Friday, December 30, 2011

For my Mum!

For my Mum, who requested a cardinal after seeing the blue jay painting I did earlier! :)


First Day of Work and Other Goings On....

Just thought I'd start off with the blue jay speed painting I did earlier today in around an hour. I was wanting to play with some of the other tools on Paint Tool SAI, and I like blue jays. LOL. Besides, best to start off with something pretty as there's a giant slew of text next up!


Anyhoo, yesterday was my first day of work. It started terribly, and ended pretty good!

Why did it start terribly? Let me explain something. I don't like driving to unfamiliar locations. I also don't like driving in unfamiliar areas. It was a bit of a double whammy yesterday, as I had to drive myself down to the Downtown Oklahoma City Library, where the HR department for the Metro Library Services is. In case you haven't bee to downtown OKC, it is GOD. AWFUL.

First off, downtown is all fairly small and congested streets, with parallel parking down both sides of the streets. So it's a bit tight to begin with. On top of this are the one way streets, which alternate on which direction some of them are going, making navigation even more tricky. And what's worse, is the construction! It's everywhere! It's like, they can't manage to get one project done, so they start a two more!

I thought Matt would be able to drive me there, but he couldn't manage to get off for it, so I was on my own. I left an hour and a half early so I'd have PLENTY of time, and even then... we looked up a parking lot I could pay to stay in, as those and parking garages are your only bet. I sued my phone to navigate me there, which worked great until I couldn't find the lot. In heavy traffic, trying to dodge parallely parked cars with people furious I'm driving slowly cause I have no idea where I'm at, I pull into what I think is the parking lot. Turns out it's a tiny hole-in-the-wall Arvest Bank location, with a private parking lot attached that doesn't even belong to them??? AND I'm going the wrong way down it, even though there isn't another entrance to even get into it???  You can understand my confusion.

By the time I found a spot to park and frantically text Matt while freaking out, my hands were shaking so badly from terror I could hardly type. I decided to tell my phone to navigate me to the library so I could make circles around it while I tried to find a parking garage. Well, no such luck there as every other side street it tried to turn me down was closed and torn apart with construction, and every parking garage I passed said it was full. Having no idea where I am, and now fully panicking cause I NEED to get parked and get to the library, I finally see a parking lot that's nearly empty, no gates, no nothing- I park and pull up the map, and it's FIVE. BLOCKS. from the library. It's the parking lot for the bombing memorial! -_-;;

FINE. I walked over to the hut to pay for the spot (And then realized I had to know the number of my spot and so walked all the way back across the lot, then back to the hut to put the money in the appropriate slot in the box), and set off toward the library. When I finally get there and find out where I' to go, it was literally ten minutes of paperwork, taking a photo, getting n intro packet and badge, then I was off to walk back to my car, five blocks away, uphill.

Honestly, I don't understand why they can't just let you do all that at the library your going to work in. I completely understand the fact that their Human Resources Department is in the Downtown Library. That's fine. But surely they must realize that it is a massive ordeal to have to travel all the way into downtown, through traffic, highways, one way streets, construction, potholes, and then pay for parking hopefully near the building, just to show up for a twenty minute interview or a couple seconds of paperwork. There's just no reason for all that. They even offered me parking vouchers in the past, but it's only for a specific garage, and it's always full anyway. I would love to go and spend some time at the Downtown Library, because it's huge and very nice- but I never will because it's so inconvenient. I honestly wouldn't ever go to any business in the downtown area unless I lived there. It's just that god awful.

Anyway, once I was done there, it was off to Belle Isle, where I actually work. The walk back to the car was terrible, not so much because it was uphill, but I was wearing my dressy shoes as I was told I had to be business casual, and they systematically wore holes in the backs of my heels for the entire eight hours I was out and about in them. (It also turns out that Pages don't have to be business casual anyway, and I purchased some nice black sneakers to wear today!)

Once I got there it was smooth sailing- I watched about an hour and a half of powerpoints and read through some stuff. Signed my oath to follow constitutional laws and such (It's a library thing, since we protect freedom of speech!). Got my schedule, sorted and shelved some books. It's pretty laid back, and I know I'll enjoy it.

I'm hoping to get back into school at least by next year (2013, not 2012), and I really think this job will work with my schedule for that, especially these evening shifts! It may be the lowest rank in the library totem pole, but it's a step in the right direction! Masters Degree, here I comes!


Anyhoo, we got some good news the other day- Matt has been promoted! He's now the Operations Manager of the second shift! He'll be getting a work phone soon, which will be annoying as he could be called in to do work at any time. This may be the last of his promotions, at least for a time. The next rank up is already taken, so his manager would have to move elsewhere before he could into that job. We'll see what happens, and what this means in the long run!

As for myself I'm just enjoying this day off. I'm  bit sore from my walks yesterday.  Also, you know I've been reading this:

Yeah... I think I'm going to put it on the shelf for a while and come back to it later. It's good, yes, there's no denying that. But it's slow... it just doesn't seem to be getting anywhere fast. I'm over halfway through and it's just not doing it for me. I really feel like this books was all hype, and not so much on the delivery. The prose and writing is excellent, and the story would be wonderful... if they'd ever get to it. So much is left up to the reader, it's often just a series of vignettes, with little explanation or reason to them. It becomes frustrating for me to have to invent what's going on in the background of things just to fill in the story.

I've got lots of books to choose from really, already purchased and waiting to be read. No real reason to waste time on reading something I'm not really enjoying!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ham and Eggs!

If you haven't realized by now, I LOVE to cook! And I'm always hunting for new recipes. I even have an account on All, a place where everyday cooks can post their recipes, and people can comment, rate and offer alterations to them. Matt and I have found some fantastic recipes on there, like Herb Roasted Pork or Salsa Chicken Rice Casserole. Even companies such as Prego and Campbell's have recipes posted to it, and the recipes along with how-to articles and videos make it a fantastic resource. If you like to cook, cvheck it out!

On the front page, All Recipes always links a video, often one from The Food Wishes Blog. I LOVE this blog as well, the videos are informative and easy to follow, and there's always a recipe posted along with it. It's so nice to be able to read the recipe then watch how it's done!

A few days ago this was the posted video:

Now doesn't that just look scrumptious? And so easy too! I watched that just after having had a delicious Christmas ham dinner at a friends house, and after the double whammy of video and noms, I bought a ham the next day to cook! Well, we had a ham dinner last night, so guess what we made for breakfast?

It was just as easy to make as it looks in the video! In fact, the hardest part was cutting the ham into even slices that weren't too thick... Some of them were a little thinner on one side then the other, so the eggs kept trying to escape off one side!

As you can see the egg stays stuck on the ham, and it's all perky and delicious! The egg doesn't get all gummy and overcooked at all! (Actually we let them run a tad long for my liking, I prefer the yolks to be super runny!) This recipe is definitely a keeper, and is way easier and less hassle then cooking everything separately. Mmm-mmm good!

In other news, I start my new job as a page at the library today. I'm really nervous, more for having to travel to the downtown library by myself then the actual job. I thought Matt was going to be able to run me over there for the paperwork, but that fell through. Now I have to drive all the way into downtown, find a parking garage and pay for it, walk to the library just for 15 minutes of darn new hire paperwork, then walk back to the car, and drive to Belle Isle to start work... I don't understand why they don't realize that it's a huge inconvenience to do anything in downtown if you aren't already down there. No parking, and construction and one way streets EVERYWHERE. Oh well, it's only for one day. Just hate the idea of walking around out there by myself.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dragon Grins!

The turtle has been found! I walked into the bedroom last night and there it was, being rubbed all over Taco's face. I have no idea where she hid it, as I'd torn the room apart looking for it. Cats!

Drew this fellow last night!

I was intending to do a full background and shading on him- but what I wanted as a background just wasn't going to happen at my current digital art skill level, and I thought the flats looked so nice, crisp, and clean I opted to upload him as is. I may update him later and add in those things, but I love the smooth, clear colors of it.

Here's a little puzzle update as well!

Edge is all finished and I'm starting to work in the grey colors in it, which is mostly the path and the sky above. Going to start on the red brickwork and the pots for the plants today, then probably the foliage. I try to start around the edges and work my way in, while also putting together really obvious things like signs or structures when I find the pieces. I dunno if that's cheating or not, but it's what I do!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Puzzle Conundrum and a Missing Turtle

Taco's Turtle has vanished! I looked all over for that thing this morning to stuff more catnip in it, and it's simply disappeared! Last I saw it was tossing it into the bedroom, but it's not there now, nor under of around anything in the bedroom. Matt and I searched the house, but couldn't locate it- We have a missing turtle on our hands!!

In other news, I'm having an issue with my new table. No, no- it's nothing wrong with the table. It's a problem with what I want to do ON the table! See I have this puzzle...

This is Contentment by Sunsout, a 1000+ jigsaw puzzle. The art's by Nicky Boehme- you should google her, her artwork is simply gorgeous. I'd love to have some prints framed and hung up. (Thankfully, she's done art for lots of puzzles!!) See, I love jigsaw puzzles, and I'd fallen in love with this image. When I came across it in the store, I just HAD to have it! I've had this puzzle for nearly a year now, sitting in the closet. Why? Because it is gianormous.

This thing is 27x35 inches, and was way too big for our card table. I found that out the hard and thoroughly disappointing way after I'd gotten much of the edges put together! It's one of the reasons I've been foaming at the mouth for nice new dining room table, and why it had to be bigger then the card table. I've desperately been wanting to do this puzzle for months and now is my chance!

I broke that sucker out yesterday and in between cooking dinner, I sorted out most of the edge pieces (I always miss a few and have to go find them later) and started putting it together. Now seeing as this is our dining room table, I opted to put it together on one of my puzzle mats, that way I'd be able to roll it up and stow it away at dinner time! It would be perfect! Well I didn't get very far on it last night and when I sat down to work on it a bit this morning, this is what I discovered-

There is no way on earth it's going to fit on that puzzle mat! In fact, it'll be nearly as big as our brand new table! So now I'm faced with a conundrum- it's going to take me a while to put this puppy together. It is over a thousand pieces after all! But I'll have to do it on the table itself, as it's the only way it'll fit. But then my table will be out of commission for things like eating on... and we just got it! But I've been waiting so long to put this puzzle together and it's the main reason I wanted a table so badly!


Screw it, I'm doing my puzzle!!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Merries!

Had tons of fun and food at my families on Christmas Day. Even snagged some sweet loot! As I said before, my parents came down and bought us a dining room table! They even through in a bed frame for us, since our mattress has lain on the floor since we got it.

We'd called the delivery-time-estimate phone number last night to get a two hour estimate on when they'd be appearing with our stuff. We knew the Half Price Books stores down here were having a sale today, so we were hoping they'd come early. We were pretty pleased when it told us between ten thirty and twelve thirty for delivery- that'd get it over with quickly and we wouldn't have to waste the day waiting around the house. Half Price Books even opens at 9AM, so we got up and went right over there... But about 9:45 the delivery peeps called to tell us they were running fast and would be there at ten Oh noes! We rushed home to let them in to set it all up!

Taco approved of the table as well, and hopped up to join us while we ate breakfast at our new table! And now I have someplace I can use my hand me down tea coasters at, woo! After a quick meal, we ran off to the other Half Price Book places nearby....

And of course I bought books!

Quite the haul for me, and pretty darn cheap too, since they're ALL used! Yay! I was stoked to find The Map of Time, it was just released earlier this year, and isn't even out in paperback yet. I got it cheaper then what a trade paperback would have cost in hardcover! And I absolutely ADORE the cover art on that one. The Cashier even jokingly scolded me that she was intending to buy it LOL!

On the way home we picked up this for Taco: 

The turtle is hollow inside but for some fluff, with a velcro closing on it. You can STUFF the thing full of catnip. Taco immediately flopped over over on the floor and proceeded to rub it all over her face for five minutes. Cats are weird.

Anyhoo, I got some wonderful gifts for Christmas from the rest of my family. A new puzzle, an Oklahoma State art piece for our apartment, an ornament for our tree, lots of money and... this....

Yes. That is, in fact, my new football helmet. A gift from my Uncle. It's kind of cool I guess? I mean, I've never seen a real football helmet before. It was supposedly used in a game. It even has warning stickers in it about bashing people in the face with it. I'm really not into football at all... I don't even know who the people who've signed it are! It's still neat, and I set it on top of the printer in the computer room where everyone can see it when the come over... but beyond that I'm not real sure what to do with it. It's the thought that counts! Guess I'll keep it for a few years and then ebay it? O.o

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rave at 3 AM...

I was up till 3:30 in the morning last night...

Doing this:

Okay, I wish I had been attending a rave with my cat and fish! That would have been much cooler then what I was actually doing, which was this:

Or drawing this, rather. Matt got me a paint program for my computer, and since we already have tablets, I've been working on drawing again. I used to be quite the artists, even considered going to college. Glad I didn't though, I would have DESPISED the art classes there I learned later. Anyhoo, I went through a  rather serious bout of depression the last few years in college, and between that and my new found World of Warcraft addiction, I did very little drawing. I've been having fun with it again though! It's nice to be getting back to drawing even if it is extremely frustrating for me sometimes. I think I'll pick up an anatomy book soon and really try and get back into it- it's been so long since I've seriously drawn I'm pretty rusty.

I went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up some stuff we needed. I love having a Walmart Neighborhood Market nearby. I still get the fairly inexpensive groceries, without having to go to the massive overcrowded Walmart. While I was there I picked this up for Taco.

She was disappointingly unimpressed. She batted the mouse around for a bit, more because it has a short string tail then anything else. And she snuffled at the catnip bag for a few minutes, but wasn't very interested. The catnip inside must be super weak, as Taco LOVES catnip. We'd found an old bag full of catnip in the pet cabinet at home that I took home with us; she climbed up onto the bookshelf to get it down by herself! This stuff must be ancient and she could still smell it. But that catnip toy... not so much...

Ah well. It's the thought that counts I suppose!

In other news my parents are coming down tomorrow! I'm very excited. Dad's able to make it down this time, and they're going to buy us a proper dining room table and chairs for Christmas! SO EXCITED! I was thrilled at the idea of being able to eat in the dining room, or have little dinner parties, but the table and chairs we have... They're a cheap black card table set with four foldout chairs. Super uncomfortable, and it shakes wildly at the smallest bump, meaning you can't set drinks down and cut your food up, or anything. It's also JUST small enough that I can't fit some of my puzzles on it :(

I'll snap some pictures of it when we get it here and all set up! It's gonna be so awesome!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chaos Part Two: Tacocat is a Palindrome...

I figured I'd start off this post with the good news I received yesterday- I have a job! I received a call yesterday that I'd finally been chosen for one of the positions I'd been interviewing for. I'm soon to be a Page at the Belle Isle Library in Oklahoma City. The hours are a bit wonky, shifts like 3PM-9PM, but the pay will $9.41. Figuring that out I'll be making the same rate of pay doing a job I will actually enjoy, and twelve less hours of work a week then what I was making at the Wal-Mart in Stillwater. Not too shabby!

It is just an intro position, nothing too important, and I'm sure I'll be the first job to be cut if there's a budget issue, but it'll be actual in library experience. And the late afternoon to night shifts will work well for when I return to college for my MLIS degree! I'm pretty stoked.

I mentioned a new friend in my last post- here she is!

This is my cat, Taco! We were able to bring here down to live with us here at our apartment this last Thursday when I was back in Stillwater for an eye doctors appointment. She did very well on the nearly two hour drive, and kept her meowing to a minimum. She's taken very well to the house, and  though she spent the first few hours of her first night here taking slow, giant, sneaky cat steps everywhere, she hasn't been bothered by being here at all.

