October 25, 2011

below freezing, but ready for outdoor entertaining

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 Posted by Ryan , No comments
The temperature dropped below freezing for the first time last night and I broke out both the window scraper and my winter coat for the first time. Today was the first day in over six months that I've worn a coat to work, previously just grabbing a scarf. So the cut off for no coat wearing is actual freezing temperatures. We will also be having the celebratory patio barbeque in the now freezing weather. By the way, we finished (almost) the patio. Projects that bridge the seasons seem like they took forever to complete, but then it was almost two months ago that we started. We started digging out for the patio in 90+ degree heat at the beginning of September and just this Sunday realized that if we didn't get the rest of the pavers set soon, they'd be covered in snow. The backyard still looks like a construction site with a giant pile of dirt/rocks, stacks of concrete from the small slab we cut out, piles of crumbled clay bricks from the old window well that we rebuilt, and pallets that need to go back to the paver company so I can get my deposit back. But, the patio surface is done. After we fill in the dirt around the perimeter and sand between the pavers, it will be even more done. Maybe that will even happen before the snow comes.

October 21, 2011

Out of town

Friday, October 21, 2011 Posted by Ryan No comments
We went to Leavenworth last weekend for the end of Oktoberfest and Paul ran in the half-marathon. I didn't take a single picture - I'm horrible about taking pictures. The weather cooperated and it was cool and crisp and sunny almost the entire time. Apparently they get over 300 days of sunshine a year (compared to our 260). I wore my blue corduroy blazer and my "fancy" scarf and that kept me plenty warm even at night. We ate German food and drank beer didn't do much else. Paul bought five packages of landjägers and I found one of my new favorite teas.

As I stood browsing and waffling in the tea store, the shop assistants kept asking if I wanted help, or if they could scoop anything for me. The shop is tiny with the long wall on the side cover with two rows of large glass jars filled with tea. Every tea has a corresponding tiny glass jar for sniffing to discourage customers from opening the big jars to get a whiff. I let one of the girls give me some suggestions and she picked out a few teas for me to smell. But you don't really know until you try it. I did buy three of the teas, they sell them buy the ounce, and after a few cups, I'm looking at where to buy more of the Cream Earl Green. It's light (because it's a green tea) with a creamy texture, but not sweet and a little smokey (bergamot). The tea also has blue coneflower petals which make it pretty, I don't know if or how they affect the flavor, but they look pretty. While I was looking for more of the Cream Earl Green, I found another tea called the Dorian Grey Blend. I know it's like picking a book based on it's cover, but I have to try that too.

August 2, 2011

Dog 2.0

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 Posted by Ryan , No comments
Flynn in the chair

After just 2 months, I can't imagine not choosing to take Flynn home, but why did we pick a dog who:

  • Licks things (like my feet, the sheets, my leg, the couch...)
  • Likes to sleep on his back
  • Has a super loud bark
  • Wants to lay on my lap
  • Has giant ears that actually hurt if you're too close when he shakes
  • Carries shoes around, and occasionally nibbles on them

Flynn upside down
I guess we could have done worse.

July 7, 2011


Thursday, July 07, 2011 Posted by Ryan No comments
Last Month...We got a new dog. Flynn. Pictures eventually.

Last Week...I finished sewing a pair of shorts with a full fly zip (i am very proud of the zipper, it was the first time ever for that technique) then wore them three times.

Last Night...I watered my yard for the first time this summer.

In the last hour...I ate a popsicle.

March 23, 2011

Cleaning products

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 Posted by Ryan 4 comments
I don't use a lot of commercial cleaning products and totally jumped on the hippie bandwagon of cleaning primarily with vinegar and baking soda. I've tried the no-poo thing for a month, but it didn't work for me. Recently I've decided to try an make my own hair conditioner and lip balm and peppermint foot lotion. I haven't actually made any yet, but I have rounded up some of the harder to find ingredients. Now I just have to make a batch.

I haven't completely abandoned the cleaning isle at the grocery store however. I did discover that you can refill the foaming hand soap dispensers with any soap you like. Just dilute the soap with water. It really cuts down on how much soap you use, especially if you have anyone in your house that likes to double or triple pump. I've been using Dr. Bronner's Peppermint castile soap in the kitchen and a lavender castile soap made by Seattle Organics. It seems that you're supposed to use a 3:1 or 4:1 water to soap ratio, but I just eyeball it and probably err on the side of more water.

I saw today that Method has a new dish washing soap pump bottle. I buy the big jug of Kirkland dishwashing soap and refill an old grocery store sized bottle to keep on the counter. But the Method bottle is pretty, and the pump controls how much soap comes out. It seems crazy to pay 3.99 for a bottle of dish washing soap, but I only have to buy it once to get the pretty bottle and refill it with what ever i want. The reviews are mixed on the pump bottle, but I really want it to work. We'll see.

March 17, 2011

Lemon Cookies

Thursday, March 17, 2011 Posted by Ryan , 7 comments

I saw a picture of these cookies today on Pinterest and when I tracked down the original blog post it had the recipe, in Russian.

Not in Swedish or something.

I figured between the power of Google and me, I could figure out the recipe. I haven't made these yet, but they look easy.

Warning: I used Google to translate from Russian, made some corrections and then retyped the instructions to make more sense. Use at your own risk. Many of the ingredients are still measured in grams because there is no accurate way to translate that into cups. Use a kitchen scale, it's better to bake that way anyway.

Russian Lemon Wedge Cookies (from http://liliach.livejournal.com, translated by me)

150g softened butter
1 egg
1 tbsp lemon zest
200g ground almonds
100g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
200g flour
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 egg yolk
3-4 Lemons
sugar for sprinkling

Beat butter with an egg.
Add almonds, sugar, flour and lemon juice and stir.
Shape into two rolls, about 5cm (2") each in diameter and put into the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Heat oven to 180C (350F).

Slice each log into cookies about 4 mm (1/8") and place on a baking sheet. Brush the top of each cookie with the beaten egg yolk.
Wash the lemons thoroughly under hot water and wipe with a towel. Cut into very thin slices of 1-2 mm and put one slice on the top of each cookie. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Cool and optionally sprinkle with powdered sugar.

If you like the tops of the cookies browned, the last 5 minutes of baking, put under the broiler.

March 15, 2011

Nothing to show for it

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 Posted by Ryan No comments

I’ve been trying to take some pictures, if only to document that I do accomplish some things outside my desk job. However even those pictures languish on my camera. There is something terrible about a camera that can take hundreds of photos without a recharge or need new film. Even though I have nothing to show for it yet, I did finish a few things lately:

Rewired the antique light fixture for my sister’s house

Made homemade Nutella

Made granola

Made mustard

Made soft pretzels to go with the mustard.

The pretzels were not as awesome as I wanted them to be. The dough seems rather tough, it was difficult to knead and maybe didn’t have enough liquid. I’ll try again.

Sewed my first t-shirt with some fun gold mylar knit fabric.

I haven't finished yet (tonight - I promise) but I'm almost done sewing a khaki skirt to wear during the tradeshow in 3 weeks.

February 18, 2011

cleaning up, a little

Friday, February 18, 2011 Posted by Ryan , No comments
On monday I looked in my top desk drawer for my exacto knife and couldn't find it. I didn't look very hard because there were just too many layers of things and stuff and I couldn't see much beyond that. On tuesday or wednesday (I already forget) I couldn't find my pen. After accusing my office mates of stealing it (you know, it's one of those super special plastic Intel pens we used to have boxes of) I realized that I could just get another pen from my drawer. So I just had to clean out the entire drawer. Ultimately I found my missing pen under my desk - and - I have a clean desk drawer. Everytime I open the drawer it makes me a little happy.
I realize now that I could probably get that same happy feeling in a bigger way if I came home to a clean and tidy house, but i haven't figured out how to accomplish that yet. My chore schedule experiment was a failure and I don't know how to create the motivation to start and sustain a cleaning schedule.
This weekend is a 3-day weekend for me. I don't have any plans yet but plans are critical to my actually getting anything done.

February 14, 2011

Tasty goodness

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by Ryan 1 comment

Someone brought cupcakes into work today and they were the good, homemade ones even. I had three. I didn’t mean to eat three, but I had the first one when I got my first cup of coffee this morning, and then when I went to refill my coffee cup, there were a lot left, and I had to try the other flavor. I apparently couldn’t help myself when I went in the third time and there were still cupcakes on the counter. Usually food goes so fast in this place – so are guys just afraid of the cupcakes then? Exercising my willpower, I passed up the cupcakes this last time and just filled my cup with hot water for tea. As I was walking away, I consciously told myself, “you don’t need another cupcake, you don’t even really want another cupcake, they’re not that great, you don’t need another cupcake.” But I know they’re still there, on the counter, mocking me.

I heard this story on the radio this morning before work. I have self-control, I just don’t always choose to use it.

January 6, 2011

Getting started again

Thursday, January 06, 2011 Posted by Ryan 2 comments
Yesterday I made this for dinner. But the asian market was out of peppers and I added lightly fried tofu. It was still really good and I cooked it on super high heat and everything came out smoky and blackened. I’ll definitely try it again. I’m sure a hood fan would help though 'cause all the spicy steam made my nose burn a little.


It’s clich√© but with the new year rolling around, I realized I’ve gotten lazy. I want to make more of an effort, be more mindful with my eating, get some of my projects done on the weekends. Part of this comes as I start to feel normal again after the 2-week scourge that made me miserable during my week off from work. I didn’t get any of my stuff done (except the overdue knitted x-mas presents) and now I’m behind. The bedroom project is two years in the making and I can’t let it stretch on forever. Especially now that my alarm clock is dying a slow death. Some mornings the alarm is 20 minutes late, others the beeps are three seconds apart (that’s actually kind of nice since I wake up on the first one). I received a new alarm clock for x-mas but it has to plug in and in the current bedroom setup there are no outlets near the bed, or even near either dresser. I am not going to start using my phone as an alarm clock. I refuse.


I finally bought jeans that fit. It's been years since I've tried on a pair that didn't gape in the back but also didn't cling unattractively in places like my upper legs. Earlier in the fall I had high hopes for a pair of Gap jeans that were getting rave reviews, until tried them on and saw that they flattened my butt. I am not paying 65 dollars (even with 20% off) to get a flat butt. So the jeans I did buy are from Ann Taylor LOFT. I've ordered pants from LOFT in the past because they come in tall, and usually I am ultimately disappointed. The pants come, the fit, they're long and comfortable but then they stretch out. Blech.

I decided to try on jeans in one more store. I really started to feel like nothing would work. I knew I'd still have to order my pants online since no one seems to carry the talls in their store but I needed to know how they fit up top to avoid the too big in the waist and flat but problems. The pants were laughably short and fit weird around the knee, but I knew those problems would be solved with the longer size. I also needed to go down a size to more closely match my waist measurement, even though I should size up for my hip measurement. Anyway, I was surprised they fit (mostly) and that night ordered the smaller size in tall. There is something validating about putting on a piece of clothing that fits and looks good and even though we all love our bodies just the way they are, we need clothes that flatter what we've got.

I feel a little silly talking about buying jeans, but it actually made me really happy to find some that fit, finally. Now I need two pair of slacks that fit. I promised myself that I would make those but I haven’t made the time or the space in my house yet.