Thursday, September 30, 2010

Aloha, people!

This is the view from my private balcony. It faces west so i am going to spend the next hour sitting out there watching the sun set into the Pacific. This is surreal. (posted 6:00pm Hawaii time, midnight Eastern time)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

you're ugly, you smell and i want you dead

STINKBUGS! uuuuuugggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!! Stupid freaking stinkbugs. It's not bad enough that they are spreading like a pestilence through corn fields? It's not bad enough that smell gross unless you kill them and then they smell worse? NOW they have to be conspiring to get into my house? I found several in between the screen and the first pane of my ancient windows. They hadn't made it into the bedroom yet, but two were just sitting in my living room. Mocking me. Taunting me. Being generally smelly. I don't have an aversion to most insect or other crawly, scabby or slimy things, but these guys freak me the heck out. Maybe it is because last weekend i went to take a sip of my Diet Dr Pepper and ended up with a stinkbug IN MY MOUTH instead. DDP was spit all over the wall and the hardwood floors and I could feel a split second of wriggling and the taste, the taste, the taste. If you think they smell bad, you can not even imagine the taste. No wonder these stupid things don't have any natural predators. BLECH!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ominous, but beautiful

Yes, the days are getting shorter, but sometimes it means that you get to see this when you leave work: I love that the clouds are so heavy that they block all of the scattering setting sunlight completely from the sky above, leaving just a grey-blue wash. I love that it looks like the underside of the clouds were dipped in pink paint. It only stayed like this for a moment, but it was breathtaking, if a bit apocalyptic.

getting there from here

As i have said before, i live in a suburb masquerading as a small town.
I love it.
Just when all the comfort and normalcy makes you wonder if perhaps it would be more exciting to live in the city, you notice a unicyclist coming up the road across from the drugstore.
Yes, you read that correctly,
No joke, this guy wasn't in front of his house practicing for a talent show or performing at a kid's party.
He was utilizing a unicycle to traverse Edmondson Avenue.
And he didn't come to mess around.
Oh no.
With as much zoom as my camera has i tried to capture all of his PPE (personal protective equipment) -
You might expect the helmet and the reflective vest, but the goggles were a bit of a surprise and the gloves were downright perplexing. It's not like there are handlebars to grip or anything.
Good luck to you, unicycle-man.
Thank you for being eco-friendly.
And look out for that car.
Yes, just another day in the Nikiverse.
Thank God i always have my camera so that i can prove that i don't make this stuff up!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Motel Restaurant

After play practice two weeks ago, the director declared that she was going to go try the Motel Restaurant by the Beltway, did anyone want to go with her? Are you kidding me? You know the kind of place i am talking about here, huge neon letters that tell you nothing you couldn't have figured out on your own (as pointed out by stage manager, Debbie) at a place that probably once did a thriving business, but has fallen on some hard times. This is the kind of place that we have all passed a zillion times, but never dare to stop. But by jimminy, we were going to dare. First, Michelle had to put up the rear seat of her station wagon, which i declared to be a rumble seat, but was then immediately referred to as the rumple seat It was a bit of a tight fit for actors Samantha and Erica, but we all made it to the infamous location unscathed. We were even more unsure what type or quality of food we would find since the big sign said RESTAURANT, the door sign said Coffee Shop and the road sign said Chappies. Imagine our delight to find a diner on one side and a lovely dining room on the other with a big round booth just waiting for a group of hungry thespians. The menu was huge and varied. It was easy for all of us to find something to order, even with 2 vegetarians and 1 allergic-to-gluten-dairy-eggs-ian. The restaurant had somewhat recently been bought and refurbished and now tries to live up to the motto: Get Happy at Chappie's. The service was good, the food was good and the prices were good. We spent almost 2 hours laughing and talking and eating and yes, we did indeed get happy! It was so good in fact that i went back the next day by myself for some lunch. I sat on the diner side this time, revelling in the awesome touches of yesteryear, like the lamps over the counter and the ultra-cool clock. Give Chappie's a try - it's at the Beltway and Washington Blvd, by the Home Depot; you really can't miss it. (though remember that there is no exit 10 going south, take Sulphur Spring Rd off of the 95S exit) No doubt i will go back. And i will even refer to them by their proper name, Chappie's, though in my heart it will always be -

