A Dose of Spiney Cuteness

In case your week has been sucky, here's a picture I ran across while clearing out my inbox. It was sent to me by a friend a couple years ago, with the header "Adds a whole new dimension to 'Labor Pain'..."

I love baby animals AND I think porcupines are some of the coolest animals out there, so this was a double whammy.


Golden Ticket, Anyone?

I actually prefer to have my chocolate in moderation (so that I appreciate each piece and don't feel like a fat slob afterwards) but this room would tempt me, big time!
Night in Chocolate Hotel Room


Too Much of a Good Thing?

This is a really funny snippet from a Slate column:

"A study suggests extreme happiness may be bad for you. Findings: 1) "The highest levels of income, education and political participation were reported not by the most satisfied individuals, but by moderately satisfied individuals." 2) Extremely happy people "earned significantly less money" and earned lower school grades than moderately happy people. 3) They "may not live as long," either. Theories: 1) Happiness makes you complacent and kills your drive. 2) It makes you slow to adapt. 3) It makes you too optimistic and insufficiently vigilant about your health. 4) It may overstimulate your cardiovascular system. Researchers' conclusions: 1) "Happiness may need to be moderated for success." 2) "Extremely high levels of happiness might not be a desirable goal." Human Nature's conclusions: 1) Success may need to be moderated for happiness. 2) Extremely high levels of success might not be a desirable goal."

I love the "conclusions." William Saletan has a great sense of humor. :D
Go to the site for the links to the actual study and other news bits...


The Divine Miss M

"I love to laugh. If I can't laugh, I feel like I'm dead."
-Bette Midler

That is me to a T.

Later: TGIO - Thank God, It's Over. We survived International Hijack (Oooh, maybe we should call it Blogjack!) Day. Nathan has a good summary here. We all survived, mostly because if we became too confused, we could always back away slowly, avoiding eye contact, until it was over.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program.


You Calvinballers are F-ing Crazy

In case no one noticed, it's crazy day here on the Intertoobs.
Normal people (and I use the term loosely), you may either pay no attention to the lunatics, or join in the antics. Rules for "Hijack Day" (tm Nathan) are here. I do admit to absolutely loving Calvin and Hobbes, so anything that bears a resemblance to their game has got to be OK in my book.

Obviously, I chose a bad day to turn off the computer and get some studying done. I learned a decent amount about mechanical systems, lighting, and electricity, but missed out on the early hours of Hijack Day (tm). The temperatures were in the high 50s, so I also got out my bike (The Machine) and went to Stacey's for a little Birthday Brunch celebration for Aileen (aka Grabill Family). It's her third birthday celebration, so she's well into her birthday week. It was all very tasty (frittatas, bacon, potatoes, deviled eggs, fresh berries, and Mimosas or Bloody Marys) and the company was, as always, eggcellent. ;)

Speaking of the bike, I've come to the sad realization that I'm going to have to keep the "starter bike" for another year and wait until my car is paid off to buy my dream bike. I'll still go out and test drive some bikes over the summer, but what with refinancing, I'm pretty sure I won't have the available income to afford a better bike yet. However, The Machine is a lovely (if well-aged) vehicle with great gas mileage and enough get-up-and-go to manage the interstate, so it won't be a bad year.

Now, in the spirit of Hijack Day (tm), I believe I must post something controversial in order to get people talking. Well, I'll do one better. I'll post several controversial questions, so that not only do you have to find the answer somewhere else, you have to figure out which question people are responding to. So there!
("Normal people" feel free to post here about whatever you want, PPBBBTTT :P to Nathan and his rules.) We shall return to normal operating procedure at 12:00 GMT tomorrow.

Here are the questions:
- Should Bill Watterson have sold off subsidiary rights for (or at least permitted) Calvin and Hobbes spin off merchandise? I've heard rationales that claim that if he permitted legal images of Calvin, you wouldn't see as many illegal Calvin (pissing or praying) images on vehicles. Is he to blame?
- Simpsons or South Park: which TV show is more brilliant in its skewering of current issues? Who would win in a Simpsons vs. South Park cage match?
- Should I really be practical about buying my next motorcycle, or should I throw practicality to the proverbial wind?
- How many birthday celebrations are too many? Is a birthday week overdoing it, or is it the best thing since sliced bread?
- Is Mac really The Second Coming (tm)? How can an inveterate PCer avoid going to hell?
- Is Anne really going to look for answers for all these questions, or is she just trying to throw a hammer (no, not a wrench) into the intricate workings of Nathan's organized chaos?

