31 January 2010

Let There Be (just the Right Amount of) Light

The Aussie likes to watch tv in the dark. I also like to watch movies in the dark.

But I also like to knit while watching movies and I need to see what I am doing, since I have not quite yet mastered the art of not looking while knitting.

Hence the conundrum - while we only have one of our 3 lightbulbs in our ceiling fan screwed in (when people come over then we turn all of them on, saves us a ton of money on the electric bill) sometimes a overhead light can be a bit annoying.

The solution? I bought a lamp today. I originally thought I was going to get this set from JC Penney, but I wasn't impressed at all by the lamp shades. It was just eh for me. I have this thing for drum shades, and those lampshades were too tiny in proportion to the lamp. I sound very picky, but at the end of the day even though it was 3 lamps for $80, I couldn't reconcile with the fact that I reaaaaaly would love them if I went out and spent more money on getting good lamp shades for them. Blah.

Then The Aussie revealed the fact that he couldn't care less about a lamp since he "doesn't use them." So that meant I could just get one lamp that I really really like as opposed to finding 2 lamps for the living room that I was meh about.

This was the lamp that I ended up with:That is how it looks with our current living room setup (on the To Do List: make pillow covers for the throw pillows that came with our couch, get curtains and start framing stuff). It's pretty bright so I need to get a smaller lightbulb that isn't so "white."

There is nary a drum shade to be seen, but I really like it (Once those two little tables in front of the couch resume their proper function as end tables again, I WILL get a table lamp with a drum shade, I really am feeling this base from Target).

Here is the kicker - it's called an "Antique Pharmacy Lamp" and while I didn't get it from either Restoration Hardware ($699!!!) or Pottery Barn ($279!!! Yikes!!!) Don'tcha think my lamp looks pretty similar?
Restoration Hardware's Rowan Pharmacy Floor Task Lamp
Pottery Barn's Hayes Task Floor Lamp

For a floor lamp, I think mine is quite spiffy. What do you think?

30 January 2010

Yum...

The Aussie and I have been cooped up in the apartment all day (hence the third post of the day and scores of movie watching) due to the nasty cold weather. While we both saw "Julie and Julia" we had our own personal endeavors for the day: I knitted, while The Aussie continues on his quest to Master the Art of Making a New York Cheesecake. Et voila!
The first time he made it there were two huge cracks in it, and now after the third (maybe fourth?) there is only that teeny little one at the top. This one is for his parents, we also have half a cheesecake left in the fridge from when he made it last week. As someone who LOVES cheesecake, the cracks do not bother me at all, it tastes delicious!

He got the recipe from AllRecipes.com; if you plan to make it (totally worth it) make sure to read all Tips for Making a Cheesecake. The first time he made it he didn't realize these existed, so the cheesecake was a couple of pastry crusts short of a cheesecake souffle.

The Aussie really kicks cooking butt. Now if only I can convince him (or I will do it myself, using his precious KitchenAid Mixer and all) to make chocolate mousse cheesecake.

Julie & Julia

So I'm watching "Julie and Julia" and I have to say, I am not one of Julie Powell's fans. I have not read her book so I'm pretty basing my opinion on the movie (which I am watching at the moment) but what reaaaaally got me was her whining about her moving from Brooklyn to Queens as if it was the end of the world in the first 30 seconds of the movie (though I'll admit, me moving from Astoria to Bay Ridge would be the same for me and I have whined about it on my other blog).

Way to make a first impression; I just really don't sympathize with her. In the meltdown scene before the reporter called, it was as if she was just going to give up and the only reason why she kept going was because the reporter called which meant she was getting public recognition.

I'm enjoying the Julia storyline much more than Julie's although seeing bits of Astoria/LIC (I live 3 blocks away from the fishstore where the lobster-buying scene is filmed) is fun - seeing Coach Sue from Glee in a dress as Julia Child's sister is hilarious!

Going for Gold!

