Category Archives: Miscellaneous Diversions

How was your Thanksgiving?

JT and I tried to get some volunteers hours in Thanksgiving AM with the first annual Lost Our Home Pet Foundation’s Turkey Trot.  First we walked two min-pin looking chihuahua mixes, Simon and Minnie and then took a short spin with Shadow (who had already been on a mile and half walk but was still so wound up that we were afraid he might get away from us – that boy was strong!)  When we got home, Shenanigan could smell we had been visiting other dogs, so we took him on a nice long turkey trot too.

 

Once we had our good deeds behind us, we lazed around the house and did some of our cooking prep.  JT was in charge of the  turkey and I had tasked myself with some vegan side dishes.  The stuffing was easy – Stovetop (cornbread version) from the box made with vegan margarine (no different from real margarine – super processed and pretty gross to eat plain but at least they offer a soy free version), a veggie dish and the cranberries.

For my veggies side, I made a roasted brussels sprouts and cinnamon butternut squash dish with walnuts and dried cranberries (recipe here).  I’m usually not a fan of sweet and savory together but this really works and I’ve made it a few times now, all to good reviews.  The cranberries were something my dad would always make for family gatherings in Iowa.  I remember packing the food processor, bag of cranberries and oranges in the minivan for the schlep.  I don’t know that he had a written recipe he followed and I’m also pretty sure his had gelatin in it, so I’ve found a veganized recipe that still holds on to what I liked best about his version – the freshly grated cranberries and whole oranges (even the peel – recipe here).  In place of the gelatin, this recipe simply uses sugar (I toned that way done if favor of a more tart recipe) and raspberry jam.  I had an organic superfruit jam blend that also had cherry in it, really good.  My mother-in-law and her husband brought the rest of the feast with them, including a “wacky” cake for dessert and we were all set.

I love setting the table for nice meals.  This year I used a white flannel sheet I had bought at Goodwill’s half off day.  It was much less stress of worrying about wine or cranberry or anything else that might get on the table.  The napkins are the embroidered “T” napkins we used at the head table at our wedding, almost twelve years ago now.  The table runner was an impulse buy at Target and I think it is a Nate Berkus design.  It had a really ugly black tassel on the ends that I removed as it was too harsh of a contrast between the white, light grey and silvers.

I am thankful for a lot in my life but I do have to say how very thankful I am for our old dog Shenanigan.  He is so sweet and calm and sometimes silly and he brings so much comfort to our lives.  He was happy to see his grandma but also happy to lay on his “pillow cloud” in the corner and hang out with us all evening (one of the dog beds is usually under the table but since we had the tablecloth on, I added it to his pile.)  His face is almost all the way white now and his fatty tumor is so big that people ask if he is pregnant and I know our time with him is growing shorter every day.  We’re trying to enjoy every last drop.

JT and I just had a nice lunch of leftovers and are enjoying one of the few gloomy days in Phoenix to lounge around and relax.  I’ll be back later with our #opt outside events from yesterday and some gift ideas for the new-to-the-outdoors people like me.  I hope you all had a great time gathering and feasting with your friends and families.  Cheers – CT

 

The Roller Coaster

Even before the media spectacle we call an election happened,  I feel like I have been living on a roller coaster of  highs and lows for the last month.  The high of the highs have made the low of the lows even more intolerable and I am hoping for a more even and steady path for the next bit.  Let’s see if we can make that happen.  I’m pretty sure it involves living in a cave.

The highs:

  • Desert Trip, which JT already blogged about – wow!  To be together with some of our closest friends and to get that once in a lifetime opportunity to see all of those bands in sunny California – amazing
  • Coming back home knowing there was still another concert ahead of us – The Flaming Lips at the Arizona State Fair.  We rode some rides, ate a giant pretzel and saw the Lips in a small setting.  So amazing.  And the finale was “Do You Realize”, the song I want played at my funeral.  I cried.  So did the lady in front of me because I kept spilling my beer on her every time I got hit in the head with a giant balloon, which was frequently during the first two songs….

