Monday, May 26, 2014

Monkeys & Baklava

The past few weeks have been busy ones! 

One of the coolest things about living in a major metropolitan area is the huge variety of cultural events & fun festivals.  Last weekend we went to Houston's Greekfest at St. Basil's Greek Orthodox Church (

Back story: my mom used to work for a Greek accountant who did the books for basically every Greek restaurant in Asheville.  When she would deliver paperwork to them, she sometimes took me. And due to a wonderfully generous food-sharing ethic (yum), they would feed us.  A lot.  So as a kid, I got seriously spoiled on authentic, homemade Greek food. 

It was also a great introduction to Greek culture, and my travels to Greece years ago cemented my appreciation for it.  I would LOVE to go back to Greece someday soon!

The festival was on the smaller side but very lively and fun - they had beautiful architecture:



And, of course, FOOD!!!  We had gyros - delicious!!!  And then had to go back for some baklava.  I also got a kourabiedes (a buttery nutty cookie covered in powdered sugar).  Both were SO unbelievably good.  Homemade baklava is absolutely divine. 

 (In fact I totally forgot to take the picture until I had already taken a bite).

Then last week I went to The Big D (Dallas) for work.  It was a great trip!  I got another training certification, which is always awesome, and got to meet a bunch of new coworkers in our Dallas office.  And in my free time in the evenings, I had a little adventure! 

Noel enjoys a show called "Fast & Loud."  Who am I kidding?  I enjoy it too.  :)  It's a show about a garage in Dallas that refurbish old cars into really gorgeous customs.  Noel mentioned to me that if I "happened" to go by their garage and "happened" to buy him a t-shirt, he'd be really happy.  So!  Because I am a kind and loving person who has a high tolerance for rush hour traffic, I totally went to Gas Monkey Garage and parked and stalked them while they made an episode of the show.  And bought him some stuff.  And also a shirt for myself. 

I even got a picture of Richard Rawlings, the star of the show!
We've been doing some work on the house too, including pimping out our pergola.  In case you weren't aware, Houston gets a bit sunny...and hot...  So we enjoying our beautiful pergola because it's unbearable.  But!  We refuse to submit.  So we made some linens to go on top, installed shower rails on 2 sides, and bought some pretty sheets to act as sun shades on the sides.  Success!!  We love it.  Makes it feel like an outdoor room now. 

And the outdoors are a-blooming!  Our hibiscus is now growing back nicely but is still only about 8 inches tall.  But our canna lilies are already blooming nicely! 

We also had a run in with a squirrel that was like a 3 Stooges routine.  Look at the size of this monster squirrel!!

So I tried to get a picture of him, but every time I would sidle around one side of the tree, he'd inch around the other side.  Then I'd go back the other way slowly, and he'd inch back around the opposite way.  It took...way too long to get this picture.  And of course, Noel was laughing at my inability to not try to get a picture of said squirrel, because I have in fact been bitten by a squirrel before when trying to feed it.

And because a blog post isn't a blog post without it, the requisite Cat in Box photo:

(Note - Poe seems to fit in this box slightly better than Sammy does.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Quilt Progresseth! (Finallyth!)

But first, a garden update!  The garden has shot up significantly within the past week.  Must be all the fish smoothie fertilizer!  Noel hates the smell of it.  It's not my favorite either.  But the tomatoes LOVE it.  So here's a quick snapshot of it!

Why from that angle, you ask?  Because...the weeds.  The weeds are out of control.  And unfortunately whenever I've had time to weed, it's been rainy and when I try to pull them out, huge clumps of dirt come out too.  So.  No weeding.  Maybe I can put Noel on weed duty!  The cucumbers, squash, and sugar snap peas are already blooming, and we already have baby tomatoes on our plants.  Yay!  Won't be long now!

And yes, I have finally been working on the quilt again.  FINALLY.  Noel and I put the frame together a while back and it had been sitting, bare, neglected, like a pile of sad, dry bones in the middle of the desert of our living room.

But I finally put the quilt on the frame!  It has rails with little canals running the length of the rails, and you use a piece of tubing to push & hold the fabric into the rails, to hold the quilt taut and keep it in place while you work on it.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get the tubing into the rails.  There may have been some cursing, and also a bruised wrist.  But!  I took a deep breath and utilized my inner country girl - and taped it onto the rails.

It worked!  Behold...the quilt on the frame!

So from the side, the quilt frame looks like one of those Imperial shooter thingies from Star Wars.  You know the ones....

Am I right?

So now the quilt is all set up!  From the picture below, you can see all the necessary equipment for quilting:
  • Quilt in frame
  • Chair
  • Coffee
  • Agatha Christie Murder Mystery on TV 

But what is NOT necessary equipment for quilting? 

A fat cat who enjoys sitting on things.

How to resolve this?  Simple!  Aluminum foil.  For some reason, even though cats find the following things enjoyable to park their rumps on:

  • Remote controls
  • Corner of book
  • Pile of plastic grocery bags
  • Washing machine
They don't like sitting on aluminum foil.  So I covered the quilt in it.  And later I can recycle it!

But sitting all day long quilting (and also sitting at work) isn't the healthiest way to live.  I recently bought a hula hoop and have been getting my waist exercise that way.  And apparently I'm going through my first mid-life crisis or something, because I also just bought...

Roller Skates!  They're made for skating outdoors and they're so fun!  And since it's been...a while...since I've been skating, I bought a helmet and a set of pads for wrists, elbows, and knees.  So far no catastrophes.  Whew!

Now if only I can skate AND weed at the same time!