Blog Archive

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Slowest Way to Move

You know those folks who pay movers to not only move their stuff to a new location, but also to pack their stuff?  I can't imagine the cost associated with something like that, but sometimes I sure wish we were going that route.

But of course we're not.

When you combine a cheap guy like Dave with the daughter of the Frugal Levie family, you always move the same way: by your own sweat, little-by-little, and cheaply.

Heaven help us if we didn't have a trailer and a minivan.  That's right: we're moving a load at a time each weekend.

It might not seem like a lot, but having done this for a few weekends straight we're really making a dent in the house's contents.  (But trust me, most weekends it doesn't seem like we're making any progress at all!)

I'm still dreading the garage though--not only do we have a lot of stuff in there, but we also lack a garage at the Coast House in which to put all of it.  Dave still needs to get a garage door installed on the carport and weather-proof the other openings before we can even think about packing and moving the workshop. Oy.  OY I SAY!

We have only 20 purchased moving boxes (size medium, from Home Depot) plus random boxes from Costco.  The majority of the things are packed into Rubbermaid totes that I pack up each weekend and Dave unloads each week so we can reuse them endlessly.  I'm SURE Dave isn't putting things in quite the right places (if anywhere but on the floor in the upstairs living room...) so I'll be making a trip up there in May sometime to put things away properly.  Otherwise I'll go completely insane walking into a disaster zone of my own belongings come summer when we're permanently there.

Here are some progress pictures:
Office before. Well, sorta before. Once the bathroom renovation started across the hall, this room became a staging area for the cement board and random things.
Office now. The futon belongs to Edward and I'll be taking it to him next week when I'm at his place for Dyani's baby shower.
Master closet before.
Master closet now. Mostly Dave's stuff has been packed. Plus all my shoes--you know, those shoes that I can't give up but don't wear much.
Dining room before. (The hutch and china was the first stuff to be moved.)

Dining room now. We've moved half the patio furniture inside.
Living room before.
Living room now.  All the pictures and knick knacks from the walls have been hauled away.  It's weird, the house seems much smaller having taken down the pictures.  Visually, the walls seem longer/wider when there are pictures to break them up.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Where Mama Works

Goodness, it's the end of April.  And we're moving (by) the end of June.  Yikes.  I have a lot to do.  Even if we weren't moving I'd still be able say that I have a lot to do.  Not too much.  Just a lot.

It just occurred to me yesterday that I also have to pack up and move my school office stuff.  I'm planning on coming back 1-2 nights a week fall and maybe winter quarters (even though I'll be 'on leave').  I'll be couch surfing rather than living here in Davis--and I guess I'll also have to desk-surf in my building, too.  As is always the case there are more students than desks and I've been very lucky and grateful to have always had my own work space.  

Before we starting renovations on the Coast House and before we started packing anything at the Davis House, I took pictures of everything (inside cupboards and closets...everything).It's one way of documenting our life.  Hopefully Eddie and his future siblings will like looking at the photobook I'll (someday) make of each location.  

And for posterity, here's my work space as it stands now.  I've been at this desk since January 2010, when I returned to school from a quarter off of 'maternity leave.'  There are other pictures from January 2012 of my office in this post.
My desk area.  After I passed my quals in August 2011, I bought myself a new book bag (better than the hot pink backpack I used to use!).  Except it's really a diaper bag.  But the lady at the baby store said most of them she's sold are used as laptop bags by working mamas.
My wall of Eddie, crooked as it might be.  I actually hate it when pictures hand lopsided, but this wall jiggles every time someone enters/exits the adjacent men's restroom so keeping them straight is impossible. Plus, while sitting at the desk I can't see them anyway.
There's a table behind me that Hannah and I share.  Here you can see the booklet of tattoos she bought for Eddie, my mason jar lunch, and a stack of quals study materials.  I find that I return to this stuff again and again--this week to remind myself of clay-organic matter interactions and clay elemental structure so I can (try) to explain my isotope results in the manuscript I'm currently working on.
This is the crap in my desk-height filing cabinet drawer.  This is a piece of office furniture that has mostly been replaced by cloud and hard drive storage.  I have very few papers filed away in this five-drawer monstrosity.  One draw is old and stuck closed (no idea what's inside), one contains actual files, one contains snacks and canned food for emergency lunches, one contains crap (see above pic), and one contains scrap paper.
I make a to do list on a Post It note nearly every day. These are today's.
Crap under my desk.  That cracked Tupperware canister is my footrest; rain boots and leather shoes for lab work; a stack of journals from last quarter's class that I can probably throw away because the students never came to pick them up; a blue bin used for class assignments.
More notes and my much-used stack of Post Its next to the desk. I bought coffee yesterday but since Eddie was with me I didn't have enough hands to actually get any coffee.  So I'll use it today maybe.
That reminds me...yesterday was Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day--a tradition started in 1993.  I picked Eddie up after his nap time and we walked the two blocks back to campus.  We met my friends for a snack in the Coffee House and then went to the discussion section for my class.  This year (thankfully!) the other TA and I are sharing discussion teaching responsibilities.  Other years I taught all 3 sections each week; this arrangement is much nicer.  It was her week to teach but since the topic was insects of the forest I took Eddie so he could see the trays of mounted insects and the live Malaysian walking stick bugs that we borrowed from the Bohart Museum of Entomology.

