Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Wish

Dear Santa,

This year for Christmas I would really like immortality. For the most part, life has been just swell, so I’m not sure I need anything besides things to continue on in this happy place indefinitely (don’t worry; the few grievances I have will be on my “Things I Have to Complain About List” which I’m sending to The Grinch). I’m at a perfect age for immortality too! It seems you chose to be immortal at the age of 75, when you had a big ‘ol gut, frosty white hair and failing vision (we all know Rudolph’s purpose). I feel you on the vision thing, but my saddlebags are rather light, my champagne butt is only at half sag, and my most recent weave really brings out the color of my eyes. Immortalize away!

And if you’re kind enough to grant me immortality, I could also use some super powers, like the ability fly and hold my breath for long periods of time, just in case I want to make a quick trip to the moon. If I’m going to be alive forever, I’ll need something to keep me entertained.

Also, I was wondering if you could grant my Lovies immortality as well. Christmas isn’t a time to be selfish, so I’d like to share my gift with him. And it’s pretty much two gifts for the price of one, so you’re really getting a deal. He doesn’t need a flying super power though. He prefers airplanes. He’s a pretty good pilot too.

I would generally say “please grant the world love and peace” as my closing wish, but as soon as I’m immortal I’m going to get right on the world peace thing, so you don’t need to worry about it for Christmas. I’ll have more than one lifetime to kick oppression and injustice’s butt.

Thanks Santa. I’ll be waiting for you.

Merry Christmas!

XOXO Jelly

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't Leave Me Alone with My Thoughts

I suppose I should be fully immersed in the holiday spirit seeing as Christmas is only a couple of days away, but I’ve been feeling a little more rambunctious than jolly lately. Ergo, I have decided to share with you the preliminary stages of my Girl Interrupted meets Bring It On murder/cheerleader story which I’m destined to write as a screenplay and receive countless Academy Awards for. We open with voice over narration from the main character…

There’s a strange void after taking another human’s life; a couple of quiet seconds where you are at peace with your sin. There are no police officers, reporters or paramedics. It’s just you. The blood dripping from the nail file is nothing more than gravity pulling drops to a floor. Then it stops. You can never get those seconds back. Reality sneaks back in like the woosh, slap, death of a fly swatter meeting its prey. But she wasn’t a fly; her name was Sarah. And so is mine.

And the following dialogue comes from a key, character-establishing, relationship-developing scene at the mental hospital where our main character is eventually committed …

Sarah: I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before I shanked her ass, but killing a cheerleader is so cliché. Why did I have to be so unoriginal?
Dude: You know clit shares 75% of its letters with cliché.
Sarah: That doesn’t make any sense.
Dude: It doesn’t have to. Do you wanna have sex?
Sarah: Are you f’ing serious?
Dude: There’s a 99% chance that you’re thinking about sex because I said clit. I’m just trying to capitalize on that.
Sarah: I don’t think I’m emotionally stable enough to engage in that kind of activity. And you’re supposed to be my friend. Why are you trying to screw that up?
Dude: Fine, we can be “friends”.
Sarah: Thank you.

Man, this is so good it practically writes itself! Either that or I’m cray cray (I really wanted to say that).

The End.

Oh, and this original work is copyright, Jocelyn 2010. Aka: You cannot steal my creative genius! It's tempting, I know.

The End End.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Project CB - Corn Chowder

I’m not sure what the weather’s been like where you live, but it’s turned into a swimming pool out here in the Valley. The rain won’t stop! This has got my comfort food desires at an all-time high. So in honor of the rainy, wet weather (and the first day of winter woohoo!), I’ve decided to make corn chowder. It’s guaranteed to give you enough energy to swim to safety when the LA River floods and engulfs your house, or it will give you enough blub so you can leisurely float down the river. Either way, this stuff is delightful. Onwards!

You will need to following:

1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
¼ cup oil olive
1-2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded, deveined and minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup half and half
3 cups fresh or frozen corn
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced (adjust to your level of spiciness)
Shredded chicken (optional)
Cilantro, avocado, cheese to garnish (optional)

This is a one pot recipe and it’s flexible to the ingredients you want to add (you could add red bell peppers, sweet potato instead of russet etc.). First, dice the onion and cook in oil over medium heat until soft.

Next comes the potato, garlic and jalapeño. Stir it around about a minute, then add the flour.

Stir the flour into the mix 1-2 minutes, then add your chicken broth and half and half. Bring to a boil while stirring.

Add the corn and chipotles and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the soup is your desired consistency, about 20 minutes.

Looking good.

Now this is the point where I decided I wanted a more substantial chowder, so I decided to grill some chicken with lime and …

Tequila! I was feeling adventurous (or too sober). I also decided to use an immersion blender to thicken up the chowder, although I think I would have like the unthickened, silky version a tad better. The flavors are delicious either way.

When your chicken is cooked through, shred it and stir it into the chowder.

Season with salt and serve. Add garnishes if desired and enjoy!

(Adapted from Gourmet)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Adventures in Aviation, Part Huit

Wow. I just realized that I’ve only had four official flight lessons. Why does it seem like I’ve been doing this for ages? My skills are indicative of a four lesson student, but my brain thinks otherwise. But yes, last Saturday was my fourth official flight lesson. On the agenda: steep turns.

I’m starting to understand why people say the most dangerous parts of flying are the takeoff and the landing (and weather, but that’s a whole other category). As we approach the runway threshold, Mr. Instructor reminds me to get into lights (lights on), camera (transponder on,) action (fuel pump on) mode, then it’s full power and we race down the runway. Something about pushing the power all the way in slows my brain synapses. Power and brain function must be inversely related for me.

Mr. I: Watch your airspeed.
Me: Uh, uh, uh…
Mr. I: Keep us straight on the runway.
Me: Uh, uh, uh…
Mr. I: Your airspeed’s alive. Start to pull back.
Me: Uh, uh, uh…
Mr. I (grabbing the controls): Pull back more! Whoa, keep us steady! Give it more right rudder!
Me: I’m giving it right rudder!
Mr. I: Ok, there we are. Keep us climbing. Good job.
Me (unsaid): Holy crap! What the hell just happened!

As we climb away from the airport my comprehension comes back. I’m very good at straight and level flying; I think it’s my specialty. But steep turns are not straight and level flying. Steep turns mean you have to make 360 degree turn at a 45 degree angle, the force of which equals 2Gs, then switch directions and do another 360 degree turn at a 45 degree angle going the other direction. You’re also supposed to maintain a constant altitude throughout the turns. Ha! It wasn’t hard for me to figure out how to react once we started the turn (pull back, constant moderation of aileron and rudder), but there was no way I could look at the turn indicator to make sure I was at a constant 45 degree angle AND the altitude indicator. At a 45 degree angle, that little plane turns fast! All I could think when Mr. Instructor said “Good job. You did a nice job maintaining altitude”, was “Altitude? I was supposed to monitor altitude? And when was I supposed to do that?”

I imagine statements like these might scare readers who believe flying requires a dedicated, detail-oriented, fast-acting and responsible pilot, and perhaps you think I sound like the opposite of one of those, but to that I will respond with a quote from Mr. Instructor: “Believe me, there are plenty of people who have their pilot’s license who definitely shouldn’t have gotten their pilot’s license. I don’t know what kind of CFI (certified flight instructor) would have signed them off for that. It’s kinda scary thinking that those people are allowed to fly around up there with us.” If Mr. Instructor can be as blunt with me on my first lesson as he was, I assure you he will not allow me to fly alone until I’m dedicated, detail-oriented, fast-acting and responsible pilot. I sure hope that’s before I’m 80. I guarantee my synapses will be WAY slower then.

Our lesson continued with some slow flight, touch and goes (land then takeoff immediately afterwards), and flying the pattern. There were a couple more takeoff episodes (Mr. I: More right rudder!, Me: I’m giving it right rudder! I think the right rudder is stuck!), but all-in-all it was a great lesson.

After my lesson, Wes and I worked on the planes until 5pm. We were finishing up just as the sun was setting, so Wes suggested we go out for a sunset flight. Best. Idea. Ever. Check it out:

California sunsets are awesome; even better when seen from the air. I’m a lucky girl.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Art of Making Wine

You don’t want a shiny new iPhone or a slick pair of boots for Christmas do you? You want something homemade, thoughtful and sentimental, right? Well you my friend might be in luck. It turns out these alcoholics not only consume but they CREATE their own beverages! Enter the Myers Annual Holiday Hooch.