Friday, September 24, 2010


Last week's adventure in "Triple D dining in Baltimore" found the team again in Highlandtown, but this time we were a few blocks off of Eastern Ave walking along rowhouses not only sporting the original brick or FormaStone, but also painted in an amazing array of colors. The picture doesn't fully communicate the coolness, but it was like walking through rainbow sherbet. We were on our way to a fabulous Italian market called DiPasquales. Overwhelming would be the word i'd use to describe it: rows and rows of Italian groceries, open bins of bulk beans and legumes, a full deli, a brick-oven, and lots of people eating and talking. I don't think any of us were expecting it to be so crowded or jam-packed with stuff. And the menu - great googley moogley were there a zillion things to choose from. On the show, Guy had showcased arancine -Sicilian rice balls- which I had never heard of, but felt compelled to try (pictured here in the front; chicken parm with penne in the back). It was an interesting mix of crunchy and chewy and something else i can't describe, but it was definitely tasty. I also ordered a sausage and rapini (broccoli rabe) calzone that about the size of my head. It was delicious and filling and lunch the next day as well. Personally, i found the rapini to be a bit too bitter - i would have used spinach - but otherwise i give it a big thumbs up. Since it was a market i could get some other out-of-the-ordinary treats as well, like black cherry soda and Italian chocolate that had this weird white coating that i couldn't determine if it was to be consumed or not. I just ate it. The whole thing was yummy, coating and all. It was a nice lunch trip to finish off the summer and to welcome the newest members of the team, Adam and Addison. There are still several places on the list and we will hit them when we can.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

For Kaaren

How can you possibly say,
that this isn't sexy?
(i love that since this pic was taken at 11 last night after 4.5 hours of dress rehearsal, the half-sweated-off stage makeup makes me look like a dude in drag)

get out of my head

During lunch we often drive around aimlessly exploring the town/countryside surrounding the show location. One such adventure has us recently driving right next to the Bay in Chesapeake Beach, MD. From a distance we spotted this sign coming up: to which i said to the rest of the team in the van, Oh Really? I'm pretty sure we can find a way around anything. As it left my mouth we got close enough to see this: Yikes!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Once more into the breach...

School programming for the team started yesterday, which means back to shows, back to schools, back to khaki, back to getting up at 5:30am and back to lunch companions like this: sigh... it's good to be out of the office

Monday, September 20, 2010

rare albino pygmy dolphin spotted in Baltimore

Attached to the sidewalk; i have no idea what it is or where it came from.

Friday, September 17, 2010

pink ring

Someone asked me recently about the ring they saw me wearing in the post two weeks ago about TM Amy's Rock and Roll Reception. This wee, demure accessory was bought on a complete whim at a casino. I spotted it in the gift shop as i walked by and went in to investigate. The shiny fuchsia blouse i wore to Amy's shindig was purchased back in April as a backup for Francie's wedding, but never worn. I was planning on taking it to Hawaii for the big luau party on Saturday night of the conference; i had a bracelet to go with it and recognized that the beads in the flower ring were the same translucent plastic. It was $10 and since i was $30 up at the slots i figured, Why not? With the bitchin' new ring and matching bracelet i couldn't wait until October to wear the blouse, hence the ensemble's debut. It is a bit much for just everyday wear, but makes quite a statement when necessary.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

did i miss that memo?

