Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fun with Fleece

About a year ago, my mom gave us a sewing machine with the hope that I’d take it up and make all types of great things for our house. It sat on the shelf unused (mostly because I’m too impatient to learn how to use it correctly), but my husband rescued it from oblivion a couple of months ago and quickly caught the sewing bug. He’s made iPhone pouches & a pillowcase, and recently he’s been consulting YouTube videos to learn different types of seams (Oh, you need a flat felled seam? Yeah, he can do that). Yesterday he took on his most complicated project yet: tailoring a jacket.

This fleece jacket was an Xmas present from work two years ago, but the only available size was a Men’s Large. Not too wearable. Luckily for me, husband took on the challenge.

First, he took all my measurements and the dimensions of the coat. To get the right fit (fitted but not too snug), he decided to trim the waist by 20″ (!) and each arm by 10″. It was a very large jacket. He sewed the new seams first, then cut away the excess fabric. Then all the seams were reinforced and finished by hand.


So…basically my husband is a miracle worker. It’s like having an entirely brand new jacket, fitted especially to me. He’s offered to teach me his sewing skills, so that’ll be my resolution for 2012. I just hope my first project will turn out as successfully (unlikely).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tea Party!


Highly recommend Upton Tea Imports if you enjoy high quality loose leaf tea but don’t want to get robbed at a mall kiosk or other specialty shop. They send an extensive catalog every few months that’s fun to look through and choose new flavors, and they always include a couple of free samples with every order. It’s easy to find something for a variety of price ranges, too. They carry some pretty rare blends along with their everyday teas. All that we’ve tried has been excellent so far, and we just ordered a new batch last week. Can’t wait to try their Earl Grey!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Every Girl's Christmas List

These American Girl “inspired” dolls each come with their own theme and storybook. Vespa-cruising ballet dancers, wealthy horse riding champions, and other reasonable goals for girls to aspire to. My favorite is the teen mom doll.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

White Christmas in a Convenient, 25lb Bag

It’s fake snow! And apparently it’s impregnated. I’m not sure if that’s appropriate.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

That time I was carded for squash...

Two mini-dramas of the day:

1) Starbucks for morning coffee, 8:53am. Lady in front of me is ordering a large caramel frappuccino with extra caramel and extra whipped cream. The barista takes a venti 24oz cup and starts marking it with the order. The customer exclaims, "Did you not hear me? I said a LARGE. I want THIS SIZE!" and points to the new trenta 31oz cup. "Sorry Ma'am. We can only serve iced coffee and iced tea in that size, Corporate's orders." Commence five solid minutes of arguing back and forth and accusations of atrocious customer service, concluding with the customer grabbing the measly 24oz of sugary yum-yums and storming out of the store in a huff.

2) Target for a box of Pacific Natural Butternut Squash Soup, 5:35pm. Cashier scans the soup and demands to see my ID. I ask why; he says I can't buy "that stuff" without being 21. I tell him that I'm not showing my ID. It's soup. He says that a lot of wine looks just like what I'm buying. That's fine, but I'm not buying boxed wine. I'm buying soup! He will not relent. Cashier calls the manager to the register. The manager confirms that I do not need to show ID to buy butternut squash soup. Thank you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Naive Son & Midnight in the Garden of Goo and Evil (#bookswithalettermissing)

(More #bookswithalettermissing, my favorite Twitter hashtag in ages).

Truly, though, the Sons were naïvely optimistic this year when it came to garden tomatoes. We planted our tomatoes in early April, thinking that by the time July rolled around we'd see something like this:


Instead, Texas decided to have its hottest summer in 30 years (and possibly ever, if we keep up the 100+ degree days for another week). At first we were amused by the early high temperatures, thinking that the weather would settle down and only the first round of tomatoes would be affected:

Haha, the heat rotted out one of the tomatoes to look like a mouth! How cute!

Soon, though, we realized that we were not going to enjoy limitless tomato-basil salads, bloody marys, and homemade pasta sauce. In the course of about three weeks one of our crops went from this:

Look how healthy! We're going to have so many tomatoes we'll have to give them away!! :D

 To this:


So, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. Not the best year for tomato gardens. I will say, though, that Roland and his green thumb managed to save a healthy dozen or so of the tomatoes before they dried up, and his basil is thriving like a desert plant. And he cultivated a bunch of cucumbers and this beautiful eggplant that was delicious with olive oil & salt:

Survivor: Garden Edition

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Grisly (and Grizzly) Crime

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trashy Update:

The box spring was removed from our front curb...and not by the bulk-trash truck! We think our neighbor across the street took it, because he was outside when we carried it to the curb and remarked, "Why, HELLO there." At the time we thought he was addressing us, but it looks like his greetings were actually intended for the box spring he was planning to swipe. Enjoy it, neighbor!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bulk Trash

Our neighbor decided to cut down a small forest. Why? We do not know.
On our evening jaunt around the neighborhood, Roland and I happened upon a rare treat: looking through our neighbor's garbage. Okay, not their actual garbage full of banana peels and coffee grounds -- just the bulk trash they decided to put out on the curb for pick-up. Bulk trash pick-up is the last week of every month here, and there are very specific guidelines for what does and what does NOT qualify for pick-up:

OK: large limbs, shrubbery, bagged leaves (in sealed bags with a maximum 50 gallon capacity), furniture, appliances, mattresses and box springs

NOT OK: bagged grass clippings, new construction or remodeling materials such as lumber or roofing materials, bricks, concrete, rocks, dirt, paint, oil and hazardous containers

Do not ask me why a bag of leaves is acceptable but leaving a a bag of grass clippings outside for pick-up can carry a hefty fine of up to $200. Are they really opening the bags to check and make sure there's no grass in there?

Also, many people seem to see bulk-trash pick-up as an excuse to throw away regular sized items that could easily fit in their 90-gallon standard issue trash cans/recycle bins (weekly trash collection occurs in the alleys every Tuesday). Is this allowed? The rules don't explicitly prohibit it, but I'm sure it's annoying for the bulk trash staff, who are already probably having to deal with bags of prohibited grass clippings.

Then there are people like our neighbor, who apparently cut down half the limbs on his oak trees just to celebrate bulk trash pick-up day (picture above). 

Luckily, all this trash reminded us that we had our first OK contribution to bulk pick-up, the box spring from our old bed set-up that we unsuccessfully tried to donate for several months. Tip: The Dallas Salvation Army will NOT take queen & king sized box springs without an accompanying mattress. After convincing Roland that he did not need to do any "unwelding" to the springs to break it down, we carried it out to curb where it will hopefully be the topic of someone else's blog post.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Roland's Birthday Weekend, in iPhone Pictures

1. Roland's Birthday Popover - eggs, milk, flour - and a little rum (berries and sugar on top)
2. Birthday Eve lunch at R+D Kitchen
3. Looking suave with leftovers in the ritzy Highland Park area of Dallas

4. Sprinkles Cupcakes for a birthday treat
5. Coconut and key lime cupcakes, before they started melting in the 100 degree heat.
6. "The first duty of a cupcake is to be lemon-flavored." Key lime passed the test as well.

7. At Roland's parents for Sunday dinner/family birthday celebration
8. A full dozen beautiful eggs from Roland's sister. Fresh from her backyard chickens!
9. Traditional chocolate birthday cake made by R's dad. There has been some version of this cake (with the same sugar letters) every year.

Happy Birthday, Husby!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dedicated to the neighborhood stray cat, who is mad at us

We may not have any pets in the Son family, but that's not to say we don't love animals.

Exhibit A: We like to watch the occasional rousing match between swine & cephalopod.
Exhibit B: We have great respect for exotic animals, even when they're taxidermied camels from the 1970's with creepy smiles for sale in an antique store.
 Exhibit C: And who wouldn't love a taxidermied otter?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oh, Sweet Mama, your Daddy's got them Deep Ellum Blues...

A couple of weeks ago R and I took the DART (metro) way down to South Dallas for the Deep Ellum Arts Festival:

Conclusion: It was really damn crowded. Also, I was disappointed that most of the "art" was mass produced, imported from China and marked up 1000%. I was looking forward to handmade local artisan wares!
The most exciting (and terrifying) part about the festival happened right after we hopped off the DART and were waiting at the station with a crowd of people to cross the street. A man in a tie-dyed shirt coming back from the festival (who had apparently partaken in the copious amounts of alcohol available there), started running towards us to catch the train, and didn't see that another one was headed into the station right towards him. It was moving at quite a steady clip, let me tell you, and this guy was not in good shape. He seemed to be completely oblivious, and when it became clear that he had no intention of waiting for the train to pass, Roland cried out, "Stop! Dude, wait!" and suddenly the crowd all freaked out and started yelling helpful things like, "Ohmygod! You're not going to make it!" and "You're going to die!!!!" This snapped our oblivious friend back into reality as he became abruptly frantic and tried to run even faster. Advice: Do NOT try to outrun a train if you are a drunk old hippie. Or really, if you are anyone. Just wait for the train to go by.
Thankfully, the train operator saw the commotion and slammed on his brakes just as the guy ludicrously attempted to leap over the tracks, tripping over his feet and falling to the ground in the process. The crowd pulled him the rest of the way to safety, and the DART train operator stopped anyway just to show everyone that he totally could have averted disaster even if Old Tie-Dye hadn't tripped his way across the tracks.

