Monday, December 31, 2007

I am feeling ambitious today

Today is my last day of winter break from work.

I have done a fair amount of cooking this past week, and I have so enjoyed it.
I rarely get this much time to just make a good, easy dinner more than two nights in a row.
And the manfriend has enjoyed my break, too. He is the beneficiary of all these meals.

Since I have been in a cooking groove, I decided that the best way to use my time today will be to stock my freezer with some more yummy things.

So I am making more twice-baked potatoes. Last night, I thawed and baked the two halves I had leftover from Christmas and they came out so great. I have three potatoes to work with there, so that will be six portions of hearty potato goodness. I could eat just one of those and a salad and be happy.

I have no real recipe for these, I just make them how I remember my mom making them when I was a kid. This works great if you make baked potatoes and have some leftover. This time around I specifically baked the taters to make these.

This recipe has no real measurements. It is all about adding stuff until it tastes good to you.
  • Bake the potatoes, let them cool, then cut them in half and scoop out the inside, saving the skins to be restuffed.
  • Then I mix the scooped potato with some butter, shredded cheese and and sliced green onion or chives. If I want them to be extra decadent, like I did for Christmas, I add some sour cream to the mix. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Then restuff the skins with the potato mixture, sprinkle a bit more shredded cheese on top and bake once again until they are hot and the cheese on top is melty and golden.
Health food they are not. But if you need a good portion of comfort food, these fill the bill.

I also am making some more of the creamy red pepper soup that I like so much. I used the last little freezer bag of it last night as a starter to a simple supper of baked salmon, potatoes and salad that I made for the manfriend. I was reminded of how much I like it, so I need to make more.

It is a Giada DeLaurentis recipe. It is quite easy and tasty. It makes a great dinner-party starter or a nice simple dinner when paired with a salad or a sandwich.
I make a couple changes to this soup:
  • I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I think it works well with the overall flavor of the soup. Plus it keeps it vegetarian. I am not a vegetarian, but I have some friends who are and it is nice to be able to serve them this soup.
  • I also omit the mascarpone cheese. I am not a huge fan of mascarpone. And in this soup I use a touch of sour cream for the creaminess it needs. Fat-free works just fine.
I decided to make some chili to keep in the freezer. No special recipe for this. I just find my favorite seasoning blend at the market and follow the directions. Usually I do end up with beans and meat in my chili. I know for some people this is sacrilegious. My chili tends more toward to spicy and tangy than the sweet.

Finally, I will be making an arroz con pollo (Cuban style chicken and rice) for dinner tonight and the work potluck tomorrow.
I will experiment with a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen. I think this is my new favorite blog right now.

I will modify this dish by making the chicken in the slow cooker. And I am using only boneless, skinless chicken breast. I want a nice, lean dish. Plus I hate funky chicken parts and the way the skin gets when it stews. Gross.

And I am omitting the chorizo. Mostly because I think it will be hard to find. Plus I know I like it, but I am not sure how the work people will feel about the sausage. So out it goes. I am sure it will be tasty anyway.

I also will do some simple black beans. I probably will just get the canned type and dress them up with some extra onion and herbs. I am not sure yet if I will do this for the potluck, too.

Finally, my last part for this meal will be some fried plantains. These are so good and really easy to make. These will not be part of my potluck meal. I am thinking they will not reheat well, especially since I will only have access to a microwave.

Well, I think I have my shopping list set, so I should get moving while the day is still young.

