Hittin’ the road and the “Cyborg”

We’re heading out of town this week (leaving Thursday morning) for five days – driving down to Oklahoma to see my in-laws and all of Ava’s cousins. :) It’s been a looooong time since she’s seen her cousins – uh, since Thanksgiving 2004! – so it will be lots of fun for her I’m sure, especially now that she can walk and run with the best of them.

We haven’t attempted a driving trip this long (10 hours without stops) since that long ago (Thanksgiving ’04) as well and I hope and pray this trip is easier than that one was. I am optimistic that it will be since a) Ava is facing forwards in her carseat now and b) we can read books and play games and be a lot more interactive with her than we could when she was only 5 months old.

Also, the last time we made that trip we ran into a HORRIBLE snow/ice storm on our way home which slowed us down considerably and made for some white-knuckle driving for Jody. Light snow is expected during our traveling days this time as well, but hopefully it will only be light snow and nothing more.

A friend of Jody’s will be dog-sitting (yay!) so we don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to board the critters.

In other news, we had a pretty nice weekend. I felt much better as the day progressed on Friday after my morning from hell and even made up a sesame tofu dish for Jody’s birthday dinner, as well as made brownies. I didn’t write down what I put into the sesame tofu, but if I recreate it again I will be sure and jot it down. It was quite tasty.

On Saturday, went to a pizza place for Jody’s birthday meal out. We were going to pick up a cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory on the way home, but decided against it since I made brownies the day before. Will have to save the cheesecake for another day. Then we spent some time hanging out with our friends.

While we were at the pizza place, the manager brought out a garbage bag full of toys for Ava to pick one. She pulled out a plush Cyborg doll from Teen Titans whom she calls “man.” He looks like this, only as a plush “doll.” Jody thought that was pretty cool that she got something other than a dog or a bear and, while I thought it was weird at first, I have to agree. It’s nice to have some diversity in her toys. I would never pick out a cyborg for her myself, but I’m glad she’s got one now. He already seems to be one of Ava’s favorites – rivaled only by “baby.” :)

The rest of the weekend was spent working a fair amount on my new photography website for my business. I still have more to do (including bulk up my portfolio), but it’s coming along really nicely, thanks largely to Jody’s help. Hooray for tech savvy hubbies.

Tomato artichoke tempeh sauce – recipe

I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner last Thursday. I had some tempeh that I wanted to use, but wasn’t sure how to prepare it. After looking through the cupboards, I decided to throw this sauce together, totally unsure about how it would turn out. It was actually quite tasty and I think I’ll make it again sometime.
Here’s roughly what I did.

Tomato artichoke tempeh sauce with fettucine

Saute 3 cloves minced garlic in 2T olive oil.
Stir in cut up tempeh and saute until golden brown.
Add in 1 14 oz. can of quartered artichoke hearts (chopped up).
Add in 1 28 oz. can or organic ground peeled tomatoes.
Add in 2 T dried basil.
Cook until heated through.
Meanwhile, prepare fettucine (or other pasta) according to package directions.
Top pasta with sauce and serve.

It’s my bloggin’ anniversary :)

Wow! I almost overlooked it, but today is my 1 year blogging anniversary!

I started off my blog with a bit of controversy (I was excited about being part of a cause), but over time things mellowed out around here. Of course, I still speak my mind and share my views (and am thankful to have this outlet to do so), but I think people have learned that I do it not to attack others, but merely to share what I believe in.

I’m so glad I have stuck with my blog through thick and thin. I’ve made several great friends in the blogging world, (regained an old friend) and learned so much from many of you.

Happy 1 year to me! :) Glad to have you as part of my bloggin’ life. :)

I also figured I’d take this time to invite any lurkers to come out and say hi. I know I have a number of “regulars” who (for one reason or another) have not felt comfy commenting yet. I hope you’ll give a shout out eventually. It’s nice to know who’s “out here” in the blogosphere with me. :)

P.S. I’m feeling much better today so we are heading out to celebrate Jody’s birthday. Thanks for all the get well and happy birthday (to Jody) wishes yesterday. :) Hopefully I’m done with this bug for good now.

