Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mystery Dinner Revealed

Let me just go ahead and say that I'm glad we didn't end up where Hubby kept saying we were going, "The Executive Jack in the Box", where I could have "as many chicken sandwiches as I want" and "maybe even curly fries" if I behave myself.

Call me a snob, but a restaurant with a history of fecal contamination is not exactly what I had in mind for my all-bets-are-off birthday dinner. Just, no. But, I guess I should have known that he was mercilessly kidding me when the preceeding sentence was, "Happy 40th Birthday, old lady".

It was my 28th birthday. Oh ha ha ha.

Tomfoolery aside, it was a great day full of not working, indulgence and eventually a very nice dinner at a lovely French-inspired restaurant in quaint Saratoga, CA. Great food (heirloom tomato salad with aged vinegar, eggplant and gruyere appetizer and perfectly pan roasted Opa) and a nice wine list (had a little too much of the 2004 Testarossa Pinot, personally). Plus, it never sucks to have a raspberry creme brulee appear at the table regardless of the fact that you just discreetly asked the waiter to bring the wheelbarrow around back to haul your fat ass to the car.

Yes, I had some of the creme brulee. No, I did not actually take a wheelbarrow to the car. Although I should have. I'd had a smidge too much wine.

All in all a great little birthday full of enough surprises (and food) to fill up a short month.

Just the way I like my birthdays.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Finny Day

Yes, that is right, I've gone so far as to lay claim to a day. And why not, really? It is MY day. I fill it all up with all the things that I love and flit from one favorite pastime to the next towing MY mercifully forgiving Hubby behind me.

Ok, so it's probably overkill to hog it all for myself (even though it's what I do best) since a very good friend of mine (not to mention stupid Michael Jackson) shares my birthdate. All that be as it may, I still hogged (and continue to hog) it up real good.

So what are these hog-worthy things that Finny does?

Sorry, I have to stop the self-referencing for a second, I'm annoying myself. Let's move on.

Here are some of my birthday faves:

Finny dodges waves

Finny bakes

Finny beachcombs (or, if you're from Fish & Game: Finny picks up trash.)

Finny gardens

Finny does NOT ask out any sea lions

and finally...

Finny Knits

One couldn't ask for finer birthday activities, except for maybe a midweek day spent at Malibu Grand Prix with Hubby swinging in the batting cages, racing around the track, shoveling nachos into my face and playing mini put-put and video games until they remind me that I'm an "adult" and close the doors in my face. But that will have to wait for another time.

For now, Mystery Dinner with Hubby is on the docket, as well as Unmystery Lunch with the girls at one of my favorite places.


Friday, August 25, 2006

And the birthday week begins...

So, perhaps I'm not giving enough credit here, since this may or may not actually be a birthday present, and if not, Hubby is all that much extra special, but I'm looking at it as a gift because, well, it is one.

What am I running on about? Could it really be related to the haphazard grouping of the random abandoned household objects above?


Let me first describe to you the circumstances under which I became acquainted with this gift with a short bit of dialogue:

"Baby! Come look what I did in the garage!" Hubby screams from the backyard.

(At this very moment Finny is up to her shoulders in blackberry pie filling and fearing she may be faced with the recurrence of a previous thumb-sawing incident. )

"One sec Bubba, I'm wearing the blackberry pie right now."

"Ok, but you're going to like this." Said a somewhat crestfallen Hubby.

Finny rinses clean of the pie filling, grabs the first aid kit, dials 9-1-, and wanders out the backyard and into the newly cleaned and organized garage...

"Look what I made for you!" Hubby proclaims while gesturing proudly toward the discarded furniture assortment you see above.

"Holy shit." Says Finny as she surveys the arrangement.

"That is quite possibly the most awesome thing I have ever seen."

A tear begins to wells up in her eye. There is a long embrace between the insane couple. Finny proclaims her undying love for her ever-so-talented and thoughtful Hubby. Hubby beams with well-deserved pride.