Anyway, maybe it was because we came very close to seeing a guy get hit by a train that the festival didn't seem as exciting as it could have been. After 45 minutes of being pushed around in a throng of art-ogling Dallasites, we decided to ride the train back to Uptown and get a pizza at a New York Style Pizzeria called Grimaldi's. We ate most of it outside with a couple of beers while we people-watched. It was the best part of the day!
Jalepe├▒os and onions on Kate's girl half, Sausage and onions on Roland's boy half.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Please stop terrorizing us!

The ants are in our shower now. Nowhere else as far as I can tell, just the shower. Online sources point towards a nest somehwere under the house near the pipes. I have already bought little ant poison pebbles and sprinkled them around the house's perimeter, but these shower ants have somehow evaded destruction. Help! I need advice on what to try next. Roland does NOT want to call an exterminator. What other options do we have?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring is here!

Spring is officially here in Texas, and the weather has been absolutely perfect. We invited Ben and Rosemary over last night to celebrate the changing of the seasons with a barbecue.

During the barbecue, Rosemary found the giant red "S" that I have recently acquired from an old sign at work. I'd like to hang it somewhere prominent, like in the kitchen or the living room, but Roland suggests the garage. Thoughts?

Lastly, we got a glimpse of our fickle friend, Ballsina the cat. She is a stray, left here (along with several other cats) by someone that used to live in the area and couldn't be bothered to take care of their pets anymore. :( Ballsina, along with her brother, pretty much have the run of the neighborhood. They climb fences, and as seen here, jump onto roofs so they can bird watch from a better vantage point.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Today is a special day in Casa de Son, as it marks the 2-year anniversary of "when things got real." Actually, things were pretty real right from the start three weeks earlier, but Roland really pulled out all the stops on Valentine's Day ' a little plan he now refers to as "Operation Woo."

I arrived at R's apartment that Saturday evening with my contribution to his home cooked Valentine's meal - a few scraggly heart(blob)-shaped blueberry muffins. As I had not yet sampled Roland's cooking and didn't realize I was dating a gourmet-worthy cook, I wasn't immediately embarrassed by my sad baking skills. All I knew was that my sweet, 24-year-old almost boyfriend was cooking dinner for us. I maybe expected macaroni and cheese, or if he was especially talented perhaps a roasted chicken. What I did not expect was this:

Roland's "Woo to the Max" Meal
Roland had gone out to Central Market (like Whole Foods, but local & better) and purchased Patagonian Toothfish, baby potatoes, and fresh asparagus. He then poached said toothfish and crafted a special lemon-butter-caper sauce that to this day is the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. To top it off, he had the bottle of wine that was the key in turning me into the wino that I am today. [Confession: Patagonian Toothfish is not as scary and exotic as it sounds. It's actually just the less marketable moniker for this guy]

After the most wonderful dinner ever, I gave Roland a special musical card* I'd hunted down (he had been humming a particular song for the past week, and I'd finally found a card that played it), and he serenaded me with a song he'd been practicing on his guitar. He then told me that he was "madly in like" with me. Needless to say, "Operation Woo" was a smashing success. I was hopelessly smitten.

Valentine's Day 2009 - first picture of Kate and Roland
Happy Valentine's Day to my Love - I'm the luckiest girl in the world to be able to call you my husband!

*The musical card didn't fare so well. When I came back to his apartment later in the week, Roland had carefully taken it apart into dozens of tiny pieces so he could figure out exactly how it worked. Of course, all I saw was a torn up Valentine's Day card strewn across the table. It was only when he started to explain the wiring, amplifiers, etc. to me that I realized I was dating an electrical engineer, after all, and I probably shouldn't take it too personally.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow Holiday February 4, 2011

Preparing for the cold!

Not a whole lot of snow by most of the country's standards, Dallas' first-week-of-February storm still shut down schools and businesses for several days. The worst part was the ice - because we're not used to this kind of weather, the city doesn't have fleets of snow plows on standby, and salt isn't stocked to treat the roads. As a result, the streets were an absolute mess. Luckily, we were able to stay home on Tuesday and Friday (the worst weather days), and on Friday we decided to brave the elements and take to the streets. Well, to the sidewalks around the neighborhood, at least.