Didn't they stop making Tab back in the late 80's or early 90's? When did they bring it back? WHY did they bring it back? That stuff tastes nasty. There were only three 6-packs on the shelf: is it so popular that it sells out, or so reviled that those cans have been there since it was discontinued? How did i not notice it until last night? I'm very confused.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

shopping (and saving) a new way

I normally like to use the self checkout at grocery stores. I've got nothing against cashiers, i just like to bag up my own stuff in the bags i brought so that one bag has freezer stuff and one has pantry stuff and one has refrigerator stuff, etc. But i have been resisting using the little hand-held laser readers that you use as you shop. Why? I don't know. Deep down i guess i'm kinda afraid that if i use too many automated things, humans will lose their jobs. Who can tell what's going on inside my noggin. Anyhoo, a few weeks ago i needed to get a few items and the store was REALLY busy; there were even lines several people deep at self checkout. I decided to give the laser gizmo a try. LOVE IT! Not only is it a time saver and super fun, it has coupons. Did you know there were coupons in the scanner? Cause i didn't know there were coupons in the scanner. Why didn't someone tell me that there are coupons IN the scanner? The first thing you do with the scanner is scan your bonus card so now it has your shopping history. Then it gives you coupons based on the things you buy. Sometimes it is the actual item you normally buy, like my preferred brand of yogurt. I only buy yogurt when it is on sale for 50 cents. Then the scanner gave me an additional 10 cents of each one - no limit. Yes, Yoplait yogurt, normally 80 cents each and i paid 40 cents each. Love it. Sometimes, though, the scanner will give you coupons on things related to things that you buy, like a dressing to go with your bag o' salad. Clever, no? And you do still need humans cause sometimes it doesn't want to scan regular coupons without an override card, so i'm not stealing all of their jobs. I always use the laser scanner now. Last week it offered me 75 cents off of Old El Paso boxed products. ?!?!?!?!? I've never used an Old El Paso boxed product before. I've never even considered it. Sure, i've used the taco seasoning packets, but not the dinner starter things. Why would the scanner... ohhhh, i do buy flour tortillas pretty often cause i loves me some quesadillas; maybe it was branching off of that. So the scanner coupon was 75 cents off of two and that didn't seem like a very good deal since i figured they were probably $4 or $5 each. who wants to pay $9.25 for something you might not even like? When i went down the tortilla aisle i stopped by the Old El Paso section out of curiosity. That week the boxes were on club card special at 2 for $5. hmmmmm... that would make them 2 for $4.25 with the coupon or $2.13 each. hmmmmmmm... is that a point of purchase coupon on one of the boxes? Buy 2 dinner kits and get a free taco seasoning packet. very hmmmmmmmmmm... Obviously i couldn't resist 3 deals on the same product; who could? I went with the enchilada kits cause a taco kit is just seasonings and taco shells; i've bought both of those things separately before so there wasn't enough newness to it. I love enchiladas. My standard Mexican Tex/Mex dish is whatever combo platter has cheese enchiladas and chile rellenos on it. I was a bit dubious about this whole enchiladas-from-a-box thing, but we're all about going outside of our comfort zone here in the Nikiverse this year. Normally, i'd do cheese or chicken, but i decided that i would do beef for a change. Heading over to the ground beef section i saw that something called Meatlof Mix was on sale. What? says I. It is ground beef, pork and veal. Sure. Okay. Why not? I am shopping with one of those laser things you use to register for your wedding and i'm going try to make enchiladas from a box. Why not throw in a meat mixture i've never even heard of? Next up, i needed cheese. The scanner doesn't have any cheese coupons, but when i get to the dairy case i notice that block cheese is on sale - $1 off per pound. Plus if you buy three 1-pound blocks you get 200 extra gas points, which translates to 20 cents off per gallon. hmmmmmmm... If i get 3 different types i can shred some and freeze it for future use and mix the cheese i put on the experimental enchiladas. Plus i do have less than a quarter tank of gas. Fine. Block cheese it is. Finally, i needed some salad fixings or something green to go with. Consulting my scanner it offered me 75 cents off of bag salad and $1 off bagged veggies so i got baby spinach and shredded broccoli slaw. The meatloaf mixture browned up nicely and wasn't very fatty. I cut up an onion, some fresh broccoli and fresh spinach to cook along with it and threw in frozen corn when i added the seasoning and water. It all cooked down into a yummy smelling meat/veggie mixture that i kinda wanted to eat with a fork right then out of the skillet. But i refrained and filled the included flour tortillas, put them in a baking dish and covered them with the included red sauce. Sauce that came in a plastic pouch, mind you. Sauce in a pouch? Questionable. Finally, both mild and sharp cheddar cheese got shredded over the top of the dish and I popped the whole kit and kaboddle into the oven. I could not believe it. DELICIOUS! Paired here with a simple broccoli slaw with ranch dressing and sunflower seeds. Perhaps not the most attractive dish ever, but dang tasty. And since the kit makes 6 enchiladas i had enough for 3 meals. Brilliant. I would never have known if it hadn't been for my new friend the hand held shopping scanner.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Perfume Counter schedule

