Wednesday, October 22, 2014


One of my friends and fellow coworkers is a volunteer with a local cat rescue organization. Since she started with them, she has fostered a few kitties to keep them from being euthanized at the local high-kill shelter. Spay and neuter your animals, people!

Several weeks ago, she went to take pictures of the kitties after work and found that one of the little guys was slated for euthanization the next morning. She signed the papers to foster and posted a picture on the way home of the little guy, perched on her shoulder. She'd left her carrier at home, because she honestly was not expecting yet another foster to come back to her apartment.

That picture cracked me up, for the little guy looked like Toothless from "How to Train Your Dragon". He came home with the name Toaster, and the next morning at work, we were talking about various names, and I suggested Java for the black as night kitten.

Then I heard stories about the little guy and was absolutely charmed.

Which is why he came home with me two weeks ago. After trying on several different names, we realize that Java fits him perfectly-he seems like he is hypercaffeinated. Even better, it has a somewhat techy feel for a house of techies.

So, meet Java.

Looking at the paws on this guy, he'll be HUGE. Scamp, who always seems kind of small to us (because he's a puffball who is skinny underneath) now seems like a behemoth. Next year, they'll probably be the same size...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nails and More Nails

I've had quite a few trips to Mandi that I haven't blogged about, so a round up of all those trips is in order: First, today's manicure. She'd done some marbling on another client's nails and offered to do mine. I think we needed more contrast and she agreed, so we'll try it with the next visit.

I think I'd mentioned that she returned to being a nail tech after several years away, raising her daughters. In that gap is when gel nail polishes took off, which means her return involved trying out three different types of UV Gels-and having a large palette of colors to choose from. (Get ready for a fourth to appear soon, as Essie joins the market with UV Gel polish soon!).

Anyway, because she's a latecomer to it, she didn't know that CND's Shellac line really played up layering to make new colors. I shared my links and was a bit disappointed that Hillary at Solessence has really moved away from the color swatching she'd done a couple of years ago. It's really tricky to navigate to find those images with layers. Anyway, I picked two colors and explained that it really would work, starting with Plum Paisley and topping with Romantique.

It is a little subdued as compared to my usual colors, but I like it. There were many compliments and a few questions about what color it was. The one picture is from my drive to the salon. My nails are far longer than they usually are here, and I had them cut back to the sportier length I prefer.

I've said it before, the Gelish colors seem to wear on my nails the best, getting to three weeks between visits without a single nail peeling. It seems that this is the case for nearly all of Mandi's clients, so she is working on building her Gelish color selection. I loved this Sea Glass, especially with the layer of glitter.

This is Gelish My Favorite Accessory, also with a nice dusting of glitter.

I want to say this is Gelish Hello, Merlot, but I need to double check this. It may be Shellac, but I can't remember using Shellac in the recent past, except for the one layering visit.

Let's just say it is nice to have a steady paycheck and visits to my nail tech!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014


At my job, there are two of us working with our client university. That university, rather than use our very nice, in house recording studio, opts to tape lectures on site. While there are two of us, that means we swap off months in which we head to the northeast.

My coworker, a former classmate and friend, is scheduled to travel next week, as I went last month. In planning this trip, one of his questions was "Will the leaves be turning yet?" Normally, this early, not really. Last week, we started working with our next round of instructors and set two weeks of taping, one in mid-October, and one in November. The October one probably will be just past peak color, so I offered for my coworker to go. He moved to Florida as a teen, and it had been years since he'd seen fall foliage in all its glory.

This gives me the November sessions. It wasn't until I agreed to it that I realized, hey-I'm heading out of town for Election Day. For the second time in my life, I will be getting an absentee ballot.

The first? We were in the midst of moving into our new home in Maryland when the deadline to change our address passed. I worked in Tyson's Corner, Virginia, now lived in Frederick, and was still registered in a DC suburb. Heck yeah, I took the absentee to avoid the beltway traffic to get to the polls.

It will be kind of strange to not watch my local election returns, though!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Different Path

My Facebook feed is full of pictures of freshmen arriving at college. I never realized how many people I know with kids the same age as GameTeen. This week, it is apparent that I know about two dozen friends and former classmates with 18 year olds of their own.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, mine starts 10th grade. Mainly because when we enrolled him back in public school last year, we placed him in 9th grade to catch up on the academics that weren't a focus at his private school. Still, he matured while there, so it isn't a total waste of three years.

It's kind of surreal, to observe this juncture and realize that this is where life is definitely different for our family. GameTeen might go to college someday, but the reality is that he will do so close to home if it happens. He has the intelligence to do it, but none of the other skills. Maybe he'll gain those in the next three years, but I'm not betting on it.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Pho Viet, Brandon

At my new job, there are a few traditions my department has that I've enjoyed partaking in, the payday happy hour and Friday lunch gathering. This past week, the suggestion came up for Vietnamese food, which I'd never had. Seriously, I've never had Pho, but have wanted to try for a while.

Even better, about half my dining companions were new to the cuisine, too, so I wasn't the weird one who knew nothing.

Looking over the menu, I didn't even have a clue which dish to get. I opted for an order of fried dumplings, then selected the pork Bun Bo Ga from the half dozen items that sounded appealing.

If you're the adventurous type, this menu has you ruling things out by the ingredients you don't like, rather than decide by the rare thing you do. If I was with my cube mates, I think I would have struck a deal for us to pick four things and share around.

A side note here: One of my coworkers is a veteran consumer of the cuisine and ordered an iced Vietnamese espresso without batting an eye. It looked so good, others went for the same thing.

Basically, you get the espresso pot and it drips down into a glass of condensed milk, you stir, then pour into a glass filled with ice. They were all raving about it, but I was worried that it would dull my taste buds for the food I'd ordered. Looked great, though.

A few moments later, my dumplings arrived. These were vegetarian style, deep fried, rather than the pan fry that I'm used to with other Asian restaurants.

Still they were very delicate. I shared them around, and was a bit surprised that others had never had dumplings. It seems that the filling is very similar to their summer roll, which I'll probably try next time. If I wasn't so intent on trying something different, I would have been quite pleased with these and a bowl of Wonton soup for my meal.

The server came out and placed a plate of sprouts, lime wedges, basil, and jalapeno peppers in front of me and J, seated next to me and stated that it was for our meals. We'd ordered different things, so I was confused.

It became clear a couple of minutes later. Across from me, someone ordered the same Pho that J had, and these items were to be placed in the Pho just before eating to allow them to maintain their flavor and texture.

Soon after, my pork Bun Bo Ga arrived, a bowl of rice noodles and grilled pork, served with fresh vegetables and a fish sauce to pour in and toss like a salad.

As for the flavor, the pork was expertly grilled, the vegetables fresh and crunchy, and the noodles were al dente. I didn't get a lot of flavor from the fish sauce and in retrospect, I should have had a heavier hand with the sriracha sauce provided on the table. Not their fault, all mine. That said, the smells of those bowls of Pho were rather aromatic-I'll try that next time.

One of our party got stuck in a meeting and arrived right after our meals did. He said he'd never been around us when we were all so quiet! Hmm, must be because we were enjoying the food. (Note: He was assisted promptly and had food within minutes. Impressive.)

I definitely want to give this another try, especially after the tutorial given by my colleagues more familiar with Vietnamese cuisine. Pho Viet got high marks from those who have had it many times in the past, and the fact that this restaurant is run by a Vietnamese family tells me that they're probably preparing family recipes they've enjoyed for years. Pho Viet on Urbanspoon