Friday, May 28, 2010

Hospital Pillow, Dress Board and Writing

Man, I’ve been running around like crazy this week. I still need to finish making those napkins and get them in the mail by Saturday, which I will do. Mike and I decided that we where going to camping with my sister and her boyfriends family and friends. We barely had a tent (apparently it leaks like crazy), no sleeping bags and I’m worried that I won’t have enough food (really this does seem to be a constant worry for me).

I found a pair of sleeping bags, mummy style that are rated from 0 to +5°F and now I just need to set up the tent in order to make sure that we do have everything to assemble it. I’m really crossing my fingers at this point, mainly because Mike said, ‘I just threw everything into the trunk’. Let the fear unfold! He also stated that the tent rain jacket was not included (which I think it was). So hopefully I’ll find that today as well.

Aside from all this, one of my coworkers is going in on Tuesday to have part of his lung removed and I was running around work for the last week and a half, trying to get a good luck party started for him and trying not to step on any toes, particularly the two sets that are in his department. Well long story short, I really shouldn’t have worried about it as one didn’t show up to the party at all and the other only stopped in for maybe three minutes max. But it did go off well. He was really happy and is enjoying the pillow I made for him. Everyone signed it and he's bring it with him to the hospital. I thought it would be better then a card.

I really wished I had taken a picture of it after all the signatures had been placed. It was gorgeous and just the right size (about 8/12 x 9” stuffed). I wanted to have fun with it and have it give him joy at the hospital. I originally thought about making a pair of lungs and then having people sign that, aside from the fact that it would have been extremely labor intensive, I was afraid about the seeming to hold the two lungs together and didn’t want it to break apart.

As a side note, he’s actually getting the top portion of his lung removed and not the bottom, like I though he said. At least I got it on the correct side. HA!

I’m trying to work up a wedding invite themed as if it where a Johnny Cash CD cover. I’m really excited about it. I already have the invite about half done. It’ll be on black paper with thick white lettering and perhaps a stylized leaning cowboy on the RSVP and Thank You cards. What I really need to work on is drawing up location maps. That’s about the only think I haven’t tried yet.

I don’t know if you remember but I entered in a ‘Win an iPad’ contest and I’m proud to say that the first post after the winner was announced was mine! Yeay :) I hope that means she liked it. To view it on the post on the contest webpage please click here.

I also started writing a new book. I officially have one book I’ve finished (but is only in rough draft form) and several, probably about 20, storylines that I haven’t finished. I just keep telling myself that when I actually publish a book and I can’t seem to make the current novel work, I’ll have a bunch to fall back on. I’m hoping that this upcoming month I’ll enter a few contests.

Why would any sane person enter a contest? I do it mainly for the feedback. I’m already in a critique’s online group (lovestoryL) and they are a great help but it sometimes helps to get opinions from outside sources that haven’t previously seen any of your work and are looking at it from a selling point of view as opposed to a cohesive story. You can have an awesome storyline but the actual plot might not be of interest to a publishing house for what ever reason. It also gives more of a gut reaction to your initial story. You don’t have to agree with that reaction, but it still is one.

Contests can be a bit expensive especially if you aren’t member of the RWA (Romance Writers of America), which I’m not. It’s a hundred and ten big ones to join initially and then I think it’s only $85 a year for renewal (up $10 since the last time I looked). You get a writers magazine once a month and discounts on most contests. The magazines are filled with helpful writing types, what agents and publishers are looking for and ads, which you can’t ever really get away from.

This something that I should have joined a long time ago, but haven’t wanted to fork over the money for it. It’s a shame really, but I’ll probably do it this year sometime not around August, that’s when the USFA (fencing) membership is due for renewal ($60).

