Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ugh!

I've been working on making my dad a mug for his birthday- my very last ceramic piece before packing up all my art stuff for the move, and things keep going very wrong with this project.

Before glazing.
I didn't like how the first mug came out because of something weird happening with my clear glaze. It was getting really bubbly and milky-looking, as if I had applied it to thickly, which it wasn't! There were still several days until my Dad's birthday, so if I hurried, I would have time to make another one and still get it to him in time. So that's what I did... and this time it turned out even worse than the first. I compensated for the weirdness of the clear glaze, but something even weirder happened!

In the glaze firing, some of the glaze popped off! It happened in 4 different places, but this was the only place where it took the underglaze off with it:



Since I really didn't want to make a third one, I decided I'd try to just glaze over the places where it popped off, and fire it again, to see if that would work. I ended up re-glazing and re-firing three more times, with this happening every time, except the places where the glaze was popping off would move slightly each time. Ahh!

So I reluctantly started a third mug (which would not reach my dad in time for his birthday). Today I was doing it's glaze firing, and what happens? I went to check on the kiln about an hour before it was going to be done, only to find that the circuit breaker had been tripped, killing the firing! Uuuugggghhhh. It shouldn't have harmed the mug at all, so hopefully I can just re-fire it and all will be fine, because if I have to make a fourth one, I think I might go crazy.

Other than the unending mug work, I've been busy packing up the house. Only 4 more weeks now until we move! I'm getting really excited. Mike and I are going up to Chicago this weekend to see some family and friends one last time while we still live in the area. Should be fun!

Friday, June 8, 2012

yum yum stir fry bowl.

Today was our first day in Tucson with no obligations. There were a couple things we could have done, like set up bank accounts and the like, but we decided to put that off until tomorrow morning.

We slept in and then headed out for lunch. I was feeling somewhat malnourished and desperately needed some meat and vegetables, so I looked around online, and found a place I really wanted to try. It's called Genghis Grill and it's a Mongolian Stir Fry restaurant. I'm sure probably everyone else in the universe has been to one of these kinds of places, but I never had. It was so awesome! It's set up kind of salad bar style and you get a bowl to fill up with whatever you want. There's the meat section with all sorts of meat. I chose Beef strips and a little bit of chicken. Then there's the spice section where you get to put whatever seasonings you want. I put garlic granules and ginger. Then there's the vegetables where you grab whatever you want from the many, many choices. I picked onion, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, and water chestnuts. And then you fill this other little bowl with whatever sauce you want. After sampling a few of the sauces, I decided on the citrus ginger sauce. Then you give your stuff to the grill person and tell them what kind of starch you want. Udon, various kinds of rice, or tortillas. I got mine with steamed rice. Then they stir fry it up and bring it to you. And oh my god, it was so good.



I can't wait to go back there again.

After lunch we hung out at the hotel for a while, did some reading and took a nap. Then it was time to dinner!

We tried out a restaurant that Mike had been curious about. It was a Mexican hot dog place, which sounded kind of weird to me, but I was willing to try it out. I didn't really know what to expect, but it turned out they were hot dogs wrapped in bacon and topped with beans and jalapeƱos and a bunch of other stuff. They were actually pretty good! The beans were the best part, I think. Well actually, the horchata we both ordered on the side was the best part. None of the Mexican restaurants in Louisville seem to serve horchata, so Mike and I are ordering it every chance we get here.

After eating our dinner out by the pool, I headed over to the exercise room to work out for a bit. I used the elliptical, the free weights and the treadmill. I wasn't planning on using the treadmill again after my horrific treadmill experience yesterday, but I decided I'd give it another shot anyway. There were a few other people in the room with me, so at least if I went flying off the machine again, maybe someone would be there to call me an ambulance. It went okay, but I was definitely really nervous while I was using it. Those things are dangerous!

Tomorrow we are getting up early to run a few errands and then we're heading to Phoenix for the day. Some of Mike's family just happens to be there visiting right now, so we're going to spend the day with them and then drive back to Tucson in the evening. It should be fun! I'm looking forward to exploring the rest of the state.

And now that it's all dark outside, I think Mike and I are going to drive over to our future house to see what the neighborhood is like at night.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's done!

We finally decided on a house and signed the lease this morning. It is such a relief to have that over with. It was a pretty stressful few days, but I'm just happy it's all figured out now.

We decided on a cute little house in the absolute best possible neighborhood. There were bigger and newer houses to choose from, but the part of town and the back yard of the one we chose really couldn't be beat. And Mike prefers old houses, anyway, so it worked out well. It has a bunch of the original fixtures and things from when the house was built 1927, so it has a cool, vintage-y feel. It also has the hardwood floors we love and lots of windows to let the light in. My favorite things about the house are the backyard and the huge, screened-in back porch (which, apparently, is called an Arizona room in these parts). 

The cats are going to absolutely love the screened-in porch since bird-watching is one of their favorite hobbies. The backyard has a grapefruit tree, a cool, stone picnic table type thing, and plenty of room for a dog. So I see us eating lots of meals back there, and can't wait to get a dog and will hopefully learn to love nasty grapefruit. Mike assures me that I will, but we'll see about that. 

As soon as we singed the lease we went back to the hotel and had a good, long sleep. It feels so good to have the house-search over with. And now we can just relax and enjoy the rest of our time here before heading back to Louisville on Saturday. 

Oh! And I almost forgot something totally crazy/awesome about the house we chose...We think that the landlord is Mike's distant relative. What are the chances of that?! They are probably related from about the early 1900s in Turkey. Mike and I are super into genealogy, so this is all extremely interesting to us.

Before leaving the hotel this morning I began my day with a workout in the hotel exercise room. I started with a few good minutes with the free weights. I love having access to weights up to 50 lbs, since at home my heaviest weights are only 10 lbs. After some work with the heaviest weights I could handle, I moved on to the treadmill.

Since I have an elliptical at home, I don't have much experience with a treadmill, and was excited to get to try one out. I got up to a pretty good speed, but was looking at my phone and not really paying attention to what I was doing, when suddenly, I accidentally stepped kind of sideways or set my foot down wrong or something, because the next thing I knew, I was flying off the machine. It all happened so fast, that I'm not really sure how it happened or what I fell on, but when I recovered, I had hit my lower right shin really hard on something and scraped it up too. I somehow managed to limp back up to the hotel room where Mike took care of me. Luckily we had a bag of pork gyoza in our little freezer that I used to ice my leg. If I ever use a treadmill again, I'm definitely going to give it my full attention and have plenty of frozen gyoza ready. 

Here are some pictures from the past couple days:


A pretty good example of what Tucson looks like. Saguaros/other cacti, rocks, palm trees, mountains in every direction, a pretty blue sky, and lots of sun. 



Yesterday was the last transit of Venus that will happen during the lifetime of anyone living today. There were telescopes/etc set up at the university here, so Mike and I headed over there to see it.



Here's a picture Mike took with his phone through one of the telescopes.

The yellow is the sun, the black spot is Venus, and the little red speckles are sun spots.

Pretty nice for a cell phone picture!

And here's a picture of it from the SDO telescope in space.


So neat!

After watching Venus for a while in the 100 degree heat, we decided to go to a cute little ice cream shop near campus.


It had been so long since Mike and I had ice cream. We both chose the chocolate malt crunch flavor, and did not regret it.





Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tucson: day 5

We've been super busy, but I thought I'd post really quick since Mike is reading a paper about thunderstorms on gas giant planets for work.

Breakfast at the hotel on Saturday.

Things in Tucson are going well so far. Well, kind of, maybe. 

On Saturday Mike and I attended some friends' wedding that was happening at our hotel. While I was curling my hair before heading to the wedding, my stupid curling iron BROKE when I was halfway done. I loved that thing, too, and it's even pretty new. I've only used it about six times or less. So I was not happy about it breaking, especially halfway through my hair on a special occasion. Thankfully, the rest of the day was tons of fun and I got to meet lots of  interesting people.

me, before the wedding

On Sunday and Monday we drove around town a bunch, through neighborhoods where we are interested in living and looked for "for rent" signs. We found tons and made calls, and viewed a few places.


On Sunday night we had a couple friends over to our hotel room to join us in watching the partial lunar eclipse from our balcony from 3-4 am. We had an appointment to see a house first thing in the morning, so we've been running on a sleep deficit for basically the entire trip. My eyes are extremely red. Once this is all over I'm sleeping for a long, long time. 

On another unpleasant note, I am covered in bites! I just counted, and there appears to be 18 of them. I would assume they are mosquito bites, but I haven't actually seen a single mosquito since we've been here, so I'm not sure what's biting me. And of course, Mike has zero bites. I guess I just taste better than him.

So far the house hunt is going somewhat well. There are currently two places we are considering. One of the places needs to hear our final answer about it by tonight. That's bad because we're having so much trouble choosing between the two places, and really, I'd like to get to see at least a few more houses before we decide. We have two other viewings scheduled for the early evening, and several places we left messages about seeing, but haven't heard back from. I'm getting nervous!






Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tucson: Day 1.

Hellooo. What an exhausting day! Well, couple of days. But I'm happy to say that the most stressful part (of this specific trip, at least) is over.

Yesterday evening there was a heavy thunderstorm with the possibility of a tornado. Here's the sky seconds before the storm started.


Mike and I love watching the clouds in Kentucky. The storms are so awesome looking. But this day was not a convenient day for a storm. I was worried it would hinder our flight, but luckily by morning it was just light rain.

I started my day today, at 4:30 in the morning (1:30 am Arizona time, where I am now), after getting maybe two and a half hours of sleep. My morning began with a short but intense workout, last minute packing and saying long emotional goodbyes to the cats.

Our taxi arrived at 6:15 am to take us to the airport. I'm always uncomfortable taking taxis. They drive crazy and run red lights and scare the crap out of me. This morning was particularly scary, with it raining and the driver texting while driving and swerving a lot. But we made it to the airport without dying, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

We flew to Chicago and then off to Tucson. Here's another cloudy picture, this time from the airplane somewhere between Louisville and Chicago.


We got to Tucson around lunchtime and drove around a bit while we waited for the time to come to check into our hotel room. There's a Trader Joe's a block away from the hotel so before checking in we stocked up on some healthy-ish stuff to keep in our room. I thought I hated Trader Joe's because the one in Louisville is HORRIBLE. The worst place on earth. But this one here is soooo awesome. I look forward to going back.

Anyway. we checked in to the hotel and then enjoyed a lunch of yummy Trader Joe's sushi and relaxed for a while. Then it was time for our appointment to see our first rental house in town. Sadly, the landlord didn't show up and when we called, she said something had come up and she wouldn't be able to show the house until Tuesday. We were kind of bummed, but were pleased that we saw several other for rent signs in the area to check out later.

Then it was back to the hotel for a much needed nap. We were both complete zombies having been traveling for many hours on only a tiny bit of sleep.

We awoke from naptime starving for dinner and excited for Mexican food since it's impossible to get good Mexican food in Kentucky. What I'm used to is New Mexican style Mexican food but I guess what they have here is "Sonoran" Mexican food. I don't know what that means, but we found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant nearby, and it was insanely good. But that could have just been because we were starving and exhausted.


I ordered a chicken burrito and was not disappointed. It looks like it's smothered in red chile sauce, but it wasn't quite that. I don't know what it was, but I could drink a glass of that sauce. And the burrito was HUGE. I could only eat about a third of it and have the rest sitting in the mini fridge in my hotel room waiting to be eaten. I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it.

So overall it was an okay day. I'm glad the not-fun travel-y part is over and now I can just enjoy myself exploring the city and finding a house.

My first impression of Tucson left me with kind of mixed feelings about this becoming my new home. But I think I'll wait to talk more about that until I actually become a little better acquainted with the city.

I've been up (not counting that little nap) for almost 24 hours and am super jet-lagged so I think I'm going to crawl into bed now and sleep until my face falls off.