In sum, Hubby built me a potting bench and garden area in his newly organized and reclaimed Man-Space (also referred to as The Garage-Majal and Crapshack for those of you getting confused.) This is a particularly big gesture seeing as he spent two sweltering days atop the monster reroofing it with my madman father and had just spent the entire weekend tediously removing, cleaning and reorganizing every last object to form his perfect vision of a garage. Then, after all that, he sliced out a big section and organized everything in that section to form a gardening area for his wife.

That is big, even for someone as selfless and fantastic as Hubby. So, you can see why I'm considering this a gift, regardless of it's actual relation to my approaching birthday. Needless to say, I love it.

What is "It" you ask? "It" is comprised of a discarded coffee table that I had zero luck selling on Craigslist for a myriad of reasons I won't bore you with, a leftover cabinet from the kitchen remodel with a plywood top fashioned from the remains of the roofing makeover, a pegboard (hung above the cabinet) salvaged from a former friend's ill-conceived indoor *gardening* experiment and a wooden peg rack that I found hiding underneath the pick-axes at our local OSH. So, once I shoehorn all my bulk stuff (soils, seeds, amendments) into the cabinet, line up all my pots on the bottom shelf of the table and hang all my miscellany from the pegboard, this will be


Magical, yes?

It is a wonder how I don't literally smother this man to death with love. He is a maniac with his generosity.

Happy Birthday to me :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Let's not pretend

So, I'll be honest, I was going to *try* to not open my birthday present from Kelli until next week when it's my actual birthday.

Yes, really, for about five seconds I was going to *try*.

Then, in true Finny form, I said fuck it and opened it with hands a whirring and paper and ribbon flying every which way. Much in the same fashion you'd imagine the Tazmanian devil to open a birthday gift or demolish a small town.

Why open a gift in such a voracious fashion? Well, #1 I still love my birthday even though Hubby tells me that this enthusiastic behavior will begin to wane soon. And #2 This is a gift from the ever thoughtful and all-Finny-knowing AfricanKelli (or Donk as I call her) so I knew it would be great.

Was I right? O'course!

Let me summarize all the greatness that is this birthday gift a la Donk:
  • Unabashedly orange dish towel (am I right?) turned handy knitting needle case
  • Perfectly handknit and felted lime green and purty blue stripeeed button hole bag
  • Fantastically orange note cards tied with the loveliest lime green ribbon
  • Awesomely adorable YET also mildly hilarious photo of the Donk herself trying not to pet a cow in Nicaragua
Why do I love all these things? Let me count the ways:
  1. Orange and lime green are my ridiculously favorite colors
  2. A photo of Kelli trying *not* to touch this adorable cow that I would have literally bear hugged is simply riotous
  3. That beautiful buttonhole bag was so perfect that it was put into use mere moments after the gift was successfully outed from it's shipping box (perfect project bag - I love, love it long time already)
  4. Those orange note cards will be excellent backdrops for all the photos I've been taking and not posting on this here blog
There are prolly more ways to count, but let's not get crazy (to quote my dad.) End of the day - this birthday is off to a fine start and just a short week away. Woot!

Oh, and the FurBeast had a birthday surprise in for me as well.

This is her saying, "Hey look at me! I can jump up on your bed again! Aren't you excited?! I am going to leave you a furry heap of formerly clean laundry right here for your birthday!"

For those of you who aren't fully acquainted with my cat/sheepdog, she is, let us say, large. And since moving into this house (and especially since buying a new taller Tempurpedic mattress) she has been blessedly unable to jump up on our bed, and thus fur up our pillows/sheets/faces. It has been nice. Until now. She has found her way back up onto the bed and therefore we will be waking up with furry faces for the foreseeable future.

But it is kinda nice to have our foot warmer back. Especially since she can cover all four of our feet at once.

Monday, August 21, 2006

All food in pie form, please.

This past weekend was a flurry of kitchen activities. Inspired by the ongoing summerlicious recipes on Farmgirl's site and my husbands lust for any food in pie form, I could not resist this crowd pleaser of a savory pie for our dinner guests on Saturday night.

