Dinosaurs!!!

June 10, 2012 Geekery, Museum Musings 0

Want some photos of the new Paleontology Hall at HMNS? I took these while we were being led through the hall by one of the scientists who was instrumental in putting it all together. So now we’ve been “trained”… if only we had more time to spend actually docenting!

Fair warning: 55 photos. Without further ado….

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25 by 25 Year-End Review

March 18, 2012 Just for Fun 0

It’s been nearly a year since I started this blog.

And by this time next week I’ll have been on this Earth for 25 whole years.

It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long already. Wait, I’m actually an adult? Since when?!

So, how did I do with my 25 by 25 goals?

Well, the checked items are things I feel like I at least kinda-sorta succeeded at or completed. X’d items are total failures. Mostly, these are what you might call qualified or partial successes. And I’ve graded myself, like a good little self-despising grad student.

  1. Set up exercise, housework, blogging, hobby, and study schedules — and stick to them!
    ✓ Grade: B

    I’ve done OK on the schedules. There’ve been a few days… fine, weeks… when I’ve just given up on doing exactly what the calendar tells me to do, but for the most part I’ve done OK. It has actually been really useful for setting up study times, social plans, and exercise classes.

  2. Read 75 books.
    ✓ Grade: A
  3. Write in my journal at least 3 times per month.
    ✓ Grade: C
  4. Find a full-time job or a second part-time job or an equivalent income-earning activity.
    ✓ Grade: B

    I do have a full-time job now. Same job I was doing this time last year, but for 40+ hours a week. Actually almost every week I’m doing overtime, which is great for the paycheck but hard on my schedule. But… it isn’t what I what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be an actual librarian (or archivist, or curator, or… you get the idea) and circ clerk work isn’t going to cut it. Plus the Mr. has put his own job search on hold for the next few months while I finish up my degree. I guess I can mark this goal as accomplished, but not spectacularly so.

  5. Refresh my French.
    ✓ Grade: C

    I did put some small amount of effort into improving upon my sadly atrophied French skillz. Not as much effort as I had in mind, and not enough to get me back up to par, though. This is something that I want to continue to work on over the following year.

  6. Fix up my garden.
    ✗ Grade: D

    The garden is… meh. Well, right now it really does look like utter crap. But Gary and I (well, mostly… almost entirely Gary) did fix it up a little bit over the summer. Some of the things that I planted back in 2010 when we first moved in have survived/thrived… plus we have all those surprise lemons. So overall this is barely a pass, and really that’s mostly thanks to my husband.

  7. Do something artsy/craftsy.
    ✗ Grade: F
  8. Get good enough at knitting to produce a sweater for the dog.
    ✗ Grade: F

    Total fail. I didn’t even get around to making another crooked scarf, yet alone figuring out how to produce a Sneakers-sized sweater. It’s been a warm winter anyway. Maybe next year?

  9. Take at least 5 “good” photos per week.
    ✓ Grade: B
  10. Organize digital and physical copies of photos; begin gathering photos from friends and family.
    ✓ Grade: C
  11. File/recycle all of this old paperwork that’s clogging up my desk drawers.
    ✓ Grade: A
  12. Convince the credit card companies to reduce my APR.
    ✗ Grade: F
  13. Organize the closets. Properly this time.
    ✗ Grade: D
  14. Try at least one new recipe per month.
    ✓ Grade: A

    Passed with flying colors on this one! I tried at least one new recipe every month — usually more than one, though I didn’t always keep track.

    • Hamburger Lentil & Bean Stew
    • Spätzle — a terrible failure, by the by
    • Banana Bread
    • Salted Chocolate Caramel Cookies
    • Bell Pepper Chicken + Rice
    • French Toast Casserole
    • Zucchini Bread
    • Shepherd’s Pot Pie
    • Lemon Cake Cookies
    • Pumpkin Spice Muffins
    • Whoopie Pies
    • (Not-a-Tequila) Sunrise
  15. Learn how to bake bread. Edible bread, I should say.
    ✗ Grade: F
  16. Lose those last 10 pounds (in a healthy way, of course) and maintain that weight.
    ✗ Grade: F
  17. Properly fix up this current computer or build a new one.
    ✓ Grade: A

    Big win. My new little beauty has been running like a dream since June.

