Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Navigating the Past Week and Tropical Storm Bill

This is what the radar for Houston looks like right now.  Tropical Storm Bill just made landfall south of us, but we're getting socked by that big yellow and orange band from the system pretty much all day today.  So far it's just wet and miserable out, let's hope that's as bad as it gets and we don't see anymore flooding around here...
We've been pretty busy over this past week.  Last Wednesday Pandora had her last obedience training class and officially graduated from Intermediate Training!  She is now pretty good at listening to/obeying commands with distractions (sit, lay down, come, bed), knows how to heel when she walks with us, and even learned a new trick (spin!).  We still need to work on getting her responses more consistent and immediate, and she struggles on focusing outside, especially with "heel".  But overall she did so well and we keep saying how lucky we are to have such a great dog!
We got her a toy to reward her for all of her good work in the training classes.  She LOVES dismantling toys, so usually we get pretty heavy duty ones.  This one had felt pretty sturdy when I bought it and said the squeaker inside would work even when punctured.  Pandora demolished it.  She actually removed the squeaking devices (there were 2) from the squeaker and then proceeded to shred both the fuzzy part and the hard plastic inside.  It took her about 1 hour to get it to the state you see above and there was toy carnage EVERYWHERE!  But at least she had fun.  And on the plus side, this was originally a little gator shaped toy, and I can't say how proud I am of what my little Buckeye puppy does to Gators!!  O-H-I-O!!
On Thursday we had the first night of our summer bowling league, NASA Nerdz!  We regrouped with the rest of our team from last year and proceeded to all actually bowl pretty solid games!  We also won one of the trivia questions and got ourselves a free pizza too.  Looking forward to the rest of this season!

On Friday I had Jury duty for the first time in my life.  It was interesting.  After sitting in a large theater type room for about 2 hours I was called with a group of 64 other people to potentially sit on a jury for the 351st Court.  We left the theater room, had to wait for about half an hour in a freezing cold underground tunnel that leads to the next building over, and then crammed 20 ppl at a time into elevators that took us up to the 14th floor.  Once there we had to wait in the hallway even more, with no chairs.  Good thing I brought a book.  But the entire situation did NOT help the sore/pinching neck issue I'd been having all week.  Finally we were let into the court where the judge explained for 2 hours what would be expected of us if we were chosen for the jury.  It was interesting, however I'm absolutely certain it could have been condensed down into 1 hour instead.  Then we broke for lunch and reconvened an hour later back in the hallway, where we once again sat for over half an hour while we waited for them to let us back in.  Once we reentered the courtroom the judge informed us that the defendant, after staring at a room full of 65 people waiting to judge him, changed his mind and decided to have the judge, not a jury, rule on his case.  So we were dismissed.  It was a lot of sitting in uncomfortable places and waiting and by the time I got home my neck was MISERABLE.  I swung by the grocery store on my way home and we then proceeded to just vegge out the rest of the night.  I was exhausted.
On Saturday we slept in (so did Pandora, thank goodness.  we all needed it....) and then went to help our friend N at his business Wazoo Survival Gear.  Wazoo makes compact outdoor survival gear for people who like hiking, camping, etc, and they just recently got a huge order for 3000 fire-starter necklaces, fire-starting twine bundles, and their specialty burnable gift cards.  We love their products (Pandora wears a Wazoo dog collar!) and so we were happy to help them out.  S spent his time winding the fire-starting jute onto spools and I joined in on the necklace making.  We helped out for about 5 hours and I took supplies to make more necklaces home with me too.  S worked on his car for a while when we got home and I hunkered down in front of the TV and made more Wazoo necklaces while I caught up on my shows.  We had our favorite chipotle, sweet potato, and black bean tacos for dinner and started season 3 of Orange is the New Black (first episode was so-so, but the second one started getting interesting again).
On Sunday S went to the autocross all day, so Pandora and I were on our own.  After I walked and fed her I decided to be productive and get stuff around the house cleaned up.  So I tackled some piles of laundry, put sheets on the bed, eliminated clutter in the kitchen and bar area, and threw away some dead flowers that had been sitting on the piano for a while.  Pandora was super cute and just followed me around the whole time - gotta know what's going on!  Then I watched a movie while I finished up the rest of the Wazoo necklaces.  Around 1 I hopped into the car and drove over to the west side of town to pick up tools and supplies for my intermediate stained glass class!  This is my inspiration picture for my 2nd stained glass project and in addition to getting all of my own tools, I also got to pick out my glass colors.  I can't wait to start working on this new project!  When I got home I buttered, seasoned and wrapped 15 cobs of corn in foil, grabbed the Wazoo necklaces I had completed, and walked with Pandora over to our friend's house for our weekly Game of Thrones viewing party and pot luck dinner.  We got there early so Pandora could play with my friend L's absolutely ADORABLE little 8-week-old German Shepherd puppy, Brew (see above)!  Little Brew is definitely a handful, but he was just so darn cute!  Pandora was too fast for him still, and Pandora is a total toy hog too, but they seemed to get along quite well otherwise and proceeded to wear each other out.  I took Pandora home and gave her dinner then ran back over to our friend's house to eat a delicious pot-luck meal and watch the season finale of GoT.  A little bummed the season is over already...
And in other news, I'm back on my elimination/detox diet for a few weeks to reset my digestive system again mid-year.   My tummy has been acting up again recently and I have a big vacation coming up soon, so I figured that getting everything back on track now would make my vacation more enjoyable later.  Last night we had this delicious prosciutto wrapped peach salad (without ricotta) and I highly recommend it!  It was super flavorful and actually quite easy to make.  My digestive system is already calming down a bit, the effects of food really are quite amazing!

(Wazoo picture from here)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hill Country Weekend

This past weekend S and I borrowed his brother's truck, packed it full of food, beer, and swim gear, loaded the pup in the backseat, and then picked up our friends N and H and headed out to Texas hill country for a weekend full of tubing, dancing, s'mores, and fun!  We hit the road around noon on Friday and made it to the San Antonio area just in time for an early dinner at Freetail Brewing Co.  Our friend K was in town and met up with us there as well, where we all gorged on some delicious pizza and beer.  Brisket on pizza is AMAZING.  After we were all stuffed we proceeded on the remaining 2 hours of our drive to River Bluff Cabins, which is right on the Frio River.  The last portion of the drive was not stellar for me as driving in the backseat with a fidgety pup on winding, hilly roads gave me a nasty case of motion sickness.  But we made it!

Our cabin was the perfect size and had a grill, firepit, and porch swing outside.  We unloaded the truck and settled in a bit and then meandered down to the river to take in the views before it got too dark out.  This was a truly picturesque little stretch of the river with some shallow rapids, lots of trees, and there were even fireflies!  It was magical!  Oh, and what makes it even better is there were no mosquitoes!  After exploring the river area we headed back to the cabin where the guys struggled to get our fire going with some damp logs.  They managed a small but successful fire and we all roasted marshmallows and cooked up some s'mores before calling it a night.
On Saturday morning S and I woke up semi early (Pandora started whining at 6 am....).  So I took the pup for a beautiful morning walk (see first picture from this post) while S drove to Garner State Park with his brother to get parking passes for the day - oh yeah, S's brother K and his family were staying in the cabin right next door to us!  We noshed on avocado, bacon, and egg breakfast sandwiches and then proceeded to spend the remainder of the day chilling next to the Frio River at Garner.  We had a canopy to protect us from the sun, coolers stocked with picnic foods and beer, and chairs to lounge at the water's edge.  Pandora is not yet a huge fan of water, so we spent some time trying to coax her into the river with us, and everyone also got to do some tubing as well.  It was a lovely day!
All of the noise and water wore poor little Pandora out and she was zonked out for most of the evening after we got back to the cabin.  The rest of us showered up and then prepped some kabobs for the grill.  We brought a tad bit too much food and were all completely stuffed on beef, chicken, peppers, pineapple, and zucchini.  That night we headed back to Garner State Park for their nightly dance!
I wish I'd been able to get a decent picture of the actual dancing, but the lighting situation just wasn't ideal.  People of every age were two-stepping around an open air dance floor under a star filled sky.  We didn't just sit and watch, though (although the people watching there was AMAZING).  S took me on a few two-stepping spins around the dance floor and I also had a dance with both N and K as well.  S and I started getting the hang of the two-step again a couple of dances in (we're so clumsy..) at which point S felt the need to pick up speed a bit.  He dances like he drives - fast and weaving in and out of all of the other people.  One of his many endearing quirks!

On Sunday Pandora let us sleep in to a more reasonable time (I think she was still exhausted from the previous day at the park).  We cooked up breakfast tacos and then started packing up all of our stuff.  Our group then meandered down to the river for a few hours before we took off to relax in the water a bit more.  It was fun to climb on the rocks and try to maneuver through the rapids.  There weren't many other people around and the lack of noise and stimuli left Pandora feeling a bit more comfortable around the water.  She still wouldn't go in further than chest deep, but she did go in that far pretty willingly.  S and N floated down river a bit to jump off a rope swing at one point and Pandora was frantic watching them float away.  S said she reacted the same when I went wading through the rapids to the other side of the river.  Not sure what has our poor little pup so traumatized by water, but we're hoping to keep exposing her to it to get her more comfortable.  We headed back up to the cabin a little after 11 to take quick showers and load up the truck, and were on the road headed home by noon.  Trip home was pretty uneventful, but it was amazing how quickly the weather went from pleasant and cool to brutally sunny and hot.  The weekend reprieve from Houston's muggy, mosquito-y, 90 degree weather was so nice - we truly got lucky with the amazing weather out in hill country.

After unpacking at home that evening we headed back out to celebrate S's nephew A graduating from high school!  We met up with the whole family for a nice dinner out and to congratulate A on his accomplishment.  Overall, it was a very eventful, and very enjoyable weekend!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Happy National Cheese Day! (And other important things)

Apparently today is National Cheese Day - so I now have a new favorite holiday!  Celebration tonight will commence with this spicy goat cheese dip and some sort of cheesy pasta - I haven't decided if I want to go mac-and-cheese or fresh veggie and feta style....
In other food news, we've been using the heck out of our new grill and it is amazing.  I think this is the 5th time we've made grilled corn on the cob so far - soooo good!  I also made a trip this past weekend to one of the seafood markets over by Kemah and stocked up.  These tuna steaks (marinated in freshly squeezed OJ, garlic, and thyme) were perhaps my favorite.  Oh, and the cocktail of the week?  I had some leftovers of the fresh OJ and mixed it up with some tequila and a splash of grenadine for a quick Tequila Sunrise!
And now a few fun space/science links for you this week:
(cheese image from here)