Friday, September 30, 2011

September 2011 Round Up

Click mosaic to biggify. Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Finally finished Wuthering Heights (ick; didn't like it at all). I also read How to Help your Student Succeed in School by Paul Kip Grimm, and Conquering an Enemy Called Average by John Mason, both very quick reads and fairly inspiring, but neither as insightful as I hoped.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Finished up the finales of The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles, and Suits. Just in time, too, since fall network television programming has resumed! Current slate discussed here. Person of Interest is so far quite interesting; I like that it is different from most shows currently on the air (and we're huge Jim Caviezel fans). We're enjoying the banter on Unforgettable; we'll have to see if they can keep it up. Been watching a fair bit of Law & Order and Murder She Wrote as well.
* New Films: The Green Hornet (eh, not really my cup of tea; I think most of what I laughed at wasn't supposed to be funny), Megamind (it was definitely different; I liked some of the points it had to make, but again, not my style of humor), Unstoppable (not bad; worth seeing once)
* Old Favorites: Cars, The Princess Bride, Catch Me If You Can, Tangled, Star Wars Ep I, Star Trek II, Star Trek IV, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (20 years old, wow), Star Trek: First Contact, Independence Day, Dante's Peak, Men in Black, The Lion King (at the theater in 3D; not a bad conversion, all things considered), First Knight, The American President

What special days did I celebrate and how?
We celebrated Dad's 60th birthday visiting over Labor Day weekend. He chose local seafood for his birthday dinner.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
Just cards for Dad's birthday; Boston was "the gift."

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
I had an absolutely awful headache for first time in months. Took me several hours to get it to let up. I know I've been stressed with the new job, but I'd really like to *not* have to increase my BP meds.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
While we were visiting my parents for Labor Day, we took Luke to the beach, visited with my grandfather, and stopped by DH's uncle's house for a family get together.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Tried two new recipes this month: Pepperoni Pizza Puffs (direct recipe link) (didn't care for the texture, probably won't make again), "supposedly the best ever cupcakes" from Pinterest (these were pretty good, but I think my scratch butter cake recipe is better). I also attempted to make up my own recipe for Pizza Balls (think Bisquick sausage balls, just substitute pepperoni for the sausage and parmesan and mozzarella for the cheddar). It was okay; better texture than the pepperoni pizza puffs, but the cheese flavor just wasn't strong enough to cut through the breading. I will be discussing these at some point on my new food blog.

For new foods, I tried my first ever real sushi. It was fine, but I don't think it is something I'll really be going out for on my own. It also counted as a new restaurant, Umezono in Smyrna. Our other new restaurant for the month was Three Dollar Cafe Jr., which opened where The Loop used to be, not far from where we live. The food was pretty good, but I certainly wouldn't want to be there when any sort of sporting event was going on. Between the zillion beers on tap and the 14 flat panel TVs I could see just from my chair (not counting the ones behind me or upstairs), it would be bonkers.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
I guess Luke's birthday supplies qualify here as special purchases. That's really the only thing "nonstandard" I remember buying.

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
I got hit with twitter spam/spoof/virus thing sending out direct messages "from me" to my friends with some sort of malicious website link in it. I also received about 40 of them from various accounts. I felt bad for frustrating my tweeps!

What were my accomplishments this month?
Completed 52 items from 101 Things in 1001 Days Version 2. Not too bad, I guess. Better than Version 1, where I completed 46. Eventually I'll work my way up to 90% or better, right? Version 3 starts October 1!

The big news for the month was officially starting my new job, which also involved training in Virginia for a very rainy week. The boys seem to have survived just fine on fast food. I've also had homework every week this month; I'm grading Math Stars sheets for one of the 3rd grade teachers, which is a combination of about 10 word problems every week intended to stretch the kids and teach problem solving. It has been very interesting!

I found a new nail polish love: The Next CEO from Nicole by OPI (soft metallic gold), which is actually quite neutral on my fingers. It reminds me of the shiny gold polish that Pussy Galore wore in Goldfinger. As mentioned previously, I tried a hair style and some cupcakes that I found on Pinterest (yes, I am obsessed!). And I really branched out of my comfort zone and had sushi with my former boss.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

We had our first parent/teacher conference for the year. Luke is doing very well! He is one of the top kids in his class in both reading and math, and he is apparently very well behaved. Always good to hear. She thinks we need to work on maybe building up his confidence a little bit so he isn't afraid to try even if some of the other kids are juts a little bit faster than he is, but otherwise, he is doing great!

He also had his first soccer game at U8 level. He spends at least one quarter at goalie every game, which he really enjoys. He also usually plays full back for a quarter, and if he plays a 3rd quarter (which he usually does; only 8 boys to cover 5 positions), it is usually as a midfielder. He also took his first ball to the face (not terribly hard, but I know it stunned him), but he shook it off and lived to tell the tale.

And I finally got around to posting Luke's kitty song videos for your enjoyment. These were collected over the last couple of weeks of August and Labor Day weekend.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Can't really think of anything.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: trying to catch up

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Results: 101 Things in 1001 Days - Version 2.0

Wow, is it really that time again? Hard to believe I've managed to complete a second one of these projects. I'm so proud of me! Okay, so complete might be a strong word, since I am unable to check off all 101 items. But I'm okay with that, because I did accomplish quite a bit in the last 1001 days. So here's the final verdict:

101 Things in 1001 Days - Version 2.0

The Mission: Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria: Tasks must be specific (i.e. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (i.e. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days? Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as new year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Begin Date: January 1, 2009
End Date: September 29, 2011
Time Remaining: The 1001 Days are up!

Items Completed: 52

Strikethrough indicates a completed item
Italics indicates an in-progress item

Secret Plots
1. Plan and implement "Operation Wellington." (morphed into Boston) Completed June 2011

Personal Touch
2. Learn to make cheesecake in a spring form pan.
3. Learn to make a seafood dish (shrimp or fish).
4. Try a new recipe or restaurant every 3 months. Completed July 2011
  • 1Q09 - Liberty Tree Tavern at Disney in March 2009
  • 2Q09 - Stone Mountain Inn in April 2009
  • 3Q09 - Lovezzola's in Pooler in August 2009
  • 4Q09 - Cornbread Dressing from 5 Ingredient Fix in November 2009
  • 1Q10 - Crock Pot Roast in January 2010
  • 2Q10 - Twisted Taco in May 2010
  • 3Q10 - Buckhead Pizza Co. in July 2010
  • 4Q10 - Red Beans and Rice in November 2010
  • 1Q11 - Napoleon's Pub and Grill in January 2011
  • 2Q11 - Red Robin in April 2011
  • 3Q11 - Bubble Pizza in July 2011

5. Use china and/or crystal once a year.
  • 2009 - Crystal at Christmas
  • 2010 - no
  • 2011 - no

6. Send an RAK every 3 months. Completed July 2011
  • 1Q09 - Feb 2009
  • 2Q09 - May 2009
  • 3Q09 - no
  • 4Q09 - Nov 2009
  • 1Q10 - no
  • 2Q10 - May 2010
  • 3Q10 - July 2010
  • 4Q10 - November 2010
  • 1Q11 - March 2011
  • 2Q11 - June 2011
  • 3Q11 - July 2011

7. Contribute to a Roth IRA.
8. Correct my tax withholding on my paycheck. Completed 11/29/2010
9. Start applying for a new job. Completed 9/11/2010
10. Give blood.
11. Weigh less on day 1001 than I did on day 1. Officially down 11 lbs (5 kg) from day 1.