Here, for your convenience, are a list of participating blogs:
The Blog of Siram
Stonekettle Station
The Brain of Shawn
Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men
Random (but not really)
Smug Puppies
Snavely's Web Log
Who am I to Say
and the source of the crazy:
Nathan is Polybloggimous

Enjoy, and I'll see you on the other side!


Crepes Night

I just had Aileen and Brian (seen here as the Grabill family) over for crepes. Yesterday was her birthday (Happy 29th Birthday!!!) and though she had a fabulous crab and lobster dinner last night made by her fabulous husband, she was willing to have another birthday dinner here at my house.
She gave me a crepe pan for Christmas, so of course, I made crepes. I made savory crepe batter with fresh tarragon and several savory fillings: chicken poached in white wine and Herbs de Provence, mushrooms sautéed with shallots, spinach, and Gruyère cheese sauce (made a white sauce from a roux and it turned out the way it's supposed to! Yay!). Aileen helped me make the actual crepes. (She's got a nack for that.) They were delicious!
We also watched Finding Neverland, which is a lovely movie I had never managed to see until today. Johnny Depp did a wonderful job. The rest of the film was wonderfully cast as well. I also loved the integration of the imagined and the real. I highly recommend it! Be prepared to shed a few tears at the end though.
Halfway through the movie, we paused it to make dessert...
You guessed it, crepes (yep, again) only this time, with a sweet crepe batter and the following fillings: Nutella, sauteed pears with ginger, clotted cream, fresh blackberries, and an easy chocolate sauce (chocolate chips melted and the a little milk added gradually). Yum yum yum! Words fail to describe how heavenly they were. I'd be hard pressed to pick which were my favorite fillings.
Sorry, we forgot to forgot to take photos. Too busy eating, I think.
Tell you what, next time, you come over, I'll make crepes for you, OK?

Aside: We also saw an ad for a movie with the almost-as-yummy-as-Nutella-crepes Gerard Butler. You'd recognize him from 300 or Laura Croft: Tomb Raider. The film, Dear Frankie, actually looks pretty good (not just because of the eye candy, he's speaking in his natural Scottish accent! I'm not shallow, I'm just easily distracted. ;)

A few more details added the next morning after I read my sister's excellent description on her (members-only) blog.


Intellectual Self Esteem

Here's an interesting article about a study that looked at IQ, gender, and self-perception. The most aggravating point to me is not that women underestimate thier own intelligence (saw that coming), but that they underestimate each others' as well: "Surprisingly, [both] men and women perceive men being smarter across generations. Both sexes believe that their fathers are smarter than their mothers and grandfathers are more intelligent than their grandmothers." AND "If there are children, [both] men and women think their sons are brighter than their daughters." ARGH!
Obviously, this translates over into confidence, as well. The researcher points out something important about that: "Beliefs may be more important than actual ability in certain settings."

Good article, irritating reality.


Clearing Out Stuff

I'm selling the roll top desk I've had for, oh, maybe the last 20 years or so. I've moved with it and cleared it out several times since I moved last, so there's not too much crap in there. I did throw out some stuff though, and that felt good.
I ran across entertaining things from the cross-stitch design that I did for my mum (two roses for a stole) to my parents' house design. I also found a piece of paper with some quotes I liked (and still do). Obviously, I was looking at "tree" quotes.
I thought I'd post them here so I can throw away the paper...
"The stronger the winds, the deeper the roots, and the longer the winds, the
more beautiful the tree." - Charles R. Swindoll

Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven."
-Rabindranath Tagore

"Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a
leaf." - Rabindranath Tagore



Ever had one of those moments when you've wanted to exclaim "what do you want from me?"

Yeah, me too.

Ever actually done it and still gotten no answer?

It's like a marriage stereotype, except I'm the husband.
I'll go back to figuring out how my entertainment "system" is going to be wired. At least that I can figure out. (Seriously, I am fiddling with my TV etc.)