Mind you, the "dinner" portion of the term is used extremely loosely in our house since our evenings usually consist of food and drink consumed only during the few moments when we're not flapping all our gums at once or shouting "Pong", "Che" and "Fucking cheater" over wildly clacking mahjong tiles. However, I must say that the shouting (and alleged cheating) slowed to a low rumble when this pie hit the plates.

Forgive the cold-ish looking slice in this photo. There was literally no time to photograph the plated masterpieces before they were eagerly scooped from fork to waiting mouth. This was our leftover wedge. Which is also now just a blissful memory.

With a spicy watercress salad and mild Syrah, this pie is not to be beat for convenience. No, really -- make it in the morning, shove it in the fridge and then slide it in the oven about 30 mins before your peeps arrive to create that alluring "Something's baking and it smells dee-licious" moment when they arrive. Like so:

Oh, and gimmeabreak, the friggen parmesan biscuit crust (she uses pecorino, but parmesan works, too) was enough to make me consider hiding the remaining wedge in my underwear drawer lest they get ballsy and ask for seconds.

Luckily I regained my hostess attitude and happily sent them home with half the leftovers, a print-out of the recipe (Farmgirl, I'm recruiting them!) and a jar of my homemade jam. That is a score, if I do say so myself. Hey, I was feeling flush after my recent CONQUERING of mahjong.

That is right, people, this post is being typed by the very same unskilled fingers of a one-time mahjong winner. (*One-time = One night of drunken mahjong with our same two friends who have to constantly remind me that I'm "cheating" and steer me back toward the rules of the game.)

So, what to do to celebrate said mahjong prowess? Der, make more pie. Clearly it is my lucky charm.

More blackberries at work:

I used the tried and true, "Flaky pie crust" and "Covered fruit pie" recipes from Joy of Cooking along with a healthy dose of self-sampling and adjusting to make this pie "Even better than last year's" according to hubby. Otherwise, he was unavailable for comment because his mouth was too busy consuming the previously mentioned superior pie.

And so, we are virtually overflowing with pie. For one glorious moment, all my pie plates (I have three) were in delicious use. Now I am in desperate need of another filling for the recently CONQUERED (there was much domineering in my kitchen) pie crust. Another savory mixture perhaps? Venture into the wonderful world of mixed berries maybe? Apple?! Oh the list is seemingly endless.

We are going to be so fat.

Friday, August 18, 2006


As I mentioned in my last post, I recently experienced a blissful case of out-of-towness that unfortunately ended up synching perfectly with last week's terrorist activities, although I felt very few of the flight-related disturbances (glory be.) Not sure why my local airport wasn't as harried as CNN was representing all airports post-elevated warning, but I guess we're all so used to being "inconvenienced" for our "best interests" that we're actually starting to roll with the punches.

But that's not what I came here to blog about. In case you haven't noticed, I rarely delve into political and world issues, and I think it's better that way. Especially since my very good friend does it so well on her blog and I go there to get my dose daily.

I did, however, want to flaunt some luscious photos of my out-of-towness for your naked steaming eyes (as Hubby would say), in the event that you have even the most remote interest in my travels, the fine country of Canada, one million perfect hanging baskets of flowers, evidence that I have shared something with my sister in my whole life or need to rest your weary working brain but aren't able to look away from the computer lest you appear to be "slacking off".

I won't go into the gory details of each photo (even though I really, really want to), but I will say that Victoria, B.C. is an extremely beautiful and well-kept home to some of the friendliest folks I've ever encountered. I shudder to think of how they'd feel just a few hours south in the good 'ol US of A.

Are all Canadians this nice? I think I've been woefully misinformed about the true nature of our neighbors to the north. Especially since I only heard, like, two people say "Eh?" the whole time we were there and I didn't get a single, "Hoser!" from anyone. Granted, I expected that my exposure to Canadian culture was a little, say, limited, before my short adventure north, but I had no idea how much so. The rumors are true though, these people are "Real nice, yah." I'm putting this out there now, Canada is sweet.

