Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

We went to a party on Saturday night hosted by an associate professor to celebrate her grad student's thesis defense and it was also a Halloween party! I convinced Paul that we should go as the remaining original members of KISS (which would make this about the 4th or 5th time I've donned Paul Stanley's face paint):

For some reason the girl and her friend opted out of being the rest of the band. Weird, I thought teenagers wanted to be cool.

Then today for Halloween, I dressed as Alex from the movie, "A Clockwork Orange":

This is my attempt at emulating the McDowell's famous face from the poster:

But I think I ended up just looking like his cookie-baking mom. I enjoyed a chai (remember that from the book?) at Starbucks to cap off the costume:

I remotely partook in the annual costume contest at my workplace and vocal reactions fell in two distinct camps: 1) I have no idea who you are (including the college kid who took my picture at the Starbucks) and 2) I remember that movie...ugh.

I didn't win the costume contest this year (winners were Regan from The Exorcist and Quorra from Tron) and perhaps it was due in large part because half the folks didn't know who I was.  Or maybe because my costume was pretty simple and lo-fi.  Or maybe because it wasn't outside the box enough--Violent nihilistic rapist and murderer?  So Frances

In any case, I still LOVE dressing up for Halloween and loved wearing it for the trick-or-treaters we had.  Hope everyone else also had a great Halloween!

Last day to donate to my crafting for Alzheimer's effort!

So many thanks to those who have already donated to my donation page! Almost at my goal and loving an opportunity to share handmade love, i.e., zippered pouches! This is my final rally for any donations (no matter how small!) as I come closer to reach my goal through today, Monday, October 31! Drawing is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 1! Thanks again for helping save the world!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Still Crafting for Alzheimer's!

So much thanks to those who have already donated to my donation page! Already at 13 donors--and hoping for more as I cut material to make more zippered pouches! I received word that the final cut-off for our WalkTeam is through Monday, October 31! So there's time to donate until then--I'll be drawing on Tuesday, November 1! Thanks again for all your support!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Would Love Your Support as I Craft to End Alzheimer's

Even though I can't physically join my company in the Walk to End Alzheimer's this Saturday in California, I decided I still wanted to help raise funds for it--by crafting instead of walking.  I started my own donation page for the Walk to End Alzheimer's.  I would absolutely appreciate any support from encouraging words or stories to donations of any amount to my page.

Though my experience isn't with Alzheimer's, those who know me really well know that I have long personal experiences with someone close slowly losing himself or herself psychologically/mentally.  In my conversations with those where Alzheimer's has affected their families, it seems a lot of the traits are shared in that it is absolutely a brutal mix of shock, heartbreak, fear, anger, helplessness, guilt, and disappointment.  Sweet memories and all-too-rare glimmers of lucidity sometimes transcend such a vicious cycle, but frankly it's familial love, devotion, and responsibility to that person (and sometimes a touch of dark humor) that keeps one grounded in resolve that can run very thin and brittle.  And honestly, sometimes that isn't even enough to keep some of the hopeless thoughts running through the mind.  And additionally, what compounds the stress is the general attitude towards mental health still reduces it to a punch line or a boogey-man affliction that should simply be avoided or locked up.  Such popular perspectives and sentiments like these are truly isolating for affected individuals and families.

So it remarkable and encouraging that due to the success of such groups as the Alzheimer's Association (the benefactor of this Walk), significant strides in research have been made where there are better medications, better pre-treatments, and better diagnoses for those with Alzheimer's.  And just as powerful, more stigma is removed the more is done to support such research.  I hope, by virtue of piggybacking, more attention will be paid and less stigma applied to other mental health and brain function issues.

So who's with me?  Can I entice your support with a cute handmade zippered pouch?  Measuring roughly 4-5" by 10", it's perfect for candy stashing, pens and pencils, travel toiletries, makeup, cords, etc.  It even comes with a lovely tag that says it's been handmade by yours truly and supports the Alzheimer's Association.  Ready to gift!

For every 5 folks that donate (and no donation is too small--I know this economy has affected everyone) to my page by THIS Monday, October 31 (updated date) (sorry I know, just a few days--such short notice!), I will craft a zippered pouch and randomly select a donor's name for each of them--a 1 in 5 chance!  And even better, for each donation of $50 or more, I'll just make one for you--a 1 in 1 chance!

Trust me when I say that these are handcrafted with love, learning, and just a smidge of swearing! And isn't it a nice time to get a headstart on the holidays?  Hope you'll support my efforts!

I plan on posting the drawing this Tuesday (updated)--so beautiful donors, check back in case the donation page doesn't send me donor info--thanks for any support!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Made these

So after my initial lesson with Linda, I got crafty on my own--using the ridiculous stash of fabric that I already have.

Most are with what I deemed a complementary fabric lining and I actually nailed down the concept of getting the zipper right:

Not bad, right?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Well they weren't exactly Michigan State

Well the Jaguars actually won out but the score was a dismal 12-7 and a pretty wretched game of fumbles and turnovers, so I didn't win the pool, ugh.

At least I'm getting better--on to next week...

Way to go Michigan State--Let's go Jacksonville

This might be a great football week for me. There was the incredible last second finish to the Michigan State win over Wisconsin and I finally have a chance to win a week in my football pool if Baltimore wins by 8 points or less AND the total score is 40 or over tonight. Even if Jacksonville wins, I still need the total score to be 40 or over.

So let's go Jaguars and please score a LOT.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

OC recap: Breakfast at your Desk fundraiser for Alzheimer's

My office back in SoCal is doing a TeamWalk this year for Alzheimer's. Even though I'm not able to do the Walk, I wanted to do a fundraiser while I was out there.  So I did what used to be my annual "Breakfast at your Desk" fundraiser, where a group of us would make and deliver a breakfast of say, quiche, bacon/veggie sausage, potatoes, fruit salad, hot beverage, and juice.  Also I would make a sweet treat for later.

Since I was traveling I didn't attempt to make anything that required a lot of baking.  So I decided on chocolate covered oreo cookies.  But I jazzed it up with a little inspiration from Linda:

Linda kindly shared some of her X and O sprinkles:

I also planned on making little origami boxes to house one each white chocolate and dark chocolate Oreo:

Linda even gave me some baker's twine to complete the cute package:

But I didn't leave myself enough time to make so many origami boxes so I ended up delivering them in cupcake liners instead.  Here is my plate (though I swapped out the bacon for veggie sausage) and unfortunately, as one of the last served, I only got a smidge of the awesome breakfast potatoes:

I also struggled with the coffee-maker (we had only whole beans and I wrestled with the coffee grinder) which resulted in delayed breakfasts but everyone was very kindly patient with us. Thanks to everyone for making it a success!

OC recap: Getting crafty with Linda

I loved the pouch that Linda made me so much, she said she'd show me how to make them because they're "so easy" to make. The usual tacit part is "so easy for her". But I actually made these two lovelies with her guidance:

Of course, I goofed up on the zipper on this one:

And then I watched her make these cute cupcakes:

Which was another cute project of hers I wanted to rip off...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Augie recap

During his all too brief visit, my sweet nephew covered all the cute bases, including sleeping:

Bathing in the kitchen sink:

Wearing footie pajamas:

Being super cute with his cousin:

Sleeping like a spider monkey in his carrier with his auntie:

Trying to partake in his auntie's Thai Iced Tea without the concept of how to use a straw:

Bathing in a real bath tub:

And this hilarious pic that was made when the girl was gently putting her hand up to the baby's face and the camera caught all the motion blur:

Aww, Augie, you always make me smile.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

OC Recap: A day with Raider Nation

I ended up spending quality time with friends who are big Raider fans, including my first afternoon at Killarneys, a Raiders pub in Huntington Beach. Being around devout fans when their team wins (they beat the Jets) is always going to be celebration.

On top of that, at a birthday celebration later that evening, I actually met a former Raider who was wearing his ring from the 1980 SuperBowl, Cedrick Hardman:

I think what was most fascinating about Mr. Hardman (other than the impressive fact that he still holds the sack record for the SF 49ers) was that he went to college on an engineering scholarship! And then he went on to be a first round draft pick. Wild turn, right? Anyway, super nice and down-to-earth man.

Despite the reputation, I have to say folks in Raider Nation can be pretty darn nice.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Now I know that companies roll out certain lines of their stuff regionally, so the question is, do you have this in the grocery store in your town?

