Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jaws of Life versus Jaws of Death!

Awwww, isn't Sonic sweet the way he hunkers-down next to St. Francis (patron saint of God's critters) in our backyard? Looks can be deceiving! Earlier today, as I went out to the deck to herd Sonic inside, I saw a tiny green tail dangling from Sonic's lips. I had to pry his mouth open while giving him a very gentle squeeze to liberate a tiny baby chameleon lizard. The lizard dropped to the deck and sat in a daze for a few seconds while I hauled our fourteen-pound Sonic-kitty inside. I watched out the window as the baby lizard shook off her brush with death and skittered away. Sonic stood by the back door and howled for fifteen minutes, wanting to get back out for a rematch. That's not a fair fight, little dude, not at all.

On a semi-related note, I've been tempted lately to give up on my vegetarian lifestyle and eat some meat. Almost every night the scent of grilled meat wafts over from some neighbor's house to my nose, causing visions of cheeseburgers to dance in my head. Last week, Chad was eating chicken tenders and I almost reached over to grab one. But today I saw a dead pigeon and suddenly meat is not at all appetizing anymore. Problem solved.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Craft Club!

It's been a while since my craft club last met, but that lull gave me time to finally finish our last project. I made these cute quilted coasters. The Amy Butler fabric is leftover from my quilt class project. The fabric and the quilt class were courtesy of Craft-o-rama.

Make your own quilted coasters with this link to the Martha Stewart website.

Janie + Kenji = Furry Friends

Kenji, our scrappy Siamese-mix kitty loves her Janie-dog. Kenji is very at ease with Janie, and likes to relax in the same area with Janie. This despite the fact that Kenji weighs nine pounds and Janie weighs a healthy forty-six pounds.

Our other two cats will walk near Janie and like to sniff Janie when she's sleeping, but they don't hang out with Janie the way Kenji does.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Chad Does at Work

(Click the triangle to play the video.) The part of Chad is being played by the designer guy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Old Enough to Know Better, Young Enough to Not Care

My weekend was delightfully busy. I'm worn out from fun. Saturday after a few chores, I went to book club, and later raced over to West Campus to be an extra for a movie. I don't want to jinx anything, but the movie is feature-length and the crew is very professional and well-organized, so maybe the movie will get released and maybe my parts will make it into the final cut. I was part of a kickball team on Tuesday for this movie, and part of several party scenes for this movie Saturday night. My fellow-actors Saturday night ranged in age from 16 to 24. I did my best to blend in and not call attention to my advanced age. I wore a cute shirt from Alloy (one of those clothing catalogs aimed at teenage-girls) that the wardrobe person loved.

I let my extra/actor cohorts do most of the talking between takes on the movie set. I smiled and nodded and said "cool" and "awesome" to their cute, naive chatter. It was refreshing to hang out with the youngsters. I even got invited to a college party at the 21st Street Coop. Around 2:00 AM, one of the teenage girls had to call her mom to check-in and assure her mom that she was still safely on the movie set, and that no one was consuming alcohol. (No one was. The insurance policy for the film cast and crew doesn't allow any alcohol consumption. See? Very professional group.) One of the kids I had been talking to was a 22-year-old bartender for Chuy's and he started discussing fake IDs and policies regarding age and alcohol. Then he asked how old everyone was. I tried to shirk the question, but he was dogged about finding out my age. I finally confessed, "I'm 35." This was met with audible gasps and "no way"s. The group consensus was that they thought I was older, like 23 or 24, but had no idea I was 35. "You just blew my mind," said the 20-year-old who had been hitting on me earlier.

Thank you, teenage-girl clothing catalogs. Thank you, dim lighting. Thank you, sunscreen. Thank you, Monica at Maximum FX, for my youthful and flattering haircut. And thanks especially to my sweet husband who puts up with my youthful shenanigans, such as staying out half the night dancing in West Campus to be an extra in a movie.

Sunday was busy too with fun potluck brunch plans, an audition that went well, a trip to Deep Eddy Pool, a call to the AC service people (ugh), and lots of hand-watering of wilting plants.