We are now less than 2 weeks out from my theatrical debut. I continue to be equally excited and terrified. Being off-book (lines memorized) makes it much easier for me act. Without fumbling with a script i can use my body as i am accustomed to and knowing the words means that they flow out more naturally with the proper em-PHA-sis on the right syl-AH-ble. I only have about 24 lines so it wasn't too hard to get them down, though there are 2 sentences that are very similar and i routinely mix them up in my head; oh, and i actually memorized the wrong word in one line so i had to struggle to replace moonlight with midnight in my head. The Perfume Counter, as i've said before, is a One Act and it looks like it will be about 34 minutes long. The production team is planning other things- dancing, vignettes, something, who knows- to round out the event to an hour, but i have little knowledge about what it will actually end up becoming. Since this is sponsored by the Theater Club -Barnstormers- at CCBC, Catonsville Campus all of the performances will be FREE to the public. I would love to see some friendly faces at any of the three performances in The Barn Theatre on the Catonsville Campus: Thursday Sep 23 at 8pm Saturday Sep 25 at 8pm Sunday Matinees Sep 26 at 2pm Come one and all. Bring your friends. Bring your family. Bring relative strangers. Join me as i continue to do at least one new thing a month - growing, stretching and possibly making a complete fool of myself. Come point and laugh. Just come.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I totally forgot this one...

This morning it was a bit too cold for the outfit i had planned so i grabbed my new-to-me periwinkle blue sweater set (yes, it was only $6 for both pieces at the Goodwill, thank you very much) and realized that i made another bracelet last weekend. It think i finished it right before i went to bed around 5am. The bead stacks came from a broken bit of chain; i assume it was originally a necklace, but there wasn't enough left to really tell. I had to add a clasp, reorder the stacks for symmetry and gain about 2 inches of length which i did by adding the center round bead. That is the first time i had looped a bead from straight wire. I also made matching earrings, but didn't wear them today as the blue is a bit light for the sweater. I wonder if i made other stuff in the wee hours that i've forgotten about...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

we read too many kids' books

The next place on our list of lunch excursions was Chaps Charcoal Restaurant for pit beef. Unfortunately, i was sick yesterday so i missed it. The ladies report that the sandwiches were quite good and service was speedy. To help us remember where and when the next excursion is, Miss Amy drew a caterpillar on the white board but she did it when none of us were particularly hungry, so Miss Sam said he was more like the "I could nosh" caterpillar. I think it is going to be a long two weeks before we start programming again...