Happy birthday, Jody – I’m sick AGAIN! :(

So much for a fun birthday for Jody today. I got hit by ANOTHER wave of this evil rotavirus (or whatever it is) bug early this morning. After clinging to the toilet as I hurled the remains of my dinner (why is it always tempeh??), I left him a message on his work voicemail (he was on his way into work via the bus) telling him I was really sick and might need him to come home.
Being the good guy that he is, he got the message and, soon after, caught another bus home, just missing my call saying that I was doing a bit better and that he could stay at work.
Anyway, at least now he doesn’t have to work on his birthday. You might say I did him a favor. ;)
I’m really sick (no pun intended) of this damn virus though. This morning’s bout was the worst yet, and even more unbearable because Ava woke up while I was being sick, wandered into the bathroom crying and calling “mommy” over and over again, and there was little I could do to comfort her since I was spewing my guts. I felt so bad for her. It’s hard to be sick yourself when you have little ones who need you. I really hope she doesn’t catch it again.
In talking with other people who seem to have gone through this same virus, I’ve learned it can recur several times before you are truly done with it. Blah. I hope this is the last of it for me.

Hope you all stay well and free of this nasty bug. Enjoy the weekend!

Good news about the gas co., Ava, etc.

I’m full of good news today. :)

First off, I got an email from someone at Xcel Energy to apologize that nobody filled me in on what was going on with my account (despite the fact that I was emailing back and forth with one of their “customer service” people who never bothered to bring this up). He said that while our averaged monthly bill has gone up, it’s only gone up $10/month!! The big bill we just had was the reconciling at the end of the year (which I was aware of), but our next bill should only be for $10 more than what we were paying last year. This, of course, wasn’t noted on our last bill so I had no idea! The only amount on there seemed to indicate that our monthly bill had gone up over $100. So what a relief that was!!
I guess we can stop scrimping on our heat quite as much now. Good thing too cuz I’ve been freezing and it’s supposed to be a cold, snowy weekend around here.

In other news, Ava seems to be doing much better, don’t ya think? ;) (I took these pics today as she tore up the livingroom – the kid went from one kind of the “runs” to another ;) – and then we played a little dress-up – for mommy’s benefit.) The diarrhea finally stopped after what seemed like ages, though it was really only about four days. And today she got her appetite back. Yay!

And lastly, Jody’s birthday is tomorrow. He has to work so we don’t have big plans for the day, but I got him a few presents (or I’m just saying that so he’ll think I did) and we will probably go out to eat on Saturday as well as pick up a cheesecake for dessert from The Cheesecake Factory. Yummy!

In food news, I made a couple new dishes this week – roasted carrot pasta and fettucine with a tomato, artichoke, tempeh sauce (yes, I’m giving tempeh another chance). The tomato/artichoke/tempeh thing I threw together tonight off the cuff and it actually was really good. I’ll post the recipes and pics this weekend.

An artsy weekend

I’ve been wanting to write about my weekend for a few days now, but between Ava and this possible rotavirus (the diarrhea continues) and me feeling like my stomach was in a vice yesterday (again!), I just haven’t been motivated.

Anyway, I had a really cool weekend. A friend of mine who’s pregnant (wait, aren’t all of my friends pregnant right now?? 3 more just made the announcement in the past week! That brings the total to 8!) invited me to go with her to a nude photoshoot she was doing for a local artist. This artist does sculptures, paintings, body castings, digital manipulation and is getting into photography as well. She is working on a new project featuring pregnant women and needed some models. My friend always wanted to have some artsy photos done of herself while pregnant and figured this was the perfect chance if she could get over her nerves about it. The artist’s plan is to take the pictures and make them into digitally manipulated collages, etc.

She told my friend that she could bring along someone if she liked and she chose me. She also said that since I’m a photographer myself, I was welcome to bring my camera and shoot alongside her!

I’ve seen nude and semi-nude maternity pictures that other photographers have done and I love the way they look, but I hadn’t had the occasion (or guts) to shoot anyone sans clothes as of yet.

It was a really cool experience and I’m so grateful that I got to do it! I thought it might be awkward, and it was for about 5 seconds, but honestly I was so preoccupied with camera settings, lining shots up, etc., that I wasn’t even paying attention to the fact that she didn’t have clothes on. Since nude or semi-nude photography is something I want to offer to pregnant women in the future, this was a perfect way for me to get my feet wet and see if it is something I’d feel comfortable doing again. It is. :)

A pregnant woman’s body is just so beautiful. I felt honored that my friend included me in that experience with her and I would feel grateful for the opportunity to capture the natural beauty of pregnancy for other women in the future.

I am pleased with many of the pictures I got from the session. It was also nice to work with no pressure since I was there just for the experience and not as a “professional” photographer. I’m excited to proof the pictures and show them to my friend. I think she will be happy with them. :)