Oh, and for the record, the "one thing I shared with my sister in my whole life" was an earbud to my iPod while we were sitting on the giant lawn at Butchart Gardens waiting for the (friggen amazing) fireworks show to begin. I believe that my mom also took a photo of this moment for the pure shock value of it.

Little known fact - Finny don't share.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Garden Party!

I'm a little late to the game since I haven't had a chance to read one of my favorite blogs due to my recent out-of-townness, but today caught up a bit and found this fun garden-type round robin happening.

And, der, I had to be a part of it cuz I'm that self-involved AND because the garden is seeing a recent comeback from The Wilt, as I've mentioned many (many) times. A fact that I, obviously, have to show off to anyone who will give me a sideways glance.

So, let us look at the garden in all it's post-wilt glory:

First Better Boy off the bush. Damn DAMN this was good.
Hubby was right, Better Boys really are, well, better.
Chuh! He's so friggen smaaht.

Monster spaghetti squash that sneaked through my neighbors fence and into our yard. Darn. I copied Farmgirl and made a fancy Summer in a Bowl din-din out of this beast. See?

Ok, so this photo isn't the best. Which is because I've been super hogging Hubby's fancy cam and now have forgotten how to work with a camera that doesn't have a macro feature. Oh Digital Macro how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

These, my friends, are miraculous pumpkins. After pulling all the little volunteer sprouts and then watching my ONE Big Max croak, I thought I'd used up all my 9 Pumpkin Lives, but no. These dudes were hiding under the Better Boys. *Fingers crossed*

Tiny fuzzy watermelon baby. He will soon look like this:

This Moon and Stars beauty has about 3 weeks on that fuzzy nub above. Soon it will be black as night with big yellow blotches all over it. How friggen sweet is that?
Oh weird vegetables, you fill my wee heart with joy.

These are the strawberries I planted in memorium for the Mighty Pumpkinzilla. So far no berries, but hey, they're not wilting, so I'm going to shuddup.

One cuke left on the plant. How is that possible, you ask?
Well, The Wilt managed to jump beds and maul the cukes, too. It was a bad, bad scene.
However, this will be the second Recovery Cuke since the plants comeback from The Wilt.

Let me be honest here, these are not all my sunflowers. In fact, even the ones in my yard (those in the front of the picture) were given to me by my very green-thumbed and generous neighbors who had one million volunteer seedlings. When everything else was keeling over in my yard, these were the only things still growing. I love them lots.

Say hello to Honeydudes x2! Recently recooped, the plant is putting on fruit left and right. In fact, I believe there is one ready to be picked right at this very moment. More on that once I cut it open and DON'T find bugs, mold, etc. (Mini pep talk here)

And finally, the one rose in my garden. I'm not much of a rose person, but I've been gifted two mini-rose plants over the years and I'm determined to keep alive and kicking. This prim little lady came from one of my best friends bridal showers about 5 years ago.

Let us note how it is NOT DEAD.

Yes, that is a small miracle since I am a notoriously neglegent waterer of my potted plants.

So, for now, that is my garden party. However, if you check back (and, really, that'd be swell) I am sure that I'll be banging away about something else cropping up in the garden, something I've got brewing on the stove or, perhaps, even something I'm knitting up (per my blog alias that I've been recently ignoring.)

And then there are all the other random chatterings, they're fun, too.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Well, Swap ME!

Um, yes, do not let it ever be said that Finny doesn't get outrageously spoiled by her swap buddies. Ms. Lera went so far above and beyond the call of swapping duty on this one that I bet that you can't identify the swap item in this photo if you're not already involved in the swap.

Go ahead, try. I'll wait...

Think you've got it?

