Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 31, 2010

Pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating up in Cedar park. Jack and Caroline went as Batman and Bat Girl respectively and they had the coordinating pumpkin at home.

Here are Zoe and Ginger with their victim - who knew dachshunds liked fresh pumpkin? At least there wasn't too much damage to the design!
October 30, 2010

After planting the 100 maroon blue bonnets and weeding and planting yet more grass seed, plus spin class, I decided I deserved a dinner with Team Nevinz! We shopped at the Asia Market to pick up ingredients to recreate the dishes I learned in China and had a great meal at the Asia Cafe - yum get the sautéed spinach! Then off to catch a show at the Alamo Villiage.....Sangria and Helen Mirren kicking butt in Red were a great combination!
October 29, 2010

The best laid plans. Today was perfect to get out in the garden and plant a few blue bonnets in preparation for the Spring. Too bad all they had were the maroon blue bonnets rather than the traditional blue blue bonnets. Oh well, I can put a few of these in the backyard and the garden center said they would have more next week. It was all looking good for a Friday afternoon until I locked my keys in my car.
After I finally got home and baked an impromptu set of brownies for my neighbor who came to bail me out, it was dark and I'd lost my motivation.....I guess that's what the weekend is for.
October 28, 2010

The days are just getting shorter. I'm always ready to fall back and get an extra hour of sleep, but I know as soon as it's dark at night, I'll go into full hibernation mode. That DVR backlog I've been working will become a thing of the past!!
So I'll hold on to the evening sun as long as I can, because I know once we fall back it's going to be a while before I see it after work again.
October 27, 2010

Gotta love the iphone color adjusting. I got these mums last week from one of the ladies who came to Theta dinner group. They match my house perfectly, even if you can't tell from the photo. Glad to have them sticking around for so long!
October 26, 2010

Is this the last time?
To mow the lawn for the year? I knew there was a reason I was putting it off....I had no gas in the lawn mower and no gas in the gas can. Sigh. I hope it's the last time, but I'm still watering the seed I just put out for the bare spots in the back yard so I'm guessing I might have to mow one more time. At least I'll have the gas for it.
October 25, 2010

It's a bumper crop of acorns this year. Kinda hard to tell because it was so dark, but I just swept this sidewalk the night before! This is how many fell in just one day....they are everywhere.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 24, 2010

I couldn't resist the pick your own candy section at Central Market when I was shopping this weekend. I did however have the strength to only get ONE wrapped chocolate candy for Caroline and Jack. They were sitting out on the counter for the kiddos when they arrived for Sunday night dinner - it's the perfect appetizer, don't you think?
October 23, 2010

Pumpkin picking in Marble Falls.
We headed out to the Sweet Berry Farm at the crack of dawn this morning to get there before the crowds. Unfortunately the rains made it too.... Oh well, we still had a fun time picking out pumpkins for carving and the bonus of getting there at 9:30 am is that you are home in time for lunch!
October 22, 2010

I've pretty much made the switch from peanut butter to almond butter. I initially started because it was on my trainer's diet and now I find I like it better than peanut butter! It's pretty economical if you pick it up at Costco where you can get a jug for like 10 cents.

Anyway, I'm a crunchy almond nut butter person and Costco just doesn't carry I make my own. I roast some whole almonds, cool 'em off, chop 'em up and throw it all back in the jar. Most of the time I can get it all back in the jar....but sometimes I add too many in this picture. Oh well, instant snack.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October 21, 2010

Yes, there was more training, but I also had Theta dinner group at my house. We celebrated the 105th anniversary of our alumnae chapter this fall. A great turn out - a few missed the picture because we took it so late in the evening. New women in the crowd, it's always nice to see the group grow!
October 20, 2010

More training today! Here are the guys working on a hands on lab.
October 19, 2010

After a marathon day of set up training is finally here! And it was here all day because by the time I got home it was dark and I didn't feel like doing anything other than laying on the sofa and watching a show on my DVR.
October 18, 2010