Kinda wish you were in South Carolina now, right?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

iPhone 4s

With a heavy heart, I had to drop off my sweet nephew (and my sister) off at the airport early this morning. My sadness was mildly mitigated by the arrival of my new iPhone 4s--an upgrade thanks to my employer, hooray!

I also made the switch to Verizon--real excited about being able to connect almost everywhere. I was a bit anxious about syncing and getting this guy started and actually ended up calling a friend to kick start me. It worked. Unfortunately, I had to sync about 3 times as I kept going over the 16 GB--I deleted songs but I really need to get more bare bones about the music I keep on there (yeesh, it doesn't seem like I've got 12 GB of music on there). Also I came upon the term "digital clutter" and I totally know that applies to my apps. With so many free apps, I'll download them, amuse myself for a few weeks, and forget about them. So I can definitely easily pare down on the apps I don't really use: Magic 8 ball and two sudokus? And as much as I use on my PC, it's not as handy on my iPhone as I don't really do much writing on my iPhone--and that one is a real memory hog at 127 MB.

I haven't explored all the new things about the 4s--and since I'm upgrading from a 3G, there is a lot of them, like video, front-facing camera, 8mp camera, and a new thing called Siri. Siri is supposed to be this ability to understand your tasks by speaking them but I'm a bit skeptical, despite the video making it look so easy. But I'm game to give it try.

But the immediate next step is to get this precious baby in a protective case. Good excuse to make a trip up to the big city, Charlotte, and hit the Apple store and hang with a friend!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Football pool mojo

Well this guy was happy the Patriots won:

Though his auntie would have been happier if they won by the spread.

Ugh, my picks have been absolutely dismal to mediocre this year. I am just not getting solid vibes on my picks this year. Unlike last year, I am absolutely floundering in the bottom third of the pool and the gap has grown to 9 between me and the leader in the overall.

And worse, I think I jinxed my dear Lions--though I thought they'd win, I didn't necessarily think they'd win by the spread. And then, Detroit ended up losing all together. On top of that, the Schwartz-Harbaugh "Oh no you didn't!" exchange! What have I done?

Yeesh, here's hoping my picks get better, fast...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet cousins

Getting a dose of sweet Augie and watching him and the girl feed the lorikeets at the zoo:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OC recap: Eating with Linda

After getting off the plane in SoCal, I went to Linda's where she had toasted up some bread and brie:

What a friend, right? And she even endured my Native Foods fix! I enjoyed the vegan Posole myself (I know there are some abuelitas out there clutching their hearts at that concept) but she joined me for some watermelon fresca:

We also decided to make macarons together.  Unfortunately the first batch was a bit overwhipped--see how these caps are holding their stiff shape too much?  They don't flatten or bake out.  The second tray was much better (of course, forgot to take a pic).

But they came out lovely--check out the "feet" on these! We tried 3 different fillings: nutella, raspberry jam, and plain whipped cream. Because the macarons themselves are quite sweet, the plain whipped cream won out. So good.

For comparison, here are some macarons from the Trader Joe's that are really close to the ones in Paris:

They're a lot smoother on top, which I attribute because I didn't use blanched almonds when I made the almond flour--definitely going to splurge on those the next time.  But honestly, our homemade macarons came pretty darn close, right?

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm back

I feel like planes are either sweat boxes or freezers. This time back: freezer. I tried to jelly roll myself into my jacket like a little pill bug but the only relief came when I dozed off:

Considering how much time I spent in SoCal, I did accomplish what I needed to, but I feel like I could have done or seen more. I hit a point in my last few days there where I wasn't able to coordinate or commit to anything very well because I was waiting to hear from a contractor or vendor, when honestly, if they called back, wouldn't I have been able to schedule around any commitments I made? Ugh, I guess I'm not good at multi-tasking or is there another word for this useless reticence?

Also in a fit of "eating food I can't get in SoCar", I really gained a few LBs. And due to an injury, I couldn't exercise and burn any calories. Scared to get on the scale.

In the meantime, comforting myself with a little Yoghut:

Nothing like some Peach White Tea and plain Tart yogurts, raspberries, strawberries, mochi balls, and strawberry & mango juice balls to help reassess the day.