I'll make it easier - the swap theme was:

A. Swap your buddy's favorite candy
B. Be fancy with your embroidery swap
C. Fancy local-themed-wristlet-stuffed-with-everything-your-buddy-could-desire-and-then-some swap
D. Orange and Lime Green are our new nations colors swap

Ok, so it's pretty obvious (now) this was a wristlet swap. Not that you can tell from the photo because Lera clearly spoiled the living crap out of me. So, I should say that it was actually Wristlets of the World swap designed to have each swapee create a wristlet for their buddy that screamed "Hey, buddy o' mine! This is where I live! Doesn't it just seem keen and nice! Can you believe I found a fabric with wine labels on it?!" Ok, that last part was just mine, but here you can clearly see the Crabs of Maryland on the wristlet from Lera. Favorite colors, favorite candies (for those of those repelled by Good and Plenty's - run for the can.) and Fancy with a big F. I mean, even labels (!!!) for those of us unlucky enough to live in a house not equipped with an embroidery machine (yes, that's jealousy you're seeing there.)

To sum it all up, I love LOVE it long time and have already found a home (one being my stomach) for all the contents of this fabu package.

Lera, you girl, simply rock me.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wilt be damned

Well, Hubby went out of town and left, in my erratic care, his superior camera.


I've been running amok with it in the yard, house, garden, kitchen, bathroom (not in a gross way) since he left. I really can't adequately describe my love affair with this camera except to say that it all the way rocks and I've briefly considered running away to Mexico with it. Thankfully I stopped at the driveway when I got distracted by the beauty that are the hostas this time of year.

Oh, and since I was saving sharing my wee watermelons until I could properly photograph their fuzzy greatness:

Why is this photo on it's side? Because Blogger is presently retarded. I'm hoping it will right itself and the watermelon won't suffer any averse reaction.

To get back to the point here, though, see that yellow dot? First "Star" on the Moon and Stars watermelon. Weeeeeeeeee! If that's not a reason to get out the superior camera than I just don't know what is. Plus, isn't he so cute and nice? I could just braid his little melon hairs. Ok, that's a little freaky.

Would you like to be in the photographic presence of a miracle? Here you go:

In case you do not recognize the significance of this other small furry future fruit, this is a honeydew. Not just any honeydew, NO! One of the brave, few, mighty and miraculous honeydudes that made it out of the dark tunnel known as bacterial wilt. Or The Wilt and I took to calling it, a la The Plague, as it tore through my garden with similar ferocity and mercilessness, killing off Pumpkinzilla, one unfortunate honeydude and a formerly virile lemon cucumber. All of whom were in their prime of life! Bastard wilt.

Point is - we're back on track *said hesitatingly* with the fruits and these guys are proof that The Wilt did not win. I will, however, be dosing these beds with neem oil in the fall, per suggestion from Steven at DirtSunRain, so that we don't go through a similarly heartwrenching episode next summer. Cuz, lord knows, crying over a pumpkin is just a bit kooky and I'm sure it made Hubby start to consider the particular wording of our vows in the hopes of finding a loophole relating to cucurbits.

Oh, and not to be left out, the tomatoes are getting dangerously close to pickability:

And the cukes (slicing, not lemon, sadly) have made a comeback so they can hang out in a salad with their tomato buddies:

And to cap it all off, my neighbors' spaghetti squash have decided to join the There's No Wilting in Baseball party by slipping through the fence between our yards. I've been informed, or lightly threatened, that ANY squash that grows on MY side of the fence is decidedly MINE (much pointing and faux throat slashing here) to do with as I please (*smiles*).

Threat or no, I've begun collecting spaghetti squash recipes and some light body armor. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Finny Jams

I'm not sure where, but at some point in my recent beach ramblings I must have mentioned that I was going to make jam. If not, well, then it must have just been trapped in my brain where it's been rattling around like a bat on fire.

Why was it consuming so much brain power? Why, the possibility of failure, of course! Yes, any time I try something new, I get overwhelmed with a fear of massive project failure that plagues my every waking thought until the time comes when I can execute on said project and see it through to it's end - whether that end be a complete disaster or some measure of success. Oh, and I also plan, strategize, pester people with questions, research, imagine and plot until I can finally put it all into action.