I will try to remember to take some pictures of all this culinary activity. This will be a really great workout for my kitchen.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Time to get motivated again

So I was doing pretty good with the whole idea of getting stuff accomplished at home without stressing myself out about it.
I did grocery shopping on the day before Christmas Eve to get me through the better part of my time off.
I made a yummy smoked salmon pasta with vodka cream sauce that night for dinner.
I have been whittling down the giant pile of dirty laundry in my garage.
I roasted a chicken for dinner Christmas Eve and made mashed potatoes and roasted squash medley.
I made a big pot of chicken and rice soup the other night for dinner (using the leftover chicken) and put a bunch of single portions in the freezer for later.
I have cleaned all the rooms but the office / spare bedroom.
I made food for the various Christmas gatherings.
I am slowly working on reclaiming my garage.
I painted outlet covers so I can put those in the kitchen.
I went to IKEA and got some curtains for the kitchen (not to mention some other impulse buys. Damn you, IKEA!)
I paid some bills.
I mowed the grass in the back yard.
I did various other chores, errands and tasks.

Then yesterday afternoon upon returning home from IKEA and my other errands, I just could not get motivated to do anything.
I figured it was just one afternoon and it IS my vacation. I am entitled to goof off for an afternoon.
Of course then I stayed up too late last night and slept until 10:45 this morning.
I do blame part of that on the electric blanket.
It keeps me so warm I do not want to get out of bed.

So now it is almost 11:30 and I have done pretty much nothing more than feed the cat. And that was just so he would pipe down so I could enjoy my tea in peace.

I need to get up off my rear and get moving. If I get started by noon, I can get the last of the painting done in the kitchen and get the outlet covers in place.

Which means I should go now. I have only 30 more minutes to slack.

I should go look at the mess that is my garage. Maybe that will get me motivated. I really want to be parking in there again by Jan. 1.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Movie recommendation

I don't usually offer up suggestions for movies to people.

I like what I like, but I don't go to a lot of movies and I don't rent a lot of movies.

When I was at the video store Christmas Eve picking out a few things to watch over my break, I was really just not interested in a lot of what they had.

But this one jumped out at me.

"The Hoax" starring Richard Gere.

Now Gere is OK. I have no particular like or dislike of him. He has done some good work and some bad work.

But the story was what interested me.

It is the story of Clifford Irving, the author who convinced McGraw-Hill that he was writing an authorized biography of Howard Hughes.

This all took place in the early 1970s. So I was a baby and do not actually remember it.

The movie is based on Irving's own book, "The Hoax," which details the scam.

In addition to Gere, the cast includes Marcia Gay Hardin as his wife, Alfred Molina as the bumbling co-conspirator, Hope Davis as his editor and McGraw-Hill and Stanley Tucci as the head of the publishing house.

There are also good, smaller performances by Julie Delpy and Zeljko Ivanek. I have seen Ivanek in several things and think he is a good, underrated actor.

There is a great exchange between Gere's Irving and Ivanek's Ralph Graves of Life magazine.

The movie is from 2006, which shows you how behind I am with movie watching.

Anyway, it is told in a funny yet serious way. And it really is a interesting story of how this one guy roped in his friend and his wife in order to perpetrate his fraud on the world, which at that time was fascinated with the reclusive Hughes.

If you have not seen this movie and want something with a great story, I would say get "The Hoax." It is one of those movies you have to really watch though.

It has fast-paced dialogue and a lot of the story is about how Irving juggled all the lies.

It makes me want to go get his book now to find out more.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


A few days ago Sona tagged me to post seven things about me. So here I go.

I have done a couple of these before, so I apologize if I repeat something I have used in the past.

1. I have a 38-inch inseam, which makes it tough to find pants. I buy my jeans online and I wear a lot of skirts to work.

2. I would never make it as a vegetarian.

3. I have a serious addiction to cookbooks.

4. I watch a soap opera. Just one. I know. It's shameful. But it makes for good, mindless background while I clean house.

5. I don't have a junk drawer. I have a junk closet. Again, shameful.

6. I have never lived in New England, but I root for the Patriots. And it began before Tom Brady and before they starting winning Super Bowls.

7. I cannot listen to Willie Nelson without crying. It just reminds me too much of dancing with my dad. He liked to do the two-step.

