Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Plotting Kitten...

We've had CeCe the kitten for just over three weeks now. We love her - it's not being reciprocated. The cat allows us to pet her maybe twice a day for a total of like five min. Then she just wants to attack us.

This weekend I noticed that she ate her food rather quickly and thought to myself that I should re-check the food's chart for serving amount based on weight. I was able to trick CeCe into sitting on the scale by giving her a treat. She's a slim 4.6 lbs. I checked the label. I was feeding her the serving for a kitten that's 2 lbs. Perhaps she refused to be pet since I was starving her?!?!?! 

On Pinterest (my amazing new addiction), I noticed a cartoon on How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You. I shared it with Jason last night.

At the bottom there was a quiz to calculate the probability that your cat is plotting to kill you. CeCe scored an 83% chance of taking our lives.

Is your cat plotting to kill you?


Saturday, January 28, 2012

DIY Composter

After planting blackberries this past weekend, Jason started his next project. A composter. We had been thinking about getting a composter for awhile and once we saw Jason's aunt and uncle's and how functional it was without taking up a lot of space we decided to move forward with composting. 

True to our engineering form, we purchased a book on composting from Half Price Books and began researching. Or rather, Jason did. (Have I mentioned that the boy is a pro at researching? It's his gift. I am pretty good myself, but not in comparison to him. It's a strength of his that I regularly lean on for guidance.)

Jason researched brands, types, functionality, etc. In the end we were looking at purchasing one in the $250 range - a little pricey and neither of us were really comfortable with that. Instead, my engineering hubby decided he was going to build one!! His project has been taking form the past week and was completed tonight.

I planned to make this a DIY post with all the nice pictures of the pieces that we started with and the progression, with the final result. Then Jason got started on everything and I lost my opportunity. Oh well. We basically started with a trash can, plastic sheeting, aluminum rivets, door weather stripping, silicone caulking, and bungee cord.

Jason drilled holes in the bottom for ventilation and worms.

Inside Jason created ventilation channels to allow good air circulation inside.

This is the exit for the good compost. (The good stuff is always at the bottom.) Jason made a door and engineered a way for the door to be held back on with a good seal.

Woo hoo! The finished product. Total cost ~$70. A fraction of what it would have cost to purchase one. 

We started collecting perishables this week once we knew the project was close to being finished. 

And here's our first composting material!

We'll continue composting our perishables, coffee grinds, etc. and hopefully get some good mulching for the garden!

[You can view this and all our other garden-related posts by clicking on this link here or using the Garden tab located at the top of the blog.]


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Garden Happenings

This past weekend Jason and I tackled planting our blackberries and fig tree (we won't plant the citrus tree until all chance of freezing temperatures has passed). We had started to do this the previous weekend when we purchased them, but quickly realized we needed to raise the beds to avoid flooding with heavy rain. This was a good move since today we got torrential downpour (along with tornado warnings) that caused flooding across Houston. But not in our blackberries!! Hehe.

Here are the blackberry bushes twigs (10 in total) -

Jason checked outside tonight and said we already have tiny green buds!! Yea!

We also got the fig tree planted - 

We also pulled the dead plants from the garden as a result of the frost that hit last December. :-( We didn't lose everything thankfully - just the beans, tomatoes, popcorn, basil, and cucumbers. Surprisingly one bean plant survived - the one that never sprouted this summer! Jason and I enjoyed three sugar snap peas this weekend while we worked!

We pulled the carrots that looked ready or starting to wilt and enjoyed tasting our first carrots!!

And we planted garlic! We are garlic-obsessed and cannot wait until these cloves turn into heads of garlic that we can harvest!!

I noticed this in the garage when I got home... guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend - more gardening!

I've created a tab at the top of the blog for all of our garden posts and added them in case you want to see the progression from landscaping to livelihood. (Or you can click here.)


How Our Garden Grows!

Here's the posts relating to our garden project (each title is a link you can click on).

They are in chronological order with the first post on the list being the beginning.


MS150 Training Has Started!!

This past Saturday was one of the pre-season beginner rides for the MS150. Why would I attend a beginner ride when I am an MS150 veteran? Glad you asked...