Canning jam definitely fell into this category. Probably because annoying people kept mentioning botulism and making their scary faces of death and wagging their fingers. Enough to make anyone wary I'd wager. So, even before I picked the season's first blackberry, I was hatching a Jam Plan. Item #1 on the Plan, you'll be glad to know, was "Do not kill anyone." Beyond that, this Plan involved many convoluted and legitimately nutty stages that I won't bore you with. What I will say is that it appears (still skeptical of potential chaos) that my first jam making experience was successful.

Don't believe me?

(Ignore the stupid Pectin box. This was a mean trick played on moi by our friends at OSH who knew that I was a jam-making virgin who didn't know better. Martha set them, and me, straight. I shoved this back in the cabinet and moved on. Pectin-free.)

Clean and sterilized jars, lids, rings, tools, funnels, countertop, towels, kitchen, cat, self...I couldn't stop sterilizing. Thank you everyone for instilling The Fear of Botulism in me. Even though the risk of this happening with fruit jam is extremely remote, if not entirely impossible (Thank you USDA. Next time I check with you first.)

And our final product. Actually, half of it. There are 12 (ok 11, I had to sample one for "safety") half pint jars in total boxed up and ready to spamp with a Finny Jams label that has yet to be created.

What? You didn't want to see a chronological photo essay on my jam-making extravaganza? That defies logic. So, I will carry on.

I have sampled the product, found it edible (if not completely Yum) and decided it is give-worthy. I will be test-running it's giveability today as I profusely thank our friends for watching the FurBeast while we were enthusiastically beaching. I do not anticipate failure here. However, if impressive jam-giving failure occurs, I have blackberry pie filling ready to be poured into a tried and true pie crust.

Fingers crossed.

P.S. LadyLino - you have a sample headed your way. Let me know what you think of the recipe. You know; too sweet, too seedy, too thick, too deadly, whatever...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Off topic: Another Finny Secret

I've let you in on some of my Secrets before; my love affair with shoes (and consequently, my obsession with every member of the cucurbit family, magazines , the San Francisco Giants, etc. Some of them may have come as a surprise (to everyone except Hubby who knows how bizarre I can really be), but I daresay none of my secret obsessions is more surprising (based on the collective reactions from numerous friends and acquaintances) than my deep-seated interest in the Iditarod.

This probably came from my parents - a mom who loves EVERY sport and a dad who loves huskies. Combined, this meant that we always had a husky (whether it be Fang, Blossom or Teaka) roaming our 3.5 acres and the first Saturday of March we scoured the news for any footage of the Iditarod start in Anchorage.

Being the sport of few that it was (and still kinda is), coverage was hard to come by back then before the blessed days of the Internet, but we looked our eyes to the bone regardless. My mom would cut out articles buried deep in the sports section and tape the news on every channel so we could get our eyes on whatever was out there.

When I was in my early teens my mom gave me, what would become, my favorite book of all time: "Winterdance" by Gary Paulson. This is, IMHO, the funniest, most entertaining and most intoxicating book written on the topic of the Iditarod that I've come across. And I have all the books. In fact, since reading Winterdance, I've been on a life long mission to find another Iditarod book that brings back the starry-eyed, laugh till you honk, first-time-high kind of buzz that I got from Winterdance. I've read this book no less than a dozen times.

I've told you all that to tell you this; on Saturday a great hero of mine passed away.

Susan Butcher, four time winner of the Iditarod and great inspiration to men and women the world over, died of leukemia at the age of 51.

For anyone who's followed the sport of mushing, or even glanced at the title "My Lead Dog was a Lesbian" (Brian Patrick O'Donoghue) with a raised eyebrow in a bookstore, it is likely that you've at least been touched by the world of sled dog racing, heard the name Butcher and come to understand (even a little bit) the monstrous impact she had on the world of mushing. This woman, in a phrase, rocked it's foundation.

I won't go all laundry list on you and detail all of her accomplishments or get all on my soapbox about her dedication to the dogs, the kennel or the race. What I will do, however, is say that the determination and bullish steadfastness that this woman showed throughout her life and career has been a constant inspiration for me.

