Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Year of the Snake!

Last weekend we celebrated the Chinese New Year (this year is the Year of the Snake - time to declutter and prepare for good business/finances!).

Now one thing that surprises people (particularly us) when first visiting Houston is how culturally diverse this city is!  We have a huge Asian population in Houston, and I was told that the reason is the climate here is similar to the countries from where they originally came.  It makes sense: there are a lot of people here originally from China, Vietnam, India, and Malaysia, and the climate here would be easier for them to grow crops (especially rice) that they're familiar with, as well as available seafood, etc. 

Since we have such a sizeable Chinese population here (we actually have TWO Chinatowns - an older & a newer!) we joined up with some friends to see some celebrations.  But first, we met for food.  And here I must confess: I really had no idea what to expect.  I had gone to the older Chinatown once, and it looked like anywhere else in town, just had a lot of Asian restaurants.  The newer Chinatown traveling in a whole different country.  All the signs had Chinese on them, logically!

Also, I'd like to take a moment to apologize to my sister, who is traveling to China soon - I totally forgot to tell you about this when we were on the phone).

We went to see the Dragon dances, but unfortunately we were too late.  However, we saw this person, who represents a Chinese deity of wealth.  Kids got their photos taken with him.  I liked his hat.

 Since we missed the Dragon dances, we decided to head to dinner.  We ate at a Malaysian restaurant - we had chicken satay and I had chicken curry.  Noel had a shrimp dish.  Yum!  (I love curry, as long as it doesn't burn my face off).

 Afterward, we headed to a grocery store in the same shopping center.  I couldn't resist the photo op.  Here are some cookies and snacks on the shelves:

(Dare I mention that Noel bought the pink panda cookies?  Because he totally did).

I was more intrigued with the butcher shop.  Here we have a selection of various sea cucumbers and yellow eel.  Hmmm...

Exactly how does one prepare sea cucumber? 

And just when you're stuffed full of eel chunks, what's for dessert?  Green Bean Ice Bars. 

So I really wanted to try these, but Noel was so grossed out I decided not to bother.  Maybe next time.  :)  I did end up buying some rice balls with peanuts in the middle (we haven't tried them yet) and Noel got some other cookies that were called Japanese mochi balls - they were chocolate flavored and looked promising.  But they were gummy.  I don't mean they had a jelly filling or anything - they were entirely like a huge chocolate gummy bear.  GROSS.  We threw them out. 
The panda cookies though?  Delicious.  If not slightly emasculating.
So last weekend we also went to the Kemah boardwalk.  It's an old-fashioned oceanside boardwalk with rides and shops and restaurants.  We've driven past it a hundred times when we first came to Texas, but never stopped becaust it was always crazy full of people (summer weekends, so of course it would be).
However, on a brisk winter day, the crowd was manageable.  They had a two-story carousel!
And a lighthouse with requisite palmetto trees.
In typical Thing In Sky form, a wooden rollercoaster (too cold to ride or I would've been on it!)
We stopped at a fun rockabilly shop too, and I got an ADORABLE dress with a green Tiki on it.  Fab.  Now I just need a place to wear it!  (This seems to be a common theme with my clothing purchases of late).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1 Saree, 2 Saree, Teal Saree, Blue Saree!

Hi all!

Hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day.  We had a nice one, and a wonderful weekend.  Pictures  will be posted within the next few days.  I did want to go ahead and share the loving, heartfelt card that Noel gave to me for V Day.

This card was accompanied by a bottle of Pyrat Rum, which is fantastic if you've never tried it.  Does this guy know how to charm a woman or what?  He certainly knows me well!  :)

Also, yesterday my other birthday saree arrived!  This one is not as glittery, but it's still quite lovely.  Blue and red this time!


Did I mention how dramatic & gorgeous these outfits are?  They're so feminine and luxurious!  Love love love.
So I wasn't really expecting any other gifts in the mail, and then today was surprised by this fabulous handmade bracelet that my niece sent to me!  Wasn't that sweet?  I put it on right away.  I love the colors and it makes me feel all summery and happy every time I look at it.  Thank you, Audrey!

It's late, so time to hit the hay.  Hope everyone is having a good February so far! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sparkle Fairy Princess!!