JASON IS RIDING IN THE MS150 WITH ME THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm just a little excited (if you couldn't tell). Jason has been toying with the idea of riding since last April when I did the ride. He was afraid it would be similar to running, which opposite of me, Jason finds boring.  He was reassured by many that cycling was a completely different ballgame and nothing like running.

I was very firm in not begging Jason to ride with me. Let's be honest - if he was forced to be there, he'd be miserable, then I would be miserable, and I selfishly don't want to be miserable. So instead, I planted the seed by telling him he should consider it and he surprised me on Dec 30 and told me he had signed up.

Oh so back to the beginner ride this past weekend. I attended as a "mentor" rider along with another friend of ours. We helped coached Jason and others on terminology, proper cycling etiquette, etc. Please don't ask Jason how the ride went though. Unfortunately it was an incredibly windy day... and Jason (and I) have been MIA as spin for awhile... it was a hard ride, even for me. (And spin this morning reminded by behind why I shouldn't miss more than two weeks in a row...)

I am so excited to ride with Jason and fundraise this year!! My goal for the MS150 this year is to make Club 300 again (top 300 fundraisers in the entire ride). I was blessed to reach this achievement last year and will proudly ride as #295 this year.

I sent out my first fundraising letter and am already surprised and touched by the generosity of those around me. I'm already over $1000!! If you would like to join my team and support me in the ride you can read my letter below and click here to donate.

Here's to an exciting season riding with my hubby!! :-)

Jan Fundraising Letter


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Surprise Dinner for Jason

After our team build today (check it out here), our boss was super cool and told us to take the rest of the afternoon off. I knew as soon as he said that what I planned to do with my extra couple hours before Jason would be home.

My friend Brittney made this amazing smores cookie bar a few months back. I saved her recipe knowing Jason would love it and wanting to surprise him with it before finals. In December. Fail. So I decided to make it for him tonight along with a candlelight dinner as a thank you for all his help and support during my marathon training and especially this past Sunday (marathon recap here).

I intended to take progressive pictures as the dessert was assembled...I recalled this after I completed the dessert. So instead you get a final product picture. :-)

 The recipe was simple:
- 1 stick butter
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 king sized hershey's bars
- 1 jar marshmallow creme
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/3 c flour
- 1 sleeve crushed graham crackers
- 1 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Mix crushed graham crackers, flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Combine the cracker mixture with the butter mixture. Divide dough in half and spread across the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Place hershey's on top, followed by marshmallow creme. Top with remaining dough. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min until golden brown.

Now since Jason needs more than just dessert to sustain him, I also cooked his favorite steak recipe along with mashed potatoes and asparagus. I had the table set and ready for him when he came home and surprised him with a romantic candlelight dinner and card to thank him for being the most amazing husband in the world!!

*Note CeCe trying to sneak in and grab some steak! She's a meat lover too!! :-)


Work Team Build!

My boss tasked my friend Brittney and I with planning our work team build. We tossed around some ideas - bowling, go karting, etc. In the end, we had the idea to do a cooking class! Both Brittney and I love to cook (she is amazing and even has a cooking blog, check it out here) and we have both taken multiple classes at an amazing place called Well Done Cooking Class (website is here).

Well Done Cooking Class is owned by two amazing ladies named Celeste and Kat. They host a variety of different classes throughout the week and even have memberships. (For Christmas I got Jason a one! :-) ). We knew it would be the perfect atmosphere and activity for our team build!

It was definitely a tough work day -a short meeting in the morning, a long cooking class over lunch, and then an afternoon off. I wish every day could be so tough! ;-)

The menu our team voted to make was the Dinner Party at Beijing. We started out making Sichuan Boiled Dumplings with a spicy dipping sauce. YUM! They were absolutely amazing and VERY spicy.

Next was hot and sour soup. I was not a big fan of the soup - it had a lot of mushrooms and the broth was kind of salty. A lot of other people liked it though and said it was a great recipe for it!

Next was General Tso's chicken. Another delicious one! We also made fried rice to go with it. We ran out of time to make dessert, but the chefs planned ahead and made it for us so we still got to try them. It was sesame balls that were amazing!

Overall, everyone had a wonderful time and I think we picked the perfect activity for a team build!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fruit Trees!