OK, feeling a bit better now. I got my TV, TiFaux, and DVD player hooked back up again (reorganized some furniture) and I don't feel quite so inept. I may be clueless when it comes to friendships, but by God, I can figure out electronic hookups!
As for the other *%$#^, I'll either figure it out or I won't. Life will continue to move forward and not (I point out to myself) in a linear fashion.

Still Later:

And now I'm feeling better enough to be optimistic. I may not figure out this particular conundrum, but I'll hopefully get better at communicating. Or, I might figure it out and get better at communicating. Either way, I can only improve. ;)


Test Run

I made sugar cookies this weekend with some of my new cookie cutters. They were a lot of fun to make. I used Alton Brown's recipe for sugar cookies and royal icing. I think I overbeat the icing. I was trying to achieve the "stiff, glossy peaks" (never really got there) instead of going for the 5-7 minutes. I think Jenn did the latter when we used the same recipes at Christmas. So, mine was stiffer, and harder to work with (in my opinion). The other issue was that I had some crappy plastic bags for piping bags. If I had used slightly more expensive plastic bags, it would have worked out better. Next time: less beating, better bagging.
So, I'm just going to have to practice. [Shrug.] Oh well. As all my testers and cookie disposal helpers pointed out, "practice makes perfect."


Review: Sweeney Todd

Now that is a black comedy. (No, not one with African Americans in it.)

The production is well done - a trifle heavy on the gray and black, but I expected no less from Tim Burton. All the actors sang their own parts, and did a great job. My friend, Stacey, raved about the Sondheim music. I'm not sure how the movie compares to the stage version.

If you have a weak stomach, I don't recommend it. It's graphically violent and the violence is not glorified or made pretty in any way. Those in our group who were not turned off by the throat cutting were turned off by... well, we'll call it the bodies hitting the floor.

The gratuitous romance was what turned me off. One of those love at first sight things. Blehgh.

All in all, it was a weird movie that you would appreciate if you like Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, musicals, or death.


The Day After, AKA Testing Day

Anyone who has drunk more than they should have will know what I'm going to say next:
I woke up feeling crappy.
I usually drink enough water before leaving the bar (and therefore stop drinking alcohol, obviously) to be safe to drive. This generally means I'm hydrated enough to avoid a hangover the next day. I did the same thing this time, but somehow did not pass the hydration threshold to avoid a hangover.
Amazingly, I managed to get out of the house by the time I had planned and got to the testing agency early. I finished reading about elevators and escalators (not that I ended up needing to know much about them, only one question and I didn't even know the answer).
I'm sure you all are tired of hearing this, but I really don't know how I did on the test. I could have passed. I could have failed. I studied, but it covered such a wide range of subjects, I would have had to study for months to cover all the material even though there was maybe an average of three or four questions on each subject. So, I had to rely on my experience much more than any other of the tests. Sounds good, right? It's only good if my experience is wide enough to be applied generally. So, we'll see. One interesting thing was how many questions there were about "green building" (environmentally conscious design and construction).
When I left the exam, I was feeling pretty frustrated (I really hate these exams), but I spotted my rubber duckie (a keychain duck my mum gave me. It's a reminder to step back and get perspective. Long story.) and decided it was no big deal if I fail, I just take it again. I just hope that I don't have to. Two or three weeks and I'll have the results -- just a week or so before I take the eighth test.


On a Bender

I went to a coworker's "going away" party at the local bar. I meant to stay an hour, at the most. I think it was more like 3, almost 4.
A little background: Before I moved to CO, I had very tame friends. We got together and, at worst, indulged in a bit of a sugar high (marshmallow creme, of course). Then, after I moved to CO, I got into a "wild" (read normal American) crowd who drank liquor and beer. Being a "big" (read taller than average and having a decent proportion of muscle mass) girl, I learned that I could drink a reasonable amount and still be able to function pretty well. Good thing, since I don't like beer and prefer liquor/mixed drinks.
It's been a while since those days, however. My friends have babies now, which obviously precludes them drinking as much as they used to. The ones that don't have babies have either decided to scale back on the pending alcoholism or drink in other venues. So, I haven't gone out drinking in a long while. (FS and I used to go "out for a drink" once in a while, but as I rarely had more than two, it barely qualified.)
This evening, on the the company dime, we had a nice group outing. I drank enough that I got to the toasty "generous feelings towards everyone in the entire universe phase," but not so much that I couldn't walk and talk coherently. I had forgotten what a comfy feeling it is. It's a really good thing Former Squeeze wasn't there, because I probably would have taken him home, all sense and logic to the contrary.
And now, still feeling a bit buzzy, I have to finish the chapter on "Vertical Transportation (blah blah, elevators and escalators)" before the exam tomorrow morning.