Well, I leave you to enjoy your weekend and will see you next week after I pour over the first 7 pages of my story in order to prep for the contest entry for the Greater Seattle RWA. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Napkins, Emulsion Hatrid and Zanga

Wahoo! I got another wedding photography gig. I’m really excited. I have to say that I’ve been seriously slacking off on posting on Craigslist lately. Mostly because all the other photographers have photo-websites set up and I currently have none. Which I am working on BTW, just very very slowly.

It will be a small, 25 person wedding and there won’t be a rehearsal, which makes my job a little harder but I’m overjoyed nonetheless. It’s for my cousin and won’t happen for another 2 months, so I’ll have plenty of time to speak with them on what type of pictures they want and who they want in them.

Because I’m still in the planning phases of mine it will be interesting to see how a small wedding of 25 people actually goes. That’s not to say that I’ve particularly been to any big weddings. The largest one I’ve been to was probably 50.

I chickened out on talking about costs. Gosh, I can be such a wimp at times. I’m hoping that he'll made a suggestion in his email where he sent me all the info. I’ll probably end up doing it for about the same as the last one I did, depending on what they want me to do and for how long.

On the napkin side of things, I’ve been fighting with my stupid screen for the last couple of days trying to get the emulsion off of it. I even went and got the emulsion remover spray bottle formula and the stupid stuff still sticks. Then to top it off, when I was cleaning the darn thing I punched a hole through it!! It was like a hot knife through butter. One minute I washing and the next, I’ve cut a three inch jagged line through the center of my screen. I don’t have time to be dealing with this.

It also seems that the world is out to get me, fore whenever I actually need a screen no one seems to be caring them. I’m slowly running out of time and I need to get this project going. I probably have a week before they all need to be shipped and sent out. (OMG!!! Just realized that) Deep breaths, deep breaths. If I wasn’t pissed off before, I’m pretty close now.

Here’s the catch I’ve gotten so far off of forums. In most cases you can’t get the old emulsion off without a power washer. Emulsion remover doesn’t always (usually) work because the emulsion can fuse the strands together and form a single bond which makes if virtually impossible to get out of the mesh. This is the stage I’m at right now. Nothing works. A power washer was the final suggestion and unfortunately I don’t think that that will work in this case. The screen is so flimsy I’d probably punch the material straight off.

I really need a 220 mesh screen as the 110 won’t have the detail that is required for the napkins. I’ll probably start losing my hair soon, either through stress or by pulling it out handful by handful.

To end the blog post on a positive note, here is a game I made up to help my mom pass the time. I hope you enjoy it:

Is the button pushing becoming too much? Are the plants screaming at you to water them? Is the rodent in the corner looking upset? Perhaps its time to sit down and play Zanga! What’s Zanga you ask? Well Zanga is the demented friend of Janga. Similar in playing style but instead of a tower of blocks you’re playing with nano sized little dots and instead of dismembering a wooden structure, your task is to ensure this magnetic little bunch of balls doesn’t stick together. But where’s the fun in that you ask? Well let me explain. Once those cute little black dots have been released from their individually packaged boxes (imagine the fun trying to find the minuscule release lever!) they love each other so much that they just want to hug and be near their friends. Why would you want to keep such a cuddly little bunch apart you ask? Here comes the fun part! Because once released from their tiny safe boxes, the longer those adorably little balls hug, the closer you come to a experiencing the greatest explosion of your life! That’s right kids, these cuddly little death bringers chemically react the longer they are together (and who said love wasn’t tangible?) and depending where you are, your inapt attempt at playing the game might bring down the whole building or heck, even the entire neighborhood. So remember kids, don’t forget to ask your parents permission to buy Zanga (tell them it’s a video game) and have fun playing with your friends. Please no returns or repeat purchases.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wildlife and Spicy Extra Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

So I had my first excursion into wildlife photography and it went something like this...

Me: Oh look, two ducks. How cute. I think I'll stop and take some pictures.

Ducks: What is she.... I don't think I want to stay around for this (they get up and look at me while taking wild glances towards the water).

Me: Oh, wait. Don't move. Just let me get the window down. Where is that stupid camera.