going out on a jewelry limb

This past week has involved a lot of new jewelry choices for me, including making some of my own from scratch.
First up was a beading project.
I bought a plain white V-neck t-shirt (which i guess is technically a v-shirt, but that sounds ridiculous) at Goodwill (who can beat less than 5 bucks for a shirt?) and thought it would pair nicely with my dark navy jeans, if only i had a large navy pin to dress it up and add some interest.
I had some navy felt almost the exact color of the jeans so i cut out a big wonky heart and added a filigree doodad. I wanted more texture and more movement so I grabbed some metallic seed beads. I can't even explain why i picked up a beading needle since we all know that needlecraft is not one of my stronger skills, but i'm pretty happy with the result and will try that outfit out tomorrow.
After the beading went okay I wanted to sew some more.
That's how it is with me; i'm not very good at needlecraft, but once i create anything that isn't a complete disaster i like to push my luck.
I own a cream, short-sleeved sweater.
It is the most boring piece of clothing ever.
Why do cream colored, short-sleeved sweaters even exist?
Why, for the love of Pete, do i own one? I remember that it was bought for a specific purpose, but have no idea what that was anymore. Somehow it manages to survive the seasonal closet purges. It is just so... blah...
Last time i almost got rid of it I thought that i would keep it to experiment with some crazy vintage trims. I thought, This could be cute with lace roses and beads on it.

I grabbed some antique lace from the craft dresser that i had salvaged from Douglas' mom's house [wait a tic - i think the lace actually came from the tablecloth i made this fort out of the afternoon i had a bit of a breakdown], washed about 80 years of dust out of it, hand dyed one piece a dirty pink and sewed three flowerettes.
I then added vintage buttons from my grandma's button jars and beads and chains from the ugliest 50s necklace i have ever seen. I decided to make them into a pin instead of attaching them directly to the sweater so that they won't go through the washing machine.
That sounds so neat and easy in that sentence; it wasn't. You can tell how good someone is at needlecraft by looking at the back of their pieces. Mine looks like a thready Armageddon, but i got the job done.
It is so large that i felt like i need something small on the other side to balance the outfit, so i whipped up a single flowerette and attached it to a hairclip. I tried it over a classic French twist and was relatively pleased with the effect of the antique lace against my brown hair, though i don't like that you can see the very bottom of the hair clip. But i gotta just get over that, right?
At this point it was like 2am and i wasn't a bit sleepy so as i cleaned up the carnage of my workspace i decided that the remains of the incredibly ugly necklace could somehow be torn apart and rearranged into a bracelet.
I had to scavenge a triple clasp from another bracelet, but i am really pleased with the result. Those beads are glass so it is quite heavy, but i like the way it moves on my wrist.
Here's the whole ensemble with the cream sweater:
In a perfect world i would wear this with charcoal slacks pinstriped with a micro pink stripe and grey heels. However, since i don't own those pants or those shoes, i will try it with brown pants and matching brown boots.
This whole jewelry thing this week started because last Friday i stopped by Objects Found and got 3 pins (plus a vintage monkey shot glass and a Vaseline glass pedestal creamer, but that's beside the point).
The next day I went on an excursion to the Goodwill SuperStore in my old neighborhood and did pretty well, finding 2 tank tops, 3 shirts, a light jacket, a sweater set and 2 more pins.
Today i was excited to show off some of my awesome finds so i clustered three vintage metal and enamel flowers together, kinda like the lace flowers i made on one of the new-to-me shirts:
several people at work commented on the arrangement and one person thought that maybe it was actually one big pin.
Each flower was only $3.
Man, i loves me some accessories.

This post is linked to the Thrifty Thursday party at Quilted Cupcake (button in sidebar)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