This past Saturday was the annual Urban Harvest fruit tree sale. We convinced our friends Greg and Leah that they needed to purchase these exotic, organic trees... and let us use their truck to transport ours.

We woke early Saturday to head to the UH campus downtown and take our place in the already-forming line. (By the time we left, the line was absolutely ridiculous and we were glad we got there early!) We had printed the map of the layout, highlighted the trees we wanted, and ordered them in preference. And when I say "we", I really mean "I" since we all know I am just slightly more anal retentive than Jason. (See our personality type post here).

We made out fruit tree list based on a number of factors. First, we looked at Bob Randall's garden book where he grades all the different varieties based on how easy they are to grow. We also considered things like seize, cross-pollination, etc. In the end we determined that we have space for three trees.

Priority number one was a ujukitsu tree. It's a hybrid orange/lemon that tastes like lemonade. Second was a republic of texas orange tree and finally third a celeste fig tree. We also got bushes of blackberries. We were able to get everything we wanted and get out pretty quickly.

Jason started to plant the blackberries, but realized that because of rain, we need to raise the bed some. Guess what we'll be doing next Saturday!?!

We also still need to plan the fig tree and the oranges are safe for now inside pots (because of freeze we can easily take them inside).


Monday, January 16, 2012

MBTI... We're More Similar Than You Think

Finally, after months of meaning to write this post, I have finally finished it. I am taking today off to recover from the marathon yesterday (read about it here) and I'm catching up on posts apparently as I relax. :-)

The COP L48 SWE group (translation - the ConocoPhillips Lower 48 Business Unit Society of Women Engineers) listened to podcasts on personality type. We took the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and looked at statistics for women in general, engineers, and women engineers. It was very interesting to see the comparisons.

I've taken the Meyers-Briggs test before and am always unhappy with the results. I come out as ESFJ, but reading the descriptions think that I sound more like ESTJ. One of the meetings we had, we invited our ConocoPhillips specialist Dave to speak and he mentioned that he could do a short discussion to try and verify your type as well as offer you the more in-depth test that breaks down your type into more specific facets under each letter and shows you the scale of how in-preference or out-of-preference you are for each facet.

This sounded intriguing and I setup a meeting with him. We had a great discussion and 45 min later he said he had no idea which letter I was - T or F. Reassurance that I wasn't crazy! He recommended that I take the more in-depth test and I asked if Jason could also take it because I thought it would be interesting to see what we both were.

Well, back in October Jason and I had lunch to go over our test results - it was very eye-opening. Dave had emailed us that morning to confirm lunch and said that he enjoyed reading the results, say some very interesting things in them, and was anxious to meet with Jason and I.

He did a short introduction conversation with Jason asking him to read different characteristics under each of the letters (I-E, S-N, T-F, J-P) and say which letter sounded more like him. Jason chose I, N, but said that he fit all the description except pressure-prompted (meaning he works better under pressure rather than a self-imposed schedule before a deadline), T, and J.

Curious about our results? How did we stack up? I've attached them below, side-by-side so you can see them. (Jason is on the left, I am on the right. Sorry they are a little hard to read - if you click on them, the picture gets bigger.)

Here's our overall personality and how strong a preference we are towards each letter:

See how I am in the midzone for T-F?!? That explains my previous test results and struggle on which letter I am!

Here are the facets under each of the letters. This basically means if you are an E - you would be in-preference for each of those facets under E unless you were out-of-preference on one or more of them.

Here is the facet breakdown for Jason and I under the E-I. I don't think there's any doubt that I am an extrovert and Jason is an introvert...

Now the S-N breakdown. We are very similar!

And now for T-F:

My results totally make sense and shed light on being in the midzone! And then there's Jason. A T except he's accomodating and accepting. Below these graphs on our full reports are descriptions for each facet. Here's the decription for Jason's... pay particular attention to the last bullet on the Accomodating facet...

WILL SUPPORT A SEEMINGLY IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOR TO ACCOMMODATE SOMEONE WHO IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?!?!? I tried to come up with an argument when I saw this. Jason and Dave just laughed at me. Proof that Jason gives me my way just to keep the peace. Stupid test. ;-)

And apparently neither of us is "tender" so our future kids better respond well to "tough" love!

