Friday, August 30, 2013

Enjoy Your Long Weekend!

Last night S and I finished up our Houston Restaurant Weeks adventures with a trip to The Oceanaire with some friends.  Food was tasty (and a great deal, some of the entrees alone cost more than the $35 restaurant weeks deal!) and the company was fantastic.  After dinner we weren't quite ready for the night to end so we headed a bit further down the street to get some prohibition era cocktails at the Galleria.  In true speakeasy fashion, they had a "hidden" doorway behind a faux wall.  It wasn't the fact that the doorway was hidden that tickled my fancy though, it was the text that graced the wall that had me in stitches (see above).  I'm obsessed!

As for the upcoming weekend, S and I are planning to picnic tonight while we see a touring Chinese acrobat troupe at Miller's Outdoor Theater.  Tomorrow is a "get stuff done" day, which for S involves working on his car and for me will entail a trip to Canino Market and Revival Market before cooking up a storm.  I'm SO excited to make this squash blossom soup again, and I'm planning to try some new pickle recipes!  Sunday is a fun day - brunch somewhere followed by trips to places we've been wanting to go, but haven't had time for.  And Monday is a home improvement day - we're hoping to finally get the movie room at S's house to a functional state.  And best of all - we're going to sleep in - every day for 3 days!!!!

Do you have any fun plans for the long weekend? Some travelling maybe?  We would have traveled somewhere, but I'm on call for work all weekend... 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Drowning in Space

It always felt like there was more urgency to shuttle missions compared to the "leisurely" life of an ISS astronaut.  Don't get me wrong, they do a LOT of work up there.  But there aren't as many emergencies in the day to day life on ISS as there were during a shuttle mission.  And that lack of urgency can sometimes make us forget how important our jobs are.
A couple of weeks ago two astronauts fastened themselves into space suits and floated out of the ISS airlock into the void of space for US EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) #23.  Luca Parmitano is the European Space Agency's astronaut from Italy and Chris Cassidy of NASA were making their way to the station for repairs to their power system.    During the EVA Luca noted rising levels of water in his helmet and the EVA came to an emergency halt.  Luca details the (what I would consider to be terrifying) experience in his blog, here

When something like this happens, it reminds everyone here at NASA and Boeing how important our jobs are.  While my team isn't responsible for the EVA suits, we are responsible for the water and air of the life support systems and so we've been tied in to some of the efforts to troubleshoot the suit.  Here's the video of what happened:

(top image from NASA)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rough Week

It's only Tuesday, and I'm already having a rough week.  I'm on console this week, so naturally everything else at work is pretty crazy too.  Additionally, I had a fun incident this morning when I got into my car and saw my tire pressure sensor light blinking.  My tire wasn't flat, but it was halfway there, turning my morning trip to work into a stressful situation.  S filled the tire back up with air during lunch and I was able to get it to the mechanic for a patch.  There was more to it and I've now had a headache all day as a result.  Luckily I'm headed into town tonight for another Houston Restaurant Weeks adventure, this time to Soma Sushi.  Hopefully some good food will help me destress!

(gif from here)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Have A Magical Weekend

Ah, the week has finally come to an end.  Looking forward to starting my weekend out shortly.  After a lovely Houston Restaurant Weeks experience last night with friends at RDG - Bar Annie, S and I are venturing back out again tonight for the smorgasbord experience that Max's Wine Dive is offering.  I'm so excited for truffled mac and cheese that I can't even stand it.  Tomorrow I think we're going to hit up James Coney Island for the specialty collaboration hot dog that was created by the owner/chef of our favorite eatery, Eatsie Boys.  I'm not normally a hot dog fan, but Eatsie Boys hasn't steered us wrong yet!  Our weekend continues with a Saturday afternoon in Galveston for St. Arnold's pub crawl (we get to drink Elissa the beer while standing next to ELISSA the ship!) and then a cook out/pool party at a friend's house on Sunday.  Really looking forward to hanging out with all of my friends!!! Also finally going to book the hotels for our Germany trip on Sunday as well - it's only just over a month away!

(picture from here)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hatch Chili Season

So August is Hatch Chile Season, and notably the Hatch Chile Festival at HEB and Central Market grocery stores.  They sell pre-roasted hatch chiles (which I buy in bulk) as well as nearly any product you can imagine with hatch chiles incorporated: hatch chocolate truffles, hatch queso dip, hatch tortilla chips, hatch hummus, hatch pesto, hatch infused burgers and meatloaf, etc.  They also post a slew of recipes on their website that are inspiring some of my future hatch chile plans.  Since I'm new to Texas, I only learned about this hatch phenomenon last year, but I decided "while in Rome" and gave a bunch of products a try and now I'm hooked.

By the way, "hatch" is not the type of chile, but rather where it's from, namely the Hatch Valley in New Mexico.  Well August thru September is when these chiles are at their peak and they come pouring into Texas en masse.  The HEB stores roast these in giant roasting tumblers in front of their stores and sell them pre-bagged.  The steam of the hot blistered peppers in the bags helps to release their skins so they're easire to peel.  I also seed mine and then store the flesh from the chiles in ziploc bags in my fridge and freezer (I got about 14 pre-portioned bags to last me through this year)

In addition to the chiles themselves, I also like to give one or two of the premade hatch chile products a try.  This year it was the grilled salmon topped with hatch pesto (smelled heavenly) and the hatch flour tortillas which I plan to use with some beef that's been slow cooking all day in the crock pot to make some shredded beef and avocado tacos for dinner tonight.  My mouth is already watering.  As for the salmon, I put it on a bed of fresh spinach and arugula and topped it off with dill, green onion, some of my roasted hatch chile flesh, and roasted golden beets and baby fennel, with a homemade champagne vinaigrette poured over top.  It was an insanely good dinner. 

Also, headed to two awesome sounding restaurants for Houston Restaurant Weeks this week - RDG Bar Annie on a double date tomorrow and Max's Wine Dive on Friday - SO excited for good deals on yummy food!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Weekend in Hill Country and Texas Dance Etiquette

I spent a long weekend with S and his family in a cabin next to the Frio River in Concan, TX.  We had a full, but fun house and the weekend was spent mostly chilling out by the river (sadly the water level and therefore the current was too low for tubing, but we had fun anyway jumping off of giant rocks and rope swings, lounging on tubes in the deeper areas and even trying a paddle board!).  Texas hill country is beautiful with the cliffs and rocks, especially at sunset with the moon hanging low in the sky.
S's brother also rented a golf cart to tote everyone around, which the kids LOVED.  According to them, it was almost as much fun as jumping off of the rope swing.  In the evenings we went to local dances  The first night it was at Joe Jimmy's, which is owned by the company we rented the cabin from.  They had a live band (it was eh) playing mostly country with a few undance-able 80's numbers, an arcade for the kids, a bar for the adults, and of course a goat.  Because what Texas hill country dance is complete without a random goat roaming around....
The second day we spent in the water at Garner State Park, which was beautiful.  I'm so excited to go back one of these days when we can actually go tubing there because I've heard the rapids are a lot of fun.  The water got semi-deep on the far side of the river, which allowed for a profusion of rope swings along that entire shore.  The rest of the river was filled with paddle boats, paddle boards, people lounging on tubes, and kids playing in the water. 
That night we went to another Texas dance, this time back at Garner State Park.  There's no alcohol allowed in Texas state parks, so there was no bar for the adults.  There was only a concession stand and a juke box, which played pretty much all country with an oldie or two thrown in.  Here is what my evening at Garner taught me about Texas dances:
  1. If you are a girl, the standard outfit is cowboy boots, a tank top and the shortest possible jean shorts you deem to be appropriate in public.  Naturally this varies.  Bonus points if your shirt is white or if your hair is blonde and/or curled.
  2. There are two acceptable types of dancing.  The two step or a line dance.  That is it.  Do not vary, otherwise you will get trampled by the crowd of dancers all moving in the same direction.  This is not just applicable to country music - it also applies to oldies.  I did learn how to two step, but since neither S nor I were gifted with grace, it was a bit touch and go...
  3. You gotta start the kids young.  I saw toddlers two stepping with eachother.  It's basically a competition to see which kids can dance with more people.  Even the shy kids are NOT shy when it comes to dancing in Texas. 
Sunday was filled with sleeping in, a monster brunch, loading the cars, and then driving home.  On the way we decided to stick with the theme of our uber-Texas weekend and we stopped off at the Texas gas station institution: Buc-ee's.  
 In addition to gas and restrooms, this mammoth store also has food, fudge, jerky, barbecue sandwiches, camo clothing, and all housegoods that are Texan.  We stocked up on their INCREDIBLE rootbeer, some chewy pralines, and kettle corn and then braved the ridiculously horrendous drivers all the way back to Houston on I-10.  All in all, it was a great weekend!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taking Off Early This Week - Have a Lovely Weekend!

That's right - no Friday work for me!!!  Instead we're going to spend a long weekend tubing, hiking, and grilling out with S's family!  Despite the fact that we didn't have many plans coming into August, the month has filled up fast (as have all recent months...) and even though it's all fun stuff that we do, we've reached the point of exhaustion.  We're looking forward to just taking it easy this weekend - floating lazily on the river with cans of beer and hard cider, sitting around playing board games with the family, and boogieing until we can boogie no more at the nightly dance in the nearby park!

Do you have any fun plans this weekend?

(image from here)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Smart is Sexy!!!

Just discovered this article/video that kind of makes my day.  I'm not usually a huge Ashton Kutcher fan.  He tends to play morons in movies (with the notable exception of his latest venture), he makes television shows that provide mindless (as opposed to thoughtful) entertainment, and by all outward appearances he seems to be wasting his college education and only superficially contributing to society.  I know that's not the full story - he's actually a smart guy.  He's not just rich because he acts, he's made some really savvy investments in start up companies that wound up doing really well, such as Airbnb, Spotify, and Fab.  But until now he, like the majority of celebrities nowadays (how did the Paris Hilton model of celebrity become such a big thing?!?!?), makes all of the kids who want to be just like him think that he's only interested in fun and partying and not concerned with appearing/being intelligent.  At the Nickelodeon Teen Choice awards he made a big statement to start changing that.  It's not all completely accurate, but no one else seems to be glorifying intelligence anymore, especially not the people kids pay attention to and aspire to be like.  It's quite the new crusade he has chosen and I for one am glad that the message that it's cool and sexy to be smart is making its way out there - we are not nerds, we are SEXY INTELLECTUAL BADASSES!

(top image from here)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Have an Amazing Weekend

I think I've mentioned before that S and I are in a bowling league with a couple of other friends.  None of us are exceptionally good bowlers, we were just in it for the fun and the beer.  Well, lo and behold, against all odds, our rag tag group (which we gave what we thought to be the appropriate team name of The Gutterball Gang) actually won FIRST PLACE in the league last night!!!!  We didn't even realize we were doing well until about halfway through the season when another group got really picky about the scoring.  We don't play all that well, so we couldn't imagine why until we realized that we were ranked in the top 10!  To be fair, we had a generous handicap that helped us and two of our team members improved drastically by the end of the 10 weeks thanks to all the weekly play.  But holy cow!  First place!!!  We went out celebrating afterwards last night at Nobi Public House, still in a haze of amazement and disbelief...

Not a ton of plans this weekend.  It's still Houston Restaurant Weeks and S and I are taking advantage of the deals for our date tonight at Hugo's.  I'm really excited!  We have a birthday party to go to tomorrow and I'm hoping to take advantage of tax free weekend in Texas at some point too. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

(picture from here)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Space News

Just saw this comic on Facebook today.  So sad.  I do miss the shuttle.  A lot.  A former shuttle coworker of mine passed away last weekend from cancer and I distributed the news to some of my other coworkers who worked with him closely.  It's awful that it took something so sad to get dialog going again with coworkers that I loved working with.  While I'm glad I'm still working in the space industry, my current job doesn't give me the same kind of enjoyment and satisfaction that my shuttle job did. 

But since the shuttle isn't flying any more, we make do.  And the space industry is still working hard to get satellites, supplies, and people into space.  Here's some news from the last week:
  • The Japanese successfully launched their HTV supply vehicle from Tanegashima Space Center on Saturday.  The cargo ship is stocked full of mechanical and electrical parts for space station maintenance, new experiments, necessities such as food, clothes, and water, and a tiny, talking robot named Kirobo.  The HTV vehicle will be captured by the ISS's robotic arm tomorrow morning and dock to the station shortly after.  You can watch it all happen here on NASA TV.
  • A Delta 4 rocket launched yesterday evening, carrying an Australian military satellite.  The entire mission, in fact was funded by Australia.  You can read more about it and see the very cool pictures here.  
  • NASA is planning another Mars mission.  The MAVEN satellite, which just arrived at KSC to be processed for stowage on a rocket, is set to launch in November 2013 on a 10 months trip to Mars where it will orbit the red planet to examine it's atmospheres (or lack thereof).  It's odd, I just heard about MAVEN on Monday from one of the coworkers I got in touch with, and then all of a sudden I'm hearing about it everywhere
  • Speaking of Mars, did you know it's been 1 whole year since the Mars Curiosity Rover landed on Mars?  Seems like yesterday we were all cheering as Curiosity successfully landed (I still get a little teared up watching the mission control room as the rover landed successfully).  In that year, Curiosity was busy and productive.  Here is an article detailing Curiosity's seven biggest discoveries including hints of former water sources on the red planet.  And here is a video of Curiosity's path from build to launch to landing to it's discoveries on Mars:

Monday, August 5, 2013

Live and Learn

Overall, a very fun, tasty, and relaxing weekend in the books.  Lots of napping and sleeping in, which was perfect and refreshing.  Which is good, because with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees this weekend, refreshment was definitely in order.  We also relied on beverages, such as the hurricane and Cajun Cooler pictuerd above from Mojeaux's Lousiana Drinkery, which hosted their opening party on Saturday.  We hit them up for drinks and a late lunch of all you can eat gumbo.  It's right around the corner from our Tuesday trivia bar, and so I'm guessing we'll be hitting them up for drinks and gumbo (they also had a tasty red beans and rice) again.  We probably only needed one all you can eat bracelet, though, as the booths were indiscriminately handing out multiple sample cups of gumbo to pretty much everyone.  Oh well, live and learn.  Luckily S's friend F showed up to help us get our money's worth!
After a nap under heavy air conditioning with the ceiling fan on high (it was SO hot outside!), we headed back out in our whites for White Linen Nights in the Heights.  Despite the heat there was quite the crowd gathered in the streets, checking out the art booths, mobbing the food trucks, and listening to the live bands.
The bands were actually really good from what we heard.  The problem was, this was our first time at this event and we hadn't realized that we could tow around our own cooler filled with cans of beer/beverages.  If we'd had the foresight to plan for hydration, I think we would have enjoyed the event more.  Next time...
Once the sun set, it got a little more bearable out.  The local energy company was handing out cardboard fans which helped, as did the mango lassi we bought at an Indian food booth (along with some tasty samosas), the milkshakes we snagged at the local ice cream shop, and the free drinks that were offered in random stores along the street.  We had some trouble finding and then keeping track of our friends in the crowd too.  Next time, in addition to the cooler, I think we'll plan on meeting up with our friends for a few drinks before hand so at least we'll have some time to catch up and chat.
Sunday we slept in again.  It was heavenly.  Then we hit up Eatsie Boys for their "Anything Goes" Sunday brunch.  S got the creme brulee french toast which was topped with a crunchy layer of broiled sugar, whipped cream, and fresh blueberries.  It was basically desert.  I went more lunch-ish with my meal and ate a pesto pork loin with roasted brussels sprouts slaw.  My mouth is watering just thinking of it again.  We then drove back out to S's place where we tried our hands at some (affordable) abstract art for a large empty wall up in S's front room (I think it turned out pretty great!) and then proceeded to veg out the rest of the day with books and the internet.  It was a great end to a lovely weekend!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Have a Chill Weekend

We're planning a fun weekend, including checking out some places for Houston Restaurant Weeks, hitting up the 6th Annual  White Linen Nights in the Heights, and finally making it back to our old favorite Eatsie Boys for Sunday Brunch.  Restaurant Weeks just started yesterday and there are a lot of places on our list that are participating like Benjy's in Rice Village, Haven, Hugo's (they're offering an optional tequila pairing with each course too!), Max's Wine Dive, Latin Bites Cafe, RDG - Bar Annie, and The Oceanaire.  It's a great excuse to finally hit up some of the pricier restaurants we've been eying for good deals, so we're pretty psyched to eat some good food this month!  And White Linen Nights is basically a giant craft fair where artists will be painting murals and creating sculptures live as well as selling their wares.  There will be a food truck park too!  And yes, we do plan to wear whites! (though given how clumsy we are, I doubt our clothes will stay white...)

(picture from here)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Inner Artist, Foodie, and Nerd are All Geeking Out Together

I found this on one of the blogs I follow today and I've been OBSESSING over it ever since.  A CAKE that looks like JUPITER, including all of the PLANETARY STRUCTURE?!?!?  I am totally geeking out on so many levels here.  Lucky for me, the amazing baker who constructed this cake has been getting ridiculously high demand for these cakes (there's an Earth version too, but Earth is just so normal...), and so she's created an online tutorial and video so others can recreate her masterpiece themselves. 
She even painted in all of the outer striations and the Great Red Spot in the frosted outer layer!  You can bet your ass I will be saving this link and whipping up one of these tasty, planetary beauties for my next birthday!  I am such a space nerd....  And just to geek out a little further, here is some NASA data/footage about Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system:

(pictures from here)