12. Read 15 books, at least one non-fiction. Current Total = 15
  1. The Eight by Katherine Neville
  2. My Word is My Bond by Sir Roger Moore (non-fiction)
  3. Heat Wave by Richard Castle
  4. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, by Diana Gabaldon
  5. My Life in France, by Julia Child
  6. Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell
  7. The Exile, by Diana Gabaldon (graphic novel)
  8. Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale, by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, and Chris Samnee
  9. The Imagineering Field Guide to The Magic Kingdom, by Alex Wright and The Imagineers
  10. The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot, by Alex Wright and The Imagineers
  11. The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios, by Alex Wright and The Imagineers
  12. The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom, by Alex Wright and The Imagineers
  13. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  14. How to Help your Student Succeed in School, by Paul Kip Grimm
  15. Conquering an Enemy Called Average, by John Mason

13. Read a Jane Austin novel (counts towards 15).
14. Read an Ayn Rand novel (counts towards 15).
15. Read Wuthering Heights (counts towards 15). Completed September 2011.
16. Read a graphic novel (counts towards 15). Completed 9/25/2010.
17. Watch 30 DVDs from Netflix (each disc counts separately). Current Total = 16
  1. Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
  2. From the Earth to the Moon - Disc 1
  3. From the Earth to the Moon - Disc 2
  4. From the Earth to the Moon - Disc 3
  5. From the Earth to the Moon - Disc 4
  6. Night at the Museum
  7. A Knight's Tale
  8. The Devil Wears Prada
  9. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  10. Failure to Launch
  11. Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island
  12. Chess: In Concert
  13. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  14. Phineas and Ferb: Season 1
  15. Pride and Prejudice - Disc 1
  16. Phineas and Ferb: Season 2

18. Watch Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version; counts towards 30). Completed August 2011.
19. See a new (to me) IMAX film on an IMAX screen (theatrical films shown on IMAX do not count).
20. Write up musings on new movies within 14 days. Have missed too many to consider this completed.

Hobby Lobby
21. Attend an out of state stitching convention or GTG.
22. Stitch for 25 hours on Midsummer Night's Fairy.
23. Stitch and finish the sun and moon fob from Toronto.
24. Make a snowflake fob.
25. Make 3 new temari, each a new pattern.
  • Chrismtas Star Temari - November 2010

  • Interlocking Square Temari - December 2010

26. Learn to set up the sewing machine and sew a straight seam.
27. Take a quilting class.
28. Make a quilt.
29. Learn basic bead stringing.
30. Make a scissor fob with Granny's crystal bead.
31. Take a cake decorating class.
32. Scrap 30 pages, not including CD calendar pages. Current Total = 6
33. Have a book of layouts printed (Shutterfly or similar).
34. Make a Christmas card alphabet scrapbook.

Fun and Games
35. List 101 things that make me happy. Completed 1/4/2009, posted to blog 1/11/2009

36. Eat Japanese Hibachi once a year. - Feb 2009, May 2010, January 2011, with pictures.
  • 2009 - February (Valentine's Day celebration)

  • 2010 - May (Mother's Day)

  • 2011 - January (just because)

37. Ride a new roller coaster. Completed 3/11/2009, with pictures.

38. Ride the Duck Boats at Stone Mountain. Completed 4/26/2009, with pictures.

39. See the Christmas lights at Stone Mountain, Lake Lanier, or Callaway Gardens. Completed 12/22/2010, with pictures.

40. See a new (to me) Cirque du Soleil show. Completed November 2010.

41. Take a long trip to Disney World (6 or more consecutive days in FL). Completed 3/7 - 3/14/2009, with pictures.

42. Visit Connie in Texas.
43. Visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.
44. Visit Oakland Cemetery.
45. Go to the symphony.
46. See a special exhibition at the High Museum. Completed 4/11/2009, with picture.

47. Go to Six Flags.
48. Go to an NBA game.
49. Finish LEGO Star Wars on the Wii. Completed Summer 2011 (as complete as we care to be).
50. Finish LEGO Indiana Jones on the Wii.
51. Learn to juggle (3 balls for 20 seconds).

Life With Luke
52. Take a picture of Luke each week. Completed September 2011.
53. Take Luke on MARTA. Completed 5/2/2009, with pictures.