Wheeeee! ;)

(PS - Only one misspelling in the whole post. :P)

(PPS - This reminds me of an email my family and I got from my brother in his first year or two of college when he wrote about the benefits of drinking, while obviously under the influence. I don't think it started, "Drinking, you know, is really underrated. I mean..." But it was almost that bad. Am I right, familia?)


Train of Thought

"...time is the fire in which we burn" (This is actually a quote from an American poet named Delmore Schwartz, not just from a Star Trek movie.)

My thoughts originated with remembering this quote. I'm not sure why, but it came to mind.
I started thinking about time and self and burning/flame and I was reminded of something someone (probably my brother) once told me about Buddhist beliefs -- that a flame on a candle is never exactly the same from moment to moment and so are we, in Buddhist beliefs.
I Googled it and found:
Following The Buddha's Footsteps - In which a list of three concepts caught my eye: nothing is lost in the universe [this holds with physics concepts of energy and mass remaining constant, always changing one for the other], everything changes, the law of cause and effect (aka karma).
But it didn't talk about what I was looking for, about the flame. Then I found:
Yahoo Answers: Is there a form of Buddhism in which you don't have to believe in Reincarnation? - In which a very well written fellow explains that although we don't know, Buddhism believes that all parts of the self (including the body) are, in effect, recycled. He uses the example of a candle lit by an extinguishing candle.
[Hmm, fascinating. When I went back to look at this site again in order to describe it, I found a paragraph that I had skipped before. Darn speedreading. Well, I'll put it where it belongs, at the end.]
Not satisfied, I looked further and found this:
BuddhaMind: Activities: Lotsa Fire - I liked two of the quotes: "Where does the flame go to when it is blown out?" "If you light one candle from another could you say they are both the same flame?"

And, going back to the second site I found this paragraph, which is what I was looking for all along:
Consciousness is not a soul or the "self" as is often thought of by non-Buddhists. The consciousness is often compared to the flame of a candle and the candle to our lives. Each moment the flame renews itself and although it appears to be the same object from moment to moment, the flame is always changing and in fact, the molecules that make up the flame are different from moment to moment. So the flame you see now (the consciousness you possess now) is not composed of the same stuff as the flame (consciousness) that you will see in just a moment.
- courtesy of mehereintheeast at Yahoo Answers

I must say, of all the religions, Buddhism has got more things right than most. The most important precept seeming to be: Don't believe anything because you're told, find out for yourself.

[Max, Janiece, Brenda, correct me if I got any of this wrong...]


Positive Moment

I was studying this evening, but in that meditative state (between sleeping and wakefulness), I had a couple "Aha" moments. It may have had something to do with the TV show I had watched while eating dinner. A couple friends of mine affectionately call it, "Zen Cop."
The first moment I had, well, actually, let's start with the second:
I don't know about you, but I sometimes feel constrained by labels. Through much of my life, I've avoided labelling. It's a box that people want to put you in to keep things neat and tidy. However, I have experienced, to my great surprise, a situation when I was irritated by the lack of definition and therefore the lack of labelling/categorization. The lack of information made me feel a bit powerless. So, I realized, in thinking on Aha number 1, that in describing the situation, I could say that Aha number 2 was that there is a time and a place for everything, including labelling.
The real Aha, however, was in reflecting on the above described (sort of) situation, I had a sudden realization. I don't know if I suddenly saw what was there all along, or if something in me reached the point where the truth changed (in many mental situations, perception IS reality, from a certain point of view). The situation where I had been struggling in a fog of unlabelledness, which I had been perceiving as negative -- all of a sudden was completely positive. I was free because I had never been pinned down in the first place. That very lack of definition was singular, and therefore unique, special, and powerful. It was beyond mere "looking at the bright side."
It was a very strange moment, and it's still with me. I expect it to fade, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts. I hope to be able to remember how to do it again. How would one recreate the moment? I don't know. Perhaps by taking a situation or circumstance and playing what if --
What if this circumstance is not negative, but supremely positive? What if what is false is true and what is true is false? What if the world were turned upside down?


