Wednesday, September 26, 2007

19.96 blue sapphire ring

Ever wondered what close to 20 cts in sapphire looks like?

You could use this thing as a paper weight! It's a 19.96 ct. blue cushion cut sapphire in a platinum Tiffany and Co. setting surrounded by 4.6 cts of colorless diamonds. Looking into the stone is absolutely mesmerizing and for a mere 90k, this puppy can be yours.

It's a bit big.

On the more reasonable scale is this lovely purple sapphire surrounded by Old European Cut diamonds in 18kt gold.

More goodies to share in the next few months. Til then, visit Cyrus's website. Better yet, visit him in person! He's very cool, easy to work with and is the most knowledgeable and laid back jeweler/gemologists I have ever known. Here he is giving my demantoid garnet a good inspection:

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Munchie Mondays: Cindy's Spinach Salad

As Claudia once pointed out, I put pecans into everything and it's true. Pecans grow natively around here and I have pleasant memories from childhood picking up the mature nuts that had fallen off of the bare trees around our house during the fall. I give kudos to my mom for coming up with an activity to keep her kids quiet as cracking these fruits and harvesting the meat was quite a challenge for my brother and I as it required some manual dexterity and concentration.

Another thing I attribute to Fall are tree ripe apples from Ithaca, NY (where I met my hubby.) I spent a short amount of time up there while in graduate school and I still recall being able to buy all sorts of these fragrant beauties by the bucket full on road side stands. The apples I'd seen were smallish, about the size of a lemon but packed with tons of flavor and crunch. You really don't see apples down here like those.

Anyway, as this is technically the first day of Fall, we might as well celebrate by making a salad featuring these fall fruits!

Cindy's Spinach Salad
feeds 2

3/4 cup of shelled pecans
1 tbs of butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of dried tart cherries, cranberries or raisins
1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese
2-3 artichoke hearts roughly chopped
1 small apple (Pink Lady is my favorite)
4 cups of baby spinach
oil and vinegar, salt and pepper for dressing

What makes this salad is the candided pecans. Don't get to bent out of shape with "hard ball" "soft ball" stages with this candy mixture. The longer you cook it, the more hard caramel like it'll be. The shorter time, the more it'll be like a praline. They both tasted good...You just don't want to over cook the mixture!

Melt butter and sugar in a heavy skillet over medium heat.

Beat vigorously until fluffy and almost frothy seeming. The butter and sugar should be well incorporated. This is when I add the pecans. Again, stir vigorously until the pecans are well coated.

Dump pecan candies onto wax paper to cool being careful to try to separate the pieces as much as you can. Please don't touch the caramel with your bare hands as you're doing this. As the pecans are cooling, slice apple into thin wedges or cube and arrange salad ingredients between two plates.

Dress with candied pecans, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar and you're good to go! You'll probably have more candied pecans than you care to use, but that's okay. Just wrap them up with the waxed paper once cooled and stick in the refrigerator. They'll keep for a couple of weeks.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Don't eat at Kismet

More of a warning for the local Austinites, but I got full blown food poisoning roughly 8 hours ago. Kismet is that Gyro place on 24th and Guadalupe. I *thought* I was enjoying the hummus and tabouleh....

Bad hummus => Food poisoning => projectile vomiting.

I stopped mid sentence while speaking to a co worker to go throw up.
I threw up 3 times between leaving the office and getting into T's car where he was waiting for me.
I threw up once in the car. :(
T is a very loving husband.

Looks like I'm going to be eating Saltines and Gatorade for a while...

I'm so tired of being sick. First the nasal congestion and sore throat thing, the funky complexion issue and now this. Blargh. I guess to be fair I haven't really been super sick since my Flu back in January, so I can't complain, but sheesh, I don't normally throw up. 5 times in one day (plus those 2 times after after my over indulgence at my B-day party) I'm starting to wonder if my sphincter muscle has given out or something.

I couldn't even lie down straight because the pain in my abdomen was so sharp. Currently my back is killing me due to all the heaving. My poor friend Renuka had morning sickness for all 9 months of her pregnancy and I couldn't help but wonder if she felt this way. And of course, whenever I have horrible abdominal pain, I think about my dad and the last few days of his life which were probably horrific pain wise. He had constant vomiting due to his liver squishing his stomach. And my cat Molly. She had chronic hair balls and would puke daily. Not fun.

I'm going back to bed.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Dressing Room Thanks



Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nine Inch Nails: The Day the World Went Away (Oh we all adore you)

Nine Inch Nails - live at the Hordern Pavilion in Australia on September 16, 2007.

Trent Reznor:
"Last time I was here, I was doing a lot of complaining about the ridiculous prices of CDs down here. And that story got picked up and got carried all around the world and now my record label all around the world hates me, because I yelled at them, I called them out for being greedy fucking assholes. I didn't get a chance to check, has the price come down at all? I see a no, a no, a no... Has anyone seen the price come down? Okay, well, you know what that means - STEAL IT. Steal away. Steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin'. Because one way or another these motherfuckers will get it through their head that they're ripping people off and that that's not right."

