Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review: Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

I wanted to get Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel from the library before we left for Texas so that I would have something to read on the plane. I wanted something funny. Despite what the computers said, the library didn't have it. They had Absurdistan, another book by the same author, so I took it. As I have mentioned before--I am a jew story magnet, so no surprise that the main character in the book is a Russian Jew.

This book is sad and funny. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the change of pace that I really needed after finishing The Dark Tower. Super Sad True Love Story is still on my reading list, along with Psychopath Test, but I need to read a book in Spanish now. I wonder if the library has anything. I don't think I'm up for Love in the Time of Cholera.

Collection: Fountain Pens

My fountain pens is one of my stalled collections. I have about a dozen pens, and I haven't bought one in more than 5 years. The pens all work, but they aren't in great shape. I have some pretty cheapie pens, a couple of Esterbrooks, a couple of Shaeffer's and my Visconti. Before I started working at Hopkins I was practicing my handwriting. I guess I should get back to that.
This is my Visconti fountain pen. I bought it as a graduation present to myself and haven't bought another fountain pen since. I should start using it again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Collection: Handkerchiefs

I've always thought of myself as a collector, but not a very good one. I collect various things, but I don't have a substantial collection of anything. I do have at least a dozen handkerchiefs. I don't just use collect them, I use them, so they aren't all in great shape. I'm not even sure where they all are. I probably have a few hanging in the closet, stuffed in one pocket or another.

I always travel with a perfumed (lavender) hankie. It helps with headaches and nasty smells.

This handkerchief is the latest addition to my collection. I've always wanted a completely embroidered piece like this. I found it in Ross's grandmother's fur muff.

I am always fascinated by what beautiful (and useful) things some people can create with their hands. I think embroidery, cut work, drawn work, tatting, and lace making are dying arts. I'd like to make a beautiful handkerchief some day. Not one this elaborate, but maybe something with ginkgo leaves (one of my obsessions) and a monogram.

Bug on Basil

I'm happy to report that my plants survived our week-long absence. Of course it helped that I brought them inside and Ainsmar watered them. Last night I used some basil and rosemary when I made dinner. I'm thinking that soon I'll have to make some herb-garden mac-n-cheese.

Family Portrait

It rained while we were in El Paso. After a couple nights of rain my mom's sages bloomed. I've never seen them like that before. We decided to take a family photo in front of her largest sage bush. Check out how my toes are pointing up!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dark Tower: Book VII

Just before we left for Texas I finished the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Woohoo! One of my 2011 goals accomplished! It took me less than two years to read all 3,795 pages.

The final book was okay. It sort of had two endings. I was okay with both of them. The first ending left things up to your imagination. If you wanted to you could keep reading and get an actual detail-filled ending. I think I liked the first ending better. Stephen King was in the last book. I found that completely annoying (again). He had an explanation at the end of the book, but no, I didn't buy it.

Now that I have read the entire series I plan to finish reading the graphic novel series. I think Ross has all but one of them electronically. That will be a new experience. I've never read a book or graphic novel on the computer. Ron Howard is interested in turning the series into movies or a TV miniseries. I'm not really interested in that at all, but I will most likely see it if it ever comes to fruition (Universal just backed out of production).

I still highly recommend the first novel in the series: The Gunslinger. I also recommend the first in the graphic novel series: The Gunslinger Born. I'll be sure to blog about the rest of the graphic novel series.

Gargoyles West of Santa Fe: Mirrors

Ross's mother had a mirror collection hanging in her entryway. Most of the mirrors were made by Gargoyles West of Santa Fe. Ross liked the particularly strange ones, not the cute and flowery ones. Our favorite is the frog/eye mirror. We brought seven of the mirrors with us back from Texas.

Yesterday we spent quite a while cleaning them. They were a bit dusty, but it seems that someone also painted something nearby without covering the mirrors or taking them down. All of the mirrors had white paint flecks on them. I was able to get most of them off with my nail. Then I hung the mirrors up in our room.

We are very pleased with our set of mirrors and I think we are both thrilled that they are on display instead of packed up and waiting for us back in Texas (like some of the other things we got from his mother.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lace Nails

I've tried a couple of the Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail polish strips--they were a gift. The first one I tried was the blue glitter. They looked nice, but they were stiff and hard to trim. Last weekend I tried these lace printed strips and they are awesome. They were much easier to trim than the glitter ones. I didn't have any problems with them wrinkling like my friend had. A couple of coats of clear topcoat and they've lasted for over a week. I've got some chips on my right hand, but they still look great. I'll definitely spend the money and buy more of these.

Mudra Monday: Pran Mudra

The card for this mudra says it is the mudra of life and stability. It says this mudra strengthens the eyes and brings inner peace, stamina, and confidence.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jodhaa Akbar

I've had Jodhaa Akbar on my Netflix instant cue for a long time. I hadn't watched it because it is almost three and a half hours long. I had about 4 hours to kill before picking Ross up from the airport, so I decided to finally watch it.