Message From Afar

I got a surprise phone call today from Cheryl, my friend who's in India for a year with her husband. It was great to be able to talk to her firsthand and hear about what her daily life is like. It's not constant fun, I'm sad to say. Apparently, being Caucasian and a female draws a lot of stares and she's missing her privacy. She is enjoying the times she gets to travel and sightsee, but that isn't as often as she'd like. We also talked about my trip to go visit them in May. Hopefully I'll be able to. How long she stays there is dependent on how well she does in school and she's not sure she's managing that standard. There are a lot of cultural differences that she didn't expect.
She joked and laughed a good deal, but it seemed to me that she was feeling tired and adrift. She misses her cats, her garden, her architecture job, her house, and her friends. She sent hugs and hellos to the Girls Night In gals.

The funny thing is, a week ago, I sent a care package to her, filled with food that I don't think she has access to. When I first heard her voice on the line, I thought that she was calling to thank me. She didn't mention it at all, so she must not have gotten it yet. SO, that surprise is yet to come. Muahahahaha!


Makin' It For Ourselves

(If you can tell what song that is loosely based on, you win...)

Last night, the Girls Night In crew and I tried something new (no, not a pillow fight in our Victoria Secret jammies). We went to Entrée Vous, one of those meal preparation places. What on earth is a "meal preparation place," you ask. (Before I looked it up (see helpful links below), I was going to call it "cooking-assist," a term I just made up myself.) Meal preparation businesses seem to date back to around 2003. I'm not sure who originated it, but it seems on various sites to be a mother who was also a Cordon Bleu trained chef. I'll buy that.
The process is fairly simple:
- find a store near you
- go to their website and select an appointment time and several meals from their list of available meals (they generally vary seasonally)
- at your appointment, they will have ingredients prepared for you, with recipes, containers and measuring devices ready. All you have to do is put the prescribed amount of each ingredient in a bag or baking tin (provided), add a sticker with the baking/cooking instructions, and set aside. At the end of your appointment, your meals are bagged up and you leave with pre-assembled meals, ready to cook immediately or put in the freezer for later in the week/month.
The meals are generally simple (put these ingredients together and cook) and sized for families (4-6 servings). As a single person, I chose to divide each of the three dinners I chose into two (2-3 servings). You can also pickup pre-made dinners, if you don't have the time or interest in assembling them.
It was a fun experience, particularly since I was with 5 friends, only one of whom had done it before. We bordered on disastrous: I dropped a heavy spice bowl (didn't break anything and didn't make too much of a mess because most of the spice was gone, the reason I was picking it up) and two other gals used the wrong chicken (pre-cooked, rather than raw), but I think we'll be allowed to come back again.
The funniest part of the story is that the fastest prep award went to the only currently active mother (there is also one empty-nester mother) in the group. She prepped six meals in the time it took me to do three. She, being exceedingly modest, thought she'd be the slowest. I pointed out that she didn't have two teenaged sons and a husband to attend to at the same time, which made her laugh.
One thing I particularly liked about this place is that I was allowed to get only three dinners (which divided in two gave me 6 dinners). Also, it was a low investment way of trying out the service and their food. If I were to do this regularly, I'd use it to supplement, not substitute my own cooking efforts.
If you're looking into it yourself, before deciding on a place you'll want to look for a few things:
- Do they have a minimum number of dinners you can buy? If yes, does this work for you? This also translates into how flexible or service oriented they are. Do they allow splitting meals?
- Look at their recipes. Do they sound good to you ? (They don't always to me. For example, I'm not particularly interested in Stuffed Shells or chicken stuffed with cream cheese.) Do they provide nutritional information? Do they provide a good variety, with "heart healthy" or vegetarian options?
Entrée Vous, so far, has been good on all those fronts. The service was excellent, the staff helpful and ready to answer questions. The menu could have included a few more vegetarian options (I'm thinking of my parents), but I guess that fish options generally count towards that. I'll report on the taste and quality of the food and let you know how it goes.