So my first saree arrived yesterday!  Noel played fashion photographer:

This thing is just gorgeous!!  It's so sparkly and regal.  The fabric is even more beautiful than you can see in this photo - not only is it embroidered with sparkly stuff, it also has shimmer on the fabric itself.  I feel like a queen in it!  Now we just need to find a place where I can wear it!  :)

So the cool thing about sarees is that they're essentially just a really long piece of fabric.  You wrap it around your waist, pleat it and tuck it into the front of a petticoat, and then wind the excess around your body and over your shoulder.  The cool thing is, they sewed the petticoat to the saree, so I don't actually have to do any pleating or tucking.  It's already done for me!  Also, they sewed the matching blouse to my measurements.  It came from New Delhi through Paris and to Texas.  I am just thrilled with it. 

The other saree should be coming soon - it's a bit more casual and not so sparkly - dark blue with a dark red edging.  I just think these are such graceful and feminine garments.  :)

So some of you may have noticed in the above photo that there appears to be....less of me.  And yes!  You would be right!  I've been doing WeightWatchers since July and have lost over 40 lbs so far!  It really has been all about portion control for me.  I don't feel like I'm deprived at all, and the results are exciting to say the least.  I'm wearing clothes that I haven't worn in years, and am enjoying wearing fun clothes again, now that I feel like I can get away with them (thus the sarees!)

So that's a quick update for today.  Hope everyone had a good Mardi Gras!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tool Time!

Happy weekend, everyone!  I hope all of our friends in the northeast are safe & sound (and staying warm!)

It's been insanely warm here, so much so that Noel & I have been marking things off our To Do list.

Now that Noel and I are homeowners, we get to spend some quality time doing things to improve our little homestead.  I've rented so long, it's funny that I sometimes forget we can change things on the house if we want!

So here are some projects we've taken on lately.  I'd just like to give a shout out to our new internet provider, because I was able to upload all of the following photos in, seriously, 10 seconds.  AMAZING.

On to projects!  So we bought a green bench years ago, and it was in great shape.

For a while.
How could this kind of damage happen to a perfectly innocent bench, you ask?
Do you even need to ask?
When the cats decided to destroy this particular piece of furniture, they were...thorough.
Please note that Sammy has a foot stuck in the hole.  After he had torn it away enough to smoosh himself into the lining, he used to lay inside it, like some kind of tattered hammock. 

So here was our quick fix.  I didn't feel like reupholstering the whole thing right now, so I took some twine and made some creative patches over the torn parts.  I also touched up the finish on the legs.  It's...well, unique.  I'm not 100% in love with it, but at least the cats can't destroy it.  Funny thing is, I used twine so that if they wanted to scratch on it, they'd at least scratch on the parts that felt like a scratching post.  But I was wrong.  They avoid it now like the plague.  *shrug*

Noel has a workshop in the garage.  When we bought the house, it had a HUGE wooden work table that took up a lot of space and frankly wasn't very useful - it was so deep that he wasn't able to use the majority of it.  So: Brilliant Idea!  It's our table, let's cut it in half and make an L shape!

Here's the original table:

We spent several hours sawing, drilling & hammering.  Here is his new workspace (he also put up new fluorescent lights to make it brighter.  It's a really nice (and roomy!) workspace now!

Note that there is yet another project on the sawhorses in the picture above.

It's a plain white divider wall that hides our water heater.  It is ucky. 

And guess what?  We own it!  So we can change it!  We found this awesome textured wallpaper at the home improvement store.  It has the glue already on the back, you just have to soak it to activate the glue and then put it in place:

Then you trim the excess off and let the paper dry completely:

After the paper dried for 24 hours, we painted it to match our front door.  It took several coats (red usually does):
But how awesome does THIS look now!?  (We added a 3rd piece we found in the garage):
Here's a closeup of the texture.  Isn't it awesome?
Yet another project?  We've done several outside ones.  One is a shed we built in the corner of the yard, to house the mower and make Noel's workshop even roomier!
The other big outside project?  A new garden!  Yes, I finally took pictures of it.  Does this not look like we have multiple dead bodies buried out there?
For those of you who think it might be too early to plant a garden, look!  The baby radishes are already coming up!
Even our lantanas are blooming already!

So that's an update on all the exciting domestic things we've been working on.  It's a good thing too - it's supposed to rain tomorrow. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Today's my birthday! Da-na-na-na-na!