This movie is really beautiful. The scenery, the costumes, the people. Jodhaa Akbar tells an epic story of royalty, war, politics, family, love, betrayal, and religious freedom. The first war scene is brutal and the final battle scene was spectacular. The song and dance numbers weren't ridiculous, but I could have done without them.

If you have the time, definitely check out this movie.

Fried Berry Cobbler

I've made this cobbler with blueberries several times. It is super easy. I recently made it with fresh cherries, and that turned out well too.

Fried Berry Cobbler

4 Tbl. butter
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. milk
2 c. berries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt butter in 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan.
3. In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients. I added cardamom when using blueberries (just a pinch, and almond extract when I made it with cherries.
4. Add milk to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
5. Dump batter into pan. Spread out with the back of a spoon, but do not stir.
6. Spread berries out over the batter. Do not stir.
7. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake part starts to brown.

This is good with milk, ice cream, or whipped cream.

Garden Update

My garden is doing very well so far. This is the first time I've been able to grow sweet basil. I harvested a bunch of it just now and made caprese with the tomatoes and mozzarella I bought today.
I've gotten about a dozen jalapenos from my plants. They are small. I've got to clean them out and slice them up and throw them in the freezer so that they don't go bad.
I noticed these little eggs and bugs on one of the jalapeno plants. They don't seem to be eating my plant up, so I just left them there.

18 Dollars

I took a 20 dollar bill with me to yoga today so that I could go shopping at the farmer's market after yoga. This is what I got for 18 dollars: A huge bunch of chard, yellow onions, tomatoes, apricots, goat cheese, and mozzarella. The cheeses are actually from Trader Joe's.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yoga Yesterday

I was a mess yesterday. I forgot my towels, and I don't think I was well hydrated. I fell over during tripod headstand, and I was unable to hold my regular headstand for very long. I think I was really tired, and the balance and core necessary for headstands was just too much.

What's cool about having the month long yoga pass is that I'm going to different teachers, so I get to do different things. I'd taken a classes with Will before, but it was a very long time ago. He says the names of the poses in sanskrit, and I appreciate that. I also find his voice very soothing. The odd part was his music mix. There would be some Indian music, then some classic rock--like Jimi or The Talking Heads, then maybe some classical piano, then some music with Om Shanti Shanti chanting, then back to classic rock. It was a musical roller coaster. I enjoyed it.

It was a slow class. We held poses for a long time. I was amazed at how long I could hold Warrior I and Warrior II. I guess my legs are getting stronger. My arms were what started to really burn. My deltoids. I guess I'm building up my shoulders too. Even though I was tired yesterday I tried my best not not to do lazy yoga. I tried to keep all my muscles engaged and strong.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

By the Numbers

5 -- number of times I've been to yoga in the last 5 days. I'm taking tomorrow off. I'm beat.
150.5 -- my current weight.
525 -- number of minutes I've exercised in the last 5 days.
4 -- liters of water I've had today.
26.7 -- miles per gallon I got on my last tank of gas. That's more than usual.
3.649 -- price I paid per gallon of gas today.
23 -- bottles of colored nail polish I have.
24 -- number of open blooms that Patty (my violet) has.
60 -- number of workout DVD I have.
421 -- page I'm on in the last Dark Tower book. I have 424 pages left.
1220 -- approximate number of calories I ate today.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Longwood Gardens in Summer

Yesterday Amy and I went to Longwood Gardens to see it in the Summer. It was beautiful of course. The conservatory main hall was better in the Spring. The best part was that I finally got to see the water lily display. I also saw lots of bees hard at work amongst the flowers.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Power Tool

My dentist (the tech actually) recommended that I get an electric toothbrush. I got the Oral-B Triumph. It comes with a wireless display unit. It normally shows the time, but when you brush your teeth it turns into a stopwatch telling you how long you've been brushing. The toothbrush kind of buzzes every thirty seconds to signal that you should move to a different quadrant of your mouth. After two minutes a smiley face appears.

When I first started using the toothbrush it was so funny. I was drooling and splattering toothpaste everywhere. I think over the last month I've finally got the hang of it. I'm now brushing my teeth for two minutes twice a day, and hopefully minimizing plaque build up--and drool.

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Month

Today is the start of a new month. I am now officially unemployed. I'm committing to be super-productive this month. I bought a month long pass to yoga, and I plan on going at least four times a week. I'm going to get in shape and lose some weight. I'm going to work on projects I've been ignoring for a long time. Things I want to do, but I just haven't. I'm going to cook more (and eat less). I'm not going to stress about finding a new job. I'm going to put this month to good use.