And Wayne Coyne launching this special balloon art installation into the audience ….

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Such a good show by a band that truly just wants you to have a good time.

  • A quick camping trip JT and I took up to Sedona.  We managed to get a spot in Oak Creek Canyon and it is unbelievably gorgeous – words don’t even describe the raw, natural beauty of this town.  We got in some good hikes, picnics and no sleep (still trying to figure out the camping mat/air mattress situation)

A medium:

 

  • A quick work trip to visit the mill trip was mostly in the high category.  We stayed at the Barnsley Resort in northern Georgia, where there are ruins of an old plantation house.  We ventured out one night with to-go sippy cups of some really good wine looking for Civil War ghosts but found none.  However the leaves were changing, which is not something you get in Phoenix and we went horseback riding one afternoon (Mr. Deeds was my steed!).  While the mill was so fascinating to see (we saw both the carpet sample mill which has all the different types of carpet machines used for sample strike-offs and the vinyl sheet good and plank good production lines), the comparison of my posh reality touring the mill after being put up in a private cottage on a golf resort with that of the mill production workers was not comfortable.  Neither was waiting in a crowded and anxious Atlanta airport the night before the election while CNN blared live coverage from our now president-elect’s last rally and everyone around was getting riled up.  Our flight attendants were late due to a connecting flight and we couldn’t board the plane until they arrived.  I was never so happy to settle in for a three hour flight before (and I settled down by watching “Love and Friendship” and “Sixteen Candles” as we sailed through the time zones on the way back home.)

The Lows:

  • A real rattlesnake in the backyard.  Specifically a speckled rattlesnake which the guy from the Arizona Herpetological Society was really excited about because apparently “you don’t usually see these in people’s yards!”.

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That led us to hiring a yard crew to clean out every inch of leaf litter and logs (left behind from the previous owner).  It took 4 guys around 4 hours with all this equipment to fill up a whole trailer with high sides.  We had originally been planning to tackle it ourselves on the weekend once the weather cooled down but after the snake incident, we knew we just had to take care of it as a matter of safety for our pet.  (More on that singular to come).

  • One of my favorite coworkers has moved on to a new design firm… Her last week kicked off with Halloween so I dressed up as her. (She was a snack basket.)  I don’t usually put a lot of detailed work stuff on here so I’m just going to leave that one at that – it sucks to lose a friendly face and cheerful co-worker with whom I’ve shared a workspace with since I started working in Phoenix. However I wish her well at her next firm and I hope that we will keep in touch.

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  • And the big one which I’ve been dreading explaining but should.  We had to take Rebel back to the rescue before we went on our Sedona trip.  While all was originally good between her and Shenanigan, once she grew attached to JT and I, she began to “guard” us, e.g. work very hard to keep Shenanigan from coming anywhere near us.  This was more than a jealousy thing, it had to do with some food insecurity issues and it meant we also couldn’t give her and Shenanigan bones, Kongs or treats anymore.  I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom one night and found Shenanigan sleeping in the hall because he was too afraid of Rebel to come into the bedroom, where his dog bed has always been.  So it wasn’t meant to be after all.  The rescue will work to place Rebel as an only dog where she can get all the love and attention she both needs and deserves.  And that is why I love working with no-kill shelters – they are truly looking out for the best long-term interests of the dog in every situation.

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    (The only reason the two dogs were so close together in this pic is because I was vacuuming and they couldn’t get upstairs.)  So while I know we are doing the right thing and giving Shenanigan the best life we can, especially as he is getting pretty old now, it still felt like we were bad people as we returned sweet Rebel to the rescue.

  • Another doggy downer is the distemper outbreak that hit Stray Rescue.  We volunteered for them for so long and still follow them on social media.  I think Randy Grim and his staff are angels on earth for the work that they do.  To hear that an infectious disease was sweeping their shelter was heartbreaking but I was also encouraged by their response – when distemper has hit other shelters in the past, they have often just euthanized all of the animals at once.  Stray Rescue operates on a case-by-case basis and based on the FB updates that Randy has posted, it sounds like  a lot of animals will be spared an unnecessary death sentence. If you want to and if you can, consider donating to Stray Rescue.  Even though we are now many states away, we sent in a donation right away.  These dogs and the people who heal them need our help!