Ah yes.  And now that I am another year older (definitely) and wiser (possibly?), I'd like to share some of my hard-gained revelations about life.  You see, young people out there, right now you are happy-go-lucky and feel like you're immmortal. 

But things change.  Be not afraid, young people.  I, Elder Sister Grumpy Pants, am here to guide you through the confusing and frightening world of oldness.  Here are the key moments that you can look forward to experiencing:

1.  Remember the last time you went out partying with your friends until the wee hours of the morning, and still managed to get home, shower, take a power nap, and wake up fresh as a daisy?  Well guess what?  Someday, you will go out with your buddies til dawn, go home and crash for a few hours, and then wake up - in agony.  Oh yes, friends, late nights will start to hurt.  And that's the moment when you start making decisions like "would I rather go out for Mardi Gras, or stay at home and not feel like I got run over by a dump truck in the morning?"  And the decision gets easier every time you make it.

2.  You begin to pay attention to your bathroom schedule.  You also begin to think about your fiber intake.  Enough said.

3.  High heels become excruciating.  They make every inch of your body hurt.  Even your thumbs.  So you catch yourself slowly acquiring lower and lower heels, until one day you look in the mirror and Surprise!!  You're wearing sensible brown librarian orthopedic shoes.

4.  Spicy & junky food starts to hurt.  See #2.

5.  You hear the music that people younger than you listen to, and you realize it stinks.  You don't know the names of the bands, but it doesn't really matter because it all sounds the same.  And you begin to wax poetically about the high quality of the music of your own youth, wondering why Those Young Kids don't appreciate the intricate depth of musicality that is Whitesnake.

Concerned yet?  Don't fear the reaper, children.  Nor the Metamucil.  Can someone please pass me the Ensure?

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Day Before The Day of Reckoning

Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm feeling a bit melodramatic.  Know what would help?  A vacation.  Maybe to here?

That's Bora Bora, for those of you who are curious - it's an island in French Polynesia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Can you believe how gorgeous that water is?  Unreal.


So this past weekend Noel and I worked diligently in the yard.  The total tally of weeding time?  NINE HOURS.  I am sore today.  But!  The garden is weed free and I've planted seeds for:
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Mescalun mix (fancy salad)
These veggies like a little cold weather, so next week's slightly cooler temps will be good for them. 

I don't have a picture of the nice weed-free garden, because I didn't finish it til dusk last night, and also the authorities might think I had buried several bodies in the yard.  That's kinda what it looks like.

It's a bit late, so I'm going to head to bed.  Ta ta for now!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Saree for the Bad Pun. :)

Yay Friday!  We *heart* you. 

We've spent the evening watching MMA (Mixed Martial Arts - for those not in the know, it's where 2 grown men are locked in a big cage and beat the ever-living crap out of each other).  So for those of you who have known me for any period of time, you'll know that (1) I am extremely non-confrontational, and (2) I have a weird (and ironic) violent streak - remember The Rugby Years?  Yeah.

So Noel used to watch MMA when we lived in the motorhome and I just couldn't bring myself to watch it. 

At first.

Here's the weird thing about bloodlust - it sneaks up on you.  So at first, I'd read and just glance over the book at the tv.  Then I'd end up looking more at the tv than the book.  And then I'd start yelling at the guy to KICK HIM AGAIN! 

Then Noel laughed at me, and I had to give up the pretense of feeling too high & mighty to watch people pummel each other as hard as possible for money.  I even have a favorite fighter: Anderson "The Spider" Silva, a Brazilian guy who makes it look way to easy to knock people unconscious with his pinkie finger.  Not a guy to meet in a dark alley, but certainly the guy to walk into a dark alley with

Anyway, so we have since gone to sports taverns to watch pay-per-view fights and while Noel happily munches on nachos and drinks a Shiner Bock, I sit there and yell at them to KEEP YOUR HANDS UP, STUPID all the while knitting.

Because knitting is totally ok to do while screaming at a guy to choke another man to unconsciouness.

Tonight though, there was no knitting, because I was too busy shopping online for my birthday present from Noel!  Guess what he bought for me!?

A saree (also spelled sari)!  Specifically, this one:

How gorgeous is that!?  These are the traditional style of dress in India, and these sarees are actually made there and shipped here.  I'm so excited - I can wear it when we go out to fancy places for dinner.  Yay!  As soon as it gets here I'll take pictures.  I'm so excited!  Thank you, honey!