I am not going to tag anyone specifically. But if anyone wants to do this, that would be great.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry and Bright

I have been going around for days with a Christmas song in my head:

Oh by gosh, by golly
It's time for mistletoe and holly...

OK. Not the whole song. Just that line, over and over.
Surprisingly, this has not annoyed the crap out of me yet.

It is about 7:30 on Christmas morning.
Right now I am making bacon to take for breakfast at my sister's house.
I am doing it in the oven according to a recipe I have for "sweet and spicy" bacon.

Then I will go to my sister's house. It will be me, her, her hubby, the 16-month-old baby, my aunt and her kids (at least two of the three) and my mom. I am not sure if my uncle is going or not.

We will eat breakfast. My sister is making French toast casserole using pane tonne. Nice.

We will open the gifts. Mostly meaning we will sit around and watch the kids open their gifts. Mostly meaning we will watch the baby rip open packages and then ignore the toys to play with the boxes.

I got the baby a couple small things. One of them is a book, one is a toy.

I also get to watch my sister open her birthday present. And since I don't think she will be looking here this morning, I can tell you that it is a digital picture frame.

I preloaded it with pictures of her baby, pictures of us as kids, pictures of my parents.

Her husband said it will make her cry, then it will make my mom cry, then it will make me cry.
He is probably right on all counts. Though I might cry before any of them.

After that gathering, I will come home and finish making twice-baked potatoes for the dinner at my aunt's house. I baked them once already and made the filling. I need to restuff them and then I will bake them the second time at my aunt's.
It's been a nice couple of days being off work and I am really looking forward to the next week of being off work. This is my REAL Christmas gift to myself. Just the chance to get my crap all in one pile before the year ends and to not feel rushed and pressured about it.

I hope everyone else has as nice a day as I will. I will be exactly where I want to be today, and I hope you get to do the same. And if not, I hope you at least get to be with people who can make your day a little merrier.

(That is me on the right in that picture. My sister is on the left. Circa... 1976?? Which would put me at about 5 and my sister about 8. I wish my mom had written dates on the back of photos.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas vacation, just like when I was a kid

Woo hoo! Today is my last day of work this year.
It feels like when you are a kid and you get time off school for the holidays.
We do a raffle at work to decide who has dibs on holiday weeks.
If you win you can take as much or little of that week as you want.
The number of tickets you get is based on how long you have worked here.
I had four tickets. That is the minimum number of tickets.
I spread them around last year and got nothing.
This year I put all my tickets on Christmas.
Which I won.
The only downside is that means next year I am not eligible for the raffle. That is just one of the rules.
Oh well.
But starting tonight at about 7:30, I will be off until Jan. 1.
I really don't mind working New Year's day. I don't have to be in until noon. Plus it is usually pretty quiet in the office.
My plan for the time off is to finish all those final kitchen details that got pushed and pushed and pushed back until now.
I also will have Christmas with the whole family, maybe make a couple nice dinners in there somewhere, relax, try to get in a little culture or fun ... maybe a museum.
It's pretty unstructured at this point and I am so looking forward to that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The old cat

So I took Lucy to the vet today after many days of her sneezing and wheezing. She has a cold.
The best part was she sneezed and this big, slimy, green boog went flying out of her nose and landed on the vet's arm.
I said "Sorry, but I am really glad that didn't land on MY arm."
The vet said "I am really glad it didn't land on my FACE."

Wrapping it all up

Well, I managed to get all my adopt-a-family shopping done in one fell swoop.
And I managed to do it without calling anyone a dirty name or losing my patience.

And I think I did pretty good by 'em.

I got the boy (2 1/2 years old) three good toys, including a learning toy thing, a airport set and a wooden train set. He also gets the dinosaur pajamas and three outfits.

For the mom I got a couple sweaters, a perfume set and a soft, fleece robe.

I did all the shopping Sunday and wrapped it up and delivered it Monday.

It looks like a pretty decent haul, huh?

Now all I need to do is find a small gift for my nephew and I am done.