Here's a link to The Easy Meal Prep Company, which "provides info and resources for the meal preparation industry" and more importantly for us, a resource for finding these sorts of stores in the area.

PS - Pictures would have been fun, but I forgot my camera. :(


If Life Were A Movie

Sometimes I feel like a speedbump in other people's lives, one of those secondary characters who just makes a short appearance in the movie to fill in a gap, like that girl that the hero is unhappily dating before he meets the heroine (re: every romantic comedy ever made - except Addicted to Love, which is delightfully screwy).

Then again, to the cats, I'm like Batman's butler, Alfred. Trusty ol' Alfred, who feeds them twice a day, fills their water bowl and their dry food bowl, and (of course) cleans their potty. (Actually, as a tangent, I've been meaning to describe how utterly freakin' cute it is when the cats are lying next to me and they reach out one paw to apparently keep physical contact with me. It's adorable.)

And, during family gatherings, I'm the comedy relief. Like Jar Jar Binks. Ok, not Jar Jar. How about Mr. Collins? Mmmm... closer, but still not flattering. Ah, I know -- Barf the Mog or The Waco Kid.

I guess I'm a lot of different characters to different people. I don't really think of myself as the hero of my own story though. And if I were, it'd be something like Pee Wee's Big Adventure. I'm searching for something, I just don't know where it is. Plus, it's got the right mix of drive and absurdity. Even Pee Wee didn't get to be the hero of his own movie. I guess I should start practicing, "Mr. Herman. Mr. Herman. You have a telephone call at the front desk."

Who do I aspire to be? Well, Laura Croft wouldn't be too shabby.

How will it all turn out? I have no idea. Tune in next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel!


Lunch Date with a Hot Chick

I met my online friend, Janiece, today!
For those of you not "in the know," the reference to a "Hot Chick" is from her personal blog, Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men. I can verify now that she is, indeed, a hot chick. We have photographic evidence (one in which I am, unfortunately, tucking in my chin for some reason, adding the obligatory 10 pounds per camera), but alas, I left it on the work computer, so I'll have to add that tomorrow morning. [Photo added Thurs. morning, and self-deprecating comment dialed back.]
We talked about a number of things, mostly family, work, and the work/life balance, nothing too earth-shattering. Sadly for you all, we didn't really talk about our online community. I guess we'll have to leave that for another day. Actually, I'd love to hear how Janiece found John Scalzi's Whatever, which is where I met her.
We had a tasty Mexican (pardon me, New Mexican) lunch at Little Anita's on south Colorado Blvd. (By the way, while looking for a reference, I found a cool site that reviews Mexican restaurants. I agree with their takes on all the ones I know.) Janiece recognized me because the blog entry about my car included a picture. So, not only hot, but smart too! We had fun and plan to do it again sometime in the near future.

PS - Apparently, Janiece, I had actual work to do too. Who knew? ;)

Janiece has posted on the experience as well, and waxes philosophical about online friends.


Basketweave Snow

Look at this cool pattern that showed up on my patio after a snowstorm last night. I think the brick must have retained the warmth from the previous day's heat, but the sand between the bricks did not.
Any other speculations?

Six Down, Three To Go

I just got the pass letters for General Structures and Lateral Forces. YAY!

New Feature

Over at Stonekettle Station, Jim complained about Blogger not having a "most recent comments" widget. One of his readers, the brilliant Eric, pointed out a way to use Blogger's existing widgets to create the same effect. Yay, Eric!
So, over on the right, you'll see a new "most recent comments" section that should be a handy resource to know what people have been commenting about.
I think you'll see why I'm so excited when you get used to it. :)

Later: It doesn't update as quickly as I thought it would. I'm not sure if that's because I haven't set it up right or a function of the widget. We'll see. [cue ominous music]