Eddie wanted to wear a skirt because I was wearing a skirt.  It was perfect for the insect class he attended, too, since it had butterflies all over it.
He rode on the lab cart on the way to class because the other TA asked me to bring it.
After the class, Eddie and I went back to my office.  He and my friends spent a while choosing and applying tattoos.  Two labmates happened to walk by and came into say to Eddie.  And of course they were game for getting tattooed, too.  
Jennifer, Jordon, Toby, and Hannah showing off their tattooes.  At this point Eddie was being shy and was out in the hallway.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Picnic Day Weekend 2013

Well, I guess this was our last Picnic Day weekend as Davis residents.  I've attended 4 of the last 5 years (skipping Eddie's first year since he was too young to appreciate anything).  Steadily and with much effort from the organizers and attendees, this annual campus open house event has become less and less of a drunken party.  It's nice that it is returning to it's former glory as a family friendly event.

This year we packed up lunches, snacks, water bottles, and sunblock into the double BOB stroller and walked the 2.5 miles to campus.
One of our many stops along the way to campus.  Eddie just HAD to get out of the stroller to climb this tree.
We met up with the Daly family and wandered around to some south-campus events.  First we let the kids hold the baby chickens (Eddie wasn't too interested since hens are that novel for him), then we took them to see the insect museum.  I guarded our belongings but I hear that both kids got to hold walking stick bugs!  Then down the hall we went to the wildlife museum to see various fishes and some demonstrations of carcass dissection and mounting.  Eddie was fascinated by the lady preparing a dead vole.

Then we went across the street to see the horses.  There were a few mama horses with their very new babies (still with the dried up umbilical cords hanging down!) and a very friendly donkey or mule.  Whatever it was, it was super long-legged and it loooooooooooved nuzzling pet dogs that people had brought with them.  I would LOVE to raise a donkey from infancy so it'll want to hang out with me while I do yard/farm work.  How cool would it be to have my own donkey to pull a cart and carry me around?
Look at that baby! Isn't he cuuuuuuuute?

After a potty break, we took the kids to the petting zoo before feeding them their lunches.  As a reward for finishing their sandwiches, they got to go with their dads to get a pop.  Yum!  Then the rodeo demonstration started.  The kids were mildly interested, but mostly they were tired and antsy.
They were COVERED in melted strawberry pop by the end!
We convinced them to sit in the double stroller again and walked through the arboretum, thinking we'd get them to conk out so us adults could enjoy the music on the quad.  No such luck...for Eddie, anyway.  He was over tired and kept popping out of the stroller to get a stick or throw rocks into the waterway or or was always something.  I wasn't interested in ruining everyone's day by being overly strict about him staying put in the stroller so we didn't push him.  Eventually we made it to the battle of the marching bands thing at the lake.  Eddie was so excited!  "I've never seen a dancing tree before, mama!"  I think it was one of the school's mascots or something.  Eddie's excitement quickly evaporated into frustration that he didn't have his very own brass trumpet to join in all the fun.  Ummm, sorry?

Morgan was a good girl and passed out for a nap in her own stroller.  Dave and I eventually decided to walk back home, assuming cranky Eddie would fall asleep on the way.  That didn't happen, but we did have a nice time anyway.  We stopped at Kim's Asian Market for some cold drinks and even got to sit down for the first time all day.  It was so nice and quiet, away from the throngs of people on and around campus.  On the way we got to play in someone's sprinklers, pet a very cute doggie, and wave hello to various friends and neighbors we passed.
Dave's caffeine hadn't kicked in can see him zoned out.
I had my pedometer in my pocket all day and wasn't surprised to see that we'd far surpassed the recommended minimum of 10,000 steps/day.  Whew.
Over 10,000 steps of that 15,000 were 'aerobic,' whatever that means.   
All things considered it was a nice, calm day.  I hope we can make time to come to next year's Picnic Day, since it'll be the 100th year.