In fact the only alarm she displayed was when I showed her that kitty bed I put on the box next to my desk. It sits just below Mage's tank (which she is looking at in the photo), which I had thought Taco would enjoy. But when I first set her in there she looked at Mage in absolute HORROR, and backed up as far as she could before turning around and running away. I guess if you haven't seen a fish before they're terrifying..? She has since made amends with the fish- She tried desperately to kill him for about five minutes the next day but was thwarted by his invisible force field of protection (the tank walls LOL), and is now content to watch him swim about. Silly cat!

Taco is a bed cat, she LOVES cat beds. Some do, and some don't. She's also a big masher, and will sit on nearly anything soft and mash it with her claws. She still has all her claws, and I don't believe in declawing cats, regardless of how obnoxious they can occasionally be. It's neither safe, nor fair!

Matt has had some trouble though. He's been around cats plenty of times, but here recently he's quit smoking. Now, he's suddenly developed an allergy to cats! He's been quite the sport about it though, and has been taking lots of allergy tablets. He insists we'll be keeping her, and I can't say I'm not relieved! A house just isn't right without a cat!

Anyway, I'd said I'd been in Stillwater last Thursday? That was to run more tests to check for Glaucoma. Turns out I most likely have it. I'm at the weird point where I don't actually have any damage to my vision, but the pressure in my eyes is high enough, and there's enough thinning in my nerves at the back of my eyes that my doctor was surprised I didn't! Though he can't actually say that I have Glaucoma until  it starts causing damage, we opted to head it off and start taking the eye drops anyway. He gave me a trial bottle (Itty bitty little thing!) which I take every night before bed, and I'll be returning to Stillwater on January 6th for another appointment. Blargh!

Though I got some excellent news yesterday about my library job, I also received some of the worst. The results for Sheba's biopsy on her thyroid finally came back, and confirmed that the cancer is malignant. Theres no real way to know what's going to happen from here on it. The Vet said she thought she got it all out when she removed the enlarged thryoid, which is good. But there's about a 50/50 chance it'll end up coming back, most likely in the other thyroid, or the lungs. They're looking into radiation therapy, but there's no telling what the cost will be or whether she could stand it. The Vet said she could live either another few months or another few years. She'll be going back for more frequent check ups, and we'll go from there.

And since I'm detailing all my other 'pet news' here's a nice shot I managed to get of Mage, who's recovering nicely from the fin rot he had a while back.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chaos Part One: Return of the Freezinator....

Long absence from posting, and my apologies. I have sooo much to post about!

The very night we set up the Christmas tree (Back at the end of November, mind you!), I began to come down with an ear infection and Strep Throat, which is very, very uncomfortable if you've never had it. I had to go to the doctor that Tuesday, an especially annoying development as I'm currently uninsured and it cost a small fortune just to go and get one round of antibiotics. I didn't even need the doctor to tell me I had Strep... The searing pain when I swallowed (When I could swallow) and the white spots on the back of my throat were clear!

Virus uses Strep- It's super effective!

All in all, it had me layed out for about a week. The antibiotics worked quickly, but it still took time for everything to heal, and for the ear infection to clear up. Only costed $150 we don't have. @-@;;; Get insurance kiddies!

After that it's been kind of a whirlwind of activity. I'm now engaged to be married- not really any big deal actually! I promise! Matt and I have been living as 'man and wife' for 3 years now essentially, we're really just making it official for legal reasons (Especially the aforementioned insurance problem!). No fancy ceremony or anything, we're just going to go down to the courthouse, save everyone time and money. I hate being the center of attention anyway!

My dog Sheba, had surgery two weeks back to remove an enlarged thryoid. She's doing well, and her stitches came out this last Friday. I'm so glad she's feeling better; it's very upsetting to away from a sick pet- I always worry I'll get a phone call that something's happened!

Over the last three weeks, I've continued having hell from my refrigerator. To describe this in greater detail, let me give you a little geology lesson. In nature, water can trickle down into cracks in rocks and such. If it freezes, the water expands as it turns into ice, and this can wrench the rocks apart.

This is called 'frost wedging'. It does a lot to shape our landscapes. Sometimes it's even really annoying- ever notice the sudden appearance of cracks and potholes in streets during after a rain or snow in winter? Frost wedging is why.

This is my celery.

It has been frost wedged.

The Freezinator DESTROYED an entire head of celery, made some very weird mushrooms, frostified a bag of shredded lettuce, froze and broke open several eggs, turned a whole bag of baby carrots into little orange ice cubes, and consistently turned my leftovers into leftover bricks. No bueno.

I went to the office and let them know about our fridge being way to good. They sent someone around, who left a note on the counter stating simply that they'd "Adjusted the Thermostat". Way to make me sound like an idiot! We'd already tried that of course, and had set the fridge to the warmest setting we could- it seemed to be stuck at a higher setting.

In any case, it seems to have been fixed. I'm crossing my fingers that it stays this way. It was kind of a cute, silly little problem when it was freezing our beverages. But we haven't got a ton of money extra, and I'd rather not lose any more food to an errant fridge.

Anyhoo, that's all for tonight! I have more I'll be posting in the next day or two! A new friend has come to visit the apartment, and I wanna post all about it soon!


Monday, November 28, 2011

O' Christmas Tree!

Woke up with a serious case of the crud this morning. Well, i take that back, my throat was hurting last night before I went to bed. Now when I swallow it's like there's a great lump on the right side that just aches. -_-;; Do not want sick! I have an interview tomorrow and an eye doctor appointment on Wednesday!