You start with about 50 pounds of blackberries. Squeeze the life out of ‘em till your left with a smooth blackberry juice. Add tons of sugar, yeast and other wine making ingredients. Let it sit for a couple of months while the booze-making magic happens.

Our blackberry wine has been fermenting since August, which means it’s ready to drink just in time for Christmas! We spent Friday night in our winemaking workroom straining out the remaining particles in the wine.

The process requires a very dedicated vintner and two helpful sidekicks.
Sidekick #1: quality control. He takes his job very seriously.

Sidekick #2 (me): testing. I brought the little tasting glass you see next to the big 5 gallon container. But I guess when you're a top notch vintner, you don't need no stinking tasting glass.
Yum, doesn't that look good? And don’t let the charming purple color fool you. This stuff has a kick! It may have something to do with the air that got into the containers and make the fermentation process go berserk (we’re still figuring out how the airlocks work).

In any event, Holiday Hooch is guaranteed to warm your belly and put a smile on your face (and yes, that's a Lowe's plastic bucket. Just be glad it's not being made in a trash can like it has in year's prior. Now that stuff had a kick!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Holidays!

It's the time of year when you expect to fill your mantel with Christmas cards. Except this year it seems like the holidays snuck in and many people didn’t have the time or desire to send cards. I am guilty of this as well. But alas, I am sending everyone an online holiday card!

Happy Holidays from your favorite Cali Valley Clan!
The Stud, Jelly & the Puppers

Monday, December 13, 2010

Adventures in Aviation, Part Sept

My third official flying lesson happened two weekends ago. Why are you only hearing about it now? A black hole opened up in my little corner of the Valley last week and swallowed my sanity. Luckily, all is intact and my fingers are back on the keyboard.

The weekend of my third lesson contained much more flying than the actual lesson part. I was originally scheduled to fly on Saturday, so I spent the morning dealing with those unintended consequences aka reading. I was going to be a prepared student for a change!

In the meantime, Wes was out doing some flying of his own. The weather was fickle that weekend, and breezy blue skies turned into wicked turbulence on his flight up to Mammoth, which meant that he wasn’t coming home until it cleared up. So there I am, sitting on the couch, reading about stalls and the four forces of flight, hearing about a “scary, I’m never going to fly like that again” account from my Lovies, feeling the pressure of having to get to the airport by myself (I’ve already mentioned my dependency issues), hoping that my Lovies makes it back before dark and bam!, my instructor cancels on me. He needs to reschedule for tomorrow. I was relieved, but annoyed. I don’t like delaying the inevitable, especially when my thoughts are totally consumed with flying. But Sunday it was.

Sunday’s weather was perfect for flying. It was cool and cloudy. That plane turns into a flying oven when it’s hot out. You just have to sit there, your feet melting into the rudder pedals, try to keep your sweaty hands dry and fly the thing. It’s not the most pleasurable experience, but we didn’t have to deal with that on Sunday. The main thing we had to deal with on Sunday was fuel.

During the pre-flight, I removed the gas caps to refuel the plane, which is procedure, but I put the gas cap on the ground FACE DOWN. Fuel related incident #1. Mr. Instructor reminded me that any water or particles in the gas tanks will inhibit the plane’s operation and cause problems. So if I would please look at the gas cap I put on the ground FACE DOWN and realize that I was getting it dirty. Dirt, which in turn, would end up in the gas tank when I screwed the cap back on. I like to make mistakes in the beginning of my lessons. Since I’m guaranteed to make mistakes while we’re flying, a mishap before we even get in the plane indicates consistency, and I like to be consistent.

Off we went, buzzing around Camarillo and then over to Newbury Park. The air always seems calmer east of the airport, so that’s where you’ll find us practicing the most. We dove right into the day’s curriculum: stalls. My favorite. For a power-off stall, the procedure goes something like this: Mr. Instructor picks an altitude and a heading. I maintain the altitude and the heading while wheeling the power back. I give the plane a notch of flaps to maintain lift and point my noise up to slow the airspeed down. Then it’s less power, more flaps, less power, more flaps, and constant right rudder, until the plane can no longer maintain lift and it stalls. For recovery, you need to point your noise down to get your airspeed back alive, push the power all the way in, confirm that you have positive rate of climb and then take the flaps out a notch at a time. Once you’re climbing back to your altitude you can reduce the power. At least I think that’s how a power-off stall and recovery are done. I’ve only had four lessons; I wouldn’t trust me just yet.