  18. Donate to at least one charity.
    ✓ Grade: A
  19. Patronize small and/or local businesses often.
    ✗ Grade: D

    Not so much. We have been to a few local cafés, and I got a couple of gifts from crafters on Etsy, but beyond that… not so much. I would seriously LOVE to get back to a farmer’s market, but so far I haven’t found one that’s consistently available when I’m off work.

  20. Obtain a vintage (or well-made vintage repro) dress.
    ✓ Grade: A

    Well, it isn’t strictly vintage, but I did get myself a semi-vintage-style dress as an early birthday present (using Christmas gift cards, but still). It’s a bright coral color with a big bold print of black & white flowers (roses?) all over. It’s kind of a mid/late 20th century style — not over-the-top ‘50’s fem but not quite ‘60’s mod. The knee-length skirt’s loose enough to have a petticoat under, but the extra poof isn’t necessary. The low wide neckline and a couple of bits of boning in the bodice make for a very alluring décolletage.

  21. Figure out how to curl my hair so that it will stay curled for more than 5 minutes.
    ✓ Grade: B
  22. Learn how to wear liquid eyeliner and/or red lipstick.
    ✓ Grade: A
  23. Keep nails (fingers and toes) fixed up.
    ✓ Grade: C
  24. Go somewhere fun for a weekend.
    ✓ Grade: A
  25. Learn to be genuinely kind.
    ✓ Grade: C

    Am I a kinder person now? I don’t know. I mean, I have tried. And I have been called “kind” by others, which was a nice boost to the ol’ self-esteem. But I also feel like my customer service-esque job seriously saps my patience and has really lowered both my tolerance for idiocy and my level of hope for humanity as a whole. I guess this calls for a pass-ish grade?

Sooo… that’s like a C average. Story of my life.

Tune in next week for more naval gazing/pie-in-the-sky expectations!


Lemons

January 1, 2012 Garden, Home Sweet Home 0

It’s that time of year again.

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Time for lemons!

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I never knew, until we moved down here to the coast, that citrus fruits ripened in the winter.

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We didn’t even realize that we had a lemon tree in the back yard until Christmas last year. My mother was the one who noticed that those yellow things hanging from the branches weren’t just odd leaves — they were fruit.

(In our defense, the lemon tree is on the opposite side of the back yard from our rear windows, and we hardly ever go out there anyway.)

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The tree has really outdone itself this year. I don’t know if it was the drought or the heat or what, but the thing is practically dripping with lemons.

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I made some honey-lemon chicken with the first ripe fruit. An approximation of the recipe I used can be found at Closet Cooking, but I’ve been doing this dish my own way for a few years now. I roasted it with carrots this time, too. Perhaps I ought to eventually write my own recipe down and share it here.

 


Holidays at HMNS

December 25, 2011 Geekery, Museum Musings 0

The Houston Museum of Natural Science puts up several Christmas trees around this time every year, each of which is uniquely decorated by a community organization. So, today being Christmas and all, I thought it would be fun to post some quick snaps of all of the fun decorations that graced our trees this year.

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The first tree (and obviously the most awesome tree, ever) is from the HMNS Volunteer Guild. The theme for this year was Viva la Vida, so the Guild put together a tree that showcases all forms of life, starting from the earliest living cellular forms at the bottom and working up to current species at the top…

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… complete with an imminent mass extinction event en route to the dinosaur branches.

The rest of the trees are pretty cool, too, but nothing can compete with the Guild’s dinosaur ornaments.

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Well, that’s it really. Merry Christmas!


25 by 25 Project Update

September 18, 2011 Just for Fun 0

It’s been nearly 6 months since the first post. I’m still working on those 25 goals that I want to accomplish by the time I turn 25, which will be just over 6 months from now. So, here’s a progress report…

  1. Set up exercise, housework, blogging, hobby, and study schedules — and stick to them!

    I’ve been waffling with the schedules. I mean, I was doing pretty well for a while there, but then school started kicking my butt this summer and I’ve basically been in an unscheduled, unproductive stupor since then. But I’m getting back on track — just fixed up my schedule for the next 2 weeks this morning.

  2. Read 75 books.

    Doing really well with this goal, actually! On track to have 75 books completed by the end of the year!

  3. Write in my journal at least 3 times per month.
  4. Find a full-time job or a second part-time job or an equivalent income-earning activity.