It really felt good to get all the gifts wrapped and delivered. I'm not sure it put me more in the holiday mood. I mean, I still have no inclination to make Christmas cookies (which is odd for me), but it did leave me with a very good feeling.

Oh and I got a gift for my sister's birthday, which is today.
I cannot say what it is yet because I probably won't see her until Christmas and she read this. So I don't want to give away the surprise. But it is pretty cool. I think she will love it.

That pretty much was my weekend. It was a good mix of chores and laziness.

Oh and I made dinner for the manfriend last night:
Napa cabbage slaw with a sweet, tangy sesame dressing
Mashed potatoes with a hint of wasabi and sour cream
Grilled pork tenderloin marinated in ponzu, honey, five spice, chili paste and sesame oil.

And yeah, I grilled it outside on the barbecue. It was pretty nice yesterday, so I figured what the heck, I will barbecue.

Another reason to love California: barbecue in December.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Season's Greetings

I really did plan on making and sending Christmas cards this year.
It just got by me.
Last year and the year before I made two styles of cards. One was fun and flirty and one was sedate and serene.
I think I made about 70 total. And yes, I have that many people on my card list.
This year I have managed to make one card.
Not style of card.
One actual card.
It's nice, huh?
I made it for the monthly stamping/eating group I am in. We all bring cards, we all bring a dish. We stamp, we eat.
It looks better up close because you can see the two shades of green on the leaves and sentiment.
I double stamped them in a light green and a dark green over it. The light green makes a shadow effect.
There also is some glittery stuff on the leaves that does not pick up in the photo. Oh well.
You get the idea.
I think that I should start now to make my cards for next year.
But then I figure I would just put them in a place where I would not be able to find them next year.
Or when I did find them I would think they were ugly. And by then it would be December and I would once again not have the time or inclination to make cards.
Maybe I should start at Halloween.
OK. I am out. Time to go to work.
Finally, my Friday.

Routine maintenance

Things have been quite busy at work and, of course, the chores never stop at home.
I had my house cleaned this past Monday and it was great. But there is still the daily maintenance to keep it looking so nice.
I am the type to come in the door, set my bag on the first horizontal surface, kick off my shoes and change into pajamas.
Which means there is usually stuff that must be put back where it belongs.
I also have the cats, which means a lot of sweeping and cat-hair hunting.
So far I am doing an OK job with the upkeep.
I want this to last at least until February. And at the rate days have been passing lately, the end of February will be here next week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ugly, inappropriate and just plain weird

That was the order for last night's event.

It was the annual ornament exchange my aunt organizes.

This is great fun and if you have a group of bawdy women friends who will get into the spirit of it, I highly recommend it.

It is a nice break to the madness of this season.

It started several years back as a way for a bunch of women to get together at a restaurant (that way none of us has to cook or clean up), have dinner, have a couple drinks and exchange a pretty ornament.

Somehow it evolved.

There is still the dinner.

There is still the drinking.

But the ornaments are no longer pretty.

The goal is to bring the ugliest, strangest or most inappropriate thing you can find.

The only caveat it that it must be an actual ornament.

It cannot just be some ugly knick knack with a hook on it.

Last year I got a 7-inch tall nun that is covered in glitter and holding a banner that read "Joy to the World." Only the ends of the banner look like sharp, torture-device type objects.

So the way it works is like a gift-exchange game. Everyone takes a number. The first person chooses a wrapped ornament and opens it.

The next person can either take that ornament or choose another wrapped ornament.

It continues that way.

If an ornament is taken, the person from whom it was taken can take from another person or choose another wrapped ornament.

The only rule is that an ornament can only be swiped twice, then it is out of play.

Last year was the first year I was able to participate since before that I always worked Monday nights. It was so much fun and I got to meet a lot of great people.

Even the waitress was getting into it and commenting on how much fun we were having.