I mean, really, if she can move from Massachusetts to the Alaskan Interior, to live by herself in subzero temperatures and train up a team of sled dogs to win the Last Great Race -- what's a little overtime, right? And to think, I bitch about having to commute in the rain. How about across the tundra, at 40 below, behind a team of 15 dogs disappearing into the ever approaching storm - for 1150 miles? Now that's a commute.

For those of you interested in getting more formally acquainted with this Fine Madness (as Gary Paulson would say), do some eyeball stretches (you'll thank me when they get into the part about the hair-raising conditions these teams go through), do a little reading up and get back to me when you need reading suggestions or want to plan a trip to Anchorage for the race start. I've always wanted to go and it's one of those things on The List.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Freakishly Annoying

Ok, so after this I promise to stop gushing about my beachy weekend wonderfulness, k. Just bear with me for one more photo:

These are the dozen or so sand dollars that I collected in one mornings beach stroll with Hubby (aka Master Sand Dollar Sniffer) at my side. He is willing to risk frozen toes and soaked pant legs for my precious sand dollar collection - and so scampers (in a manly way) selflessly into the surf when he spies the tell-tale dome of a submerged sand dollar.

I will be adding these lovelies to my ever-growing collection of beach detritus which includes; sea glass bits in all sizes and colors from all points on the globe (including one perfectly etched marble), clam shells, snail shells, abalone shells and more seaside miscellany than I have vocabulary to describe. At some point I hope to actually set up my work table with the vice, drill and multitude of wire working tools so that I may convert some of The Collection into wearable jewelry. For now, the choiciest pieces are in shadow boxes (not in a cheesy way, I promise) and the rest are relegated to their Bounty sleeping bags in shoe boxes. Hardly the way to honor such highly prized pieces of oceanic beauty, but that is the way of things in the Finny house.

And now, to slowly uncoil myself from the freakishly wonderful weekend (which I've so mind-numbingly detailed), I present to you the latest stage of ripening in the garden. We've officially begun Countdown to #1 Tomato:

I would post a photo of the newly emerged watermelon that I found hiding in the leaves this morning, but I'm in the midst of a bad case of digital-camera-snobishitisness and can't bear to post a semi-blurry image of such a clearly amazing thing (seeing as the garden is just beginning its renewal after The Wilt.) No, that would not be right. So, until I can get my hands on Hubby's far superior camera with it's fancy image stabilization and macro-amazingness, I will just say that there is a tiny watermelon about the size of a gumball perched amongst the spotty leaves of the Moon and Stars watermelon vine, hinting at recovery in the garden. It is a sight to see, to be sure, and something that fully warranted my dragging Hubby, fresh from the truck and a full day's work, to the back of the property to behold.

After all that, he still has the patience to walk with me in the sand all weekend. Freakish!

Ok, now I'm really done. I super double promise.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Freakishly Relaxing

For my landlubbing friends out there, I took this video of the waves crashing in Monterey during a moment when the beach monkey children were busy eating their lunches away from the waves.

You'd think that 50 degree water, sharks and strong currents would deter these tiny monsters, but no. They were out splashing on their boogie boards most of the weekend - emerging from the sea only when all their extremities turned a deep purple. Hubby was surprised they weren't all taking part in his favorite childhood beach activity - eating Vienna sausages rolled in the sand. Personally, that's not my thing either, but then I have given myself neck injuries from walking, head down, searching my eyes to the bone for sea glass.

Point is - we're all nuts in our own purple, sandy, crane-necked ways but we all love the beach. What kind of retarded things do you do at the beach? I love to hear about other people's weirdnesses - especially when it involves something disgusting like Vienna sausages.

For the adventurous daredevils out there, please witness the staggering agility of our new wildly swerving kite. Oh yes, please prepare oneself for the danger and extreme "Fear Factor-ness" that is flying a kite on the beach. I love that the people in the store called this a sport.

They're like all, "Oh, if you're really taking this sport seriously, any good kite is going to be over $100" and "Ooh, this Foil (apparently a fancier word for Parachute-ish Kite) is so freakin sweet - it will drag you all over the beach!"

