Sunday, March 30, 2008

Going Out Like a Lion ...

It's the last Sunday of the month here in the 'ville, and we just got back from Kansas City, where Cheshirewoodgie and I spent a weekend with part two of our wedding anniversary celebration.

Friday found us staying at the Plaza Marriott, with an excellent view of the Kansas City Plaza. Woodgie spent a bit of Friday walking the Plaza and stopping at a gourmet cheese shop, Better Cheddar, while I was at work, and then after meeting up at the hotel, we discovered quite possibly the best Indian restaurant in KC (almost as good as, and probably better than, gasp!, our previous fave, Swagat). The restaurant, Korma Sutra (the name a play on a certain, ahem, book of Indian origin), has two locations, one of which is in the historic Westport area in KC.

We had their combination platter, featuring a dizzying array of dishes, including a free first order of papadam (lentil wafer) for an appetizer, followed by chicken samosas, a sublime coconut soup, bowls of a just-right spicy lamb saag and chicken tika masala served with a generous helping of basamati rice, two kinds of naan (regular and onion), and for dessert, galub jamin and cubes of frozen mango ice cream (which appeared to be frozen cubes of mango rose lassi).

Honestly, calling Korma Sutra a "better" restaurant than Swagat does a disservice to the latter. We both attempted to determine what the difference was. To be honest, we think it's that the style of Korma Sutra's cuisine was a little spicer, with the flavors bolder and more traditional, while Swagat's items are very good but a little too "Americanized" in contrast.

Needless to say, we left happy. And quite full.

Saturday found us with Lauren's friend Jenny touring the KC Home and Garden Show at the Bartle Hall Convention Center, which is turning into an annual pilgrimage for us. As always, we spent the afternoon wishing we had more home space, and thinking of ideas for things to do to our home. If anything, I know that should we ever win the Powerball lottery, that we are getting Viking appliances ... actually, we would settle for a Viking range; Lauren's heart has been set on an Aga , but from what we understand, using one requires changing your whole style of cooking to accomodate it ;-).

We had planned to head down to Union Station this afternoon (Sunday) to catch the KC Rail Experience and Science City exhibits, but we were a little bit worn down after the previous two days. The party next door to our room kept us up for a bit, so we were both a bit tired. At first, we had headed off to the hotel's hot tub in hopes that by the time we got back to our room, the party would have moved down to Westport, but the neighbors continued rowdiness required a small call to the desk due to the excessive noise and alcohol consumption. We'll save Union Station for a later day.

Instead of doing Union Station, we journeyed over to Cho Ga, our favorite Korean restaurant over on Metcalf Ave., with a prior stop at a Whole Foods (actually, a Wild Oats that is transitioning), for our foodie fix; neither one of us had ever been to one before, as we don't live in an area large enough to support one, so it was a treat for both of us.

So that ended part two of our anniversary ... not sure yet what we'll do for next year, but we hope it is just as entertaining.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More work update:

Did a little kitchen cleaning
Fixed the dust vac holder in the kitchen that was threatening to fall off the wall
Graded five issues papers
Got the root bed and the bean pole ready for planting
Pulled more weeds
Transplanted a bunch of pepper plants into bigger pots
Oh, yeah, and I napped.

And this is my vacation. Wow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Garden work update (more Cheshirekitty)

Update: Today's tasks done:

1) Made the frame for the hay bale gardens smaller so it sits on top of the hay bales.
2) Dug two bushels of dirt/compost (some frozen) from the composter and put in hay bale garden.
3) Moved the composter. This sounds like it should have been easy, but see 2).
4) Fixed the antique bed frame, which consisted of moving the mattress and box spring and reattaching the board which holds the slats in, this time using longer screws.

Oh, am I sore!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Break Work (Cheshirekitty speaks)

Well, my spring break was going to be all about home and garden (although there are a couple dozen papers I need to grade as well), and so far, it has been pretty productive:

Saturday: Gingercat (Richard) and I rototilled the kitty garden and made a bigger border around the moon garden, replaced the trellis that had been taken out by the drunk driver last November, cut down the tall grasses by the fence, and tore out the entire pond and watercourse liner because there was a leak in the pond. Oh, yes, and ordered new pond and watercourse liners with geotextile underlay so that there's less of a chance of a rock or tree root tearing holes through the EPDM rubber.

Sunday: Easter. Recovered from Saturday's work.

Today: I got the last bale of hay or straw or something from a freecycler down in Savannah and made a frame so I can plant root crops. Because it's probably hay instead of straw, I am afraid there could be some weed seeds and the like to tussle with. Oh, well. And I need to cut the frame a bit smaller so it sits on top of the lopsided bales.
I also fixed two kitchen drawers and a porch railing, pumped out the mudhole that used to be my pond, put together four vine ladders for the raised beds, set up my worm bin, and even got a nap in. I tried to dismantle and move my compost bin that's full of too much dirt and not enough compost (from throwing sod into it), but the soil inside it is still frozen and it's going nowhere. Oh, yeah, I also washed dishes and cleaned litterboxes, but that's normal chores.

Tomorrow, I hope to put up the tomato ladders and plant peas around them, start a few more herbs in the greenhouse (holy basil, yarrow, Japanese parsley), throw some seeds on the ground outside (sweet violet and johnny jump-up), and remove a couple inches off the frame for the hay bale garden.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We forgot to tell you -- it's been a year! (Cheshirekitty speaks)

On Monday, Gingerkitty and I had our first anniversary. Yes, it's been a year, and yes, we were married on St. Patrick's Day. Well, actually, it was the first day of my spring break, and it just happened to be St. Pat's. (Richard has gotten used to my life being determined by the academic calendar: "We can't DO anything this weekend because the new freshmen are coming in!" and the like).

We celebrated by going to the local "nice restaurant", followed by my homemade Irish Coffee with freshly roasted/ground beans and Jameson's.

Here's a pic of the newlywed couple we were last year:

AW, Cats Are GOOD For You!

In today's Kansas City Star:

According to a study by the American Stroke Association, non-cat owners appear to have a 40 percent higher risk of dying from a heart attack than cat owners. They don't know if there is a correlation between cat ownership and heart health or not, if there is a correlation between the health practices of cat owners vs. non-cat owners, or what the connection is.

Maybe it's the purring.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Various and Sundry Items ....

Sigh ... it's the middle of March here in the 'ville, and winter is still sticking around for a little while longer. Lauren (aka Cheshirewoodgie) is feeling a little bit tummy-ish this evening after lunch at the local Italian restaurant (the food was as excellent as always, but there may have been a bit too much garlic in the oil which came with the excellent bread rolls, so she's sacked out early). It's okay; she needs the rest, especially after the road trip down to Savannah (MO) to pick up a couple of rotten hay bales she picked up off of Freecycle in order to do some root gardening.

We also looked at a nice house which is up for sale near Savannah, as we've been discussing what to do in the long-term for housing space. We've both realized that when Lauren bought our house, she didn't have concerns about the amount of living space: she was the only person living in it, and she had 3 cats, one of whom was an outdoor cat that spent a lot of her days outside. Now that I've moved in with my stuff, we've realized that it's cozy, and certainly comfortable for the most part (thanks to the house's amazing TARDIS-like qualities), but we're a little cramped in a few ways with two people and four indoor cats, we're short on storage space, feeling the pinch of a small kitchen, and wishing that we had more space for hobbies or additional bedroom space so we could put family up on visits. I think we both looked at the situation and realized that while a move to the house we were looking at would save me a half hour each way (or an hour a day) on the commute, the prospect of owning a 5-bedroom, 4-bath house is a bit daunting. So now we're making up a list of things we'd like to do to this house in terms of expansion (now if we only had the money!)

Meanwhile, Lauren's back to bed now, and that leaves me with a little time this evening to blog. A few highlights from the last couple of weeks going into April:

  1. I finished my semi-annual review (my first) at my new job. The managers are pretty pleased with me so far, and it looks promising from here. As I noted to Cheshirewoodgie, I'm VERY relieved to get past this milestone.
  2. It's banquet season at the college. Last Wednesday was the faculty HR banquet, with tenure awards. Cheshirewoodgie got a very nice ice cream and cake spoon and turner set with the Northwest logo (it's apparently a standard) for 10 years of service. Tomorrow afternoon, one of the sororities has put her up for a teaching award, and there is a reception after church for this. Then Wednesday, it's the departmental banquet. In addition, there were two annual student dinners: the annual international student banquet and the annual foreign language department/club banquet. Then today, we discovered that Lauren has won another service award, the Tower Award that has eluded her for the last few years, so we'll have yet another banquet on April 1st when she is presented with that. The challenge through all of this? Enjoying the food without letting it go to our waists.
  3. We're heading into the last month of the Spring semester, and by mid-May, Lauren will probably be recuperating from what that entails, including finals week. And then the road-trips begin.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Green Things! (Another Cheshirekitty post)