So when I saw this snail ornament after Christmas last year, I went ahead and bought it thinking ahead to this year.

I bought it at Anthropologie for $3. Normal price had been $6. I saw one on eBay last night and they wanted $15. Crazy.

Everyone agreed that while it was not really inappropriate, it was borderline ugly and definitely odd.

My mom ended up taking the snail home.

I, after careful consideration, ended up with this crazy Santa/elf thing that my mom brought.

The box said it was a "Hand-painted Collectible."

He appears to be sitting, legs akimbo, holding something in his lap.
It looks like a plate of gingerbread men.

And, coming right out of the middle of his crotch area is a very springy spring with a gingerbread man attached to the end.

It is quite phallic and inappropriate. I knew I must have it.

My only dilemma was choosing between him and the Santa dressed in camouflage and carrying a hunting rifle.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A bright spot in a gray day

It has been gray and dreary and cold (for Southern California) here for the past couple of days.
It was breezy when I left home at around noon and the roads were packed with cars.
I guess it is people out doing holiday stuff, but the traffic on the surface streets was awful.
It took me 25 minutes to go 6 miles to the freeway.
From there it only took 25 minutes to go the other 30 miles to work.
Drivers were just being so rude and stupid.
I really was glad to get to work just to be off the roads.
Of course, I would rather have been home with a fire in the fireplace and some soup bubbling on the stove.
Oh well. Maybe tomorrow after stamping.
Anyway, a few hours into work someone came over and said there was a great rainbow. We could see it from the window.

But I wanted a better view.
So I grabbed my camera and went to the top of the parking structure.
It was HUGE. It was a full arc over the whole sky. It was too big to all fit in the shot.
And you could see the full double-rainbow effect.
It was just beautiful.
I thought I got five or six shots off, but when I downloaded them there was only one.
But while I was outside one of the staff photographers came out and tried to get a shot, but the clouds had shifted and the rainbow was gone.
So my one shot ended up as a small photo on our local section cover and as the lead photo on our Web site.
At least until some other news breaks to replace it.
Well, I must be off now.
Stay warm, stay dry and stay safe.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I give you pots

I tried to do this yesterday, but I was having trouble getting photos to post.
I have been a slacker about posting more of the Descanso photos.
Mostly I have been a slacker in general. I have a ton of stuff to get done at home and, of course, I blew it all off over my weekend.
OK. So I got a couple small things done. But not the amount that would make the weekend seem productive.
And it's not like I was out doing all these fabulous, fun things. I was just frittering my time away at home.
Whatever. There is always this weekend to be productive.
I decided that for my Christmas present to myself, I will hire a couple people to come in and clean the house from top to bottom.
I did that at my birthday a couple years ago and it was great.
I think I will give myself this gift a little early so that I can really enjoy it while I am off work over Christmas week.
In fact, I think I will call right after I get done here.
So let's get on with it.
From Descanso: I give you pots.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The right pajamas can really get me in the mood

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone and it is December (wow, already??), I can finally accept that Christmas is just around the corner.
Forget the holiday decorations that go up the day after Halloween.
Forget all the ways retailers try to lure us into stores to overspend and prop up their fourth-quarter earnings.
Forget the $50 Christmas trees being hawked from the Home Depot parking lot, at the supermarket and from any vacant lot in town.
I called the Volunteer Center last week for adopt-a-family. For me, Christmas fun now starts.
The Volunteer Center works by taking your information and matching you with another group to find a family.
I asked that it be a single parent (mother or father is fine with me) with one child.
They hooked me up with a local office of the Exceptional Children's Foundation.
My family is a single mother with a 2-year-old son.
I was told that he likes Blue's Clues, Thomas the Train and Legos. They also gave me his sizes.
For the mom, they told me sizes and that she can use clothes and that she likes perfume.
OK. It was not the detailed wish list I got last year.
But I can work with that. I already have some ideas.
And yesterday while I was at Costco, I saw some cute fleece pajamas with a dinosaur theme. Kids cannot have too many sets of PJs, so I grabbed a pair of those.