Uh. People? It's a kite. You stand still while you fly it. Even at my most EXTREME moments I barely move more than a few feet - and then only one lazy step at a time. I can drink a beer while flying a kite. Sometimes, I've seen people get tired of holding the strings and just tie their kite to the cooler. Then they can drink their beers without the hindrance of the pesky string tugging their beer away from their mouths.

Let's call it what it is - something to do while you enjoy a cocktail. I don't need it to be anything more than that. And I'll still throw down a hundo for a kite, despite it's Non-Sport status. What we should call it is a Drinking Game.

Rules: While continually drinking your cocktail, try at all costs to nail your friend/SO/wife/husband with the kite. It doesn't matter if the kite crashes into the ground. It doesn't matter if your friend/SO/wife/husband loses an eye. All that matters is that you get blind drunk while moving as little as possible and inflicting as much hilarious pain on someone else as you can while holding the two handles of the kite and your happy-hour beverage of choice.

See example:

Apparently this was at the beginning of the game, since I'm holding the camera and you will notice a lack of stumbling or face-first falling - those are clear signs that I've already been playing Drunk Kite Flying.

In this footage he fails to actually hit me with the kite, but worry not, I caught this bad boy in the noggin a couple times, had it launched off of my face and got my necklace caught up in it's reins on one particularly unfortunate occasion that ended in me flailing my arms and squawking like a snagged seagull.

All in all though, a fun beach activity. Just let's not call it a sport.

Now you get a better idea of the freakish wonderfulness that was our long weekend at the beach.

And, Cheers!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wait - Don't you have a garden?

Lately I've been trying to forget about my vegetable garden because, frankly, it's just sad out there.

Bacterial wilt got a hold of the pumpkin plant a month or so ago and just starting swinging it's nasty wilty wrecking ball all through the honeydudes and cukes to the point where I thought everything would croak and die overnight and I'd be left with nothing but fruit flies and dried vines in the beds.

How sad is that?!

Well, I don't want to jinx myself but we may, MAY, just be seeing some recovery out there. Not a lot, and nothing like the massive growth we saw last year, but there might be enough hope to get me through the summer crop season without having to throw myself headlong from the newly reconstructed roof.

So, with all my parts crossed, I tippy-toed out to the garden this morning (extra hard since my toes were crossed, too) hoping with all my might that there might be something, ANYTHING, in the garden to cheer me up and keep me from feeling like the world's biggest black-thumb-having garden loser.

Lucky for the new roof, I saw this:

Our first Better Boy tomato starting to turn

A volunteer spaghetti squash creeping over from our neighbor's yard.

A honeydew ALIVE on the vine.
Looks like only one of three honeydew plants got The Wilt.

Unwilty and perfectly spotted Moon and Stars watermelons putting out one million blooms. Not that I wouldn't like to see a friggen fruit setting on this plant, but I'll take health anyway I can get it.

And a lone vibrant sunflower blooming to it's heart content.
Although very nearly in the shadow of our neighbors sunflower hedgerow.
The nerve.

So, there wasn't any roof diving, and it appears as though we may have a few vegetables to call our own this summer, but I'm still not super excited. I mean, I'm very proud of these few determined plants and will happily chomp down whatever they produce, but after last summer's obscene bounty, I'll admit to the tiniest bit of disappointment.

To ward off this disappointment though, I have 10 pounds of freshly picked (now frozen) blackberries awaiting their turn in the canner. For this weekend I have decided to give the gardening woes the finger and cheer myself over a steaming pot of blackberry jam. Scary part is, I've never put up jam before, so this could be a horrible and sticky mistake if it goes awry, but I figure it's better than coveting thy neighbor's desirably overgrown garden and accidently giving them the finger. Especially since one of the few healthy plants in my garden (sunflowers) was a gift from them.

Let us all think good thoughts about successfully canned blackberry jam cooling beautifully in the breakfast nook, shall we?