Friday, November 30, 2007

WOO HOO! The Ramon Annual Gingerbread Extravaganza is Around the Corner!

Yeah I'm excited. I love the annual gingerbread extravaganza Jen hosts each year. I think this time around I am going to make an igloo gingerbread house. That should be interesting! Today we are heading to the store to buy all the supplies. Check out last year's party.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

There is Hope

I just joined about four different meet up groups specific to the Austin area and specifically for camping/hiking/backpacking. I've been missing Thomas greatly but hope the void will soon be filled. These groups look pretty active and they are going to places I've been or have been wanting to go to, so I am really excited! I think I have a great chance at making some good friends to enjoy the outdoors with and feel a great sense of relief. The first group hike that I RSVP'd for is this Saturday at Barton Creek Greenbelt.

I also joined a message board run by Backpacker Magazine. There is a women only forum for female adventurers to get together and talk shop so I'm happy as can be about that too. I've been totally starved for good conversation regarding the outdoors and don't know why I didn't find these groups before.

Oh and honey, I know what I want for Christmas...a gift certificate to REI... I need a new day pack.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Lava Art

This is one I did a long time ago...

I've always had a fascination for volcanoes

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stuff from the Holidays

I have been very lazy after Thanksgiving and not done much of interest, but here are a few pictures from the holidays.

I didn't take many pictures of food but managed to get a plate of leftovers photographed.

The leaves I picked up on a walk a while back made for good holiday decoration

The roasted turkey!


My work space. I like having cabinets with no doors...makes things easier!

Where I prepare food every day

The brine I made. This solution was diluted with a gallon of cold water and the turkey sat in it for 12 hours.

Fresh green beans ready for the cooking pot

Fresh cranberries ready for the cooking pot

The beginnings of the dressing

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Bird is in the Oven

It's been cooking now for about an hour and smells really good!

The Brining is Done!

So the bird sat in a brine solution for about 12 hours. I'm so nervous! I hope it turns out well because I have no spare turkeys on hand. All I have to do now is add the aromatics to the cavity(citrus, apples, fresh herbs) and rub some butter up under the skin and oil the top of the skin. Then in the oven it goes for about 2 and half hours.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Almost Done

I spent the whole day cooking. Tomorrow I will finish up with the bird. All I'll have to do is the final heat up of dishes and getting the turkey done. Should be a snap. I'm happy to have the bulk of the cooking behind me. On a different note I'm glad it got cold outside. It feels more like a holiday that way.

I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving. To all of my friends and loved ones I won't get to spend time with, you are in my thoughts.

Trying Something New This Year

I've never brined a bird before but I am going to give it a try this year. Apparently it's the way to go when roasting a bird. My turkey is sitting in it's briny mixture now and will marinate for about 10 hours. I bought a fresh organic turkey and bet it will be fine eating. It was expensive so it better be!

My green bean casserole is done. I made a mushroom cream sauce using pancetta, butter, garlic, cream, flour, a little sherry, chicken stock, and various spices. In this I folded fresh cooked green beans and the crispy fried onions that I made to go with it. The last step is to top it off with more of the stringy fried onions and bake it. This isn't your ordinary green bean casserole.

Next on the menu is the sweet potato casserole. The sweet potatoes are cooking now as I write this. I'm going to offer them two ways this year. One way will be sweet and gooey. It will be made with fresh squeezed oj, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans, marshmallows, cream, and butter. It's not light on calories or fat but worth it for special occasions. The other way will be more savory and roasted...lightly glazed but not too sweet.

I plan to make the stuffing tonight as well. I bought two kinds of fresh bread this year, cubed it all up, and dried it out in the oven. The bread has different kinds of whole grains, nuts, and seeds in it. The dressing should be pretty special as well. Of course I'll add home made stock to it, fresh herbs, chestnuts, celery, onions, garlic, etc... and possibley a little home made cornbread too.

The cranberry sauce is finished. I used fresh whole cranberries, lemon and orange zest, fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice, granny smith apples(finely diced) and a cup of sugar. I can't wait to eat it with my turkey tomorrow!

I'll mash potatoes tomorrow for those who don't like sweet potatoes and start the bird around noon. Most of the work will be done tonight! I'm so glad I planned ahead so there is no stress. I can't wait to take pictures of everything when it's all finished. If anyone wants a recipe and specifics let me know.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cookin a Bird

For the past several Thanksgivings we've always flown to San Francisco to gather with family at Russell's grandmother's house. Although going to California is always a fun thing, I'm happy to be staying home this year so I can cook up a righteous feast. I hate to say it, but I'm terribly picky when it comes to Thanksgiving food. I always expect it to be amazing and no one in the family does it like I do. So I'm excited that I get to pull out the culinary big guns and go for it. We are having a few of our closest friends over this year too to help us's gonna be great.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bring it on rain...we can take it...(this weekend's trip report)

Even though it rained like mad during our overnight camping trip this weekend, we had a good time. There is nothing like the sound of hard rain from inside a tent. It's quite exhilarating. Our outing began with a rocky start because when Jen and her clan showed up at our house, it was easily apparent that they shouldn't be driving their car because the tires looked like they could shred any moment.