Ducks: No I defiantly don't like this. (they slowly head towards the pond).

Me: Ah ha! Now where did those ducks go. No, stop moving. Come back. Gosh darn-it!

By now the ducks had made a break for the water and where halfway across the pond. I could really feel the love from those two evil creatures. I've seen some swans around as well, but I'm not quiet brave enough to go towards those large crazy things.

So in place of wild animal pictures, I give you my cat, Mischa.

For some reason she was extremely easy to take a photo of. Usually she's hiding under the bed or runs away when I head towards her.

I've played it safe the last couple of days in the kitchen. One day I made pork chops and ended up drying the heck out of those. It was like eating leather. And last night I made tacos. Even managed not to burn the meat. They turned out great. We ended up trying the refried beans with jalapeños in them and it was delicious! But not as good as the stuffed mushrooms I made the other day.

Recipe for the Spicy Extra Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms pictured above:

1 lb mushrooms
1 small or 1/2 large onion chopped or diced
1 tablespoon jalapeño juice
3 to 4 sliced of jalapeño, diced (I used the jarred stuff)
4 to 5 pieces of chopped or diced bacon
3 ounces of softened cream cheese
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to taste (optional)
1/2 cup of water
Oven: 325 degrees F

Wash and de-stem the mushrooms. Place caps in a bowl off to the side. Chop up the stems. Be sure to cut off dead ends first. Place in bowl off to the side. Chop/dice onion (depending on preference for size) and combine with mushroom pieces. Dice jalapeño up and combine with mushroom onion pieces. Chop/Dice Bacon.

Heat pan to med heat and add bacon (it’s important to note that the type of bacon you buy will severely flavor your stuffed mushrooms. I used plain the first time and maple the second). Cook until almost crispy and remove from pan and place on a paper towel covered plate (Note: leave fat in pan). Dump mushroom/onion/jalapeño mixture into pan with bacon fat and cook until onions are see through/translucent. Remove pan from heat and spoon out vegetables matter onto a paper towel cover plate. Let cool.

In a medium sized bowl, add cream cheese, jalapeño juice and cooled bacon and vegetables. Mix well and salt to taste (I also think adding a hard cheese to the mix would be great ad\nd provide the extra salt required. Will have to try it next time).

Place mushroom tops top side down on a 9x13 pan (I needed two pans for mine). Carefully spoon cream cheese mixture into the open ends of the mushroom caps. Add a 1/2 of water to the pans and place in oven, uncovered. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove and enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wheelchair fencing, Pressure Cooking and a Wedding Insperation Board

Okay, so I slacked off last week. I kept thinking I’ll get to it tomorrow, I’ll get to it tomorrow and I just never did. I’d like to say that last week wasn’t to interesting (not that my life is on a regular basis) but this weekend was. I helped give a beginning class/fencing introduction on wheelchair fencing and it was loads of fun. The kids where nice and really interested in learning about wheelchair fencing.

We ended up at the South Seattle Community center and that was such a beautiful building to begin with. They have jungle gym equipment set up outside where screaming kids played and dogs barked. To top it all off, Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day. It was a bit toasty with the fencing gear on but it was well worth it.

We had about 10 people show up and after a brief demonstration we got them suited up and showed them the basic steps required to fence. It’ll be a challenge to work with each individual and figure out what works best for them and it’s one I can’t wait to pick up. It sounds like a few of the kids where interested in picking up the sport and I can’t wait to see how it all works out. For more information on wheelchair fencing please click here.

Mike decided that he needed a new pair of jeans. So we set out to the South Center Mall after the clinic and had the joy of walking around a crowded mall in an attempt to find a pair of pants that fit the way he wanted but didn’t cost an arm and a leg. We wandered around for a bit before ending up at Buckle where he managed to find a very nice pair of pants that were half off. I don’t know why, but a lot of men’s jeans out there today provide extra room for saddle bag thighs (as I call those types of jeans in women) and he is lean like a string bean.