Well this is what happens when you have a 15 hour work day and then come home to work for another two hours - you get boring work pictures! Here I am at 10pm sitting down to start all the work I didn't get to do while I was working on setting up training.
October 17, 2010

Happy Belated Bday to Heather! I can't believe her sewing class is already here!!! We booked this over a month ago and that month just flew by! We went to the Stitch Lab on South First for our four hour "Crash Course" on sewing. We even managed to make a tote bag!
Aren't they cute? I sure hope you think so because you'll all be getting one for Christmas. Seriously. Can't wait to take more classes!
October 16, 2010

On the way back through Tucson, it's 9:30 am on a Saturday and people are jonesing for their Starbucks. There are at least this many people in line behind me too. I just wanted some hummus and carrot sticks. Good thing I have a long layover so I can pick up my lunch/snack - it's 11:30 Austin time and I'm hungry!
October 15, 2010

Today I spent the day in my old stomping grounds - Concord, CA. It was dealer day for Sea Tel which included a nice plant tour. I'm always up for a plant tour. They run a nice lean manufacturing shop and a very clean plant!
October 14, 2010

More in the pictures from aircraft series. Here's the sunset over San Francisco
October 13, 2010

Today I had to take a conference call to South Africa on my way to Houston. The quality was so bad that I had to pull over to even remotely hear what the people were saying.

I learned that I can wind the windows of my car down when the power is off. Genius.
October 12, 2010

Sights I see rolling into work. Seriously? Ya really need that on the mean streets of Austin?
October 11, 2010

Thank goodness for random holidays! Today I had Columbus day off from work. I soooooo needed the time at home to catch up on all fronts.

How do I know that Zoe is feeling better? Yeah, she's able to get the toilet paper in the bathroom again. Great.
October 10, 2010

I was still swearing off food - I had two salads for meals this day - but Denise hadn't had the chance to check out the Savannah Candy Company's Pecan Pralines.


These are seriously delicious! Feel free to purchase these for me for Christmas :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October 9, 2010

Today we went on a foodie tour of town. We started with The Harris Baking Company company where we had some delicious bread and cheese spread. As we had skipped lunch we were starving and *poof* soon the plate of bread was gone!

Next on to the Low Country Gourmet where we tasted all sorts of delicious aged balsamic vinegars and infused olive oils - I think this was the only stop where everyone made a purchase - look for some lemon balsamic vinegar coming your way soon.

Our third stop on the list and we were all still far from full. I think it's because they were "right" sizing the portions or enforcing a food pacing policy. Anyway on to Angel's BBQ where we all got a little tiny cup of pulled pork BBQ to try along with a variety of sauces. Just the right amount as far as I was concerned and a darned good BBQ.

After Angels it was on the the Paula Deen Experience at the Lady & Sons. We were all given a cup sized portion and told we could have any one item from the buffet. But we didn't see hoe cakes on the buffet and Kelly needed some hoe cakes. At 50 cents a pop, it turned out to be a great investment. We all coordinated and came away with meatloaf, creamed corn, mac & cheese, and green beans. We were hustled out of the restaurant, past all the gobs of people waiting to sit down, and into the nearby park/square where it was much more relaxed. Now 4 cups of food plus hoe cakes doesn't sound like too much, but added on to what we had already eaten and I was pretty much done with my lunch for the day.

The we moved on to Goose Feathers for some bread pudding. I'm not usually a bread pudding person, but this was delicious! Pictured below is the half portion they gave us - can you imagine the whole portion?!

Never one to turn down a sweet, I ate the whole was the *half* portion.
Later, we all decided this was the turning point spot. The bread pudding was where we went from, what a nice meal to holy crap and I'm really full. See the bread gets in your stomach and just expands like crazy. It's just not good - and we still had three more stops to go!