I was not really in the Christmas mood, but that gave me a little boost.
I also will buy for my nephew. He was just a few months old last Christmas. I think he will be overwhelmed by it all at first, but then jump right into the pile under the tree.
What better way to get in the mood for Christmas than by shopping for two little boys?
And knowing that I can help make the day extra special for at least one little family is the best gift I give myself every year.

Not to sound preachy, but if there is even the smallest thing that can be done for someone else this time of year, I encourage people to do something.
It doesn't have to be much.
Buy a toy for Toys for Tots. Donate to a food drive at a local church or food bank. Find a group that sponsors Santa for a Senior programs.
Even the smallest thing can make the holiday so much happier for someone.

OK. I'm coming down off my high-horse now.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's all in the details

More pictures from Descanso. I told you I took a ton. I can't believe no one else in my group brought a camera. I am the type who takes my camera everywhere. OK. Here we go...

Potheads. Loved those. They were selling them in the gift shop. Of course I didn't buy one. I just took a picture.

The sundial was not actually doing anything in the way of telling time since it was a bit overcast that day. But I like how copper gets that verdi gris effect over time.

This next set is my favorite. I am not that big on the whole statue when it comes to statuary photos. I take a full on shot for reference, but I dig the details of something like this. I like the hands, the folds of her dress, the vine she is holding. Those are much more beautiful than the piece as a whole, at least for me.

OK. I am off to get ready for work. It is a beautiful, clear and windy day here and yesterday's torrential rains. I would love to be out in this today, but alas it is only my Friday.

Everyone else will just have to get out and enjoy the day for me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I got a rabbit, it likes to hop...

I did a little work sealing tile yesterday before heading to the office. I may do more today.

Or I may put in the baseboards.

I need to have more tea and see how I feel.

I may just end up finally reading the Sunday papers.

Anyway, here is more from Sunday's trip to Descanso Gardens.

Yeah, they got bunnies.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I got a red Japanese tea pot...

I've been wanting to go to tea at the Japanese tea house at Descanso Gardens for a while.

So I did on Sunday. My mom, sister, aunt, uncle and my uncle's new wife all went, too.

It was a beautiful, clear day. An L.A. fall day. It was not too cold, not too hot. Just sunny and clear with a light breeze.

We had our tea, then walked around the gardens.

I love places like the Huntington and the Arboretum.

But what I really liked about Descanso was that while it was cultivated, there was still a wildness about it.

Our tea started with them bringing out cups of the dried tea. We had descriptions of each tea and could smell the dried teas and decide.

They all smelled great. I ended up with Jasmine Pearle tea.
Then we had soup, a small plate of sushi, shrimp, salad and chicken sandwich.

Finally we had a trio of little sweets.
It was all very good and a nice light lunch before our walk.

Anyway, I will quit now with the commentary and just post the photos. I took a lot of pictures, so I am going to parcel them out over the next few days.
Today is just tea.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

One-track mind, I know

I swear, I will write about something other than tile and grout soon.

It is really just all-consuming right now.

Fresh grout looks a lot like pancake batter

When I got home from work Thursday, the manfriend had grouted all the tile behind the cooktop and half the tile under the glass-door cabinets.


I thought it looked pretty freaking awesome before, but with the grout it really is beautiful.

The first shot here is the dramatic night shot with the hood lights making it all pretty.

The second shot is the part of the wall that is half done.

So you can see the difference in how it looks good and how it looks great.

Then when I got home from work Friday, he had pretty much completed putting up the tile above the hood. He had left only five small pieces that required tricky cuts, but it got too dark to be outside with the tile saw.

This morning he finished those five pieces.

The photo at left shows the bottom with grout, the top without grout.

My task was to mix up another batch of grout and start putting it on the wall behind the sink.