Yesterday evening, before I started feeling cruddy, my cousin dropped by their old Christmas Tree. They bought a new, bigger, pre-lit tree, and so gave me their old 6 foot, unlit one. I LOVE it! They'd forgotten to grab the lights on the way outta the house, but they'd had clear lights for it. Matt and I went out and picked up a few decorations, a tree skirt, and some colored lights, since they're my favorite kind.

It's so pretty I love it!

I've been spending the morning on the computer and doing chores. While I was playing some computer games it quite suddenly struck me that I now live in the city, and that this isn't some strange extended vacation. It was such a weird and sudden thought it really gave me pause. I guess it's partly from coming down here for so many years to stay with my Grandparents for a week or two. The city has always been the cool place we go to visit for the day, it's just so weird to think of it as my home! In our apartment it's easy to pretend the whole kit and kaboodle is still in Stillwater and my parents are only a three minute drive away.  Not that I'm upset to be living in the city or anything, I guess my brain just still isn't used to it!

Blregh. Gonna go find some medicine, I feel so cruddy!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nice and quiet!

After a busy, busy Thanksgiving day, I'm happy to just be at home, enjoying the quiet! There was tons of fun having turkey and trimmings with my family, but it's nice to not be around so many people! I've spent the last two days watching TV and playing Skyrim, and cooking Matt and I's two favorites- Chicken Noodle for me, and last night, Chicken and Rice for him!

Well, I say everything's been quiet. We did venture out on Black Friday, late in the day after the majority of the anarchy had passed, and picked up one MAJOR quality of life improvement for the two of us.

Matching desk chairs! Woooo! They were both originally $150 each, and we got them on sale for $75. Nice leather, pretty wood arm rest struts and wheel... thingies. They're such a massive improvement for us, as we both spend so much time at our computers, and the tiny foldout chairs we had were very uncomfortable. Especially after long periods, our backs and butts were very sore! But no more!

We also went to a pet shop called Alligator Alley, looking for betta stuff. They didn't actually have any fish things there, but they did have TONS of neat lizards and snakes. I was having a blast looking at all the reptiles and amphibians, but Matt wasn't particularly comfortable in the tight space with all the awkward pets. He was not pleased when we came across a glass container with a massive scorpion in it, and we quickly left. I made him promise to take me back though, as they actually have real alligators there, but they're viewing area was closed at the time. :(

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Cory Cat is No More....

Mage killed the cory cat today. I was on the computer and watching TV, happened to look over at the tank, and there he was lying on his back breathing heavily. It's partially my fault, I knew Bettas were often times too territorial for any tank mates, even low key mostly bottom dwelling fish. But they'd been doing so well together since Saturday night and Mage had never once bothered the cory cat, so I'd stopped watching out for them. He wasn't even interested in the cory cat at all.  Mage was just trying to make the cory cat leave his territory, but since it's a tank, there's simply no where to go. I feel really bad.

I netted the cory cat out, who was wounded but still breathing at the time, but he quickly expired. Poor thing. I am a sad panda :( Matt even offered to have a cory cat funeral tonight when he gets home, but I feel too bad about it. I just want to dispose of the little guy and be done with it.

This is also a bit of a double whammy on my feelings- I did not get the Circulation Desk position at the Northwest Library I wanted. I was very, very excited for the job as it would be a chance for me start working with a library from the ground up, even assisting with the load in of the books and materials. It would have been an amazing opportunity and I was extremely disappointed to get the generic "Thanks, but no thanks" email yesterday afternoon. I've still got three other interviews lined up for library aide positions at other locations... At least they will still be in a library, which is better then nothing.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Fishy things, recipe, and a minor Stew-Splosion....

Fish. If you've ever tried to photograph a fish, you'll know how hard it is. Really, pets in general are hard to get nice pictures of. You'll see them doing just the cutest darn thing, but as soon as you pull a camera out they stop. Or worse, they wander over and stick their noses right up against the lens to see what you're doing!

But fish... I think fish are the worst! You've gotta compensate for the movement of water,t he weird lighting problems. If I had a dime for every weird, streaky blurry photo of Mage, I'd be rich!

I did manage to catch this adorable shot of him investigating under the bridge... That's his cute little taily sticking out :) And here's a nice shot of the cory cat, whom I've yet to name.

He's really cute. He spends his time nosing all over stuff with his little whiskers! This morning, no one was out and about in the tank when I switched the light on. Mage was resting at the bottom and when he finally decided to rouse himself I dropped in a few pellets for him and some flakes for the others. Suddenly, there were shrimp all over the bottom of the tank, all grabbing food and stuffing it into their little mouths. It was the cutest thing!