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So that’s a news update for what is happening around Living Analog as of late.  This weekend is for rest, relaxation and recharging.  JT and I went to our local wine bar after dinner last night to get out of the house, talk over everything that has happened and drink some good wine.  The bar had citrus smoked olives which were the best snack I have had in a long, long time, so that raised our spirits a little (along with the spirits.)  Cheers to all and I wish for good fortunes for all our futures in the weeks and months ahead.

What about all that stuff?

What stuff?

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My Etsy store has naturally wound its way down — turns out that finding an item, photographing it, editing the photos, posting it and then packaging and shipping it just to maybe make between $7 to $12 dollars wasn’t a great use of my free time when my day job already requires a lot from me.

However, I’ve still been slowly amassing cool thrift finds and that doesn’t mesh well with the journey to minimalism that JT described the other day.  So I’m going to try out a local pop-up vintage market and see about having a stall once or twice as a way to sell off items to good homes.  I still have to do the application and get all squared away before I want to delve into any more details but I think it could be a great solution to all this cool stuff that is lurking in our closets and our garage (no basement here!).  I plan on using the pop-up as a way of culling down some of our other items as well – now that we’ve moved twice in the last three years, there’s some treasures from our STL house that I can already tell won’t really fit into our new house (like the three piece vanity mirror I had in our STL bedroom among other things).

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I set a lot of it up to take some photos for my booth application and I noticed a pretty strong color/material palette …. what can you say, the heart wants what it wants.

And on the outskirts of the frame image, this is happening:

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Yep, it will be good to start getting this stuff transitioned into new homes!

Also, Rebel … she’s still learning how to use pillows.  I’m pretty sure she was an outside dog before (not anymore – this is Arizona for chrissakes).  The ceiling had another leak which the plumber deemed to be “Phantom Leak Syndrome” (for real, what a joke) and so we’ve had the rug rolled back  and she seems to like the backing side better than the rug side. She’s a silly one.

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This was after her first trip to the groomers.  I think it was somewhat traumatic for her shy self but much-needed because she was getting pretty matted.  When she came back home, she was grumpy and pretty much slept all day.

Have a great rest of your week.  Cheers!  CT

NCIDQ-ed!

Well I took the third and final test for my NCIDQ certification today (National Council for Interior Design Qualifications), the day after my (uneventful because I was studying/practicing like crazy) 36th birthday.  It was an eight hour sprint of hand drafting and problem solving and I somehow miraculously survived despite being a year older.  What the results are remain to be seen (14 to 16 weeks!) but I’m so relieved to have that strain off my back for a little bit.

Have a great rest of your weekend!  JT is gigging tonight with “Radio London,” an 80s group he plays guitar in, and I was excited to go see him play but I am too spent to move off this couch.

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I think the dogs and I are going to catch up on some “Friends”.   I love the 80s but I think I may be more of a 90s girl!

Cheers! CT

 

 

Adulting …

I don’t know where this ridiculous word came from but somehow it is a very apt description of what has been going on lately at the Living Analog abode.  It’s amazing how much of your time can be given over to such mundane but necessary tasks.  The dentist, the eye doctor, the dermatologist, the regular doctor … they all have been visited.

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(I like that my earrings showed up in the x-ray. And yes, I have horrible teeth.  Thanks genetics and a bike accident 22 years ago.)

Adulting has continued with some “super fun” home maintenance stuff including duct repair that we now know has been air conditioning the 170 degree attic for the last nine months or so.  This was discovered because we were in the “super fun” process of getting additional insulation quoted.  Nothing says adult like spending upward of $1700 on insulation for an attic that no one sees.  Between the duct fix, the insulation and the settings on our Nest, we’re hoping to see some decent savings on our electric bill.