While we cooled off in the house that evening, Dave set to work fixing our vacuum.  The brushes had stopped spinning last week, making it a complete waste of time to try to clean the carpets. It's already a frustrating machine to use because the mechanism that locks it into an upright position snapped several months ago, so if I use it to suck up piles of swept-up nastiness, it easily crashes down onto me.  I let Eddie talk to Dave on the phone the night the vacuum stopped working and instructed him to ask Dadda if we could go buy another machine at Costco.  Eddie reported back, "Dadda will fix it for you Mama!"  Sigh.  I know.  I just really want a lighter, more sucky machine. The new locking mechanism he ordered will be here soon.

I bought this vacuum in 2005 when we moved into the Lafayette condo.  With increasing frequency as we've acquired dogs and children and a larger home, Dave cleans out the filters with the air compressor.  It used to be a few times a year but now it's every few weeks.  And he's probably replaced that band about a dozen times.  Long hair, thread, and stray bits of dental floss get wrapped around that brush column, causing the band to stretch.  Do most people do this type of maintenance on their machines?  If not, I'm sorry, poor vacuum, that you came to live with us--you sure work hard!
Um, no wonder the brushes weren't spinning!  Compare the old and new bands.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Costco Pizza

I love making my own pizza--kneading the dough, spreading on last summer's homemade canned marinara sauce, decorating it with lots of veggies.  But sometimes laziness or lack of time creeps into my life and I still want yummy pizza.  So we modify the Costco 'take and bake' pizzas to suit our tastes.

For only $9 they sure are a good deal.  Here's how we modified a pepperoni pizza yesterday:
Pepperoni overload!  This is how the pie came from the store.  It's blurry but you get the point: too much pepperoni.  It'd be covered in puddles of grease if we left it all on there.  Bleh.
I removed most of the meat, saving it in the freezer for a future pizza.
I added yellow bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, and some garlic chives.
I thought it could use more green so I dolloped on some basil pesto.
And this is what it looked like after baking.  I like a slightly crunchy crust so I let it cook a bit longer than the directions call for.  Plus, with all the extra water in the fresh veggies it needs a bit more time.  
Our modified pizzas rival any local pizzeria, especially considering the price! I have a feeling these take-and-bake pizzas will be a regular part of our bimonthly Costco runs once we move to Gualala.  

When we get the cheese pizzas, we spoon off half of the cheese before decorating it with veggies and whatnot.  They come with SO MUCH CHEESE and I just don't like that much of it.  I keep whatever I remove for another cooking project.  Since the pizzas are sold to be cooked later, I make sure to use the cheese or extra meat in a fully cooked meal for safety.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Rose Photo 2013

Last night after class I biked Eddie and I home as fast as I could so we could take a family photo in front of our rose vine.  The weather had suddenly turned quite cold, with dark clouds so this year's pictures are quite dark, but that's okay.  (Maybe they can be lightened in Photoshop or something?)

I love our rose. And I love our family.  Combining the two is makes them each twice as nice!
2013. Eddie put on his smug face for this one.
2013. Eddie and his anime face.
Dave and Eddie climbed up on the board and surfed.

An outtake.  There were a LOT of these.  My poor technophobe mom was taking the pictures with my phone, too.  
Our family has only managed to take a picture in front of this rose twice before.  Too bad we missed 2011.

Sadly or happily, this is our last picture in front of it.  I guess I should plant another one in Gualala to continue this spring time tradition.


Monday, April 15, 2013

April Thingies

Goodness, I have really dropped the ball on blogging.  There's certainly no lack of material...just a lack of time.
I cooked up some fenugreek last week.  It's a legume and tastes nicely sweet.  No wonder it's used as forage for livestock, yummy!

That whole basket of fenugreek leaves cooked down into about 1/2 a cup.  I just mixed it into naan dough.