And finally the J-P facets:

No wonder Jason and I live through Excel, schedule everything (including relaxing time and vacations), and are always busy! We are both planful and scheduled! (I emailed Dave before we met in response to his email and said as long as he didn't tell us we were too anal retentive to be together, we'd appreciate the stats. He refrained from commenting via email. Instead he told us at lunch that we were both anal retentive - me just slightly more.)

And remember how Jason said he was more like J except for working better under pressure? He was extremely clear out-of-preference in the facet!!

And this was my Systematic facet that Jason and I laughed about!

I HATE surprises! And apparently like to "work within a superstructure of efficiency". ;-)

We listened to Dave tell us how he and his wife have learned a lot about how they interact with themselves, with others, and with their kids once they knew their personality preferences. Our tests give us suggestions on how to communicate with other types and a lot more information that two nerdy (and apparently anal retentive!) engineers like Jason and I appreciated!

*Side note - most engineers are ISTJ. Guess Jason chose the right profession! ESTJ can be engineers, accountants (something I debated studying) so I seem to have chosen well too!


2nd Houston Marathon!

Yesterday I ran 26.2 miles. I have now run two marathons and LOVE that it's pluralized! This year was just as challenging as my first, if not more, at least mentally. I was not able to meet the time goal I set for myself and while I am slightly disappointed in that, I am choosing to be thankful for the blessings I experienced in this race.

I knew this race was going to be hard as soon as I hit mile 6. I had slept a lot the day before and was concerned maybe it was because I was starting to get sick...(which it was, I am coughing today). I also could tell I had no energy. This is not the feeling you want so early in the race and I am still not sure as to why it happened. I ate all the same foods, did all the same steps as I had before our 21 miler and other long runs.

I ran with some other Katy Fit coaches until around the half marathon distance and I knew I had to pull back. I also knew then that I was not going to be able to beat my previous marathon time... I continued a walk/run the rest of the marathon.

However, I was determined to finish. I was overcoming knee surgery and a break from running and I wanted to finish and have the accomplishment of running another marathon. I had been training since July for this and I knew that it was going to be hard, but that I was going to do it. Quitting was not an option - I wasn't bleeding profusely, dying of pain (beyond the regular marathon pain), and so I had, in my opinion, no excuse to quit.

Another awesome running picture from yours truly... at least I was at the finish line! That's my excuse for this one.

Someone (okay, more than one person) has asked me why I would run a marathon or why in the world I would run another. The only explanation I can come up with is an analogy to child birth. Your body is programmed to remember pleasure and not pain. Hence the reason (pre-epidural obviously) that women had more than one baby. You forget the pain you experienced during/after the marathon and are left with the intense feeling of pride and accomplishment in completing a feat that less than 1% of the population does. (Currently, that pain has not wore off and I am hating my back and hamstrings... mental note to re-read this post once the pain subsides... ;-) )

Thank you Lord for pain, because it means that I have feelings and I can experience pleasure, fatigue, energy, etc. 

Thank you Lord for family, friends, and random people in the city of Houston who came out to support the marathon. Thank you for Nikki and Bo, Jenna, Jan, Sandra, Sam, Dustin, Maryam, Huy, Ruby, James, and Ramesh. You guys are amazing and you being out there to support means so much!!

Here are a bunch of the signs my friend Ruby made to have out for me. She and the rest of our Family Dinner crew were out at mile 24 to cheer me on!

Thank you Lord for the weather, because it could have been much hotter with the past few weeks and we had a cool start and I was able to get some sun and a fantastic tan line. 

Thank you Lord for my legs, because I can run and bike. Even after having knee surgery last year, I was able to run and for that I am grateful.  

Thank you Lord for my husband, without whom I could not have done this marathon. His support, encouragement, and belief in me made an indescribable difference. I have never met someone so selfless - someone so caring. He moved around the race course 5 different places. He kissed me and told me he was proud of me and that he knew I could finish when I stopped and started crying to him that I wasn't sure I could go on at mile 21. 

At the end with the AMAZING sign my hubby made to cheer me on. Man, I love that guy! :-)

Post marathon treat! 
A cupcake from my favorite bakery, Ooh La La. 

Finished my second marathon! This race outcome just means I have to run at least one more... ;-)

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