Fun With Cookies

I was having my dinner (minestrone, made from a packet -- economizing) I heard a banging on the door and I jumped up to see who it was. I rarely have unexpected guests. Turns out it was a late runing UPS man. Cool!
He brought me my post-Christmas treat - cooke cutters. Not those standard Christmas ones, though I did buy a set of those that I admired. I wanted cookie cutters for springtime because it's my favorite season. So, I went to the cookie cutter site that I bought my sister's Christmas gift at. They have lots of different shapes. So, here's what I got:

It's basically a bunch of springtime shapes. Bugs and the frog are obviously a bit of a stretch, but for whatever reason, I think of spring when I see them -- maybe because spring is when these things come back. Plus, I love the variety of bugs.
However, when looking for the above, I saw some appropriate for tea parties (which I plan to do more of):

And because I'm a geek I couldn't resist these two:

I don't know when I'll use them, but I had to get them.

I'll post pictures of actual cookies when I make them, but I'm enormously pleased with these. :)


Update on Ruth

I went to see my aunt Ruth this morning and she's doing much much better. She has been supported on all sides, from her son, Dan, and her nephew, Gregg, to her niece, Priscilla, and all the people who love her. Thanks to all who contributed thoughts or prayers for her well-being. She still has a ways to go yet, before her energy and capabilities are up to normal, but she seemed to be doing well when I was there.
We talked about our different current challenges and shared words of love for each other. She is such a special, shining light in the world, I'm glad she's decided to stay a while longer. She has a new theme in her life, butterflies, no doubt because of her feelings of transformation through these difficulties.

(In looking for a graphic to accompany this post, I ran across the above picture. It's from a quilting website, and since I know there are a couple quilters out there, I thought I'd include a link. AND it's from Australia! Cool. Here's the main page and here's another gorgeous butterfly pattern.)


Universal Songs

For your entertainment, two songs about the universe:

Yakko's Universe Song from Animaniacs
Monty Python's Universe Song from The Meaning of Life

The point of both is that the Universe is BIG and we're tiny specks. (Needless to say, it's a good perspective to keep in mind.)


Working My Way Up

I haven't posted a picture from my project recently, so here are two.
From the bottom:

From the top:

The building has almost reached its final height. The red stuff you see in the second picture is the steel for the roof. After such repetative site walks as I've had for months on end ("Oooh, another level. Whoop-ee."), it's awesome to see something new and different. Exciting stuff, eh?


Back to the Grindstone

Today was my first day back at work after a week and a half off. It wasn't too bad, actually. I actually was grumpier yesterday when some friends were planning a get together for next weekend and I was resistant to it -- mainly because I was feeling "peopled out." I'm sure this happens to everyone at one time or another. For me, it happens after a week and a half of doing things with and for other people. Fortunately, I seemed to be recovered today.

I should have been studying for the next exam this evening. I've decided to do Methods and Materials next. I wanted to do Mechanical and Electrical, but it's taking me a while to get the books and I don't want to "waste" any time, so I'm going to do an exam for which I already have the book. Anyway, I should have studied today, but instead I made Toll House Cookies, only with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips, for a friend in India. Her birthday was in Dec. and I'm sending her a care package from me and a bunch of her friends. I used the "high altitude" instructions, which I rarely do, and now I see why I rarely do it. The cookies, which normally turn out lovely and half-way between puffy and chewy, are flat and over-brown. Very irritating. I'll ignore the modifications next time.

And because my family is full of movie quoters (and game quoters), I think this cartoon appropriate: http://www.pvponline.com/1999/01/11/mon-jan-11/.


Best Wishes for 2008

I had a lovely time last night, ringing in the new year at my sister and BIL's house. We played games and laughed a lot and when the evening was over, I felt OK (not tired, not drunk) so I went home to my own bed and the kitties.

I think the upcoming year will hold some exciting new adventures for me. At the very least, I'll be finishing the ARE (not exciting, but at least it'll be done) and taking a trip to India (which is the epitome of an exciting adventure). I know there are some surprises to come (I hope they're all good ones!). I'll also continue to develop into the person I want to be. I want to be kinder to others and to myself. I want to be more at peace with the unknown. While we're at it, let's throw in peace on Earth (so the soldiers can come home!) and good will towards men (I tend to be suspicious of them).

I hope all of you will have new years full of fun, love, and laughter.