In other news, last night I decided to make Stew for dinner. It's my grandfathers recipe and it's pretty much my second favorite meal right after my mom's chicken noodle recipe. I've even asked for it for birthday dinners in the past! It's made using 2 McCormick Beef Stew seasoning packets, which look like this:

Make sure you get the regular old 'Beef Stew Seasoning Mix'. They have two others, one for a season-in-bag thing, and another for crockpot. I've not tried those at all, but I assume they've got thickeners and stuff in them you likely don't want. I make it almost exactly how he's showed me, except for perhaps some minor seasoning changes to the meat- down to the lima beans that my m um despises!

~~~~~Papa's Beef Stew Recipe~~~~~

  • 2.25 pounds of ground beef (I like it extra meaty!)
  • Diced Baby Carrots
  • Diced Celery 
  • 1 1/2 Diced Onions
  • 2-3 Medium to Large, peeled and diced Russet Potatoes
  • 1 can Lima Beans undrained
  • 1 can Whole Kernel Corn drained
  • 1 can Green Beans
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can Italian Diced Tomatoes (Basil and Oregano seasoned I believe)
  • Seasonings such as Worcestershire, Oregano, Garlic Powder, Parsley, Celery Salt, Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper, etc.
Crumble the ground beef into a large skillet. Just pull it apart and loosely toss it into the pan. Season with your meat seasonings to taste. I used Oregano, Celery Salt, Worcestershire, and garlic powder last night. Give it a good mix- this makes sure the seasonings are all nice and in the meat, and you don't end up with weird one sidey flavored meat! Once mixed, press the meat down into a giant patty and turn the stove to medium high. Let brown.

Meanwhile, dice up your carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes. I try to keep the amounts even between all the ingredients, you'll just have to figure out how much of them you like in your stew! Put them into a large pot. When the ground beef has been gotten nice and brown on one side, take a spatula and cut the patty in half, then again the other way, so you have 4 pieces. Flip each piece (Carefully, it likes to spatter as it falls back into the grease!) and brown the other side.

Once the ground beef is browned on both sides, use the spatula to cut those 4 pieces into slivers and then into bit sized chunks. Cooking it as a patty keeps it from crumbling when it's in the stew! Once you've got the pieces cut down to size, use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat into the pot.

Add in the canned goods. Take a large cup and fill with cool water, then using a whisk, mix the seasoning packets in and pour into the pot. I usually do one at a time, it keeps it from clumping. Once everything's in the pot, fill it up with water until everything is nice and loose when you stir it! Simmer at least 2 hours, to get the veggies done, but longer will help the goody combine! Do stir it occasionally and scrape the bottom of the pot!

Serve with hot buttered cornbread, crackers, or over a bed of seasoned rice! Enjoy!


I did just this last night, got it set up on the stove, flipped the burner on and went back into the computer room to see Mage and dink around on the internet. About 10ish minutes later I decided to pop in and give it a stir. I came into the kitchen and "OMGOMG!" Was all I could yelp. Stew was -everywhere-! I'm still not used to the electric stove and it was boiling! Hard!

There was stew on the linoleum, the counter top, the stove top, the pot, all down the front of the oven and the oven handle... It was not fun. I got it turned down and cleaned up the kitchen, and besides the minor 'stew-splosion' it was delicious! I wish I'd thought to get a picture of the mess- now that I look back on it, it's pretty hilarious!

Anyhoo, off to grab some more stew for lunch, and start a new puzzle! I'll detail those tomorrow, me thinks :)


Sunday, November 20, 2011

New fishy friends, and a family visit!

"Okay, without your glasses, read the lowest line you can."
"Uhm.... E."

I had an eye doctor appointment this last Friday. Had to pick out some new frames and get a stronger prescription... I despise picking new frames, it's like selecting a new nose; they make you look completely different! Unfortunately I have to drive back down to Stillwater on the 30th for another appointment and more tests. I may have Glaucoma after all, which is a fairly serious, if treatable disease. They want to make positive I have it though, before they put me on the meds, since I'll have to take them the rest of my life! O.O; Will jsut have to wait and see!

Yesterday was a very busy day! My entire extended family, minus my uncle, came over to see our new apartment. At first it was just going to be mom, then she stopped by my grandparents house to see if they'd like to go to lunch with us, and they decided to come see it too. I'd asked mom to call and let us know they were their way- a few minutes later, I get a call from my Aunt Carol, telling me that they were all headed out, including my cousin Danelle and her Husband Ryan! 0.0; But we had a lovely visit, and lunch at Chelino's, and they all really liked our new place!

In other news, Matt found a neat addon for our XBMC (X-Box Media Center) app for our TV. It takes all the TV shows and Movies we have saved on our computer and arranges them into channels for us.

It's really nice, as it gives us a way to 'channel surf". We tag all of our shows with genres and it runs them on a time schedule. If, say, Nightmare Before Christmas is scheduled to air at 8 PM, and we shut down the program, then start it back up at 8 PM, it will be playing Nightmare Before Christmas. So long as we don't have it rebuild the channel list, it keeps to the schedule even when it isn't actively playing! We can even find bumpers, commercials, and movie trailers we like, and have it run those in between our movies and tv shows! I could find the old Gator Golf commercial from the 90's and have it play!

In other, other news, yesterday while my mum was here, we went and picked up a five gallon hexagonal tank for my Betta Fish, Mage.

This is my Betta, Mage. I really wish I could say he still looks as good- he's currently suffering from fin rot most likely from ammonia and nitrite poisoning, which is a common bowl ailment. Bowls just aren't good fish environments, and during the anarchy that was packing and moving, with me changing living locations every couple of days, and him getting moved to my mum's house at one point, he just wasn't getting the care he deserved.

This is Mage's new home- lots of plants and a bridge to play with and in, TONS of space for him to swim around, and he's even got some new friends! A spotted cory cat, dwarf african clawed frog, and 4 little ghosty shrimps! With the filters and other fish, it'll be a much more stable environmental, and his tank is big enough to have a heater on it that keeps the temp at a constant 78ish degrees for him. After a few weeks, it should be all good to go, and then there will be minimal cleaning effort needed- no more having to net him out and do full water changes and the like! Woot!

The colors are really, really off. It's hard to get clear photos of a fish tank anyway, and on top of that the water is dyed blue from his medicines!

You can see how short his tail has gotten. :( My poor baby fish! He seems super happy now though! He's having tons of fun exploring, playing in the woosh of water from the filter, chasing his foody pellets and stuff down. He bullied the ghost shrimp around last night, but hasn't bothered about them at all today. Everyone seems to be getting along just fine! I'm so happy for him!

Gonna go get Mage some antibiotics tonight to clean up any residual fin rot problems he may still have, and some ich treatment to prevent any infestations from the rest of the new friends we added. Then it's off to Best Buy, and then to Walmart to pick up stuff to make Stew for dinner tonight! Awesome weekend!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

How I discovered a nearly six pound chicken fits in a gallon Ziploc baggie...

It's been a fantastic couple days. We've settled into our new home nicely, and we've yet to find anything much wrong with it. Even the neighbors (so far) have been quiet; I've never once heard the upstairs neighbor walking and only a few times heard water running in the next apartment over. It's really nice not having paper thin walls!

The only disturbances thus far have been a Rent-a-Center person come by the day after we moved in looking for the PS3 the previous renters apparently stole, and the carpet cleaner people who thought we'd scheduled an appointment. They were just as confused as I am, and he even told me something along the lines of "We were just here last week to clean everything...O.o"

Anyway, last night we invited Lance over for a nice homemade dinner- Roast Chicken with Country Vegetables, and Mashed Potatoes with Giblet Gravy. Yesterday morning I set about getting the house clean and dinner prepped. I didn't want to have to rush around that evening so I opted to get the chicken and veggies in the pan, seasoned and everything and put it in the fridge, ready to pull out and transfer to the oven at four PM.

This is where the Freezinator comes in. I have (just now) dubbed our refrigerator that. When we first moved in, that very evening we went and picked up some groceries so we wouldn't be without breakfasty things the next day. Well, the next morning Matt goes to make himself some cereal and the milk is frozen. Like, frozen solid. This was a block of milk.

Turns out the temperature control was up as high as it goes at 9, so everything in there got a bit to frosty. We turned it down to the lowest we could set it, at 5. It shows that it goes lower, but no amount of twisting that nob will turn it... Dunno why.

Anyway, we figured that surely that'd be enough. But when I set some ground beef to thaw in there a day or so later, it was still hard as a brick the next morning. It's like Mr. Freeze has set up base in my refrigerator.

Freeze ALL the things!!

So skip back to two days ago when we went and got more groceries. I picked up the chicken from the store, which was definitely partially frozen in the middle of it, but the outsidey bits were all soft and thawed. I thought nothing of it besides to stick the sucker in the BOTTOM of the fridge, as far away from the cooling elements I could get it. Surely, surely, in two days time it'll thaw out completely. I mean, the fridge has had a few days to warm up a bit inside. But when I got it out, the outside was definitely frosty....

Darnit! I decided that surely it's just the juice and stuff on the inside of the package... I mean, it's been in the fridge! For two days! I can't honestly be frozen all the way through, come on! This is a chicken we're talking about, not a 20 pound turkey. I floated it in some water in the sink and waited while I diced veggies for the bed of the pan.

After around an hour, I poked it. Seemed soft and squishy in it's little bag. The skin seemed all squidgy and defrosted... It should be good now! Draining off the sink, I sliced into that sucker, went to rinse him off, and lo and behold-

LOL! I'm still frozen! :D

Darnit! Frantic, I think of what to do. Should I just float the whole chicken in water unwrapped like this? Surely that can't be sanitary! Then I think... Ziploc baggies. MAYBE it'll fit inside a ziploc! Feeling a little weird, I go and fetch a gallon sized freezer bag, and set about stuffing a nearly six pound chicken into it- and it fits. I've never been so thankful for a freezer bag in my life! I never realized how much those things will actually hold.

The rest of the evening went mostly without a hitch. I was super excited to find a neck, liver and giblets inside the chicken; the others I've roasted have all been around 3 pounds, so they've never come with them before. So I changed my plans from making long grain and wild rice to mashed potatoes and giblet gravy. Besides the chicken breast getting a little overdone and the veggies being pretty burney, everything came out great! And even the veggies were still tasty!

But the best part of the evening was the house warming gift that Lance brought us! I wish I'd though to photograph it before we disassembled it, Lance had it arranged all pretty in there! Two gorgeous, deep green bath towels, two contrasting wash clothes and a hand towel, a dark green rug, and a light green shower curtain with a set of beautiful decorative silver rings to hang it with. It was all from JC Penny, so he spent way too much on us, but I love them! We put the rug in the guest bathroom for everyone will be able to see it when they're in the apartment. I must admit I decided to be selfish and put the pretty green shower curtain in the master bath! I wanted to be able to enjoy it! XD

Anyway, I have a job interview today at 2:00 PM with the Warr Acres Library for a library aide position. It's not the position I want the most, but I'd be more then pleased to get it! I'm still hoping for the Circulation Desk position at the new Northwest Library here. I interviewed with them on Monday, and it sounds like they're getting some new and fantastic technology in there. I'd love to get a part of that action!