Taking a break from work to enjoy the snow


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Pony for Sale"

Although we both work hard at our respective jobs, Roland and I still find time to communicate via email at least a couple times a day. Early on, our emails had tentative and boring subject lines such as:
  1. "Message"
  2. "Good Afternoon"
  3. "Hi"
  4. "Wednesday Movie Night?"
After things got serious, our emails became less so:
  1. "Love you!"
  2. "Sweet like a Dinosaur"
  3. "Meow"
Then, one day, I sent Roland a now infamous email with the seemingly harmless and par-for-the-course nonsensical subject line of "Pony for Sale." The only problem was that Roland hadn't told me he was headed into a presentation where his computer would be hooked up to a projector for his coworkers to see. Of course, as soon as he got everything set-up and was about to close down his other programs, my email popped up with a loud "ding" and Outlook displayed "Pony for Sale" in the right hand corner, magnified to about 2 feet on the projector wall. Poor Roland got a lot of crazy looks during that meeting.

Flustered but ever good-humored, Roland sent me an email to explain what had happened as soon as he got back to his desk. The title of his email: "DO YOU LOVE SWEET BABY PONIES AS MUCH AS I DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11"

We decided that from that point on, we should disguise our silly emails with serious, business-oriented subject lines in case an email ever popped up again at an inopportune moment. (Which worked out well, because a week later I was showing my boss some reports when Roland checked-in). Now our emails appear slightly more professional, if sometimes only at first glance:

Kate to Roland (the Design Engineer):
  1. "Layout Meeting and Design Specs"
  2. "Exciting Update in the World of Semiconductors"
  3. "Calculator Quarterly Report"
  4. "The Link Between Semiconductors and Semi-trucks: Semi"
  5. "Important Engineering-Related Question"
Roland to Kate (Marketing/Promotions for a Bookstore)
  1. "Sales Figures"
  2. "Donate to my Personal Library"
  3. "To Engineer a Bookworm"
  4. "Books for Tots: Tax Deductible Donation Event"
  5. "Important Book-Related Question"
These worked out pretty well for us, but now that we've learned to simply filter spousal emails to a separate folder so they don't pop-up, we can be more relaxed. I recently received an email requesting a campaign to end the serious problem of "Manatee Illiteracy," and Roland may now have one waiting for him called "Semiconductors and Squids: How Squishy Sea Creatures are Redefining Electrical Engineering."
Won't You Help Us Learn to Read??

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This here's a story 'bout a bed named Bed...

Our new, handmade in the USA (by Roland's dad), bed is here!

After spending countless hours designing, building & staining the bed from raw oak boards, R's dad brought over the pieces yesterday afternoon (over 100 pieces in all!), and he and Roland got to work on assembling it. After 1.5 hours, most of the frame and bolts were together:

Another half hour, and assembly was complete. We discovered that with the platform height of the bed, we no longer needed a box spring. This is how our bed looks all made-up:

Just for fun, we decided to try the bed with our old box spring to see how high it would really be. The answer: really high.

I kind of liked the extra altitude, but I admit it wasn't too practical. Maybe if I was 8-years-old I'd be more insistent on this "princess elevation." Plus, R kept hitting his head on the ceiling fan, so it was a no-go.

 All together, this solid oak bed weighs 220 pounds and is held together with about 90 bolts. It carries a 400-year warranty, and will surely be in our family for generations to come.
The End.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Live Chicks!

My sister-in-law and her boyfriend are the proud parents of four baby chickens! Well, the chicks are a few weeks old now, so maybe not so babyish anymore.

Raising chickens is legal in Dallas, as long as you don't have any roosters. So far so good - none of the chickies are getting the colorful signs of rooster-ism, but they won't know for sure for a couple more weeks.

Roland and his sister had chickens growing up, but it was the first time I'd seen one up close (not counting the baby chicks they had at COSI Science Museum in Columbus). I didn't realize how territorial chickens were; the black one in the first picture is downright vicious and pecks at anything (except the baby grey chick) that gets too close.

My sister-in-law's boyfriend designed and built a high-tech coop in their backyard, and the chicks will be moving to their new outside quarters once it warms up in Dallas. Baby chicks need the temperature to be around 95 degrees to thrive, and without a mother hen or lots of other little chicks to snuggle with, they have to be inside with a heater running 24/7.

I know Roland really likes these chickens and thinks it would be fun to have some of our own, but for now I'm hoping he can go visit his sister's chickens whenever he gets the urge. Besides, I feel that we'd have to give up all chicken stews, cacciatore, stir frys, etc. out of respect and sensitivity for our pets, and I don't think we're ready to make that commitment.