We were packed and ready to go and unsure what to do next because it was creeping up on noontime. Finally it was decided that Jen and I would go ahead to the campsite and start to set up while Russell and Gilbert went to get new tires for Jen's car. Jen commented after we all got done clucking away over what the plan was going to be that it was like a National Lampoon family vacation starting off and I just laughed because it was!

But things were looking up when we got to the campsite. We had two of the boys with us and we started setting up while they ran around like little maniacs chasing each other. Some of the gear was in the other car so we set up as much as we could then went for a short little walk with the kids to hopefully drain some of that stored up energy. It was perfect weather...overcast, but perfect temps and a nice soft breeze. We saw a road runner on the trail.

Once we were all gathered back in camp and had things set up it started to rain very heavily. We made a mad dash for the tent and sat around for a while wondering if we'd be able to get out again to make a fire, eat, etc... Fortunately it let up and we had plenty of time to get a good fire going before it started raining again to roast up some hot dogs and make smores. It rained off and on(more on then off actually) through out the rest of the evening and night but we dealt with it fine. I loved it!

A lake formed under our tent floor and made it feel wavy like a water bed mattress in some places. I've never felt water under a tent like that was crazy. Thankfully the water didn't come up through the floor or cause the stakes to come out. However the tent leaked pretty bad all over, and it did puddle up in places inside. For some reason the rain fly had tons of water coming through it. Considering how much water did get in, we all managed to stay mostly dry. Except Jen and her clan were on the end of the tent where most of the water congregated and they didn't have sleeping mats, so some of their bedding got wet. I'm glad it wasn't cold last night.

I can't wait to get back out again and hope it is soon. Unfortunately camping isn't Jen's thing so she won't accompany me next time. She is good for about once a year camping. Same with Russell, I can only drag him out so many times before he starts to complain since camping isn't his thing either. I was actually shocked that I pulled this trip off and got others to go. Thank goodness because I really needed it!

Some quick notes about the park. There are no decent hiking trails and the park is flat as can be, but it served us well for a family camping place. I probably won't choose it again if other places are available, but it's good to know it is there in a pinch.

A road runner

A little walk

The Taj

A jumping spider hangs out on our picnic table

roasting marshmallows

Making smores

During a heavy downpour Russell and Ben teach Calvin how to play checkers

Our muddy shoes in the "foyer"

Ben sleeps late

The next morning Russell and Gilbert struggle to make fire in a wet pit with not much kindle to speak of.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Today's sketch

It's in progress. I still have shading to do in and amongst the tree tops and the cliff face needs a little more work in places.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I am Lost without you, but a babe in the woods
My inner compass spinning wildly
I don't know which way to go
And it doesn't settle mildly

Pack Ice

One of my daily sketches. I was thinking about glaciers at the time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Going Camping!

I look forward to it greatly! Finding a park that wasn't full was a bitch and I'm lucky to get a reservation, but I remembered that Thomas and I went to a few LCRA parks and they were commonly less full. I don't think we ever went to Lake Bastrop South Shore though , which is where I'm heading this weekend. I guess this is a good time of year for family camping. Primitive sites would have been much easier to secure but I'm not back packing this time. Jen is coming along with her family so it should be a lot of fun.

I have tons to do to prepare. Car camping is not near as simple as back packing because you can really load up with equipment and more comforts which takes forever to set up and take down. I hope to hit the trails in the park and think they will be much like Lost Pines...forested with gently rolling hills. I can't wait and Ben is really excited too.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pics for the Day

My room. Lately I've been doing art while sitting on my bed.

My sketch book. This sketch depicts looking up at the sky from the bottom of a canyon.

Some supplies

Looking for inspiration in the leaves I picked up yesterday while walking. The board is something I picked up off a junk pile. I like that it's large because I plan to use it as a canvas since wood is a great medium to paint on.

I love brushes and want more.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Random Pictures

Some of my favorite things...fall, music, and my hiking bandana

My messy bedside table. I like having my paint brushes near though. And I'm now addicted to Monster energy drink. It's probably really bad for me...

I've been playing around with polymer clay.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Painted

Yesterday I decided to paint regardless if I was feeling inspired or not. I didn't have any idea what to paint so I just picked a color and went with it, then picked another color, then another, and decided I didn't like what I was painting but finished it anyway. Here is what I ended up with. Strange.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I'm Depressed

I apologize to my readers for the lack of content on my blog. I know I'm boring as hell lately but
I'm not doing so great emotionally and am seriously thinking about going on anti-depressants. I have no motivation to pursue any of my creative outlets, including this blog, and more often than not, I'm sitting around doing absolutely nothing. It sucks. I'm supposed to call a psych nurse on Monday to get a consult appointment.

To my real life friends, please forgive me for being a hermit. I know I never call anyone and when I do call to make plans I bale out at the last minute. Depression isn't a new thing to me for those of you who barely know me. It's something I'll probably battle for the rest of my life unfortunately. I've been very stubborn about seeking chemical help but am getting to the point now where I don't think I can beat this on my own without a boost. While I was hiking a lot and back packing I was able to control my depression naturally, but since I don't know when I'll be able to get back on the trails full force, I'm going to have to turn to medication which really sucks. So many of them have awful side effects but my therapist tells me there are new drugs out on the market now so there is hope I'll find a good one. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.