Today, I saw the first signs of spring in the yard. It was 60 degrees out, so I decided after work to do a couple early spring tasks: pumping the nasty water out of the mini-pond where I managed to freeze my fishies last winter, and clearing some stuff off the herb garden to see what grew there.

The first thing I did to the pond was pull off the remaining ice, and then I scooped out the four dead shubunkin and one dead frog that were floating on the top. (Resolution: Place the pond warmer BEFORE four inches of ice have formed on the pond.) Then I ran the pump unattached to the filter until there's only about two inches of mud and leaves and brackish water at the bottom. That will be sucked out sometime in the next two weeks with a shop vac, and the algae that has grown on the pump will be removed.

While pumping the water out, I noticed that the watercress in the "stream" (external filter output spilling back into the mini-pond) was beginning to wake up -- and there's so much of it, and so much root mass, that you can no longer see the EPDM rubber that makes up the stream. The stream will be full of watercress and some Vietnamese coriander, and there will be a floating pot of water spinach in the pond itself. I also want to try growing some chufa (tiger nut or rush nut) -- although it's supposedly good food for wildlife, what I'm trying for is a crop of tiger nuts to make Spanish horchata (orxata in Catalan) with. Mexican rice horchata is NOT the same. Not at all the same.

I then went to the herb garden. Tarragon, oregano and curly mint are starting to wake up, as are the salad burnets. I discovered that I had missed transplanting some baby saffron crocus corms, and moved the little grassy-topped bulblets closer to the porch so they'd survive worse winters than this one (they're zone 6, but growing close to the house on the south side). The thymes and even the hyssop seem to have survived the winter; it's too early to call on the sage. I expect all the mints (contained in root-binding pots, of course) to survive, and the Profusion sorrel is coming up yet again -- it's come up during every warm patch only to get frostbitten and wither back.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kittens! Kittens!

No, we don't have any new kittens. With four cats in the house, any more kittens would put me into the category of "Crazy old cat lady". But the Gingerkitty keeps sending me pics of every cat offered on Cerner Ebay.

So, to satisfy his kitty cravings, I found the following weblog:
Itty-bitty Kitty Committee. It's enough to satisfy anyone's cute floofy kitten cravings.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We Just Had to Laugh at This One

Last night, I was following a web link off a food blog, and ran into this site:

Needless to say, we were both laughing, in between wondering why we hadn't found the site last year for our own wedding (hint: the ATV bride and groom cake topper was a hoot).

Monday, March 03, 2008

Not Much of Anything Going On ...

Looking back on the last couple of posts, you're probably thinking: "don't these people do ANYTHING?" To be honest, there have been a couple of things getting in the way of that as of late:

1. Both of us are working now: last year about this time, we had time to go do things, because despite the effort involved in getting ready for the wedding, we had time to go do things as I wasn't employed until April, and even after that, my shift work ended at 3, meaning I could rest after work, clean up, and we still had most of an evening left if we wanted to go somewhere. Now, I'm lucky if I get home between 6:30 and 7:00, so the commute means that I not only have less time to do things, but I have even less time to blog than usual.

2. The weather: I hate to admit it, but I used to love winter. Last year wasn't that bad, and despite the zinger of a late frost that almost killed off Lauren's roses and a lot of our outdoor plants and trees, we were still able to start gardening by now. After this past winter, with two ice storms, one of which about finished off our lawn, and more below zero days than I can count, my love of the season has greatly diminished. Now, I'd say that I like fall better.

Today has been a good change of pace. Due to the weather and the roads, I worked from home, which means I'm now home and comfy on the couch (with the kittehs all curled up next to me) at the decent hour of 5:00 rather than the usual, where I would just now be leaving KC with a near-2 hour commute ahead of me. EDIT: Now it's a little later, and Lauren has joined me, but she's feeling a little bit wug, so she's heading back to bed.

That now leaves me time to actually surf the interwebs and write a blog post.