get done for that too (for example, it might be good to have electricity....)

It's going to be a very long, very busy week.  In the meantime, here are some pictures of my fun Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends:
Snuggling with the puppies in the morning.

Chicago-style deep dish pizza after a busy morning of Black Friday shopping with my future sister-in-law!

Family night of a movie, dinner, and bowling.  We went old school with the bowling  and kept score by hand.   My youngest brother's girlfriend and I were the only ones who don't own our own ball and shoes...

But I did break 100 on just one game!

Headed into the city on Sunday to spend the day with my best friend K!
(first image from here)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Mine has been quite eventful - I made my first solo Thanksgiving turkey using the incredible Alton Brown's recipe and it turned out fantastic!  I also whipped up some more of my overnight spiced cider (served with rum, naturally!), a batch of lasagna, and a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting.  Then my dad's side of the family showed up en mass with side dishes galore and we all gorged ourselves on awesome food, played some darts and pool in the basement, and we finished up the night with a loud and entertaining round of Catch Phrase.  It was so good to see everyone!
I hope everyone has a fantastic rest of their weekends with family, shopping, and football (Go Bucks!  Beat Michigan!!!).  Be safe!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chicago Bound!

I'm heading back to Chicago and my hometown of Fox River Grove today and I'm so excited!  I don't have to work tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be beautiful, I can't wait to see my family, I get to cook my first solo Thanksgiving turkey for our big family get-together on Thursday, and I get to see my best friend in the city on Sunday (and help her with some nursery decorating)!  My brother and his fiance are driving in from New Jersey, so everyone will be home.  And in addition to the big gathering with my dad's side of the family on Thanksgiving day, we'll also get in our immediate family's tradition of a day of family fun which usually includes bowling, a movie, dinner, and board games - plus I'll get in some girl time with my mom too as we're planning on getting a pedicure together and trying to go see Anna Karenina in the theater.  So much to be thankful for!

(picture of Chicago from here)

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm a Bum

Well, my desire to spend most of the weekend in bed, lounging around, and just generally doing nothing did in fact come to fruition.  It was awesome.  I did read and finish a book as well, so check another item off of my weekend to do list.  I did not get around to gift making, but I rationalize that by saying that I did do some brainstorming for said gifts, and since most of the gifts are food based, I didn't want to worry about them breaking during the move or spoiling before the holidays.  So there. 
 I also did  not make it to the sidewalk painting festival, but I did venture out of the house for a bit on Saturday night to check out a new-to-me bar called Hughes Hangar with some friends, and we had a blast!  They have a really fantastic outdoor space and the dj was playing some great dance music.  It's technically supposed to be a gastropub/speakeasy inspired bar, but we didn't really take full advantage of that during this trip.  But you know me - I love me some great food and prohibition era cocktails, so I'll definitely be venturing back out here to get the full impact of their menu!

In other news, my cousin got engaged on Friday night to his awesome girlfriend, so the family will have another big wedding event coming up in the next year!  I'm so excited for them and for said awesome girlfriend (now fiance) to join the family!  Congratulations you two!

(image from here)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Have a Relaxing Weekend!

I've been super busy the last couple of weeks.  It's been a fantastic type of busy, but I'm happy to spend some time this weekend just relaxing.  I realized recently that I'm way behind on my reading list (the stack on my night stand and my list amazon are both growing!), so I'm going to try to get back into that this weekend.  I'm babysitting for some friends tonight and cracking open a book after the baby goes to bed seems like a perfect opportunity! 

I've also realized that for the second year in a row, I'm WAY behind on my holiday "shopping" list.  I've decided I'm doing a lot of DIY gifts this year, hence the quotes, but with my big move into town coming up I'm starting to freak out about when I'm going to get everything done.  So I'm also hoping to get in some holiday gift making this weekend too. 

And since I can't just stay cooped up in my place all weekend, I have one little excursion planned - Houston's Street Painting Festival!  It looks fun and colorful and artistic and it's free to the public! 

(top image from here)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Leonid Meteor Shower

See shooting stars this weekend! According to NASA, the annual Leonid meteor shower will be visible in the night sky starting tonight, November 15 and it will be at its peak in the early hours before dawn on Saturday, Nov. 17.  Where should you look in the night sky and when?  Look to the east after midnight.  The moon will set shortly after sunset, leaving a moonless sky for this year's shower. Under a dark sky, you may see anywhere from 12-20 Leonids per hour!  If there was any time to go "moon tanning" this is it!  See the (slightly geeky) movie below for where specifically to look in the sky and what causes the Leonid meteor shower every November:
Also, if you're in a star gazing mood but the weather isn't cooperating, check out 100,000 Stars, an interactive map (use Google Chrome as your web browser) that allows you to traverse the Milky Way galaxy with the click of a mouse!
(image from here)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Well, since this is a logic diagram, it must be logical....