Now I know I would have enjoyed the Savannah Bee Company store much more if I hadn't been in actual pain at the point from the bread pudding. We tasted a few honeys, which were all delicious, and had a bite of honey comb with gouda and apple - yum! What a neat retail store too - you'll have to check it out.

On to the Cupcake Emporium where thankfully they let us take our order of pumpkin, red velvet, maple, and butter cake cupcakes to go. Later that night we made the mistake of eating these right before we went to bed. Seriously. Don't do dumb stuff like this. I had crazy dreams all four hours that I slept until Hil woke up to catch her plane.

Thank goodness the final stop was the Wright Square Cafe where the focus was chocolate. I can happily bow out of any tastings with no guilt!!!

Of course we had already made reservations for dinner. We tried to walk off the food tour, but it was of practically no use. I don't know how I was able to get in my vegetarian sampler and lord only knows how Denise was able to eat that giant lamb chop!!!!
What a great weekend with friends!! I can't wait until we do Vancouver!
October 8, 2010

The fence line along the side of the Mercer-Williams House or as the locals call it, the murder house. I almost felt bad for not having read the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil when we toured the house. It's sold all over town and I was almost tempted to buy it, but I was in the middle of a great book on the Kindle.
October 7, 2010

I now see to have a thing for taking pictures out airplane windows. Here is the Atlanta airport as we fly past to circle back and land. A clear Thursday and wonderful day to hit the air to head up to meet friends for a girlfriends' weekend in Savannah.
October 6, 2010

Snapped this waiting at the traffic light over the 360 bridge on the way into work. When it starts to get colder in the mornings, there is a lovely steam that rises off the lake - couldn't resist this beauty of a sunrise shot.

October 5, 2010

Events in the 'hood. Tonight was National Night Out and we had a mini block party. It's hard to plan something fun for a Tuesday night - but I got to meet the chief of police and hang out with the neighbors for a bit.
Ellie Hanson who is al of 18 months took these adorable pictures of her brother Ashton
And sister Serena
October 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to Heather! I don't think I could have asked for a better sister-in-law than Heather. We told Jim when they first got married, if something were ever to happen that we would be keeping Heather.
She's one crafty Mama with photo projects, painting projects and new sewing projects all on the agenda.
Oh and did I mention she's a whiz in the kitchen? She must get that from her Dad
She always knows how to smile for the camera even if the rest of her family has trouble ...
Overall, one cool lady! Happy Birthday Heather!

And for my Monday picture.....Seriously, what is with the Swedish Fish in Austin?! I was down on SoCo for a rare Monday night dinner and ran across this mural painted on the side of the Austin Art Glass shop. It just made me want to eat more.....thank goodness they are almost gone at the office!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 3, 2010

Heather's birthday cake! It's a three tier chocolate cake covered with fondant. I really need to take a fondant class because there was some serious side buckling as I got to the bottom tier. I think it would have been perfect at one or two tiers. But as my first cake decorating instructor told me "there is no problem on a cake that can't be fixed with more icing". Hence the swirl-y pattern on the bottom of the cake to cover any ripples. I think it kinda works!
October 2, 2010

Beautiful leftover flowers from the party last night. I like the color palette for these roses - just a hint of Fall. Since it's still blazing hot here in Texas, just a hint of Fall is all we need :)
October 1, 2010

Its the tardy to the party birthday party at my house. I missed my bday in town and decided to celebrate with friends a month late. I don't recommend having a party for 30 at your house the week you get back from a two week vacation in China....but it worked. Here are Cheryl, Eryn, and Jorie posing.
September 29, 2010

Oh thank goodness I didn't discover these at the office sooner. For some reason, the Swedish Fish people are sending out whole boxes of Swedish Fish to offices around town. I can't resist the fish. Seriously, I can't stop eating these things.