54. Take Luke to a MLB game at Turner Field. Completed 5/2/2009, with pictures.

55. Take Luke to Medieval Times.
56. Take Luke to play miniature golf. Completed 3/12/2009, with pictures.

57. Take Luke to the Atlanta Zoo.
58. Take Luke to the Fernbank Museum. Completed 1/17/2009, with pictures.

59. Take Luke to the Fox Theater.
60. Take Luke to the planetarium. Completed 7/16/2010, with pictures.

61. Try Luke on Fraggle Rock again. Completed September 2011 - He decided he prefers He-Man! LOL
62. Enroll Luke in a physical class (gymnastics, swimming, etc). Completed 6/1/2009, with pictures.

63. Decide whether or not to send Luke to private school. Completed 8/14/2009

Neat and Tidy
64. Replace DH's medium blue shirt.
65. Update DH's wardrobe matrix.
66. Have my Holly Hobby quilt repaired. Completed July 2009, with pictures.

67. Get new bedding for our bed. Completed 11/28/2009, with pictures.

68. Get Hide and Seek custom framed.
69. Update the DVD list every year. Have missed too many to consider this completed.
  • 2009 - got part way done, then lost the list when we moved
  • 2010 - no
  • 2011 - no

70. Weed out 150 scrapping folders (average about 1 per week). Current Total = 28; pick up at DDE
71. Start using curbside recycling. Completed May 2009, with pictures.

72. Clean out my chest of drawers. Completed 9/2/2009, with pictures.

73. Clean out my closet. Completed 8/31/2009, with pictures.

74. Clean out my dresser. Completed 9/13/2009, with pictures.

75. Clean out the guest room dresser. Completed 9/16/2009, with pictures.

76. Clean the inside of the windows. Completed December 2009.
77. Clean the outside of the windows. Completed 4/5/2009.
78. "De-kitty-fy" the other sofa pillow. Completed 9/14/2009, with pictures.

Home Improvement
79. Change foyer light bulb and/or fixture. No longer valid; house sold without it.
80. Have leaking shower head repaired/replaced. No longer valid; house sold without it.
81. Replace kitchen floor. Completed 9/30/2009, with pictures.

82. Decide what to do about the carpet, and do it. Completed January 2010.
83. Decide what to do about the sofa, and do it. Completed Sept 2009.
84. Paint interior of house. No longer valid; house sold without it.
85. Paint exterior of house. No longer valid; house sold without it.
86. Have gutters cleaned. Completed 4/5/2009.
87. Reroute gutter/downspout on front of house. No longer valid; house sold without it.
88. Remove/replace front bushes. Completed 10/16/2009, with pictures.

89. Have yard improved (grass or landscaping). No longer valid; house sold without it.
90. Put the house on the market. Completed 12/22/2009, with pictures.

Digital Bits
91. Make 12 of my own blinkies.
92. Post at least one photo with each month's round up.
93. Record Superdog and burn all episodes to DVD. (recorded but never burned)
94. Try to recover photos from old computer hard drive.
95. Label/relabel all blog posts. Completed 5/10/2009.
96. Fix photos/formatting in old blog posts so that the photos show. Completed September 2011.
97. Revamp my website (change graphics, update template). Completed 6/26/2011 (index page now points to blog; new template)
98. Decide on a better way to archive Movie Musings. Completed 6/6/2009, with picutres.

99. Make and install a favicon on my blog and website. Completed 7/26/2011.

100. Post a photo or video of at least half of all complete items from this list. Final count: 28 of 52 (54%).
101. Have a new list of 101 things ready by day 1001. Click for Version 3!

That's right, there is a Version 3, and it starts in just 2 days! See you there.

Currently feeling: ready to go again

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Shutter Happy

Good grief! I was flipping through photos while preparing for Luke's birthday party. I usually do a photo montage that runs on the television (gotta love TVs with built in card slots), but with so many photos this year, I decided to go with prints instead, and I'll put them up on the wall for guests to peruse at their leisure. How many photos? Well, I literally at least glanced at every single photo taken this year by both myself and my parents (I don't have all of theirs, just the ones that pertain to joint family events), which means that in the last week, I have looked at 13,500+ photos. My eyeballs are tired!