(image here)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Help

The pictures posted online about the aftermath of Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy are horrible and heartbreaking, but at the same time, they're just pictures and stories.  None of it really seemed to hit home for me.  My brother, cousins, and other friends and family up in New York and New Jersey had to deal with downed branches and trees, lack of power, and cold weather, but eventually they all got back up and running and back to (mostly) normal and they're all fine.  Sure my cousin posted pictures of huge 40ft pine trees uprooted, and another cousin posted a link to the huge transit issues that have arisen in NYC, but once again, it didn't seem dire.  Yesterday a friend of mine from college posted a letter about her recent trip to the Rockaways to help with clean up there and all of a sudden, it hit me.  Read her letter.  And look into helping whether it be her recommendation of Occupy Sandy or other sources mentioned here

(top image from here)

Monday, November 12, 2012

What a Wonderful and Evenful Weekend!

I had so much fun this past weekend!!!  My fun actually started on Thursday when I met up with my friend D, who was in town for the SWE conference.  We met up at Benjy's in the Rice Village area for dinner.  I think we only stopped talking long enough to chew, which we did with gusto as the food was delicious (and I'll definitely be back for more)!  While I was waiting for D, I made friends with the bartender, A, and so I went back to chat with her after D had to head back to her hotel.  So great to see old friends and make new ones!

Friday I met up with a cute boy and went out for tapas and dancing with some of his friends.  Drinks and dinner took place at Majorca Bistro where the highlight dish of the evening was the oxtail empanadas.  SO good!  After dinner we made our way to Numbers Night Club for 80's dance music and some extremely entertaining people watching.  And to close out the night after the bar closed we partook in some late night snacking at Taqueria Arandas!

Since I didn't get to bed until around 5 am on Friday, Saturday was primarily a recovery day.  Though I did make trips to go visit L and her adorably new puppy as well as H and her adorable little boy.  L and I stopped by the grocery store on our way to H's place and picked up some quick dinner ingredients and then proceeded to fill the next few hours with a backlog of girl talk and rotisserie chicken snacking.  It was a good time, but I was exhausted and passed out in bed by 10:30...
Sunday was another fun day - I met up with my new friend A and a bunch of her girlfriends for brunch at Cyclone Anaya's.  Our group then relocated over to Celtic Gardens for yet more mimosas.  They're a fantastically fun group to hang out with and I hope we'll get to go out more, especially once I move into the city!  Though I admit I do worry a little that my alcohol tolerance may not be up to snuff...

And finally I went to go see Skyfall with some friends.  I love me some James Bond, and this movie didn't disappoint.  I love how the plot wrapped up at the end, though I admit it wasn't as much of a spy espionage type thriller as I typically expect from a Bond movie.  There was one point I was drawing some Home Alone references as well, which was odd.  Watch it and let me know what you think!

(images from here and here)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Have a Lovely Weekend

I know autumn is long gone for a lot of people, especially after getting smacked with a dose of snow this past week, but down here in Houston the weather is still on the warm side and the leaves are (finally) only just starting to turn color and sprinkle down from the trees.  I'm loving it. 

Sorry this week was light on the posts.  I'll be back to my regular schedule next week.  In the meantime, have a lovely weekend!

(picture from here)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Eating it up in Cali

While I wouldn't say that this trip has been quite the culinary experience my last trip to the LA area was, I did manage to find my way to a couple of tasty restaurants that I thought I'd recommend to my friends who live around here or may be visiting the area in the near future.  The first was from my Monday night dinner with Br and family, Louise's Trattoria in Pasadena.  I had the fish special with capers and a meyer lemon sauce and it's just good Italian food.

Last night was a dinner out with coworkers and I once again found myself at an Italian establishment, this time in Claremont, called La  Parolaccia.  Their wine list was great, the bread they served before the meal was so delicious I easily could have made just that my meal, and my dinner, the Tortiglioni Norcina, was a well balanced dish of pasta, sausage, mushrooms, and cream.  Bellissimo!