My only hope is that I'll eventually finish the box and thus remove the temptation!!!! Good thing I lost weight in China!
September 28, 2010

And this is what happens when you are away for nearly two weeks. You work a 14 hour day back at the office. Doesn't this look like exciting stuff?!
September 27, 2010

Back home in Austin working with my favorite cube mates - Zoe and Ginger. Good thing they are here to help me catch up on my hundreds of emails that I missed while I was away!
September 26, 2010

How is it our last day in China already?! We made it out the Summer Palace today - which isn't all that far out of Beijing and so easy to access via the subway system! The weather was picture perfect and the crowds were out in force, but not the same kind of crush as at Shanghai and Suzhou.
We took in every highlighted sight including a boat ride back to the other side of the lake and then subway'ed back to our hutong for our farewells. Can't believe the trip is already over, but so ready to sleep in my own just a 13 hour plane ride home :)
September 25, 2010

Up early to the great wall of China. Of course this was our one day in Beijing when the weather wasn't just fantastic. Le sigh.
We drove out to Mutianyu and hiked away from the slide in the direction of the steep tower 23. After making it all the way to the top we were more than ready to head down. The whole joy of "Wow it's a really cool wall!" sort of wears off after a while.
I will say that China has the most amazing cell phone coverage! 5 bars on a wall in the middle of nowhere....I think it's a commentary on what their infrastructure is focused on. I called Dad and we had a great chat from half way around the world!
September 24, 2010

Our first day in Beijing! We decided to take a break from the truly tough touring schedule we'd been keeping to indulge in a cooking class in a neighboring hutong. We took the stroll down the street to the market with our instructor where we learned the finer points of fresh tofu, walking chicken and spices.
Once back at class she had us chopping with giant cleavers. Here is Mom working on some onion. We made five delicious dishes in just a few hours and feasted like kings. I'll have to make the pepper beef when I have the chance to pick up the proper soy sauce - I hope my Asia Market carries it!!
September 23, 2010

The gardens of Suzhou were a wonder. Of all the gardens we visited (most of which feature rocks rather than flowers) I think I liked the Lingering Garden best. It was wonderfully mysterious, with twists and turns and though medium sized by Suzhou garden standards, it seemed much larger.
I think I also liked it because we visited it first and there were fewer crowds. The Humble Administrator's garden which is supposed to be the highlight of the town was so packed, it was impossible to enjoy. Perhaps if I went back first thing in the morning and wasn't getting mowed down by tour groups I'd enjoy it more....
September 22, 2010

To say that Shanghai was crowded would be an understatement. Today was the actual festival - a time when most people are hanging out with their families and Miranda who runs the B&B we were staying at thought it wouldn't be too busy out. Hmm, I think it was the exact opposite!! We wandered a little bit, taking the subway from the French Concession into old town. The Yu Yuan Bazaar was so packed with tourists and people buying last minute gifts (that weren't eggs). There was no way we could get to the tea house - check out how crowded the zig zag bridge is!!
So we settled for a tour of the Yu Yuan gardens in the rain. Swamped with tour groups, the confusing layout and rain slowed us down a bit. But I enjoyed walking the pebbled paths and taking in the rockeries.

After garden touring we headed back to the subway where we caught a train to meet up with one of Mom's colleagues, Julie, for dinner. A wonderful dinner all ordered in Chinese and she even managed to find us a delicious moon cake to try when we got back to the B&B!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

September 21, 2010

Today we walked 11.5 km on a mountain.
It took us forever to find the right path, lots of wrong turns and stairs before we finally realized the path entrance was through the dilapidated looking tea house. Once we actually found the path it was a really beautiful path for a stroll. The sun was out and we curved through and under parts of the mountain.

The highlight was the chair lift down the mountain. Mom wasn't really ready after the gondola ride up .... we had to do a pass on the first chair offered. We made it on to the second chair lift and Mom was thrilled to learn that there was a grip bar. After five solid minutes of tightly closing her eyes, she peeked open and realized we weren't actually that far off the ground. The rest of the ride was a breeze!