Power-on stalls are similar in the sense that you stall the wing (the wing no longer produces lift; aka your ass is in trouble), but the conditions and recovery are very different. To practice a power-on stall, you fly at full power and then pull the stick back so the wings exceed their critical angle of attack. The plane will stall, and to recover, you will need to lower the noise just enough to see your vertical speed increase (you’re going up, not down) then bring the nose back up to continue climbing. At least I think that’s how a power-on stall and recovery are done. Again, I wouldn’t trust me just yet.

I’m sure you’re pretty bored by now (I wasn’t having the time of my life either), but around the one hour mark of our lesson Mr. Instructor notices that the fuel pressure is in the red. Fuel related incident #2. Any gauge that’s in the red is a bad sign. I, however, thought the fuel pressure gauge was the oil pressure gauge, so I was extra excited.

Mr. I: Hmm, that’s not good. The fuel pressure’s really high. Have you noticed that before?
Me: No. That’s bad isn’t it? We should land right?
Mr. I: Ya, it’s not good but it’s not that bad. It’s a little unusual.
Me: We should land right?
Mr. I: I wouldn’t be too concerned. There’s probably an electronic glitch or something, but it’s not my plane so I don’t want anything bad to happen if we keep flying.
Me: We should land right?
Mr. I: Ya, let’s head back to the airport.

I was having one of those moments where I was focusing on how hard the flying was and how much easier not flying would be, forgetting that I’m going to have to do lots more flying until it’s no longer hard (or scary). When we were back on the ground and I was only able to log 0.7 hours in my logbook I realized this. Then we spent the afternoon fixing the plane I broke!

Well Wes fixed it. I took pictures of the dogs and sky; the sky which I longed to be back flying through.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Project CB - Dill Bread

Today’s weigh in: 135.6 lbs.

I can see my feet again!

Today’s culinary activities: Dill Bread.

I love all carbohydrates, but my favorite would have to be a fresh loaf of bread slathered with butter. I usually eat the entire loaf. Self-restraint is not one of my strong points when it comes to bread.

We had this Dill Bread on Thanksgiving and I’ve made it twice since. The combination of earthy dill and slightly sour cottage cheese/onion combo make it delectable (with butter of course). And it’s really easy to make!

Combine 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast and ½ cup warm water (100°F) in a small bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about five minutes.

Combine 3 cups flour, 2 tbsp sugar or honey, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 cup finely chopped onions, and 3 tbsp fresh chopped dill in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Then add the yeast along with 1 tbsp margarine, 1 cup cottage cheese, and 1 large beaten egg.

Mix by hand or on low speed until the dough comes together, adding additional flour or warm water if needed. Continue by kneading dough for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. After first rising, gently press the dough down, form into a loaf, re-cover and let re-rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (I split my dough in two before the second rising so I could share, but sharing's not required... or recommended).

Bake 350 about 30 minutes or until done (or instant read thermometer reads about 200). Cool completely on wire rack (or not). Then enjoy!

(recipe adapted from Serena Bateman and Smitten Kitchen)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Planning, planning, planning

I’ve been doing a little bit of it here and there, so here’s a little tour of the things you can look forward to.

On your drive in you might catch a glimpse of one of these:

The walking-down-the-aisle action will probably happen here:

The dinner, dancing and insane party action will be over here:

Anyone like cigars and bourbon? You'll probably find 'em down that-a-way:

We will have lovely facilities so you won’t have to do this (unless you really want to):

And I promise I will be much happier than this:

XOXO Jelly

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Unintended Consequences

It's been over three years since I graduated college. Meaning it's been over three years since I picked up a textbook. But now this lovely fellow has taken residence on our coffee table.

Apparently you have to study along with taking flying lessons (if you want to pass the exam).

In the beginning, I was all for this aspect of flight training. I would enthusiastically tell my other flying buddies (Wes, Mike and Tiff!) how I couldn’t wait to “devour the material in the books” so I could feel “really prepared and confident”.

Now I kinda believe what they told me: don’t worry about the reading; the actual flying part is where you’ll learn. Well Wes didn’t really say that. He thinks the reading is VERY important. And not only do I have one flying manual to read, I have two!

