Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Have a Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  We will be celebrating with my family this weekend and cooking up a storm tomorrow!  Friday I'll be checking out some of the more low-key Black Friday sales with my sister-in-law followed up by some pedicures (my toes are starting to look like claws again...).  And Saturday we'll be partaking of our Thanksgiving weekend family-day tradition of bowling, a movie (we're finally going to see Interstellar!) and dinner out.  So looking forward to getting to spend some quality time with the family!

May you have a fun weekend of family, friends, great food, safe travels, and maybe even some good shopping deals as well.  Let the holiday season officially begin!

(picture from here)

Monday, November 24, 2014

An Unexpected Weekend

We wound up having a much different weekend than we'd planned on, but it was still quite enjoyable and surprisingly productive!  On Friday we celebrated 2 birthdays, the first in our friend's backyard gathered around a fire pit, drinking beers, and snacking on a delicious pork loin.  The second was in town where we met up at Tacos a Go Go for dinner and then proceeded to A Fistful of Soul, a monthly event at Big Top Lounge with plenty of oldies and soul music. Lots of fun dancing and chatting with friends!

On Saturday S's autocross event got rained out - boo!  So instead we slept in a bit, ran some errands (hardware store, book store, and groceries), and then when the rain really started coming down we cuddled up on the couch with some hot cocoa and 80's movies.  I whipped up some tacos for dinner and we ended the night with more movies and some spiked hot cider.  It was so nice to just relax!!!

On Sunday we slept in for a little while as well and then got to work outside.  The temperature was in the low 70s and the sky was blue, blue, blue, so it was an ideal day for yard work.  I finally got my little citrus plants into some bigger, more permanent containers (see above) and I love the pretty blue pots we selected!  We also re-mulched the front landscaping to make sure the plants are all properly insulated for the "winter", put down more rocks around the front walk way, pulled weeds (and in the process discovered a HUGE fire ant pile in the middle of the flowers.  luckily I only got one bite...), and trimmed some of the trees back a bit.  Eventually the few mosquitoes that were still alive managed to find me and I ran across a fuzzy white caterpillar that looked suspiciously like one of THESE horrifying creatures (I'm traumatized....), not to mention we were just straight up exhausted, so we headed back into the house.  That evening I made salmon burgers from HEB along with our favorite kale salad and some delicious yucca fries and we had a Boardwalk Empire binge. 

Overall a surprisingly productive and fun weekend!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Have a Lovely Weekend!

Well Autumn came to Houston momentarily over the last week with temperature dipping down into the 30s at night and hovering in the 50s during the day and it was amazing.  We enjoyed snuggling under blankets, wearing boots and sweaters (more me than S, admittedly), and cooking up thick and hearty soups for dinner.  That is now over with as temperatures this weekend are flying into the upper 70s again!  I feel a bit disappointed, but since the weather in Chicago is down in the brutal 20s and 30s (although you Chicagoians get a minor heat wave to a high of 48 over the weekend too!), I feel like I should just shut up and enjoy it.  With the exception of a scatter of brown leaves on the ground, everything here is still pretty much green anyway so we might as well regress back to summer....

So since I'm trying to see the glass half full on this, we are planning to take advantage of the warm uptick in the weather and spend some time outside this weekend.  On Saturday we are headed to the north side of the city so S can use his birthday gift, 3 laps on an autocross track in a Ferrari or Lamborghini.  There's a 90% chance of rain on Saturday, though, so we're really hoping it will hold off until after his runs are complete.  Afterwards we're hoping to hit up Southern Star Brewery, as it's been on S's list for a while and we'll (sort of) be in the area anyway.

Sunday is going to be the first free day I've had in weeks.  We have absolutely nothing planned and so I'm hoping to fit in a combination of just vegging (reading magazines, watching movies, etc), going for a bike ride in our neighborhood, and getting some stuff done around the house like re-potting my little citrus trees and mulching the front yard.  See, definitely glass half full/taking advantage of the weather!

(picture from here)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Space Updates!