As my friend Jeff put it:
"This may be one of the greatest things I've ever heard an artist say from a stage."

I have to agree.

*edit* Heh, a friend of mine asked me to make this post more deep and thoughtful....what are we complaining about my short posts now? Sheesh.

What the heck could I say that I haven't already about Trent and his connection with his fans? Ya know, the recording industry is manned by business people for the most part and the artists themselves are so far removed from the promoters and the same ilk that I can sorta understand how intentions can be so different. Still don't make it right though. It makes perfect sense that they can only think in terms of dollars amounts and chart ratings. They are after all, business people. Trent, on the other hand is an artist. You get the sense he'd be a Burning Man gazing in the Fibric Xyrex cube smoking pot with the homies (okay probably not smoking pot, but you get my drift) if he had the time. He know that real art is a communal experience. Something that holds greater meaning if you can talk about it, share, find a connection with one another with. So, although he uses the word 'steal' I think he know that connotation is 'share.'

Listen to:
"The Day the World Went Away"

Somewhat related note, this video is going to give me nightmares for a long while (backstage in Sydney):

Nine Inch Nails
The Nine Inch Nails Hotline

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obligatory kitten post

Brown Dog is currently the same size and shape as my ceramic Piggy (Kitty) Bank:

She's also one heck of a jumper. My little cousin Eric got a workout getting her to dance in front of the camera.

The look on my little cousin Eric's face is hilarious. I think he knew midflight that Brown Dog was probably going to run into the China cabinet:

And that concludes our kitten update for the weekend. :)

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Munchie Mondays: Cindy's Cashew Banana Bread

I know. It's not Monday. But hey, I've got the munchies and actually managed to go grocery shopping a couple of hours ago, so it's all good in the Cindy Household.

JBro's here, so that means we eat well. :) I was going to hold off until Monday to post this recipe, but it came out so good that I just had to share now. It's lovely Sunday brunch fare to me and the cashew butter makes the bread extra dense.

Be sure to use super ripe bananas. Just throw them into the freezer skin and all when they're about to turn and then defrost overnight when you plan on using them. You barely even need to peel them. They bananas just sort fall out of the skins...ewwww I know, but they, they taste great baked!

Cindy's Cashew Banana Bread:

1 stick of butter (softened = 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup of cashew butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp maple extract
3 mushy bananas
2 eggs
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped cashews

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8 baking dish.

Cream butters and sugar in large bowl. Beat in eggs. Mix in mashed banana and maple extract. Gently stir in flour, salt and baking soda until just moistened. Mix in chopped nuts. Spread into baking dish and bake for roughly 45 mintues at 350 degrees or until tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. The top of the bread should dome up slightly and be golden brown in color.

Goes great with chocolate syrup or honey and butter. It's great with a big smathering of Nutella as well. You can definitely substitute peanut butter and peanuts for the cashew parts, but I like the subtle sweetness of cashews! Be sure to store in plastic wrap or an air tight container in the fridge otherwise it'll dry out (due to the whole wheat flour).

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nine Inch Nails: The Limitless Potential

As someone said so simply on a related Digg article "Trent Reznor is just about the only person in the music industry that gets it."

It may or may not be news to you that Mr. Reznor released Garage Band files to several songs over the past years encouraging fans to fiddle and play with them. Frankly, I haven't known any other artist who has done such a thing (I could be wrong) but the important thing is that this really tapped into the creative juices of not only the NIN community but artists as a whole. Even *I* was inspired and started playing around with audio software and making music. Take a peek a the Open Source Resistance site that sprung out of the Year Zero online alternate reality game and you'll see these works of self expression displayed.

The Limitless Potential is merely another manifestation of the Art is Resistance movement that sprung out of the collective. Fansite, Painful Convictions hosted a remix contest where judges picked the top 21 tracks out of more than 200 songs that were submitted. The final product displays a phenomenal array of talent and innovative remixes to songs from Year Zero and With Teeth by fellow NIN fans.

Trent does get his fans. Not only does this compilation whet our pallets for the anticipated remix album but helps tide us over so we don't go for years...waiting...and resorting to talking about mundane things like, you know, Trent's hair or that Red Robe pic.

Listen to:
"Capital G (Streetlab Remix)" by Streetlab
"Me I'm Not (Withdrawl Remix)" by Dirty Scarab

Official Nine Inch Nails Website
The Nine Inch Nails Hotline
Painful Convictions
Listen and download The Limitless Potential
Open Source Resistance

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Ballet Austin's Butler Center Grand Opening

T took a lot of amazing photos during the Ballet Austin Butler Center Grand Opening Festivities. The Butler Center is a community school devoted to dance education and the grand opening featured open classes all day yesterday as well as ongoing demonstrations. I took the hula and adult ballet and watched the pre-professional ballet, tap, jazz, Broadway fit and swing classes.

My whole body hurts now.

A lot.