My favorite yet, though, was my solo excursion out tonight where I once again found myself in Claremont Village, but this time at Viva Madrid a tapas place with food and drinks so good that the place was consistently packed wall-to-wall the entire time I was there.  I love tapas because you get the opportunity to try so many different dishes.  Here I ordered a glass of the house white wine (it was Spanish and delicious), dried, cured white tuna on toast drizzled with olive oil, asparagus wrapped in Serrano ham, baked mushrooms stuffed with chorizo, and I finished my meal off with a slightly sweet cheese dish of toast smeared with Cabrales cheese and topped with red wine poached pears.  Everything tasted wonderful, the ambiance (pictured above) was dark and cozy and a little eclectic, and I'm pretty sure that when I'm called out to Pomona for work in the future that I'll be making this awesome little Spanish nook a regular stop.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Spotty Posting Ahead

I'm on travel in California (the LA area to be more precise) for work this week, so my blog posts will most likely be spotty.  Sorry bout that!

As for this past weekend, my dual party schedule on Saturday was a wild success.  The early Thanksgiving was delicious and the costume party was insanely awesome.  For the Thanksgiving party, my friend R made the turkey with this Alton Brown recipe that J and I used to use.  The secret is the turkey triangle and the meat thermometer.  It never fails to turn out a perfect bird, so if your looking for a new turkey recipe, I HIGHLY recommend it.  Foods I supplied to the party included some of my spiced cider with rum.  B made the suggestion that I let the cider cook overnight in the crockpot instead of making it on the stove and it has changed my life!!!  The recipe I used for that is here.  I also made my stovetop stuffing hack (add ground sausage and dried berries to the stuffing and cook with chicken stock instead of water) and roasted acorn squash.  As for the halloween shindig, once B sends out party pics, I'll be sure to share some of the highlights, but the jello shots were a hit (I used the fuzzy navel recipe here), flip cup, beer pong, and corn hole were a blast, everyone had great costumes, and we all ended the night in the hot tub!  Sunday, as predicted was strictly a recovery day (alcohol dehydrates me SO much more now than it did when I was younger.  sigh....) and a packing day for my trip.

I flew out to Cali this morning and had my afternoon evening free, so I explored the cute "downtown" area of Pasadena and then met up with my good friend Br and his wife and daughter for dinner.  SO great to catch up with old friends!

(image from here)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Have a Delightful Weekend!

Well first thing's first, Atlantis made its way today to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Center for it's permanent display.  It's the last shuttle to become a decorative fixture in a museum and I have to say I find the idea just completely depressing.  NASA tried to make a happy event out of it, though, and had local high school marching bands parading with the vehicle as it traveled past onlookers and down the road.

Well a parade isn't going to cheer me up.  But a party will.  And since I have two parties this weekend, involving copious amounts of food, friends, and alcohol, I think I'm going to manage just fine!  In a weird twist of the calendar, I have an early Thanksgiving shindig with friends on Saturday afternoon.  We'll be playing board games, watching college football, and eating lots of food.  After a short nap in which I hope to sleep off the remaining effects of my tryptophan induced post-meal turkey coma, I'll be heading over to B's house to help prep for last minute Halloween party decorating.  What's that, Thanksgiving before Halloween!  That's how I roll people.  The costumes-required party that I am co-hosting with B on Saturday night will have a dart tournament, flip cup, homemade guac and other snackables, hot tubbing, and of course my seasonal yearly contribution of alcoholic gummy worms.  Sunday will obviously be a recovery day. 

(photo above from NASA's facebook page)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

High Flying

This one is kinda old news, but after a conversation with my lead today I thought of it again.  My lead for the hardware I've been assigned to work is going to retire at the end of the year and I will be taking over as lead at that point - scary since I feel like I'm still playing catch up with everything I need to know.  So today he took me around to introduce me to some people that will help make my  job easier once he leaves.  During one of our conversations he mentioned that his first job out of college (in 1964) was with a company that was competing to make the space suits for the APOLLO missions!  The amount of knowledge and experience that this man has in the space industry is incredible.  So this made me think of modern day space suit development, which is a large part of what Felix Baumgartner's 24 mile record breaking free fall from space was testing.  The pressurized suit Felix wore is very much like what the astronauts wear when they perform EVA's (which by the way, an EVA also happened today..... check out the details here).  His free fall, which allowed him to be the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle, will allow space researchers to better design the next generation of NASA's space suits!  Watch the highlights from his death-defying jump in today's Increasing the Awesome video:

(top image from here)