I've been reading up on more articles and fascinating space tidbits lately and I realized that a link compilation was in order.  If you're in the mood to learn more about the work currently being done in both the private and government space sectors right now, or if you just want to look in awe at the nearly inconceivable size of our universe, then read on!

  • This article explains more about the James Webb Space Telescope, aka the Hubble replacement unit, and what capabilities it will have as well as the remaining testing it will need to undergo to certify it for launch.
  • NASA's New Horizon's probe is about to wake from hibernation just in time to go visit Pluto, now classified as a dwarf planet, in July 2015!
  • Here is a really great breakdown of Spacecraft of the Past, Present, and Future.  It covers the Space Shuttle, Orion (next generation NASA capsule), and the three privately design vehicles that were vying for NASA's Commercial Crew contract (spoiler, the Boeing and SpaceX designs were chosen).
  • And finally, a Carl Saga-esque pictorial comparison of earth, to the sun, to the universe to add a little bit of awe (and a smidgen of humble pie) to your day.  The universe is just so mind-bogglingly amazing!!!
I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ren Fest Weekend

It's a busy week at work this week, so no time for a long post.  But just a quick update on this past weekend, which was very cold and yet very fun!  We went camping on Friday night at the Texas Renaissance Festival camp grounds with 5 of our friends.  The weather was definitely chilly (it got down into the 30's that night), but we had fun sitting around the fire, drinking spiked hot cocoa, roasting marshmallows for s'mores, and attempting to tell ghost stories.  It was after the fire died down and we were all huddled in our tents under multiple layers of blankets and sleeping bags that we really felt the chill.  On Saturday morning, after about 5 hours of questionable sleep, we forced ourselves into the cold of the morning, made hot cocoa and oatmeal for breakfast, packed up camp, and headed into Ren Fest for the day!

In the fair grounds we met up with more friends (yay!) and hit up some shows, including the riveting bagpipe and drum band shown above.  One of the best parts of Ren Fest, though, is the people watching!  It was "barbarian weekend" so there were lots of warriors and animal skins in addition to the usual renaissance-type costumes of knights, maidens, fairies, etc.  Our friend dressed up as Waldo of Where's Waldo fame and his costume was actually quite the hit.  See below if you can find Waldo:
We went through a maze, saw a magician/comedian, ate lots of good food, drank our weight in hot cocoa and warm apple cider, saw glassblowing and blacksmith demonstrations, wandered through the shops galore, and even tried our hand at knife throwing!  We left a little early from the fair to meet up with our friend K back at the house that evening.  We went out for Tex Mex for dinner and wound up talking at the table for about 3 hours!  Always fun to catch up and chat!  On Sunday we slept in (definitely needed after the cold night of camping on Friday), then we very uncharacteristically (for S and I at least) went to a sports bar to watch some football and nosh on appetizers for lunch and afterwards we saw K off.  That afternoon/evening we finished unpacking from camping, did a few chores, and finally just relaxed.  I love our busy weekends, which is good because we have a bunch more coming up over the next couple of months, but at this point I'd love to have just a few days of total nothingness as well....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Space Updates

While two weeks ago was a bit of a shit storm so to speak for the space community (both Orbital Sciences and Virgin Galactic saw catastrophic failures on their spacecraft), this week has been a welcome celebration of successes!  First off, the Rosetta mission, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2004 released its Philae lander and successfully soft landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko today!!!  The spacecraft took 10 years to reach the comet, which is 4 billion miles away from earth (it had to travel aross the asteroid belt and into deep space, more than five times Earth’s distance from the Sun).  Apparently there were some thruster issues along the way, but ESA stuck with it and received confirmation this morning that Philae was successfully landed and trasmitting.  This is the first time we (humanity) have ever landed a spacecraft on a comet and to do so successfully (with full telemetry available post landing) is incredible!  Way to go ESA!  In addition, the Rosetta mission will achieve many other historic firsts:
  • Rosetta was the first spacecraft to orbit a comet’s nucleus.
  • It will be the first spacecraft to fly alongside a comet as it heads towards the inner Solar System.
  • Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to examine from close proximity how a frozen comet is transformed by the warmth of the Sun.
  • The Rosetta lander’s instruments will obtain the first images from a comet’s surface and make the first in situ analysis to find out what it is made of.
  • On its way to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Rosetta will pass through the main asteroid belt, with the option to be the first European close encounter with one or more of these primitive objects.
  • Rosetta will be the first spacecraft ever to fly close to Jupiter’s orbit using solar cells as its main power source.
This is much more information on this amazing accomplishment all over the interwebs.  In fact, if you attempt to google "Rosetta mission" you will see that even Google has updated its logo to show the Philae lander as one of it's O's.  Live coverage of the event can be found on