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Which puts me at the last category of adulting – bills/money/financial know how.  We have now paid off two of our three student loans and are agressivly paying down the remaining one.  Our goal is for a debt-free life by the time we both hit the big 4-0 and I think we’re going to make it.
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We started using Mint.com (the above is a screen grab from their website, not our actual finances) and it has been helping us out a lot in the bills/budgeting department because it puts everything in one place and gives you a real-time view of your net worth.  It can be depressing sometimes but gives you the information you need to make decisions – adult stuff.

I’m not sure how I ended up at 35 when I still feel like I’m 25 but here we are.

A little icing on the adult cake was finally being able to sell the 1998 BMW I affectionately called “the fug” and move up to a Toyota Tacoma.  Now I can safely buy furniture again without worrying that  I won’t be able to get it home (like the excitement I had at Value Village a while ago).  The best part is that the truck is a 4×4 and we’ve been able to have a few off-roading adventures on the many back roads of Arizona.  So being an adult isn’t all bad after all.

Pretty much anywhere you park this thing in Arizona makes it look like it’s in a truck commercial.  Cheers – CT

Busy never seems to take a break!

My view for the last month has looked something like this …

… as I’ve been studying for the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification).  I didn’t get much enjoyment from sequestering myself away every evening and the last few weekends to hit the books but it needed to be done.  I took two of the three tests last Thursday and then hopped on a flight to Iowa Friday morning for a cousin’s wedding.  I’ll get my test scores back in a few weeks and then tackle the drawing practicum in the fall.

The last cousin wedding on this side of the family was my sisters and that was almost three years ago now (right sis?).  We’re spread out all over the country so it’s nice when there is an opportunity to get together and celebrate.  Even if it means eating brunch at a Paul Bunyan table at a place called Jethro’s Bacon Bacon.

Cheers!  CT

What Doesn’t Make It Into the Shop …

It’s become a vicious circle that I shouldn’t complain about – part of the reason for starting up the Etsy shop was to have a forum to sell off some of the extraneous décor items I seem to have acquired over the years.  However, to fulfill my shop proprietor duties, I need a full shop and that requires hitting the thrifts.  And to complete the circle, (shamefully) not everything I buy for the shop makes it to the shop.

So here’s the new adoptions.  They seem to be mostly of the animal variety.  First off, the quail.  We have real life Gambel’s quail that live in the area and visit our backyard daily on their pilgrimage to their nightly roost.  I love their little Marvin the Martian plumes and how they run about and cluck at each other.  So when  I found two little quail figurines I just couldn’t resist ….

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We got our Christmas décor up this weekend and right now the quail are nested under the tree with the presents.

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We ran out of decent daylight to photograph the rest of the holiday décor but I’m going to try to capture it all next weekend.  I hit up Home Depot and between paddle wire and clear 3M Command hooks I have McGuyvered some great stuff together.  I love having the white lights on in the evening – both on the tree and swagged about every which way.

Another animal friend that stayed with us is a little vintage looking brass reindeer dish I found yesterday at Super Sale Saturday (half off everything except new and seasonal) at my local Goodwill.

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In theory he would be considered seasonal and exempt from the sale but the harried sales clerk rang him up with all the other bound-for-Etsy stuff I purchased and I didn’t notice he was discounted until I got home and reviewed my receipt.  Merry Christmas to me!

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And finally, the last Merry Christmas to me item we picked up at Savers today.  It is one of the ceramic Jonathan Adler phone docking stations.  He’s not vintage so he’s not eligible for Etsy and at $2.99 it sure beats the original $48 that was the retail price.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting proper bedside tables but these MCM slatted Nelson-esque tables have been working really well for a while now.  And with the slats, I can just sneak the phone cord up in there and voila –

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A cool place for my phone to hang out at night.

Anyone else guilty of shopping more for themselves than others this holiday season?  We have all our gifts finished and wrapped except for one.  The out-of-town items are all going to the post office tomorrow.  Keep an eye on the mail!

Cheers – CT