I finished 1 of a pair of socks today - I'm such a slow knitter, it has taken a month for me to just knit one sock:
Let see the cables up close shall we?
I'm definitely going to have to step up the ante - the Olympics are coming up (woo!) and that means the Ravelympics are sneaking up on me as well. They are a kind of "Knitting Olympics" on Ravelry, the knitting/crochet website that I am on. I am on three different teams, and while one particular project can count for multiple events, only one project can count for each team. So here are my projects (and some photos of what others have done) and their events:

1. Selbu Modern (Team Stash 'n' Burn, Events: Hat Halfpipe and Nordic Colorwork Combined):2. Rattlesnake Creek Socks (the socks you just saw above for Team Stash 'n' Burn, Event: WIPs/Works-in-Progress Dancing)

3. Fiddlehead Mittens (Team Unicorns Unlimited, Events: Mittens Moguls, Nordic Colorwork Combined):4. French Press Cozy (Team Unicorns Unlimited, Event: WIPs Dancing):5. Toddler Basketweave Socks (Team Greece, Events: Junior Olympics, Sock Hockey, Stash Compulsory Dance):6. Springtime Beret (Team Greece, Events: Hat Halfpipe, Stash Compulsory Dance):Note: only the first two pictures of my Rattlesnake Creek socks are mine, the rest I swiped off Ravelry to give people a sense of what I will be knitting (FO's or Final Objects will be posted of course!) and I provided links to those patterns that can also be found off Ravelry (though if you are a knitter/crocheter and not on Ravelry, you are reaaaaaally missing out!)

I think I have figured out a plan of attack for all of this crazy stuff: finish those WIPs ASAP (including as of this afternoon) because the idea for the Ravelympics is that you are supposed to cast on new projects the night of the Opening Ceremonies, but those that are a work-in-progress have their own category and cannot count for another (say, my socks are a WIP, but they can't count for Sock Hockey because they aren't a new project). Once those are out of the way, it's a flight to the finish.

Maybe I should have been on Team Hopelessly Overcommited (yup, there is a team called that).

Wish me luck!

29 January 2010

Whoosh, Whoosh

Yikes! It was sooooo windy today! Just walking the 3 blocks from the apartment to the (elevated) train station and then the 2 blocks from the (elevated) train station to work today and back gave me windburn. Sure I had my hood up, a scarf up to my eyes, but the wind was so strong that there are two big, round patches of pink of my cheeks.

It actually got bigger and pinker over the course of the day because I had to get home and then I went out to and from the laundromat twice since Friday night is laundry night.

I felt like I was in the Arctic tundra and I was really unprepared today: I did have my North Face parka, earmuffs and Thinsulate mittens, but I only wore a tank, tshirt and a wool zip cardigan and forgot to put on my cycling leggings underneath my jeans, so my thighs were like two blocks of ice. Add to the fact that I was walking against the direction of the wind and calling today's commute "fecking cold" is an understatement.

28 January 2010

NetFlix Streaming via PS3: A Really Unprofessional Review

The Aussie and I got our first DVD ("Julie and Julia") from Netflix, but we still haven't seen it yet because we have been too busy playing with the "Instant Streaming" option that we also have as part of our NetFlix account. Thanks to our PS3, we are watching tons of stuff! I thought I might let you know how it is in case anyone is considering it or is curious about it.

So how is it overall? It's really great. Watching shows/movies via the streaming doesn't affect our physical DVD queue, and it's great how we can switch easily back and forth between what is in our queue. The Aussie is in the middle of watching "The Office: Season 5", I'm in the middle of watching "Naria: Prince Caspian" and "Mythbusters."

In terms of the quality, it's pretty decent. We have the HDMI cable which really helps in terms of the quality but I think it all depends on what you are watching. Mythbusters looks pretty average but watching The Office makes you feel like the action is literally happening in front of you. When The Aussie and I saw it for the first time on our TV we were like "Whoa. That's hot" a la Paris Hilton. It was so clear and sharp!

In terms of loading movies, it's pretty quick. You just pop in the Netflix DVD and within 30 seconds your Instant Queue pops up. So far we haven't experienced any lag or delay in terms of loading and the movies/shows haven't froze either.

As for what can you watch via the streaming, it's pretty much up to your own personal taste. I LOVE geeky shows like Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs and almost anything from The History Channel, so I have tons of that on the queue, along with whatever movies I can find that look interesting and are available for streaming. I've found that tv shows are more common, and getting whole seasons is really simple.

In short, this totally rocks, though if i do find any problems, I'll let you know. I have a feeling that The Aussie and I will never get cable (for a very long time at least) since the option that we have for Netflix ($8.99 with one DVD + unlimited streaming) is way cheaper than our cable options.

For those that have Netflix, have you tried the Instant Streaming option be it by something like a PS3 (it's coming out for the Wii soon) or by your computer? What do you think of it?

23 January 2010

We Have a New TV!

One word can describe the feelings I have surrounding "The TV":

Hallelujah.

We got a new 46" Toshiba flat-screen tv, which was a major upgrade from our circa 1998 (?) hand-me-down tv that I guess had a 20" screen. We got rid of it (as in, it's in my parents garage), but imagine one of those old tv's that have the "bum" in the back. So we really needed a tv, because our living room looked like a big hole and the old tv was pretty far from us in the corner - we had to squint to see subtitles!

It used to sit on an IKEA end table. The "bum" was hanging off the end, and that constituted our "media center." Complete with rabbit ears. I kid you not. We had the DVD player and the dvds on the shelves below.

This is what our current "media" situation is like:
It's BIG. I took that picture sitting right across from the couch with no zoom. As in, we may have overestimated the size that would suit our living room (a 40" miiiiiight have been better, but hey, go big or go home I guess). We FINALLY got rid of the old school rabbit ears because we refuse to get cable (never home during the day) and replaced it with a spiffy new HDTV antenna (that still has rabbit ears, but they are hidden:
PLEASE tell me it looks like a sideways Christmas tree. However, it kinda sucks so we are returning it.

We have the tv on the coffee table now and are using our end tables as a coffee table, because we are planning to get this media console from Crate and Barrel and later add the side towers, but need to save up for it (and also want to check out some other places first):
Our living room is a bit of a mess, but hopefully the situation will be rectified by the end of the summer. In the meantime, I can deal with the mess so long as we end up with something that we will keep and use for a very long time.

To go with the TV we got a subscription to Netflix (in lieu of cable), and using some Best Buy gift cards bought a PS3 ((wifi, hd-dvd and Blu-Ray oh my!) and got rid of the old dvd player - did you know with the new TVs if you want the best picture you need to get an hdtv-ready dvd player too? . We have a queue set up, but I also created my own queue, which I posted in the sidebar and will cross off as we watch the movies.

Our Netflix DVD for the PS3 should be coming tomorrow so that means we can stream to our tv! I'll let you know how that goes.

21 January 2010

:::Head Desk:::

Help. Me.

I have run out of blog inspiration...and this is coming from the person who has really long blog posts. I still have to (kinda? sorta? Does anyone even really care?) post the rest of the wedding photos, but the pro ones came and I'm a bit disappointed in them (we were "matched" with our photographer through a biggish photo company because we couldn't afford an "independent" one, and at the time I was so stressed with grad school that I didn't really give a damn, which I regret).

Too many photos of the guests themselves and not enough of The Aussie and me, which is why I am terrified to go through the 1000+ images on the 2 DVDs we got. And this October, I am going to try and hire a photographer to do a "one-year anniversary" photo shoot a la engagement photo shoot style because we couldn't afford it and dammit we didn't get any of those "good" shots during the wedding.

Maybe I'll do a couple of posts on my latest knitting projects. I've been knitting up a storm lately.

16 January 2010

A Few Days of Shrimp, With Some Ouzo on the Side

This past weekend, The Aussie and I went with my dad to Costco in Long Island City and among other things, picked up a 4lb. bag of tiger prawns for $33, which is a good steal, apparently. For 3 days we had nothing but shrimp for dinner, which was a bit of a change from our regular ol' chicken and occasional steak.

We went to our standby, allrecipes.com, but we found nothing other than shrimp scampi, and alot of pasta dishes. After looking through the small collection of cookbooks, I found the recipe for "Garides Saganaki" or "Shrimp in a Small Frying Pan."

Saganaki is the popular pan-seared cheese appetizer found in Greece (oh, yum) but I also learned (no thanks to wikipedia!) that "saganaki" means "small frying pan." Huh. Anyway, the picture looked good, the recipe looked pretty easy, and I paired it with my Roasted Veggies recipe:

Garides Saganaki for 6 (from Krinos Greek Gourmet Cookbook)
Ingredients:
1.5 lbs medium-large fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small chili pepper or 1 pepperoncini, minced
1.5 cups chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup feta cheese crumbled (imported, although more expensive, tastes much better)
1/4 cup ouzo
salt, pepper to taste
2-3 tbsps. chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
1. Sprinkle the clean shrimp with lemon juice and let stand until sauce is ready.