In other good space news, NASA's first Orion capsule was delivered to the launch pad last night!  On the way from the Launch Abort Systems Facility at KSC to Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station the capsule passed by the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building for a photo op and also travelled past Launch Complex 39B, the former shuttle launch pad which has been refurbished and modified to launch future Orion capsules on the currently-in-design SLS rockets.  This first Orion capsule is intended for a test mission.  It will be launched unmanned on December 4, 2104 on a Delta IV Heavy rocket, which will send Orion around the Earth twice, reaching an altitude of 3,600 miles on a four-hour, 23-minute mission to test out the crew module.  So bummed I won't make it to Florida to see the launch.  Good luck Orion!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween 2014 Recap

Four parties in two and a half days and we were still productive at home!  What a weekend!  We started it off on Friday night with some party hopping to two Halloween parties.  Our costumes of choice this year?  Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction.  You can see why I had to come up with a different costume to wear to work on Friday as my official costume this year was not quite work appropriate (hello overdose nose bleed...).
We got a lot of compliments on our costumes (a random lady stopped us in the liquor store to take our picture), which was nice since we put a lot of thought into the details.  S got some drawn on sideburns and a widow's peak as well as a gold hoop earring that we scotch taped to his ear, and a toy gun that he borrowed from his nephew.  I got 90's make up, Chanel Vamp-colored nail polish, a tiny baggy of white powder(ed sugar), and a bloody nose dotted with tiny remnants of white powder.  We watched the movie on Wednesday to get our dance moves down too! 
The parties were a lot of fun, all of the hosts really went all out on some fantastic Halloween decorations and food!  The stand outs at the first party included the host's AMAZING homemade Loki costume and their homemade Battleshots game (both above) which I had never heard of before.  The second party went dark with their decor including a mock up of a Dexter-style kill room that also served as the food buffet (sadly no pictures of that one, but they also did an incredible job).
On Saturday we slept in and it was amazing.  We got up briefly to make breakfast egg sandwiches, which we proceeded to eat in bed and then we remained in bed until noon.  The kitties were in heaven with all of the snuggles.  In the afternoon we headed out to S's best friend's son's 1st birthday party.  And it was some party!  They had a bounce house/slide for the kids as well as games, delicious homemade tacos, an awesome cake, and even a pinata.  It was all shark-themed and they did a great job!
Here's the birthday boy in action whacking away at the shark pinata.  They also had a pin the fin on the shark game, a coloring table with undersea creatures (which naturally I partook of along with the other 8 year old girls), and awesome little take home bags for the kids.  We may have swiped a game of Go Fish and played for a bit during the party...  After the party we went home to grab a quick bite to eat and change back into our costumes and then we made our way to the fourth party of the weekend.
We met up with yet another group of friends to party it up Halloween-style.  This party included beer pong, some great conversation around a fire pit, a delicious punch that did not taste like it had any alcohol in it (it did), and the evening ended with a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity.  We left at the second 1:00 am (the trick of daylight savings) happy and exhausted.  On Sunday morning we basically repeated Saturday morning except I whipped up some spinach, onion, and ham omelets instead of breakfast sandwiches.  After we finally crawled out of bed, we had a super productive day including doing three loads of laundry, stocking up on sale Halloween candy, getting groceries for the week, cleaning the kitchen, and we ended our weeeknd by having S's brother K and his son over for dinner.  Yet another fantastic weekend in the books!