Self Medication

If there's anything in the world I could ever be addicted to, it would be chocolate. However, I'm not actually addicted to it. During the India trip, I ate chocolate only once during the entire 3 weeks. Even now, sitting at home a lot, I don't eat much chocolate (thankfully I'm not snacking much at all).

Except I think chocolate is my go-to "drug" when I'm feeling anxious or stressed. I know I used to eat chocolate when I'd get back from an owner meeting. Yesterday, I got my first bank statement with zero in the incoming column and I took a closer look at my budget. And I opened a bag of Ghiradelli chocolate chips. My equivalent of pouring myself a glass of scotch.

So, is that an addiction? It's certainly self-medication!


Mural Photos

Here, by popular demand, are some progress photos of the mural painting:

Me, painting the jungle-themed mural. This one will have a tiger and two monkeys. You may notice that I have a black panther keeping me company.

Jenn, painting the savanna-themed mural. She's working on the elephant. It will also include a lion, a giraffe, and a rhinoceros. There'll also be some animals not placed in their environment (see the snake?).

Here's the finished elephant. It's a very good example of the style we're shooting for.

Two Items:

Dumb made up word heard today: "automagically" (won't say where, to protect the innocent, but seriously people!)

For the record: I did not realize a small detail changed in a Facebook account would generate that kind of response. Nothing to see here... move along.



Whenever someone asks what superpower I would like to have, I usually say "flight" or "teleportation" so that I could travel as I liked and visit my far-flung friends and relatives whenever I want. (Like to Michelle's to have homemade Oreos.)

However, if someone were to ask what trait I already have that could be a superpower, I think I might say that I process toxins well. That would be physical ones (for example: I rarely get hangovers or food poisoning) and mental ones (I deal with "difficult" people well).

What superpower do you think you already have?


Busyness without Business

I have no idea how I get so busy without a job or children.

The last couple days I've been at my sister's with my future SIL, drawing and painting a couple murals for her new nursery. Turns out I have a talent for line work and Jenn has a talent for shading and details, so between the two of us, this is going to turn out awesome... eventually. It seems to be taking a while. We're making progress, and it feels great every time Jenn finishes up an animal (it has a jungle/safari theme). Now that the drawing is done, I'm focusing on doing the backgrounds and base coats.
My brother took photos, so I'll post some when I get them. In the meantime, you'll just have to wait.

Now I'm doing a few household chores before I'm off to my next thing.

So sorry to not be entertaining you all as I should! I'll keep my eyeballs peeled for some entertaining things to blog about. :)


Progress, of a Sort

I think I've recreated my resume about 6 times now on different programs (in an attempt to find the best combination for printing AND making a PDF). However, I've recently gotten an *cough*upgrade*cough* to some key programs and I think I've got it licked. I've also made some critical strides forward in the other documents I need.

It's just been slow.

I've figured out the equation for success, however - stay off the internet.

And with that, I'll return to my work. :)


Cool Map

I just discovered this on my friend Saqib's new website, so I thought I'd post about it here. It's an up-to-date representation of the face of the planet. Ostensibly it's to show where the daylight is, but it also claims to update the cloud patterns every 3 hours. This is the Peters version. They also have 4 other versions (because the world is a sphere and it's kinda hard to show a 3D object in 2D).

Go look at the full size version. I'll wait here...

Isn't that COOL? I love the lights that show up in the darkened portion.


Valentine's 2009

Things didn't go exactly as planned, but Valentine's 2009 was a rousing success in my book..
Saturday (actual V day), I got distracted by a friend so that by the time dinner rolled around, I didn't feel prepared to do all the steps involved in making the full dinner. So, we had a quick and yummy meal at Parisi (one of the few places in the area that didn't take reservations and was therefore not booked) and I put together the blackberry cobbler quickly for dessert. I had Haagen-das vanilla ice cream to have on top. It was deelicious.
Sunday, I put together the dinner. I made shrimp sauteed with butter, garlic, and red pepper flakes for an appetizer and grilled filet mignon steaks wrapped in bacon (thanks, Costco!) and asparagus. The second side was polenta with Fontina and bacon. It was very tasty (how can you go wrong with cheese and bacon?) but made a lot. So I'll have a bunch left over for... breakfast maybe?
It was a relatively low key dinner. Grilling is so easy. But both the polenta and the cobbler required some thought and planning. How clever I was to break them up to different days! :D

How were your Valentine's Days? Fun, I hope.


Here's the remaining cobbler. I forgot to take photos of the rest. Ooops!
I liked the cobbler (how can you go wrong with pastry and berries?) but I've made a much better peach cobbler before. Next time I think I'm going to modify that recipe instead. And now that I've thought about it, I'm going to make that peach cobbler for my next dinner. After all, I have peaches in the freezer that I really need to use up. ;)


Happy Valentine's Day

From today's Mutts:
"Love is the energy of life."
- Robert Browning

Thank you to all my friends and family for providing me with all the love and support a person could wish for. I love you all.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a documentation of my annual Valentine's Dinner. (I make a special dinner for myself regardless of whether I am with someone or not - if I am, then I share it, if not, I keep it all to myself ;)
Valentine's 2006
Valentine's 2008 (Part 1)
Valentine's 2008 (Part 2)
(I've done it other years, but these are the ones I have documented.)


Like the Footsteps of Doom

My DVD player has seemed to have a higher incidence of getting stuck. Could be the series I've been watching (Get Smart TV series, borrowed from Stacey), but I had one of the LotR commentaries on in the background while I was doing something else and it stopped too. So, we'll see.

Right now it's just irritating, but it seems like I'm going to have to get another player (Blue Ray?) sooner rather than later. Hurrumph. :/


Ink Cartridge or All-in-One Printer?

The next question is:
Do I stick with my 8-9 year old HP Deskjet 930c and just buy a new color ink cartridge for it = $40
Do I buy something like this HP Deskjet D4360 Inkjet Printer (all-in-one) for $80 or
HP DeskJet 6940 Inkjet Printer (all-in-one + networkable) for $100. Actually, doing a search for printers at OfficeMax, I have no friggen idea how to choose between the different models.

If I got an all-in-one, I would then have a scanner (which I don't now). But then again, I don't really NEED a scanner.

[deep sigh]

Opinions appreciated


Graphics Follow Up

Well, I've put an afternoon's work into being "serious" about the graphics.

Unfortunately, the results reflect that.

I won't post most of them (as they are mostly s***), but I will post something to show my dilemma.

Here is the more "architectural" sidebar from this morning's efforts. (Put up here for contrast.)

Here is the best of my afternoon's efforts.
Yes, it's pretty, but anyone see the problem?
Putting a brick wall on one's resume is NOT the symbol one wants on one's marketing material. (Might be appropriate for the current economy, but we don't want to dwell on that.)

Everything else suffers from either complete dullness (a column) or doesn't work with my logo (modern graphic vs. traditional logo).


Later: Ah! This is why ranting a little can have beneficial results. In articulating what is wrong, it can set you on the path to finding what is right.

I think I may have a decent idea.

Stay tuned...

Even Later: At last, I think I have something with the right symbolism, right shapes, and it works with my logo.
[cue trumpets]
Graduated colors version (I think it'll look even better printed)
Mono colors?

A good day's work.

Tomorrow, working on the text and layout...

Fun with Graphics - Opinions, Please!

I have been working on putting together some graphics for my résumé, something to give it some color and pizazz (remember, I work in a creative field - just having black and white text doesn't cut it anymore).
My original concept was to have a large semi-abstract graphic in the background.
The first attempts at these yielded much more organic shapes than I was thinking.
A try at making them more "architectural" yielded (in my opinion) something that looked forced. (See the first graphic on the left, here.)
In fiddling around with the shapes, I started repeating smaller figures and I like them much better. So, in the long run, I may end up putting a left-justified "side bar" graphic instead. The three examples I have on my second test page are my foray into that intention.
I can tell I'm just having fun with the shapes now and have lost touch with the original goal (graphic for architectural job search materials). I do want it to be fun and flexible though. When I was in school, I was always told that my designs were too rigid. While I think I've grown away from that, I don't want to get too loosey-goosey.

Opinions, please?

And for your entertainment, the test sheet I put together of my updated logo (really really simple - don't get all excited). I'm sending them to the printer so I can see how each color turns out from their machines.


Showering the Baby

We had a baby shower for my sister yesterday. The photo above is a little dark (the flash didn't go off) but I love the natural feel of it and the expressions of the people.
I think it went very well. There were about 20 there, including the guest of honor and the planners. We had just the right amount of food (not too much and not too little). The theme was was "tea party," so Krissy brought a bunch of different teas. All of them were tasted and appreciated. Krissy brought a lemon tea bread, pumpkin bread, and handled the selection of games. Fortunately for all of us, she dislikes contrived group games as much as I do, so she had a couple very practical semi-games and we were able to spend all our time chatting, eating, and watching Aileen open gifts. Jenn was hostess (kudos to my brother for helping with the cleaning beforehand) and also made an awesome coffee cake. We had to consolidate chairs, but she was amazed to find that the gathering fit very well in her reasonably sized home (as opposed to my "snug/cozy" one).

I brought sugar cookies. (See above.)
So that we didn't collapse in a sugar coma, we also had Cider Cheddar fondue (with bread and apples for dipping), and carrots, celery, mushrooms, and potato chips with ranch dip.
It all went remarkably well and in between checking the tea pots to make sure we had enough tea, I got to see some of my favorite people. So, it was really nice. A round of applause to my co-hostesses.


Review: The Late Bloomer's Revolution

Jen A was kind enough to send me this book after I was laid off (we had discussed it on her blog, but I had forgotten she was planning to send it) and had a sudden influx of reading time. I actually finished this book last week and meant to send a commentary to Jen, but today I had a lack of blog fodder (other than I am SO not used to working at home!) so here's my review.

The Late Bloomer's Revolution
, by Amy Cohen
Amy is a wonderfully descriptive writer - an overdramatic and slightly neurotic New York writer - but very descriptive. Her talent for story-telling, I believe, may be behind some of her troubles in the book. She is constantly imagining what other people think and do and is super-conscious of her own life *as a story.* (This latter, I have experienced myself. It only becomes a problem if you start judging your life as if it should be structured like an epic tale and start making decisions accordingly.)
The stories she tells about herself are wonderfully humble. She doesn't do everything well, in fact, her failures and frustrations are very human. It makes for a fast read.
Her theorizing about what her life is about and why why why is it not going the way it "should" be going just about drove me up the wall. When I got to the end, I understood why. She was working her way towards a realization that she (I don't think I'm "ruining" the end here) is ultimately responsible for all the choices in her life and the reason she is where she is is that she chose to be there. "This was my shit. For better or worse." I came to the same understanding in the last few years and as Amy also experienced, it's terribly liberating. And the funny thing is, I don't think that she learned it that late (I think she was around 40 at the end of the book). I think everyone else is also working toward that kind of understanding and acceptance of who they are and some are just doing it a different way. Marriage (which Amy both avoids and longs for in the book) is not a storybook ending, it's a carnival, complete with rollercoaster rides of emotions and a fun-house of mirrors presenting you with both real and distorted images of yourself. It's a school where you learn about yourself and how you deal with other people. The unmarried do it too, just with different players in the key roles.
This realization is, I believe, the next step after the realization Amy came to - that of taking responsibility for one's choices. Accepting your choices (good and bad) is the first step to accepting yourself, as you are (good and bad). Accepting doesn't mean you don't try to work on expressing what you value, but it does mean giving up on comparing yourself with those around you. When you do that, marriage becomes not a Holy Grail, but merely a different road.
So, I think Amy's book describes a portion of this journey. I'm glad she shared it with the world, as I'm sure there are many people who identify with her. I'm just glad I'm past that portion myself. It was hard! And I learned something! :)


Cakes and Other Weekend Fun

This weekend was a fun and social weekend.
Friday night, I went to a friend's potluck birthday girls-night-out. I made a fabulous veggie lasagna. It's really simple (no eggplant unless you want it). The trick was a good faux ground meat (I used one that is made of mushroom protein.) and not using partial skim dairy products. I can see if someone is eating the whole thing, they'd want to limit their fat intake, but at a party where everyone has a small portion, it makes sense to make that small portion taste GOOD. My friend, Erica, was staying the night (as she lives in the mountains) and we stayed out much later than we expected.
Saturday night, I went out to a Greek restaurant with my good friend, Janiece and her SmartMan and Smart/HotFriends. They are such a fun group to get to know. I wore my new purple pumps and not only were they admired, they were comfortable and relatively easy to walk in. I think the best compliment on the evening was that we stayed out late, not wanting it to end. (Two late nights in a row? The only reason that worked is because I was able to sleep in the next day!) Janiece says the ouzo gave her weird dreams. I don't know if it does that for me, but it sure does taste nasty. I'll take a shot of tequila or vodka (ultra cold!) or practically anything else instead, please.
On Sunday, I went over to my brother and his fiancee's house to work on a couple projects. One of those projects was to bake and decorate a cake for the Superbowl. (Cake decorating is something I need to practice if my mum and I are going to avoid making a complete mess of my brother's wedding cake.)

Here is a shot of me coloring the icing. Jenn is just outside of the shot, on the right.

This one is me, delineating the Cardinals' logo...

This one is Jenn, putting a border around the top...

And THIS [cue fanfare] is the finished cake. Not bad, if I do say so myself. We were sick of buttercream frosting by the end, that's for sure.

ETA: Grrr... Stupid formatting issues...


Old Pic (Now With 200% More Pics)

Over the weekend, I had a great time decorating a cake with my future SIL, Jenn. I'll post about it soon, but I need her to send me the pictures she took. In the meantime, here's a UCF Internet Meme that I thought looked fun. Unfortunately, though I have some great old photos, they are not digitalized and I don't have access to a scanner, so I'll post one that my brother posted recently on Facebook.

This is me and my brother and sister. Can you tell we grew up in the sticks? I'm not sure our ages at this point. I'll let my mum chime in on that one if she chooses to.

Other UCFers who have participated:
Jeri (originator of the meme)
Janiece (*fabulous* photo of her graduation from bootcamp)
Michelle (like my sister, is a brunette who was blonde as a child)
and Kim (who used to show award-winning dogs and would therefore adore my older sister's entire dog-showing family)

Added the next day:
My wonderful mum sent me the following photos

From the same "photo shoot" (family walk) as the previous one.

This is me and my mum when I was around 3 or so. The horse is Willie and later in life, I learned to ride on him.

Added later:
Jim Wright has bowed to the peer pressure and posted some childhood pics of his own. Towheaded hellions, I imagine the Wright brothers to be.