    Yeah, still working on it, but yeah, the economy is still crap, and yeah… not going so well. It’s really getting depressing. On the plus side, my spouse and I will both be getting lots of worthwhile experience while volunteering at the museum. But that’s, y’know, volunteering.

  5. Refresh my French.
  6. Fix up my garden.

    I do feel bad about this. Last year I planted a bunch of stuff but most of it was lost to either the freak freeze last winter or the freak drought this summer. There are a couple of bushes and a Canna that are still doing OK, plus the lemon tree in the back yard, but for the most part the garden is bare. And even then, my spouse had to be the one to dig out most of the dead detritus. Maybe since it’s starting to cool down a bit I’ll take a trip to the garden center soon for some hardier replacements.

  7. Do something artsy/craftsy.
  8. Get good enough at knitting to produce a sweater for the dog.
  9. Take at least 5 “good” photos per week.
  10. Organize digital and physical copies of photos; begin gathering photos from friends and family.

    This is an ongoing project because the photos just keep piling up, but it’s also a lot of fun to dig through them all. Pretty sure that by the end of the year my entire external hard drive will just be filled with photos.

  11. File/recycle all of this old paperwork that’s clogging up my desk drawers.
  12. Convince the credit card companies to reduce my APR.
  13. Organize the closets. Properly this time.
  14. Try at least one new recipe per month.

    Doing really well with this goal, actually!

  15. Learn how to bake bread. Edible bread, I should say.
  16. Lose those last 10 pounds (in a healthy way, of course) and maintain that weight.

    Ugh… in progress, still, but it shouldn’t be. Actually I gained a bit of weight over the summer. School stress, I guess. But I recently joined a gym with the idea that the guilt over the cost of membership will induce me to utilize it as often as possible to justify the monthly fee, and so far that’s actually working. Now I just have learn how to stay away from my precious, precious butter.

  17. Properly fix up this current computer or build a new one.

    Yes, the old one finally kicked the bucket. The new one is way more awesome than I strictly needed, but the old one was too when I first bought it and that thing lasted me 6 years (and might have lasted more if they still made parts for it). So hopefully my new baby will be blessed with the same sort of longevity.

  18. Donate to at least one charity.

    Giving a buck or more to the food bank almost every time we hit HEB. Bought a friend a present from an organization that donates all profits to charity. Donated canned goods for the victims of the recent nearby wildfires. It isn’t the same as writing out a 3-figure check, but we try to do a little bit of good in a world that badly needs it.

  19. Patronize small and/or local businesses often.
  20. Obtain a vintage (or well-made vintage repro) dress.
  21. Figure out how to curl my hair so that it will stay curled for more than 5 minutes.
  22. Learn how to wear liquid eyeliner and/or red lipstick.

    Red lipstick: check! It was scary at first, but I got lots of compliments. I’m not brave enough to wear that look all the time, though.

  23. Keep nails (fingers and toes) fixed up.

    Perhaps I ought to have defined “fixed up” for this goal. Are my nails painted perfectly all the time? Uh, no. They’re naked right now, in fact. But are they kept at a reasonable length, in reasonable shape, and in a reasonably clean state? Yup. Hooray for small victories!

  24. Go somewhere fun for a weekend.

    Our trip to Austin definitely counts as fun!

  25. Learn to be genuinely kind.

    I guess this isn’t something that can be objectively measured, is it? But still, I try. And I’m getting better. As an introvert in a customer service position, as someone who just doesn’t really like our human species all that much anyway, it can be really hard sometimes. But I do try.

So I’ve still got my work cut out for me. 9 goals still unattempted and 13 still in progress. Only 3 goals really and truly completed. That’s kind of pathetic for half a year’s worth of work, isn’t it? But going over it all again has renewed my dedication to the idea. I’m trying to be optimistic, hoping that it will all work out in the end.


Independence Day in Austin

July 10, 2011 Adventures 0

We were lucky enough to be able to visit some friends in Austin over this past holiday weekend. In the interest of privacy, we won’t go into too many details… but suffice it to say, we had a TON of fun. We ate LOTS of food and we were SUPER lazy and it was AMAZING. So, pictures:
 
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So that was our weekend (through the eyes of G’s Blackberry, seeing as how I did actually bring the camera but never actually remembered to bring it out). It was simply wonderful.


