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...)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Innocent enough

A few days ago, our neighbor called us up with an innocent enough question: "I'm getting rid of the old sandbox frame, do you want it for anything? You could turn it into another garden bed..." It's utterly amazing how one little question can instantly turn into a weekend project. "Sure, we'll take it" we replied. Little did we know that this would quickly expand into multiple gardening feats.

We placed the frame in a sunny spot next to our existing vegetable bed. We measured how much dirt we needed to fill it (1.5 cubic yards to be exact) and realized that it would take many many trips to Walmart to get enough from those little soil bags. So we did what any unsuspecting gardener would do and called up the local dirt supply center. They had exactly what we needed and were willing to deliver it. "Great!" we thought, "we would spare our poor Acura the strain of carting a ton of dirt around." (As homeowners, we've discovered that it is unreal the things you can fit into our car: lumber, cement blocks, trellises, loads of mulch, huge plants, fencing, ...) Of course, the only catch was that the minimum delivery size is 3 cubic yards and we only needed half that by our generous calculations. "No worries," Nathan assured me, "I'm sure will find a way to use it all."

The dump truck arrived that afternoon to deliver the soil. Hats off to the driver as he meticulously positioned the dump truck so as not to damage any of our trees. You had to see it to believe it, there was not a lot of elbow room. The dirt started pouring out the back of the truck. It kept coming and coming and coming. Just when I started to think "what have we gotten ourselves into!", the truck lowered and the dirt stopped. I had almost recovered from the scare, when the driver pulled forward and started dumping the rest of the dirt. There was more!

We thanked the driver and stood in awe of the pile. What were we going to do with all this! To save our sanity, we decided to go ahead and fill up the bed. That way we could see exactly how much dirt we were talking about here. We actually ended up using just over half, even after adding in some of your homemade compost. As we were finishing up, Nathan paused thoughfuly. "You know", he suggested, "we could use the rest of the dirt to add a new flower bed under the master bedroom windows..." And just like that, a new project was born.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pizza night, Thomas-style

Last night Nathan and I were in the mood for pizza. Usually when this happens, we order out a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Antonio's (a local place), get comfy on the couch, and catch up on all our recorded shows. The weather was so nice outside, and I wanted to enjoy it a bit. So instead, we decided to make our own and fire up the grill.

Yes, you heard right, the grill. If you've never had grilled pizza before, you are missing out. It is delicious and a ton of fun. --- Last Fall we had our nephews Joel and Jonathan up to spend the night and we made grilled pizza with them. Joel commented, "This is better than Pizza Hut!" High praise indeed. Pictures of their custom pies are at the end.

The greatest thing is it's super, super easy. The secret is to buy some fresh dough from your local pizza joint. They usually sell it pretty cheap (we had more than enough dough for less than $1) and it is much better and easier than trying to make it yourself. Then you roll out the dough, brush it with a little bit olive oil, chop up all your toppings, and turn on the grill to high. Place the dough on the grill and let it toast for a few minutes. You can poke down any renegade bubbles with a fork while it cooks. Then flip and (quickly) sprinkle on your toppings. Close the grill lid and let the cheese melt for a minute or so. Buon appetito! Perfect pizza every time.

What I like most is making up crazy pizzas you don't normally get. Last night, we made one pizza margherita (a classic with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil) and one "steak deluxe" from some leftover T-bones from a Mother's Day BBQ at our house. The steak pizza was really yummy with steak, caramelized onions, spinach, and swiss cheese. Yum!

Here are pictures of Joel's and Jonathan's custom pizza pies as promised:

Monday, May 14, 2007

4am wake-up call

This morning I had a lovely 4am wake-up call from my dog, Audrey. My poor dog got sick at her stomach and woke us all up in the middle of the night. Let me just say that 4 in the morning is not the best time to contemplate dog ownership. I took her outside, cleaned up the mess, and tried to get back to sleep. I don't think I ever recovered... I've been sleepy all day long. Ah, the joys of owning a dog.

(Actually, I love having Audrey around, just not always at 4am! No worries though, she seems just fine this evening.)

Friday, May 04, 2007

An evening under the stars

Last Saturday, Nathan and I joined a few hundred picnic goers at Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater for a night with the symphony under the stars. Earlier that day we went to the grocery store to gather supplies to fill our picnic basket: some fruit, a few different kinds of cheese, marinated olives, mushrooms, and artichokes, crackers, proscuitto and salami. Yum!

The Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra played songs from famous musicals that the children and adults alike were sure to recognize: Oklahoma!, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. Nathan laughed as I sang along to some of them. Then the local steel drum band played. Just when I was about to comment to Nathan that I didn't know there were entire bands made up of steel drums, especially locally, the MC announced that another steel drum band from Waco was going to play. In fact, the band from Waco came from a special high school just for steel drum music. It was a little crazy.

The night concluded with a performance of Peter and the Wolf by the orchestra and accompanied by dancers from the local ballet company. Of course all the children scrambled up to the front so they could be close to the action. The dancers were great with bright costumes for the kids to enjoy. All the children exclaimed when the wolf ate the duck and spit up some feathers, and then they cheered at the end when the wolf (having eating the duck whole) coughed her back up and she began dancing and waddling around.

It was quite a night.