Do you think they would make good firewood? It's been cold here lately.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Horses, and why Cocoa is trying to get me killed

As I mentioned in a previous post, a neighbor at the ranch breeds and trains Andalusian horses. Since I haven’t spent much time around horses, I always react with ooohs and aaahs whenever I see one. They are such beautiful creatures. Along with awe, I have a good sense of fear around horses. They are such beautiful and STRONG creatures.

As we were walking over to the neighbor’s house, the horses grazing in the field decided to pay us a visit. Most people stood their distance, considering there were babies in the group and mama horses are very protective of their babies, but a few brave souls decided to approach the horses. The opportunity was too tempting; I had to get closer and touch one of them.

“Wes, come with me. I’m scared, but I really want to touch one of the horses!” My childlike instincts were kicking in. I just had to touch one of those horsies!

Unfortunately, Wes wasn’t very interested in accompanying me and I didn’t want to get close enough so the horses could smell my fear. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I heard that horses can smell fear, and when they do, they try to take advantage of your weakness by bucking you off or kicking you. It’s probably irrational, but that’s what I was thinking. That’s what I was thinking when Cocoa decided to visit the horses.

Cocoa and the alpha mama horse did not hit it off very well. She needed to protect her babies.

I thought I was still a safe distance away when Cocoa decided to hit the road, except that he chose to escape IN MY DIRECTION with the mama horse in hot pursuit. Next thing I know, all the horses are advancing in my direction, the mama horse is trying to trample Cocoa, causing everyone to go into a frenzy, and I am loudly requesting for Wes to come save my hide. “Wes. Wes. They’re coming toward me. Please come here and get me. Please!”

All I could do was stand there frozen, thinking “Don’t let them smell your fear. Oh my gosh, this is scary! They can totally smell my fear. Oh no, you’re going to die! Don’t let them think you’re thinking you’re going to die. Damn, they totally know I think I’m going to die. Just don't let one of the babies come near me. No! Stay away baby! Don't come near me! Wes! Help!”

As soon as they came, they left. It was really sad. The horses were totally not interested in harming me, but I managed to get myself all worked up. I bet they heard my thoughts and concluded "Geez, this one's a nut job."

“You know Jocelyn, the next time you want to shoo the horses away, just wave your hands over your head. If you look big, the horses will stay away.”

Ya, maybe I’ll try that next time. Or maybe I’ll just stay away from the dog since he’s clearly trying to get me killed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Project CB - Another Update

This morning's weigh in: 136.8 lbs.

A 1.4 lb gain! I'm moving into the big leagues!

Today's culinary activities: Walnut Thumbprint Cookies.

A girl's gotta do something to cope.

Conclusion: The cookies did not provide enough satisfaction to make me forget about my champagne butt. I think it's because these cookies are light and crispy and I wanted something big, doughy and carb loaded. But now I have something to look forward too! Perhaps I will make cinnamon rolls tomorrow...

Afterthought: If you haven't already realized, this is not a "real" diet story. I just need another outlet for my sarcasm.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Stallion and the Stud

Disclaimer: Reading this post will be similar to entering a field full of land mines. Bad jokes and corny comparisons abound. Consider yourself warned.

The morning of Thanksgiving, a group of us travelled from the main ranch over to a neighboring property to check out the Andalusian horses the neighbor breeds and trains. On our walk over, we saw several of the mares and babies grazing in the field. When we arrived at the house, the neighbor agreed to show us his special horse – his black stallion!

The one on the left is the Andalusian stallion. The one on the right is the Merced stallion. Boom! First landmine strike! But seriously, wouldn’t you think that Merced would be the last place where you'd find a Spanish born, Argentinian raised, blue eyed, olive skinned horse trainer with long flowing black hair? I just love globalization.

Now let us compare the stallion and the stud:


Now that’s what I’m talking about!

There was conversation about me mounting the stallion and processing into the wedding on horseback. I’m not sure I’m up for that, but I can guarantee there will be some stud mounting after the wedding. Boom! Landmine strike again!

I think I like the stud better. He’s more my type. And he’s got dirty, dirty moves. Boom! That landmine got my leg!

And thus concludes our comparison of the stallion and the stud.

Final Disclaimer (if you actually managed to read this to the end): I had low blood sugar when I wrote this, and if you want to know a thing about me, it’s that things get UGLY when I have low blood sugar. I cannot be held accountable for what has been said.
XOXO Jelly