Ye Olde Sewing Machine

April 17, 2011 Home Sweet Home, Stitching 0

Do I know how to sew?  No.  I mean, I made a pillow once in Home Ec. ages and ages ago.  But!  We are now proud owners of a sewing machine.  I mentioned a couple of posts ago that my grandmother was kind enough to send us this old rotary thing:

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It belonged to my great-grandmother, Nana. She bought it in 1933 or ’34 and it was the first electric sewing machine around. Keep in mind that this was the middle of the Great Depression, so this was a BIG purchase. Nana paid it off by sewing up burlap sacks for the two local cotton gins.
 
This sewing machine has seen a lot of use… as both a sewing machine and as a side table. You can see here that it doesn’t look like much when it’s all put away:


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If it weren’t for the hinges and the cord coming out the bottom, you’d never suspect it was anything more than an old beat-up side table.
 
And this thing is heavy as all get-out. I don’t know if we could even get it up the stairs without some serious struggle. Is it cast iron? I think so. It sure feels like it.
 

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It takes two hands just to get the darn thing up out of its little hideaway spot.
 
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I’ve done a bit of sleuthing, trying to figure out where it might have come from and whether or not it might still be operational. Reliable information has, thus far, been scarce. A brief mention of an “Elgin Sewing Machine and Bicycle Company” is made here in a history of the manufacturing town of Elgin, Illinois. According to this site, the company was later bought out by Sears, Roebuck, and Co. (or at least the “Bicycle” part of the company was… no mention is made of what became of the “Sewing Machine” part of the company). I would not be surprised if Sears continued manufacturing the machines under the Elgin name and Nana ordered this particular machine through the Sears catalog.
 
I have no idea if it’s still operational. I’ll have to take it in to a specialty repair shop to have it looked at.
 
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Know anything about old Elgins? Leave a comment and let me know! I’m so curious!

 


25 by 25 Project

March 20, 2011 Just for Fun 0

This is, quite obviously, my first post.

I’m Louise. Some of you know me by my real first name, but I prefer not to use that name online (so if you happen to leave a comment, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention that my real name is Rumpelstiltskin). And today is a special day for me. I’m 24 years old as of today.

So what? It isn’t as exciting as, say, an 18th birthday. I mean, OK, 24 is kind of an interesting number in a mathematical sense, but I’m not big on math. So how should one celebrate turning 24?

By preparing to turn 25, of course.

So I’ve set myself a list of 25 goals that I’d like to accomplish within the next year or so. Some of them are easier than others. Some of them are more concrete than others. Some of them are more likely to happen than others. But overall I think I’ve come up with a pretty good sampling of stuff that I can accomplish in a year.

  1. Set up exercise, housework, blogging, hobby, and study schedules — and stick to them!
  2. Read 75 books.
  3. Write in my journal at least 3 times per month.
  4. Find a full-time job or a second part-time job or an equivalent income-earning activity.
  5. Refresh my French.
  6. Fix up my garden.
  7. Do something artsy/craftsy.
  8. Get good enough at knitting to produce a sweater for the dog.
  9. Take at least 5 “good” photos per week.
  10. Organize digital and physical copies of photos; begin gathering photos from friends and family.
  11. File/recycle all of this old paperwork that’s clogging up my desk drawers.
  12. Convince the credit card companies to reduce my APR.
  13. Organize the closets. Properly this time.
  14. Try at least one new recipe per month.
  15. Learn how to bake bread. Edible bread, I should say.
  16. Lose those last 10 pounds (in a healthy way, of course) and maintain that weight.
  17. Properly fix up this current computer or build a new one.
  18. Donate to at least one charity.
  19. Patronize small and/or local businesses often.
  20. Obtain a vintage (or well-made vintage repro) dress.
  21. Figure out how to curl my hair so that it will stay curled for more than 5 minutes.
  22. Learn how to wear liquid eyeliner and/or red lipstick.
  23. Keep nails (fingers and toes) fixed up.
  24. Go somewhere fun for a weekend.
  25. Learn to be genuinely kind.

So… what do you think? No, no, wait a second. If you think my goals are lame, don’t tell me. They’re personal and even if some of them are vain or unobtainable, they’re mine. So if you don’t like ’em, just nod and smile and walk away.

Anyway, it’s something to start with.