I also did a little experiment. I had a coupon for 101 free photos from one company, but I would have to pay shipping. I had a coupon for free shipping from another company, and I paid 9 cents per print. I ordered nearly the same number of prints from each company (101 from one, 106 from the other), and the final cost was about the same! So it costs just as much to print the photos as it does to ship them. Interesting.

Currently feeling: shutter happy

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Real Sushi

Look out! I'm getting all wild and crazy now that I've turned 35. I had my first real sushi experience at a client lunch yesterday. "Client lunch" sounds so formal, when it was really just lunch with my former boss and the sales guy for my new company. I don't think sales guy C realized that former boss D and I are such good friends. It was so great to see D again! We've talked every 2-3 weeks since June, but I don't think I've actually seen him since the spring sometime (March or April, I think; hard to remember). He lived in Japan for 12-18 months in the early 90s, and his aunt is Japanese, so he is extremely picky about his sushi, and he really wanted me to try it. I did make the condition that it couldn't be raw, and he assured me that there was still plenty for me to sample.

I had the Ebi Nigiri (shrimp "cooked" in lime juice, like ceviche), Tamago Nigiri (egg cooked and folded into layers, like an omelet, but oddly sweet), Anago Maki (grilled/charred eel roll), and Negi Maki (thin strips of beef wrapped around a green onion mix, then cooked in a teriyaki type sauce and served hot). He did get some of the Tekka Maki (raw tuna rolls), but I wasn't quite brave enough to try them. The beef was excellent! I could have eaten a whole order (5 pieces) of that by myself. My favorite of the more "traditional" sushi (i.e. what most people think of when they hear the word) was actually the eel. Very tasty! The shrimp was good, it was just a little tough, which made it hard to bite it in half (wasn't sure I could get the whole thing in my mouth in one shot). The soy sauce nearly knocked my socks off. It was *so* strong! It seemed like maybe it was reduced; it was powerful and slightly thicker/with more body than what I'm used to (probably also more authentic than what I'm used to). Fantastically good, but a little dab will do you.

The sushi (sushis? what is the plural?) were all appetizers; my entree was Oyako Don, which is a bowl of rice with a sauce of some kind, topped with essentially a chicken and onion omelet. It was quite tasty, but after 5 pieces of sushi (I had two of the beef), I could only eat about half of it. And I have to brag on myself for just a minute: I ate my *entire* meal with ONLY chopsticks! I think I impressed the heck out of D. I know I certainly impressed myself! I've obviously used them before, but not for such an extended period of time, and never successfully with rice until yesterday. I do think it helped that the chopsticks were much lighter than the (I think) bamboo ones I usually get, and they were less smooth, so my grip on the sticks was better and gave me more control. Lunch was a leisurely 2 hour affair, and I started having trouble picking up pieces of chicken (something I've been able to do for years) around the 90 minute mark. I think my hand was just tired.

I've tried one piece of sushi before. I don't even recall where, but it was back in college, and I did not like it at all. The seaweed tasted bitter and nasty, and whatever was in the middle was all slimy, which did not sit well with my texture-sensitive palette. It was also very spicy with what I assume to be wasabi. *This* experience, however, was totally different. I can't say that I truly loved anything (besides the beef), but it was tasty and enjoyable. D ordered in Japanese, so I'm not sure if he told them to go light on the wasabi or if I just didn't notice it (hard to believe, but I guess it's possible), but what I had was not spicy at all. A very pleasant experience all the way around.

Don't get me wrong, I don't see me turning to my spouse in a few days or weeks and saying "hey, lets go out for sushi!" But I do now feel confident that if a group of friends ever really wants to go out for sushi, instead of turning them down like I would have in the past, I can order a few things and enjoy myself. And it dawned on me after I left that I order my steaks medium-rare, so maybe the actual raw tuna isn't such a big leap. I doubt you'll ever be able to talk me into the raw squid or octopus, but I'll certainly at least give a Tekka Maki a try if I get another opportunity. Go me!

Currently feeling: adventurous