We've started packing up the house (dining room first so we're now eating out on the patio or on patio furniture that's been hauled into the empty dining room).
While packing up the dining room I found this magnum of zinfandel, given to us at our wedding by a winemaker friend.  It was supposed to be 'ready' about 1.5 years ago.  It was not very good by now, unfortunately so we didn't drink much.  I think the rest will turn into sangria for this coming weekend.

Happy almost 7 years!

The Forests and Society class I've been TAing for over the last few years started at the beginning of April so I've been busy preparing for and teaching that class.  This year is nicer, though, because I'm sharing the thrice-weekly discussion sections with another TA so I only have to teach them every other week.

Dave has been very diligent with working on the Coast House kitchen most nights after work.  Having internet there now makes all the difference because he can still gchat with Eddie and I while he works, and he can listen to Pandora, too.  On the weekends he's been plowing ahead with our hall bathroom tiling project.  I think he's due to begin tiling this coming weekend!
Dave got the cement board up in the bathroom!

I'm trying SO HARD to focus on writing the first manuscript/chapter of my dissertation.  Why can I willingly spend so much brain power, energy, enthusiasm, and time on my elaborate cooking projects but none of those traits on writing?  What's wrong with me?  I'm so easily distracted.  A family friend commented to me and my parents that with all the food and project pictures I post on Facebook, she thinks of me as a 'miracle woman.'  Ha.  I said I'm just too easily distracted from what I should be doing (writing).  My dad laughed and said, "Yeah, if she ever gets that dissertation done, that'll be a miracle!"  Indeed.

Last week my uncle underwent what was supposed to be a relatively minor kidney surgery and instead it went wrong.  All kinds of wrong.  So he's been in the ICU for nearly a week and my mom and I have spent a lot of time in the hospital room supporting him, my aunt, and my cousin.  Ug.
Us Halliday cousins got together at our house in Davis yesterday.  Mike is down here to be with his dad while he's in the hospital.  It was nice for him to get away from the hospital for a bit and for all of us to catch up.

This sweet goldendoodle doggie named Ollie came to visit patients and visitors in the Mercy San Juan ICU last week.  He was so sweet.

Edward and Jennifer came to visit this weekend so they could go see my uncle in the hospital.  On Sunday we biked the Davis Bike Loop in about an hour.  I look like a hunchback in this photo because I have bad posture and my handbar stem is too short.  

My mom has been at our house a lot lately.  I can't even remember why she was here last weekend but now she's back so she can be close to my uncle.  Having her around is great because Eddie gets to hang out with her...and she cleans the kitchen (even the top of the stove!) and folds all our laundry.
Eddie and my mom snuggle up to read quite often.  Poor Grandma Jane had to read that Stone Soup book way too many times in a row.

 And Eddie is still his active, adorable, wonderful, stubborn little self.  Nothing makes him happier than to play outside with his big kid friends.  

Eddie and the neighbor kids made a giant mud hole in the front yard.  It kept them busy for quite some time.
This coming Saturday is the 99th annual Picnic Day at school.  I think Eddie and I will attend this year while Dave works on the house.  The new stove and microwave for the Coast House Kitchen should be delivered so we can load that up into my dad's big red truck and trailer if that happens to also arrive at our house. pressure, Daddy!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Daddy's Roast Rub

Most weeks my dad makes a roast, either beef or pork. I've asked him for the recipe too many times to admit...which means it's time to post it here on the blog so my forgetful self can look it up whenever I need to.

Thyme Roast
  • pork or beef roast, 3-3.5 pounds
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon powdered thyme
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (or more) cloves of garlic
  • olive oil, as needed to make a paste
Make a paste of the oil and seasonings by crushing and mixing them using a mortar and pestle (or use a fork on a plate).

Pat the roast dry with paper towels.

Rub the herb paste all over the meat.

Place meat into a plastic bag and squeeze out the air. Let it marinate in the fridge for a good 3-5 days, mushing around the big once a day to massage the flavorings into b the meat.

To cook, place in a casserole or dutch oven, uncovered at 400 F for 20 minutes. Then cover the dish and reduce the temperate to 275 F for 3-5 hours.

This is great on sandwiches or just sliced as a meat course with dinner. The drippings should definitely be saved and used for cooking mushrooms or making the best dang gravy you ever did taste.

I have no idea why I didn't take a photo of the finished roast, fresh out of the oven back in November when I started this post.  (I also don't know why I never published it!)  But here's a look at a similar roast I cooked yesterday for my aunt and cousin, along with mint-cilantro-lemon pesto and a loaf of cranberry pecan oat bread: