Random Happenings

Random notes and pics about events in the life of a not-your-typical Computer Science grad student. (Yes I am a nerd, but I don't live and breathe the SciFi channel, well maybe Stargate SG-1...)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Announcing two new additions: Baby and Blog

Well, it's been a long long time since I've posted anything here. Almost a year now, actually about 9 months or so... So I'm chalking it up to the pregnancy. :) Now that our first son, Daniel Patrick Thomas, is born, I have tons and tons more to blog about. Lots and lots of photos and videos to share. Here's a little taste:

So, I've created a website just for this purpose:

            Thomas House

I won't be posting anymore here, but on the Thomas House website instead. So, come check us out there.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I couldn't have said it better myself

Cold Poem

(I have a space heater in my office too and I just used it last week.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I smell gumbo in my future

Is that the biggest okra pod you have ever seen or what!?! Believe it or not, that big baby came out of our humble vegetable garden in the backyard. (I promise to post more about that later... school has been pretty busy lately.) It's our very first okra pod to harvest. Not exactly enough for a pot of gumbo (my favorite okra application), but there are more pods on the way. There is nothing like fresh veggies straight from the garden. I think tonight we will have our first taste by breading and frying this guy up! Mmmmm.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


One word: "FAAHHBUUULOUS!" (in a sing-song voice of course). That's what dinner was tonight. Who says weeknight meals can't be easy, quick, tasty, and look great on a plate? In other words, "FAAHHBUUULOUS!"

Okay, okay, I admit that not everything we cook is a home run. Some meals taste better than others, some are not so easy, and some aren't always as fast as we like. But tonight was like no other. It didn't disappoint. We had Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta served on a bed of orzo and an elegant-looking Greek Salad.
I can't take much of the credit since these are all recipes I saw this weekend on "Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger", a new favorite show of mine. I made the recipes just as she did, except I added the orzo so the yummy tomato sauce had somewhere to go. It's a crime to waste sauce.

So, if you are looking for a sure-fire hit thats easy and fast, you should definitely try these recipes out. Your stomach will thank you. Mine sure did.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Even in these fall months, I'm still amazed at what our vegetable garden can grow. Granted it will never make us skip the produce department in the grocery store, but it's really fun to taste freshly grown veggies straight from the backyard. We had such a success this spring/summer that we thought we would give fall veggie growing a try. This fall we are attempting a few different things, almost all from the Brassica genus. We are growing:

  • broccoli (one of my very favorites),
  • cauliflower (a close cousin),
  • cabbage (growing it will force me to learn how to cook it!),
  • brussels sprouts (just curious to try),
  • spinach,
  • and a variety of mixed greens, some spicy and some not (they really jazz up a sandwich).
Here is the garden a month or so after we planted it (we bought too many plants for both beds, so I had to expand to a few pots in the back!):And here it is now! My, oh my, how that garden grows! I feel like it is just bursting at the seams. (The leaf pile for making compost also 'grows' too this time of year. Notice in the top right of the photo that we not only filled up our ginormous 4'x4'x4' bin but had to extend it out --- temporarily until they compress down to fit --- another 3' or so.)I couldn't resist posting some cool closeups of the veggies I took while playing with the macro setting on my camera:


spicy greens

broccoli (looking so pretty with morning dew on top!)

Of course, not everything is looking so lovely. Some of our poor brussels sprouts got attacked by the caterpillars. For days I just kept plucking them off the leaves. Those little guys are hard to find though because they like to chill on the underside of the leaves. We just hope we get some beautiful butterflies out of it!
The other night we got to taste the fruits of our labor. Our first broccoli head was ready to harvest. I felt like such a proud momma. "I remember when it was just a baby, no bigger than my little finger..." Here is it's glamor shot:Boy did it make a wonderful dinner. Fit for a king! Here it is all steamed up with Nathan's amazing grilled rib-eye steak topped with blue cheese and a classic sour cream-and-chives baked potato. I almost feel that if you've never tasted freshly picked broccoli, you haven't really tasted broccoli. It is so much more tender and sweet than the grocery store variety. It is incredible. My stomach definitely thanked me that night!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eight is great

That's what I placed in the annual Houston Jingle Bell Run a few weekends ago. Eighth in my age-group, that is. But hey, I had to beat out some young 19-year-olds for that spot. Those whipper-snappers.

I ran with Sara, one of my best friends growing up. We've known each other since kindergarten and have been running together since high school. For the second year in a row now (so it must be a tradition), Sara and I have competed the Jingle Bell Run together. Just like last year, she just beat me again. I had her in my sights the entire time, but she is just fast. (She placed seventh.) To prove it, you can just barely make me out in the picture below:

Even though I didn't beat Sara again, I had a huge improvement over last year despite the blazing December heat. (And no, I'm not being sarcastic here, it was pretty hot that day.) Below is my running profile. Not exactly the smoothest because I had to get some water at the water stations and contend with hills.

I know you all desperately want to see more action shots of me running (ha!), so just follow the link. I can't wait to do it again next year!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Don't look down

Famous last words: "Whatever you do, just don't look down." I found out the other weekend just how relevant that little sentence can be when you are clinging to tiny rocks sticking out of a wall three stories high. I never pegged myself as someone that has any problem with heights, but even I began to question my sanity while I was suspended precariously near the top of the wall. Actually, I was doing just fine until about two-thirds of the way up when I paused to look around...

It all began a few weeks ago when I thought it would be a) fun to try something new and b) come up with an activity for AWICS. (AWICS stands for Aggie Women in Computer Science, a student organization in our department.) AWICS hadn't had many bonding activities this semester, and I thought rock climbing could be just the ticket. People bond really fast when you put them in an unfamiliar situation requiring trust.

Our student Rec center is a really nice facility with a huge rock climbing wall and excellent staff. They happily arranged a group session for us. I was sure to remind them that no one in our group had been rock climbing before. They reassured me that they would teach us all we needed to know.

I was really impressed when 9 other AWICS'ers decided to join me one Saturday night at the wall. After a very brief orientation we started climbing. It was actually much easier at first than I thought it would be. I shouldn't fail to mention, though, that the staff member belaying me may have given me a little boost here and there. As I said in the beginning, I was doing just great until about two-thirds of the way up when I paused and looked around. I really wasn't sight-seeing, just looking for the next place to put my hands and feet, but I caught a glimpse of the vast amount of air between me and the ground and started to get a little nervous. I then think I started climbing faster so I could get to the top and come down!

At the tippy-top...

... coming down...

... and finally at the ground!

Actually, after a few more times, I got to really enjoy it. It is hard work, however, and I was really sore the next day. It was worth it. I made some new friends, laughed with some old ones, and came out victorious at the end.

Here are the brave AWICS members that conquered the mighty rock wall: