Monday, March 23, 2015

My 41st birthday

Last year, for my 40th, we had so much fun at the Natural History Museum of Utah, I decided that I want to do something like that - cultural - every year for my birthday. Today we went to the Living Planet Aquarium in Draper. It opened about a year ago but we were waiting for all the crowds to die down before we went. And then we forgot. But first!

Dan made me a terrific breakfast of corned beef hash. We had corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day, the anniversary of the day we met (eight years ago!), and there was so much leftover we decided to have it for breakfast too.

The next thing we did was to get a family photo of me, Dan, Sam, and Mr. Cupcake. Everyone but Sam was excited about it.

Then we got in the van and drove to Draper. We were really looking forward to being there on a weekday when it was less likely to have lots of children. WRONG. There were school buses full of them. And pregnant moms with their little ones (this is Utah, after all). People referring to sturgeons as sharks and caimans as alligators and crocodiles. Anyway, we found lots of good stuff.

 Anaconda. 14 feet long.

 Electric eel.

 Toucan. He was eating and I caught a video but he was behind netting so the pictures all have string blurring them.
 Tiny yellow frog.
 Another yellow frog.

 Otters! They were fun to watch. They move pretty fast though.
 This was the first time I had ever seen penguins. They all had zip ties on their wings and we didn't know why. I'll have to contact the aquarium and ask.
 Sea horses
 Pipe fish
 Sleeping sea horse
 Cuttle fish. He and Dan had quite a long conversation including posting and lots of color changes.

When I opened up Google a few minutes ago, I saw this!

Just this minute Dan is serving me up a steak curry so I have to go eat my birthday dinner now. No cake for me, I'm losing weight again and can't afford cake calories! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Adventures in August 2014

This is the month where the serious fruit and vegetable harvest began and it felt like we were spending all our time either at the garden or at home processing our harvest.

This is the very beginning of what would become hundreds of pounds of tomatoes. Or at least it felt like that much.

August is when I started volunteering with Green Urban Lunch Box. They have a fruit share program where home owners can register their fruit trees. When the trees are ripe, volunteers come and pick the tree. One third goes to the home owner (if they want it, they often do not), one third to the organization, and the rest gets divided among the volunteers. In just a few hours worth of harvest I came home with 40 pounds of apricots on my first pick!

Next year I will get in early enough for the cherry harvest, but I sure got a LOT of fruit from the 2014 harvest. It was a great way to meet people and climb trees too! 

Our dear neighbour Colette invited us over for a fancy dinner party in early August. This began a string of fancy dinner parties at her house.

For this dinner party, our hostess declared we must all wear goggles.

This is Colette's dog Gabi. Gabi is 12 years old and my favourite dog. She was a sort of rescue (there is a long story, I don't remember) and Gabi can't see very well so she is sure to bark at everyone who comes by and will continue to bark until she knows it is you. We have big cuddle sessions every time I go over there.

Funeral potatoes. It's a Utah/Mormon thing, apparently.

We have now been corrupted.

Plum season!


I canned all these nectarines and I am still eating them for breakfast. :-)

Peaches! Lots of these got dehydrated and then instantly eaten by Dan because they were so delicious. But some also got canned.

We did a number of things with the plums. Some got suspended in vodka for an infusion. Some got dried. Some were made into an amazing plum chutney that goes very nicely with roasted meat.

We have this lovely space in our yard area that is very conducive to block parties. A few times in the summer we had people over for some good times and cocktails that increased in potency as the night went on (I was bartending).

Gabi, sitting cutely.

We couldn't keep up with the cucumbers.

So I took some to work and shot at my office mate with them. I posted a photo on twitter and @jonmchris improved my cumber-slinging photo.

Oh yes on the leadership thing with getting the twitter account going again. They made me sit for a photo and everything.

Fun fact about apricots: if you have enough pits and let them dry out a bit, then go at them with a hammer, you can get at what is called the "bitter almond" inside. Stick these babies in vodka (Neutral Grain Spirit) and let them infuse for a few months, strain, add sugar and voila! You have amaretto.

The start of our infusion collection.

One of the best things about harvesting fruit with Green Urban Lunch Box was grapes. And they were seedless grapes! Someone had given me her dehydrator and we had that thing going nonstop for about six weeks. Raisins! They were so delicious that Dan hid and hoarded them.

I just had to tweet this photo of the chicken burger with bacon made at the Red Onion, the cafeteria in our building at work. It's not on the menu but it's one of the best chicken burgers I have ever had. And they made it just for me. :-)

Near the end of August our beloved friends Peter and Burgle came to visit us from Victoria! We didn't have a lot of time with them, I had grad school orientation and then started classes, but we packed in as much as we could. One of the important things: take them to Yogurtland for self-serve soft serve yogurt and toppings!

We were also able to get away for a day to go camping in the desert. We drove southwest towards Fish Lake. Mr. Cupcake came too.

There had been some torrential rains in the days preceding our adventure, we were exploring.

Stopped at what was supposed to be a hot spring, according to the map. There was a hot spring but it was really stinky and extremely hot. Only the men were brave (?) enough to go in. Burgle and I were not willing to risk quicksand or stinky feet, so we sensibly stayed out.

(They did make it back alive, by the way).

Our perfect camp spot was just around the corner on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. We found a flat enough space, set up our tents, got the fire going, and roasted sausages from Costco.

View from our truck tent the next morning. In the whole time we were there not a single other vehicle went by.

Because we are adventurers, we weren't going to to back the way we came, so we took the road toward Nevada that had really been washed out due to the aforementioned torrential rains. Yay four wheel drive!

We drove up in the northeast part of Elko county, Nevada, stopped at Wendover for snacks, and then stopped again at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

It's a pretty spectacular place, especially on a warm sunny day. The other side of the highway has a better view but this was enough to show just how much salt there is!

That wraps up August 2014!