2. Prepare the sauce: heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the scallions, garlic and pepper until wilted. Add the tomatoes and water, lightly crushing them in the skillet with a fork, and simmer for 20 mins.

3. Drain the shrimp and add them to the to the skillet. Add the oregano, feta, and ouzo and cook the shrimp for 5 mins. over medium heat until pink or al dente. Remove, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve hot.

Roasted Vegetables (from allrecipes.com)
Ingredients (I altered this a bit because I pretty much used whatever veggies/potatoes were on hand - this recipe is good for using extra random veggies lying around):
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
8 carrots, diced (substituted with several handfuls baby carrots sliced into 3 pieces each)
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 red onions, sliced
16 grape tomatoes
4-6 red potatoes, cubed
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Take the baby carrots/diced carrots and the red potatoes and steam them for about 5 minutes. This will help them get tender, so that you don't have to spend eons trying to do so when roasting them in the oven and then overcooking/burning the rest of the vegetables.

2.
In a large bowl mix the red potatoes, carrots, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and peppers with the oil, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight (Note: I just mixed it before I popped it in the oven and they turned out fine, so if you're in a time pinch this works well too).

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

4.
On a large roasting pan, roast the vegetables, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have split and the edges of some of the vegetables are starting to crisp. Remove from the oven and stir before returning to the oven for another 20 minutes. At this time reduce heat to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) and continue cooking until vegetables are tender, turning every 20 minutes.
Couple things I learned from this:

1. Need to cut back on the sauce for both dishes - I used too much olive oil for the veggies and made too much sauce for the shrimp.
2. Add the feta cheese at the very end, so that it doesn't melt.
3. The ouzo doesn't taste half bad!

The Aussie then had his turn: Shrimp on the Barbie (his words, not mine and rather in our broiler) with the actual saganaki:
He pretty much stuck the shrimp on skewers with green peppers and red onions, kept the shells on the shrimp and brushed butter and oregano periodically while in the broiler. As for the cheese, it's The Aussie's own recipe (I can email it to anyone that wants to know it's really simple - ouzo and the flames are optional), but the video speaks for itself (that's me giggling in the background like an idiot):
video

13 January 2010

Suffering Through American Idol on the Couch, Day 2

"A singing police officer is hot." - Randy

Well, any man in uniform is hot. It's an established fact.

Still listening to Emi Meyer to tune out the bad ones - she's really good. I was her sort of Teacher's Assistant for a class I helped with/sat in on at a study abroad program in Japan. If anyone wants her cd, drop a line with your email and I'll email it - it's 8 songs in total (indie release, though she is really popular in Japan now) so it wouldn't be too troublesome.

PS. All those Coke ads in between made me crave for Coke.

12 January 2010

Seriously.

Ok I'll admit, I am totally getting my "Japan-Snob" on but that self-proclaimed otaku on "American Idol"?

Really?

My apartment is not big enough for me to hide from this, so I am listening to Emi Meyer through my headphones while The Aussie is laughing at the bad ones.

Oh, Hallelujah

The Aussie has informed me that this is going to be the last season of American Idol (because you know, sometimes he can act like a prepubescent teenager as almost-30 year old men are apt to act like :::giggle:::).

I maaaayyyyyy be bringing down the wrath of Hell upon me when I say this but I will go ahead and say it: HALLELUJAH. I hate that show. I pretty much dislike reality tv in general. Not having cable kinda helps when it comes to shows like "Jersey Shore" (which I hear is a guilty pleasure in every sense of the word, but it really lowers my faith in humanity).

(Although I do know that the reason why is because Simon Cowell wants to bring some show called The X-Factor from the UK over here? Meh.).

10 January 2010

New Decade, New Blog

Hello again! After 411 posts, the close of this decade and the inspiration from a fellow blogger (hi Midge!) I decided to move over to this neck of the woods. There has been alot of stuff that I have been meaning to blog on and just haven't since I had a lack of motivation and I think blogging wise, I ended 2009 on a bit of a whiny/negative note.

If anything, my New Years Resolution is to be a "doer" - no more lying about and moaning that I've got jack to do! Time to get off the couch (unless I'm knitting, been doing a lot of that lately) get out and actually do stuff.