Hooray (and thank goodness) for my lazy Monday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

5 Things I'm Loving Lately

1. The Mediterranean Mezza Salad from Central Market, although I pick off the dolmas (stinky, blech) and black olives (also stinky, blech). Is it weird to have a crush on a salad?

2. Matt & Nat Purses and Wallets, no animals harmed in the making of these fashionable accessories. My latest acquisition is being delivered soon!

3. Carolina Liar's song I'm Not Over, every time this song comes on the radio I turn up the volume and rock-out like the doofus I am.

4. Wearing a size 6. Yes, I've met my goal of breathing room in a size 6. Just 3 more pounds to hit my goal weight.

5. Buffalo Exchange for giving new life to my now-too-big clothes and giving me some spending money.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

We're No Winos

Elsa with her daughters on the terrace at Villa San Andrea

Me in the nice, cool wine cellar at Villa San Andrea

Chad and I are not fine wine connoisseurs. Most wines just taste yucky to me, grape juice gone bad, except for the white sparkling variety such as champagne or prosecco, but even then I prefer my bubbly on the sweet/asti side. Chad likes some reds reasonably well, but he can't name a region or varietal or vintage preference. So why would we pay to go on a tour of two wineries in the Tuscan hills outside of Florence? Because we wanted to see the Tuscan countryside and get away from the bustle and shuffle of Florence. As the tour van wound through some parkland and hills, Florence looked more scenic from a distance.

Our first stop was Villa San Andrea. The lush landscape of the place sprawled gorgeously across 1300 acres. The old houses, church and wine cellar oozed charm. The air was so fresh and fragrant with lavender blossoms, that it almost tasted of relaxation. The various wines fermented in giant old oak barrels housed in a pleasantly cool subterranean chamber. I even liked some of the wines we tasted. When people speak of Tuscany, this is the happy place that my brain will reference. Aaaahhh...

A little too soon (I could have spent a week Villa San Andrea), we were off to our lunch destination down a dusty, bumpy, narrow dirt road. Our fearless tour leader, Elsa, assured us that the food would be well-worth the journey. Elsa never steered us wrong. The restaurant spilled out of a tiny old house to giant picnic tables under shady, vine-covered pergolas. I never thought I'd pine for pickled purple onions, but they were delicious! The roasted garlic was smooth and non-stinky, the perfect companion to the rustic bread and fresh tomatoes. The fresh-made fettuccine with walnut sauce made my eyes roll back. I said, "mmmmmmm" aloud as I tried the ricotta-filled ravioli with white truffle shavings. The big Tuscan broad beans with olive oil and sea-salt were simple, but scrumptious. All the above were vegetarian dishes, like me. You'll have to ask Chad how the meaty stuff was. Elsa told us that she waits for this meal all year. (She only visits the Florence/Tuscan region once a year.)

Our next stop was the Panzanello Winery. While the land for this winery dated back to the same family for over 400 years, the buildings were all new and had that new smell. I should disclose that I loathe new-house-smell and new-car-smell. That's why my house is old and my cars are always previously-owned. So I was a bit dissatisfied by the scent/bouquet of this winery from the get-go. The wine here doesn't soak in the giant old oak barrels. The wine here soaks in new, small barrels for just a few weeks. It also doesn't age as long in the bottle before shipping out to market. None of the wine here tasted good to my less-than-refined palette. However, the owners of the place were super-nice and the winery is a recognized organic farm. Don't let my opinion prevent you from buying their wine.

That was our last day in Italy. The next morning, we were at the Florence airport bright and early for our flight out. We got delayed in Frankfurt for an hour by an organized labor union slow-down, which isn't a full strike, but shows how the airport could quickly come to a stand-still should a full strike occur. Those uber-efficient Germans got it all out of their system and got the show on the road after just an hour! Eight hours later, we landed in Washington D.C. to find our next flight delayed by three hours. By the time we finally pulled into our driveway in Austin, we'd been awake for twenty-six hours. Yikes.