Afterwards we walked around for another 2 hours before heading over to the Cheesecake Factory where we had the joy of waiting around for an hour and half before being seated at a booth with a chair on the end. What a joy. That’s the second time in a row that we’ve had to wait an excess of an hour to be seated in a cramped booth with a chair on the end. The food was great, although we didn’t get any cheese cake (I’ll have to go later this week), the initial server was great until she went on break and was switched out with another server (also second time in a row) who ignored us most of the time until it was time to collect the check then he was all over our booth.

Sunday we ended up buying a pressure cooker. I’ve never cooked with one before, but I’d been told that you can cook a frozen chicken in it. And although that wasn’t what I initially intended, by the time we came back from looking at shelves (a work in progress to get the books organized) the chicken was still frozen and I thought that I’d give it a try. After reading the instruction manual on how to use the cooker (I’ve never even seen one in motion) I got the recipe ready and prepared the pot.

The instructions I read stated that the frozen chicken should be cooked 1 minute longer per pound then an unfrozen bird, so I figure if I left the bird in the cooker for an extra five minutes that I was good. Well after waiting for it depressurize (sounds so sci fye) I went to pull the chicken out of the cooker and realized that half the bird was still frozen. So I put the lid back on and decided to cook it another 30 minutes just to make sure it was good (going on the assumption that it was half way cooked the same amount of time would be required to finish it). I put the lid back on, turned up the heat and waited another 30 minutes.

When I pulled the pot off the heat I could smell burning and started to freak out a bit. Once I got the lid open I saw that all the vegetables I had on the bottom of the pan had turned black and burned (apparently I forgot to add more water when putting the pot back on). The chicken was only a little dry and the potatoes I made where mostly salvageable. Overall I think that for a first time use, it was pretty successful. After getting everything I could scraped out of the pan I wanted to get a picture of it and share it with you.

Tonight I get to clean it yeay!

So for a frozen chicken about 3 lbs, I’d cook it on med to high setting for 45 to 50 minutes probably about 2 cups of brother/water or a little more (i'm thinking that I might not have had enough water in it as well). Potatoes will survive and be very juicy as since the bird is frozen you’ll have all that fat dripping from the chicken and the potatoes will soak that up (if it's store bought and you didn’t trim before freezing). I can’t wait to try chicken again.

I also made stuffed mushrooms last night and I’m trying it again today. I’ll be sharing the pictures and recipe tomorrow if it turns out as delicious as I think it will.

News on the iPad contest I entered. My submission was accepted (Yeay) and my entry can be viewed here.

This is the other entry I almost submitted but when finding the links, I noticed one of the items had sold. Which was big bummer because this is the one that I was planning on submitting.

Fall 2010 Runway Collection Piece Supastar Clothing -- Black And White Forest Bumple Dress, Esty shop: Supastarclothing, Dress Price: $149.99
Flora Bella, Double Strand Swarovski Pearl Bracelet, Esty Shop: luxedeluxe, Double Strand Bracelet: $72.00 (SOLD 5/5)
Black Tulle Wedge Birdcage Veil with Ostrich Feather Comb/Brooch Pin Combo, Etsy Shop: brendasbridalveils, Black and White Veil: $49.99
Bakers, Was $149.95, now $99.99, Sergeant Pretty Heals: $99.99
Vintage Inspired Pearl Earrings, Etsy shop: Janice Marie, $17.50

Total: $439.43 (with shoes full price/ not allowed to use sale price)(discounted price: $389.43)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cooked Food, Wedding Board and a Book Review

Well I think somewhere down the line today, I might have gotten a various on my computer… what fun! Probably should run a virus check sometime soon.

Well last weekend was a fun experience. Mike and I spent the entire weekend together without one car crash! Yeay. We took his car to a couple of places to have a maintenance check done, mostly to figure out what is wrong with the darn thing that is close to 150k miles. Both places we took it to told us two different things. We jokingly (probably will) said that we should take it to a third store and see what they have to say. Ah, got to love the overpriced car maintenance shops.

It’s pretty windy and cold over here and with the bad weather the south is getting I don’t know if the windstorm we currently are experiencing on the west coast is going to be good for them. It’s weird that it could be sunny and cloudless (a miracle as it is) while this windstorm blows through the northwest. I’ve been trying to get out and get a picture of the ducks that frequent the man made ponds and of course the pool they can’t seem to stay out of. I’ve been a bit lazy (mostly cause it cold) and haven’t grabbed the camera and just walked down the street. It would be my first foray into wildlife photography. I’m excited for the baby ducts to arrive. I just wished I lived a little closure to the ponds.

I decided to compete in a contest where you have to create a wedding inspiration board that costs under $500. To be included: gown, shoes, jewelry/other accessories and veil/headpiece/tiara/hair accessories. More information and how to enter can be found here. It’s both a hard and easy task. I found a bunch of items I like but do they fit together? I’m hoping they do! I have a couple going at once, as I wanted to try it out with a couple of dresses that I found. So I have dresses down, hopefully shoes. Next its jewelry and headpieces. I can’t wait, but I’m kind of late in the game (i.e. just found out about it today and the contest closes tomorrow, the story of my life). I’m really excited about just trying to make an inspiration board that I can’t wait to see what weird stuff I match up!

My foray into food has been interesting so far. At my parents house, I cooked but it was never required every day, three meals a day or heck even once a day. It’s probably been about a month before I moved out that I cooked something that wasn’t cookies (I love those small little bundles of joy). Usually it was breakfast, which can be a real no brainer. Now that I’ve moved out, it's more of a dinner meal with perhaps stuff left over for lunches. I’ve tried chicken and gnocchi (if you want a melty cheese, please keep in mind feta doesn’t melt even if it tastes delicious), I’ve cook a whole chicken (which turned out great! Thanks Anthony Boudain’s for sharing your best chicken cooking friend with us), spaghetti (which apparently needed more salt) and lots and lots of eggs for breakfast (I now have cereal so that stopped the unending torture).

I’ve concocted my very first two week meal plan, portioned out the bulk meat and vegetables we purchased on Sunday (we dropped over $250 in all) and will hopefully see how it goes. I feel just a bit better not having to try and think of dinner items every day that aren’t out of a can. I felt like I was going to repeat spaghetti/chicken/spaghetti/chicken for the rest of my life. Then I realized….I like eating other meats and I only have Mike to worry about, so I can cook what ever I want and he’ll have to eat it (insert evil laugh here). I remembered that there is steak, pork, pheasant, fish, lamb and loads of seafood out there for me to try. I can’t wait! PS- I’d like to honorably mention meatloaf in there as well. I’m so excited, I just hope Mike realizes what’ll soon be gracing his plate.

A book review for you by one of my favorite authors!

Slave to Sensation
By Nalini Singh

The first book in her series about humans with Phy powers, or can change into animals or just plan old humans was a great hit and I absolutely loved it. This book focuses on Sascha Duncan, a cardinal (top level) Psy whose flaw will eventually get her killed and Lucas Hunter, the leader of a pack of changling animals that hate the Psy like nothing else. Forced to work with Duncan, her careful training starts to unravel with every sensual look he throws her way. He needs answers she can provide but he can’t seem to fight the pull she has on him. There lives are forced into a tug of war game that has deathly consequences.

I can’t stress how much I love reading Nalini Singh’s books. She writes strong multilayered main and secondary characters. She introduces an alternate world that was easy to understand and step into. Her rules are brutally honest and at times harsh but never without reason. She’s weaved such a strong back history with just a few paragraphs that the reader in the end has no problem understanding the reasoning behind the characters feelings or flaws.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.