I used a grouting bag, which just looks like a giant pastry bag like you use to decorate cakes. It seemed liked this might be a better way than using a grout float since it would put the grout just in the grout line and minimize the amount that got on the tile.

It was pretty easy except for having to hunch over under the cabinets to see what I was doing.

After the grout had a few minutes to set up a bit, MF started to smooth it out and work it a little.
Then he cleaned the tiles up with some water and a sponge.

He was working on that when I left for work today.

I think the part I will have left to finish over my weekend will be the other half of the wall under the glass-door cabinets and the part above the hood.

He said he might seal that tile today so it would be all ready to go.

Then I have to go over everything again to give the grout a good seal.

There also are some tricky areas around the window frame that I need to ponder.

It seems like this project will not end.

I am still waiting for the workers to come back and fix one last thing with the faucet.

There was a bad part, the diverter part that stops the water from coming out the faucet when I press the button for the sprayer hose.

I just have to keep nagging I guess.

The other reason I want them to finish is so they can take the lockbox off my door.

I have had a couple neighbors ask me if I am selling my house and the real estate agent with the listing across the street asked how much I was listing it for and when I was doing showings.

Um, no. Not for sale.

But it is good to know there is such interest and that my neighbors are paying attention and keeping such a close eye on things.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful for...

I worked Thanksgiving. But that is fine.
It gives me a chance to earn some OT. And for that I am thankful.
I'm thankful for a few other things.
Things like a family that I can count on no matter what. A family that loves me and doesn't judge me in spite of my many faults and foibles.
I am also thankful for my friends, both online and in the real world. They make me think, they make me laugh.
I really don't want to get maudlin.
I really just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving.
Be well, be happy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tile ain't so tough

With help Sunday from the manfriend, I got the tile up behind the stove and on the wall where the new glass-door cabinets are.

It went pretty fast with two of use working, but since we didn't start until almost 1 p.m., there was not time to do the wall behind the sink.

The tiles are 3x6 inch hand-glazed ceramics from Sonoma Tile in a color called Damask.

I ordered it at Classic Tile in Hermosa Beach and it took exactly a month to arrive. The people at Classic Tile were very friendly and knowledgeable and they had an amazing selection.

I felt like what I was ordering was so mundane compared with some of the displays they had.

But the tile looks great on the walls.

There is some fine crackling in the glaze and some color variations. I like that.

I think it gives the tile more dimension than if it was all perfectly the same color.

The only thing was that there also were slight variations in size. So the grout lines, as best we tried to keep them perfectly straight, will not be.

Oh well.

I am fine with that.

I sealed the stove and cabinet walls yesterday and then set about doing the sink wall.

Yep. All by myself.

I no longer fear the wet saw.

Of course it was still a bit daunting. I have never done this by myself before and at $17 a square foot, I really didn't want to mess it up.

It's not like I could run out to the Home Depot and buy more tile if I ran out because I miscut a bunch.

I do have a fair amount of tile left. The manfriend thinks I should go ahead and tile all the way up behind the hood.

It would be much more dramatic that way. But those diagonal cuts at the top of the hood might be tough.

First I would need to measure very carefully to make sure I even have enough tile to do that space. It was not factored into my order, but I gave myself a large cushion for mistakes that didn't happen.

Then I would need to be so, so, so careful not to miscut anything because I wouldn't have a lot of leftover tile to play with there.

Anyway, it took me about the same amount of time to do the one wall by myself as it took the two of us to do the two walls. Seems logical.

So I didn't get any grouting done.

But it will get done. Maybe by next Monday.

I think it looks awesome. It will look even better once the bright white grout is in and I paint the trim moldings and back door a bright white.

Overall, I am pretty darn pleased with my tile and with myself.
Click here to see what the kitchen used to look like and a picture of the inspiration kitchen.
I think it stacks up pretty nicely compared to the inspiration kitchen. What do you think?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not a bad way to spend the morning

Some of you know that I work Saturdays and odd hours and holidays and all that fun stuff.