Even my wrists hurt....and Hula dancing as soft and graceful as it is, is one hell of a work out, let me tell you!

So here are some pics we took. I especially like Darlin' Hubby's. He's a great photographer!

This is my favorite photo he snapped of the instructor and his reflection:

Cute one of my momma peeking into a classroom:

Cindy stretching:

Notice how crowded the studios were!

You can see people of all ages took that day:

The little red head is in my class at the Austin Conservatory where I study:

Kids hula dancing. Sooo cute:

This guy, who basically took every dance class offered was a hoot. I loved watching him. So exuberant and happy. Well coordinated and gosh darn cute.

The instructor for the Broadway jazz and tap classes really reminded me of Nathan Lang:

It's a shame that neither T nor I got a photo of the Hula teacher. She was drop dead gorgeous and super charming. In fact she introduced herself and shook hands with each of us before class started.

All in all, the building is really cool with multiple studios, a full theater and learning library. This allows them to have a much broader schedule with a vast variety of classes including some on Saturday. and I look forward to taking classes there in the future.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

divine dinner

Ooh yum.

I'm relaxing right now with a glass of Birthday Riesling #2 (this one is slightly drier that the first one) and a plate of broken pieces dark chocolate, blue cheese crumbles, dried tart cherries, freshly shelled pecans and a sliced up Farmer's Market organic Braeburn apple.

I'm in heaven noshing on all of this. Unfortunately the bottom half of me ain't feeling as divine.

I'm soaking my feet in a tub of ice water right now and it's so cold my calves have cramped up. Ballet class was a bit rough for me today and my summer injury to my left foot has caused me constantly to strain the muscles in the arch and ball area leading to chronic inflammation. Not fun. However, seeing the kittens try to drink from the bucket is funny (as gross as it is).

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more kitten cuteness

When the world seems horrible, kittens remind you of the softer fluffier cuter side of life.

Like mother...

Like son...

"I'm obfuscating!"

Checking out the doll house:

Every now and then, still trying to nurse:

Etouffee with Brown Dog (formerly known as Yngwie):

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Polynya: Polynya

I was excited to receive my Polynya album in the mail today. With the gamut of industrial bands I've been listening to and reviewing lately (at this point I might as well have a sticker affixed to my forehead that says "Metropolis Records Whore" ) having a nice record that snuggles comfortably in the wide family of alt/indie rock is a welcome change of pace. Luke, who does guitars and "twinkles" for the group was kind enough to provide the disk for review and I must say it was a worthwhile listen.

The first band that popped into my mind as a comparison was the Czech Republic's Miou-Miou as they share a lot of similar traits: toe tapping rhythms and sweet vocals enhanced by interesting guitar work. If Miou-Miou is too obscure of a reference then Moonbabies or Mazzy Star might serve as a good comparison as well. If you like their sound, then I think you'd really enjoy Polynya. With its friendly keyboard, guitar and bass composition, these guys produce good-mood tunes that could easily cater to a myriad of musical tastes. Perfect "hang out" music, in my opinion. The added plinky-sounding electronic elements (which I'm assuming are the "twinkles") apparent on each track provide just enough support to keep the songs interesting without overwhelming the overall sound which feels very acoustic at times, interestingly. In fact, the thing that struck me the most about this album is the engineering---it doesn't exhibit the tinny over-processed frequencies that many new albums seem to possess these days and this is a good thing!

CD packaging is clean and simple with handwritten font and interesting cover art that resembles primary pigment watercolor splotches. There aren't separate liner notes containing lyrics, but its not a huge issue since vocalists Amelia and Andrea are easy to understand.

Listen to:
"Without a Trace"
"Where am I?"

Watch (live version of "Sweatshop"):

Polynya's Official Website
Polynya's Myspace

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Munchie Mondays: Spiral Pasta with Spinach and Sundried Tomato Alfredo Sauce

This dish is a staple in the Cindy household and I've cooked it for the majority of my friends at one point or another. It's easy, super rich, filling and quick to make. You can add any sort of vegetable you want really. Artichoke hearts, yellow squash, basil, asparagus, fresh tomato and thinly sliced carrots all work well with this sauce.

Spiral Pasta with Spinach and Sun dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
feeds roughly 2

Two servings of pasta (spiral or shell shapes are best as they hold more sauce)

4 cups of baby spinach
1/3 cup of finely chopped sun dried tomato
1/4 cup of butter
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup of pecans
1/4 of feta

salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, stick butter and cream in a heavy pan. On low heat, whisk the melting butter and cream so that it is thoroughly mixed. You're essentially making an Alfredo sauce (and feel free to adjust cream and butter proportions according to your tastes). However, before adding parmesan, add the baby spinach and sun dried tomato and stir gently until the spinach is wilted.

Once spinach is wilted, turn off heat and immediately add the grated cheese. Stir until well incorporated. The sauce should start to thicken as the cheese melts into the cream and butter mixture.

Divided cooked pasta onto two plates and top with sauce mixture. Garnish with pecans and feta. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Viola! You're done.

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