So anyway, Yay chicken dinner! And yay interviews! And remember-

Ziploc Freezer Bags: For all your sudden frozen chicken needs!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Apartment! Squee!

So it's been a while since my last post. Between driving back and forth between Oklahoma City and Stillwater, packing up the old apartment, constantly sleeping in a new location every couple of days... I was so stressed out that I just haven't felt like posting. Nothing much has been going on anyway besides being called in for interviews at the local libraries- but I'll post about all that business later. For now- NEW APARTMENT! Lots of pictures ahead!

First off, we'll start in the living room. It and the dining room are the most cluttered still, with odds and ends that haven't gotten put away yet, and boxes with the video game consoles, games and cords still lying about. I wanted to wait and set those up until we have the time to sit down and bundle all the cords and wipe down the consoles and surfaces.... Mucho Dusty!

Click the pictures to get a bigger one if you want!

Yes, that's our laundry basket full of alcohol... And those are my sad little puzzles- nowhere near enough to actually cover the wall space in there, but I had to put something up. The blank white walls were driving me crazy!

The black box on the wall is a TV reciever thingy that Matt got from a friend at work who upgraded to cable. We still don't know if it works, as there's something wrong with the software on the TV. Every time we open the menu to set up the darn thing, the TV locks up! 0.o

Outside the blinds is the patio space. It's rather spacious as patios in apartments go I suppose. It has a screen door and a sliding glass door, and is as wide as the blinds are in the pictures. You can see off into the parking lot- we're the apartment right on the end corner of the building, so we're fantastically close to the cars, and the dumpsters when taking the trash out!

Here's a shot down the hallway- that's the loveseat to the right. See my little window with bars in the kitchen? That's so I can feel like I'm trapped in there I guess. LOL. Actually, the middle bar is snapped in half, we have to put that in our checklist report thing we have to turn in!

Here's our sad little undecorated dining room. We plan on getting a nice wooden table and chairs soon, but until then we have the card table with the wobbly leg. I've got a nice a nice tablecloth for it, but I wanted to wash it before I put it on. I can't wait to get some kitcheny type wall accouterments to put up!! There's also a wall clock going on the wall in here, but I haven't come across the finishing nails yet....

Our new kitchen- Not as much counter space as I'd like, but it'll do. I despise my electric stove though. It's going to take so much getting used too. It was not fun trying to cook eggs this morning... But the storage in here is amazing compared to what we did have, so overall I'm a happy camper!

This is the bathroom/ laundry room you can see at the end of the hallway. To the right in the picture is the counter, sink, and toilet, and around that little corner on the right is the smallest shower in the world! I need to get a shot of it with Lance standing in there. The sprayer would come to about mid chest on him, so anyone actually using it would have to squat down. I figure we'll use it only for extra storage, and right now I have spare hangers hanging on the shower rod.

If you go down the hallway and make a right, the door right in front of you leads into the second bedroom, or the computer room. The hallway is a weird little collision of doorways at the end of it.... Anyway, it's super nice having the computers and desks and bookshelves in a separate room from our bed. Now if someone wants to sleep and the other wants to stay on the computer, we can! It also keeps the bedroom much cooler as we don't have computers and bodies in there heating it up.

This is the view looking back from the desks. A fairly spacious closet with glass sliding doors, and my bookshelves, which are already crammed full. Will need more soooooon! The little inset corner where the brown bookshelf is between the doorway and the closet may be where I put Mage's tank. I haven't picked a space yet, and I want him in the computer room, as that's honestly where Matt and I spend most of our free time. I'd hate for Mage to get Lonely!

Just to the right of the door to the laundry room, and to the left of the door into the computer room, is the door into the bedroom. It's still a little bare right now as well. We were thinking wallscrolls and posters in here. There's the Record of Lodoss War wallscroll Katelyn bought me years ago! Thanks Hokey! I still loves it!

Here's the bed- nevermind the two different comforters. Matt and I both prefer to burrito separately when we sleep, and most of the bedding is bits and pieces that he or I brought from home or that we've picked up over the last 3 years. We'll be buying two matching full comforters and such for ourselves soon! Notice all the lamps so far? NONE of the rooms but the kitchen, dining room, and both bathrooms have any lighting at all. Just plugs hooked up to the light switches. The first thing we had to do was buy two more floor lamps. We already had one for the living room, but we needed one for the two bedrooms.

My poor Jack poster Matt got me for Christmas two years ago. It's a bit worse for wear now, after hanging for so long, taken down and rolled up....

And last but not least, the Master Bathroom. It's an interesting space. Very bare right now, we need two rugs for in here and a toilet seat cover; our other bathroom was so small there was no point in having them before.

There is no medicine cabinet, just the full wall mirror. We're going to get permission to put up an inexpensive one in here above the plugs perhaps... something at least to store medicines and stuff... Until then the counter shall be cluttered!

So that's everything! The entire apartment! I love it so much, we're both so much happier to be outta that dirty, dingy, tiny little thing we had in Stillwater. Now we have room to really make a home for ourselves. Stuff is still kinda cluttered here and there, but we're working on it. There's a lot of storagey type things I need to buy so we can properly put things away- like plastic boxes to put foods and things into since the cabinets are so deep in places. And of course, there's so weird stuff, like the faucet handle being REALLY loose. But that stuff'll get fixed. Realy, I could hardly be happier with what we've got, it's fantastic!