It could be better, but it could be worse. Right now I have Sundays and Mondays off work.

At my last job I had Fridays and Saturdays off. Better.

When I first started this job I had Mondays and Tuesdays off. Worse.

But I generally like my job as an editor/page designer. I find it interesting.

I like that while the job itself may stay pretty much the same, the content does not. It helps keep the job fresh.

I also like that I do not have an inbox. Nothing piles up in my desk. When I leave work at the end of the day, I know my job is finished and I get to come in and start fresh the next day.

The series of deadlines also works well for me. Give me two weeks to finish a project and I am likely to wait until Day 12 to start on it. It will be done right, but I will procrastinate.

Give me a series of deadlines to meet throughout the shift and I will pretty much beat every one of them.

It's kind of like a sprint rather than a marathon. And since I tend to be competitive, it's a great fit for me.

Typically I work from noon to about 8 p.m. Not bad hours compared to the 3 to 11 p.m. I used to work.

It still gives me plenty of time in the morning to wake up around 8:30 or 9, make tea, have some toast and check in on the news.

It also usually gives me time to get a chore done at home or to run an errand before work.

Then, when I leave work, I can come home and have dinner. Sure it is about 9 p.m. by the time I eat dinner. But I am almost always up until at least 1 anyway.

So what have I done with my morning so far:


English muffin


watched a show I had recorded

cleaned up after cats

a load of towels

painted my toenails


Not bad at all considering it isn't even 11 yet.

Now I am off to get ready for work. I need to hurry though.

I still have to stop on the way to get gas and buy groceries for tonight's dinner.

Enjoy the weekend all!
(picture is from a trip to Yosemite a few years ago)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Something for Sona

Sona over at Sona Says has a thing for lighthouses.

But can you blame her? What other thing that is so practical has such a whimsy and romance about it?

This photo was from my trip to Savannah for the SND conference a few years ago.

I took a day trip out to Tybee Island, Ga., and found the Tybee Island Light Station.

And yes, I climbed all those stairs to the top.

How could I not? It was a beautiful, clear and windy day. It was perfect.

Pretend sometimes

So I went to the stamp convention Sunday in Carson.

According to my friends, this used to be much bigger, but it still seemed like a lot of vendors to me.
I ended up buying a few things. Surprise, surprise.

But I did try to keep that in check. Mainly I wanted to look at the ideas there. And I wanted to find something that would make me try something new.

So that new thing is going to be watercoloring and using pastels. I don't do too much of that now and it seems a bit labor intensive for making a lot of cards. So I probably wouldn't use it for Christmas cards, but maybe for swaps of 10 or fewer or for cards I make specifically to give to someone.
Anyway... here are some photos of a few of the things I bought:

I have no idea what I am going to do with this one. I don't usually work with stamps of this style. The samples I have seen tend to be very detailed and embellished and, well, somewhat over the top for me.

But I like the little guy with his funny wings.

And I like that the sentiment is "Pretend sometimes."

The stamp is from Stampers Anonymous.

I got all these at a booth called Savvy Stamps.
The dot background stamps will be pretty good for many occasions and types of cards. The poinsettias were just pretty and they had some nice examples of how to use them.

They had a ton of stamps, all on the small side, which I like. I could have spent a fortune there, so I made sure to set a limit for myself.

They have a decent gallery area on their Web site.

This cute little Christmas stamp is from Memory Box.
It is about 2 inches tall by 1 inch at the widest point of the image.
I walked by this display a couple times and didn't see this stamp until I went back to show a friend something else they had.
But once I saw it, I wanted it.
I did get a couple other things that don't photograph so well. Things like unmounted rubber stamps and acrylic stamps.
Overall I had fun. They have this show a few times a year with varying numbers of vendors. I think once a year would be about enough for me.
Now I just need to find the time to play with all my new toys.