now that's a tasty dog

During the down time between summer and school programming TM Sam decided that the team needed a fun project. Since we are all in-house she thought that we should try some Baltimore eateries that we haven't been to before. So now we are working our way through all the local places that have been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives or The Best Thing I Ever Ate (Miss Sam has a bit of a Food Network problem). Yesterday for lunch we went to G&A Restaurant, home of Baltimore's Best Coney Dogs. Located right on Eastern Ave in the heart of Highlandtown, it has been in the same row storefront since 1927 and is obviously a local joint. Hot dogs grill right in the front window and you can sit where ever you like - matching green and tan formica booths or the long counter. There was a steady stream of lunch-time customers most of whom were greeted by name by the staff and vice versa. Our table of five 20-something girls (well four 20s and one 30s, but you know what i mean) really stuck out, but everyone was super friendly. Even the owner came over to ask us if we worked near by and how we had found out about them. It was a pleasant, comfortable atmosphere that had bonus local color. But the real star of the show was the food. You know how sometimes you want something to be good so much that it can't possibly live up to your expectations? That did not happen at G&A. Everything was DELICIOUS. The fries were crispy, the sliders were juicy and the hot dogs...oh, the hot dogs. We all got a traditional Coney dog -Coney sauce (a red meat sauce, like chili just thinner and no beans), mustard and chopped onions- because that is what they are known for and to a woman we were pleased. I have a thing about sandwiches being homogeneous and Elise has a thing about food being proportional and neither of us could fault these dogs. You could taste all the layers in every bite and no one thing overwhelmed the others. I am particular about my Coney sauce as Rea's parents used to own a hot dog/ice cream stand and this stuff is excellent. I highly, highly recommend G&A; they have plenty of offerings besides hotdogs if you aren't a fan and serve breakfast all day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weddings are the current hot topic around here

TM Amy recently got married. Needless to say, we've all been a flutter for month trying to help her prepare. Even the CFO of the museum helped out, by allowing them to have the ceremony here and the reception on our roof at a fraction of the normal rental fee. It took a lot of work to turn our board room into a place where anyone would want to get married. A woman after my own heart, Amy had prepared a specific job list, so that everyone had a task. From ironing the window treatments, to punching out place cards, to building a wood arbor, to hanging the aforementioned window sashes, the family and wedding party were all put to work. Even the team punched out of work in the afternoon and went up to help. Amy had gone with silk flowers - lovely bunches of hydrangeas. Her theme/color palette was peacock feathers so she used every color available. She had already made all of the bouquets and boutonnieres months ago - a great advantage to using silk - and had a lot of stems left to use for decorating. She asked me, TM Sam and TM Elise to do the table settings, which i think turned out rather well. They went well with the painted bottle centerpieces that maid of honor, Jillian, had hand painted. I really loved the one she made for Amy and Aaron with peacocks painted on them. We took a little break from preparations for presents: the team bought them toasting flutes with etched peacock feathers on them, that were used at the reception. By the end of all of the work, you'd never know this room is used for boring meetings Because of the space and budget, they only had about 40 people at the wedding, so the next night they had a Rock and Roll Reception at the Sidebar. They rented it out for the night -it is normally closed on Sundays- and provided the entertainment. They got to choose the drink specials including the delightful Admiral Akbar -Cheer Wine and Jack Daniels- in homage to the Star Wars character that Aaron has a picture of in a family photo collage (they call him Uncle Ackie). I was pleased to have the opportunity to not only celebrate with Amy and Aaron, but to have an excuse to once again bust out the understated wedding ring brooch, though this time i went with it in my hair Amy met Aaron when he moved from Arizona to join her friends' band, Karmella's Game, several years ago. It seemed only appropriate to have that band play a set, especially since every member was in the wedding party. To round out the evening, the band Avec -bass player Adam is married to the singer/keyboard player of Karmella's Game, Katie - also played a set. The highlight of the evening, though, was the debut of Amy and Aaron's band, Fifth Wheel and the Double Dates. Comprised of 3 members of Karmella's Game, one member of Avec and Amy, the band captures the history of Amy and Aaron's relationship as well as symbolizing their union in life. It was so great to see them play out for the first time, especially in celebration of their wedding. Fifth Wheel and the Double Dates played a five song set, 4 originals and a cover of Tommy James and the Shondelle's I Think We're Alone Now with appropriate heartbeat hand claps. It was delightful to watch Amy perform not only because she is really animated, but because all of us know her from being on stage with her so we could recognize some of her go-to moves Congratulations to the happy couple from the whole team Lindsey, Elise, Niki and Sam