Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Media Manipulation 9.02

Well, I should have probably been studying last night, but I felt the urge to make a montage of Daenerys from Game of Thrones (y'know, the hot dragon girl) - so I set it to the main theme because I couldn't think of any song with words that would do her justice.  Lyrics always sound so corny, and honestly, Daenerys speaks for herself.  So, without further ado, here is my video.



Also I was out and about yesterday and snapped a nice picture of a spider with a newly wrapped bee which it was sucking dry, and it looked cool so here it is.  I have an insect blog, but I use it for mostly identifying insects, not spiders.  Currently I am too lazy to try to key spiders, and too nice to kill them.


Haute Cuisine 1.15

For my lunch this week I made the same fruit salad as last week, and made one of my old favorites - sweet potato soup with curried apples - courtesy of WholeLiving.com, a branch of Martha Stewart.  I didn't use the pepper or add much salt actually, and I had leftover chicken broth so I used 1 cup of that.  I also didn't have mint garnish, and didn't really want to add a minty note - I like the purely savory taste, and the apples add plenty of sweetness.  First is the bowl I made, and below is the recipe per the website.  It is really good.




Whole Living
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Curried Apples
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Curried Apples

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Curried Apples

For this recipe, use a crisp, fiber-packed apple like Lady Apple, Cortland, or Gala. The roasted sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene.

285 calories; 7 g protein; 8 g fat; 49 g carb; 8 g fiber

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4 (makes 6 cups).
  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 or 4)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, homemade or canned
  • 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 small tart apple (4 ounce) peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour, turning once, or until potatoes are very soft. When cool enough to handle, scoop cooked potato out of the skins. Discard skins.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add bell pepper, jalapenos, and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add sherry (if using), sweet potato, and broth; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, until flavors have blended.
  3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender. Combine batches in a clean pot. The soup should be thick. (If you prefer a thinner soup, add water or a little more broth.) Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring vinegar, honey, and curry powder to a boil. Add apple; stir for 1 minute and remove from heat. To serve, ladle the soup into warm bowls, add a spoonful of apples, a spoonful of yogurt, and a sprinkle of mint.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Haute Cuisine 1.14

Escargot night!  They were finally ready.  Here they are before the cooking - in their little jar, all sealed up, retracted in their shells the way they are supposed to be when in pseudo-hibernation.  Tossed them into the pot which had half water, the last of a Charles Shaw Chardonnay.  After 15 minutes took them out, removed them from their shells, and put them back into the boiler this time with a fresh CS Chardonnay and water, about 50-50.










After that boiling for about 5 minutes, I was simultaneously melting the other stuff - the butter about 1/4 cup, a spoonful of diced garlic, and a puree of 2 tbsp absinthe (the recipe called for Pernod, I couldn't find it and had absinthe on hand already), a little of the chardonnay to give it some more fluid to blend in, lemon juice, and the parsley.  Sauteed the snails with the chopped mushrooms.  Took them out, served with red potatoes which were baked with olive oil, rosemary, and salt.  Wine served with it was a Sauvignon Blanc from Sattui Vineyard.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Media Manipulation 9.01

I do a fair amount of photo editing, video editing, audio editing.  Recently I patched up an old photo digitally for a friend, and edited some audio clips for her.  It occurred to me that I could edit my running music (heavy metal for the most part) so that I mostly get those power-ballad guitar bridges, and less of the stanzas, so I am going to do that today before my run.  I have edited some movies and animes to create music videos, and those are up on YouTube.  Here is the first one I ever made (Vampire Knight anime): http://youtu.be/0q03IRKOyps

So...going to trim down some of my Sirenia and Kamelot songs to make for more powerful running.  Hopefully my headache will be gone by the time I am ready to run.  Tons of chores to do today, too!  Our Oktoberfest feast is this Saturday, so there will probably be an entry about that - I shall label it "feasts" because we like doing those, and there will be one coming up again near Samhain (I'm not Wiccan, but I do enjoy having more reasons to have a themed feast which are not affiliated with mainstream religion).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Haute Cuisine 1.13

This week's menu is butternut squash soup courtesy of Gourmet.com, and the rest of the kiwi and melon.  There was enough fruit left to make me 4 days of lunch - plenty of soup for four days and more.  I think one of these days I will be able to bum lunch off of Kaiser - most likely Thursday since there is a strike and they are feeding everyone so that people won't have to risk crossing a picket line, if there is one.  Here are the dishes...



Honeydew and Kiwi fruit salad with Mint flakes
(self-explanatory)


Butternut Squash Soup

  • 4 large shallots, chopped
  • medium carrot, chopped
  • celery rib, chopped
  • (15-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 large thyme sprigs
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into (1-inch) cubes (about 31/2 cups)
  • cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Chopped walnuts

  • ACCOMPANIMENT: 

    softly whipped cream - optional
  • Cook shallots, carrot, celery, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf in oil in a 4- to 5-qt heavy pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
  • Add squash, water, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and simmer, covered, until squash is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaf.
  • Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Thin soup if desired and season with salt and pepper.

Instead of using chestnuts (couldn't find any) I ended up using walnuts as a garnish and nutmeg as a garnish as well.  Turned out nice to me.

Haute Cuisine 1.12

Well, it has been about 1 week, and the snails are starting to get sick of all the celery and oats I've been giving them, so I think now is a good time to give them their "purging" - no food or water for 48 hours before the cooking.  I feel bad, but they are yummy and they are pests so it's just the natural cycle in a way.  I have decided to discard the shoe box I was keeping them in - it was kind of a hassle, next time I will probably get a normal plastic terrarium.  Much easier to clean.  If there is a next time.  

I want to recreate that dish I had, so we will need to get some parsley and pork bone with marrow in it for me to add to the traditional butter and garlic.  It will be our Wednesday night meal methinks!  The time is drawing nearer!  I wonder what wine we should have with it...I think a Riesling would go well!



The purging container - the lid has air holes

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Great Books 4.05

Finally finished Descartes' Discourse on the Method, which was okay.  I didn't particularly enjoy hearing the all the pro-god arguments.  People forget that "I think, therefore I am" is a prelude to his discussion on why there is a soul, and therefore why there must be a perfect god.  I'm glad to better know the context, I guess.  After that it was interesting hearing him explain "how the circulation and digestion in the human body work" - particularly since they were still believers in the "four humours" of the body, and had just recently discovered that the heart circulates blood, and doesn't just produce it.  It also got interesting in his last chapter of the discourse, where he mentions concern that he might be condemned for some of his reasonings because a "well known physicist was recently condemned by the Church" - I suspect that was Galileo, who was a contemporary of Descartes.  He also finishes his discourse with a request for public funds for research - very like a scientist.  I guess times have not changed very much - scientists still need to beg for endorsements.

I think I shall start on Milton's Paradise Lost, and after that will come Dante's Divine Comedy.  Paradise Lost is significantly longer than the other texts, however, so it will take me a lot longer to finish.  As for the German, it is coming along well.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Haute Cuisine 1.11

Well, as usual, it is late and I just finished my week's worth of cooking.  Starting out...

Green Fruit Salad - 4.5 stars - White Honeydew, Kiwi, Bartlett Pears with mint flakes
No explicit instructions, just try to approximate - I have tons of uncut fruit leftover - I always overestimate how much fruit I need because it is a sum of parts not just one final quantity I need.



Fennel and Zucchini Soup - courtesy of Bon Appetit - 4 stars

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups diced fresh fennel (from 1 large bulb), fronds chopped and reserved
  • 1 cup trimmed diced zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

Preparation

  • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add diced fennel, zucchini, onion, and fennel seeds. Sauté until fennel is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil. Cover; reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree in blender until smooth; return soup to saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes and sauté until just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds; season relish with salt and pepper. Serve soup with relish.

Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/quick-recipes/2011/04/fennel_and_zucchini_soup_with_warm_tomato_relish#ixzz1XigtcU5Q



I am waiting for the soup to cool before I put it into more of my bentos.  It made a perfect amount for 5 days and maybe one snack.  I usually end up with far too much.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pampering 8.01

I'm a girl, and I suppose that means I enjoy pampering myself more than the average guy.  Of course, guys in my age group probably don't have as many acne problems as I do.  I have finally found something that seems to be working (Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5, used every other night), but even so, my skin gets that "congested feeling" and I have a collection of facial products, so I felt like doing a whole slew of them today.

1.  Wash face in shower, let pores open up, use a salicylic exfoliating wash
2.  Use a charcoal pore-clearing mask
3.  Now that pores are nice and clear, use an anti-acne mask (contains camphor, sulfur)
4.  Use a skin calming mask (mushroom based)
5.  Use the Retinol tonight

It seems like a lot, and I don't do it often - maybe once a month, but it seems to help - and it's been a while since I started right out from the shower, so maybe it'll penetrate better than usual.  I have links to the products I use - I don't generally like Origins anymore because a lot of their newly formulated stuff has given me allergic reactions, but their older stuff is still good - and it's just sitting in my cabinets at home, so why not use them?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Origins, Skinceuticals, or Biore - I am just a consumer who happens to like these products and do not know anything beyond how they act on my skin and what is listed on the box.  Aside from Retinol, Salicylic Acid, and Sulfur, none of these products or ingredients are proven to cure, improve, or manage acne.  

Creative Projects 7.03

I completed my first Shutterfly album - I cropped all the images on my computer first the way I liked them, then I  named them according to category, and uploaded them to Shutterfly.  You CAN rename and label and arrange them in Shutterfly, but it's just easier to do on your computer.  Anyhow, I made it for my dorm life at UCSD - it was fun, there are a lot of different arrangements for it.  Unfortunately most of the pictures are not particularly high definition so I had to use more multiples per page than I would have liked, and not all the pictures look that great, but it's the best I could do without time travel.  Here's the link to my album - it is about 27 pages, and will cost about $41 to make, but I think it's worth it to have a hard copy of my dorm life to thumb through in years to come.

share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=1QZtmTFw0aOIA

The next album I plan to make will be the years with Kit long distance and in San Diego.  The different albums I plan on making are Off-Campus Life in San Diego and the first couple years with Kit, Medical School Year 1, Medical School Year 2 plus Kit (he moved up here and essentially became a part of my second year more than the previous year).  I'm looking forward to making the next ones, but for now I need to focus on my other obsessions!  Perhaps I'll check on the snails outside...

Haute Cuisine 1.10

I have taken the first steps to preparing my escargot!  I prepared a shoe box so it is waterproof and snail-eating-through proof and went out and collected two dozen snails.  It was extremely easy - my apartment complex has a glut of snails and the sprinklers must have turned off 30 minutes ago so they were all out and activated by the moist environment.  I even had some extra time to hunt for bigger ones.  I put them in their little box, gave them pieces of celery, some oat meal (as their grain), and a lid of water (but I really don't think they will need it considering how much water is in the celery...)



In a few days time, they will be ready for the cooking!  If this turns out to be good we may have to do this more often.  I hope it goes well.  I am also working on a personal cookbook on OneNote - it includes pictures and recipes of all the things my boyfriend and I cook.  My haute cuisine recipes shall be included.  I also need to come up with some recipes for next week...I will update tomorrow when I decide what to have for lunch each day and will report back with pictures and the like.  One thing about these obsessions of mine, is that it is never for lack of guts that they fail to be followed through to completion - it is usually time or ability to find the appropriate resources.

I also found a blogger who made two very nicely detailed posts about how to prepare them and cook them - I like that she says 1 week is sufficient for feeding them, rather than the original instructions I found that said 2 weeks...  She also mentions a purging period, where you need to starve them for 48 hours to get rid of the food in their system.

http://eatinggardensnails.blogspot.com/2009/03/collecting-preparing-snails.html

http://eatinggardensnails.blogspot.com/2009/03/cooking.html

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Creative Projects 7.02

I suppose this still falls under the category of creative projects - almost thought of making it a separate thing.  I find it a shame that I have tons and tons of photos of myself since going to college, and they are all stored on my hard drive, yet I rarely look at them, and I never really flip through them and enjoy them.  Something that my family medicine preceptor gave me the idea for was making a photo book, and having it made through online services such as Shutterfly.  We are talking way beyond the "scrap books" that our parents used to make, pasting photos onto photo paper - these are high quality photo prints, that you can add text to, enhance, and do all sorts of things.  It would really be a lot of fun and a great way to chronicle events.  It would also make a great present to my mom if she wants me to make one for her about her cats (of which she has had many...)


In my mind I see myself arranging it by year, or by "period", so the time I was in college, or "on-campus life" and "off-campus life", or "first year medical school" or "first 5 years with boyfriend" - that sort of thing.  Something durable that I can carry around and make personal and creative.  I really love my preceptors...I am going to miss them a lot... in a way they make me feel like being a family medicine doctor suits me well not only because I enjoy seeing the patients but because I connect with them so well and we have so much in common.  If people like them (who are people like me) are in that job, and still living their lives and going on adventures, why not I?  Sounds perfect.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Haute Cuisine 1.09

Escargot - one of the dishes I had at La Folie - is very delicious, not to mention unusual (or at least to the typical American).  I was looking up some information about the snails you use to make them, and it turns out you can use normal brown garden snails - you just have to feed them clean food for a few days to let them flush out their systems and then you can cook them. Our apartment complex has TONS of snails, so we are probably going to gather them and then follow these instructions we found online:

http://www.ehow.com/how_2340081_prepare-garden-snails-eating.html

A long time ago my dad told me this was possible, but when we tried we didn't give them enough water (and I was a kid, so short attention span) and they all died or escaped, but I think now that we will actually cook them it may work out!  Maybe I can even make some for my family...  This will be fun.  I may try to reverse-engineer the dish that La Folie had - where they used bone marrow and parsley in additional to the usual ingredients of butter and garlic to make the dish more savory, and loaded it all in a pork bone.  Man my mouth is watering just remembering that amazing meal...

Creative Projects 7.01

I tend to dream big.  As a result, I start projects with great vision in mind.  Sometimes it turns out great.  Other times it is a waste of resources.  Nonetheless, it is fun, exciting, and I usually find something to do.  At the moment, two projects are on my mind - creating more art for the apartment, and making props from a computer game.  I made props from Bioshock for this past New Year's Party, and those turned out really well.  I had to do some graphic design, a lot of printing, some cutting, pasting, scuffing, but it was all worth it. 



Anyway, New Vegas has a whole host of other things - here is a link of props another person has already done: http://buddyman2011.deviantart.com/art/fallout-new-vegas-props-246711741

Pretty neat stuff.  I may also try to do food items inspired by food in the actual game.  Shame we don't have mutated mantises or fire geckos.  The other project is I want to do a pressed plant piece - originally the idea was to do it as a birthday or anniversary present for my boyfriend, who adores herbs, but when I started looking into it I realized I didn't have the right paper, and it would take a while if I wanted to do it right.   Currently on the list of things to do for this project includes finding the paper, getting the materials (including 4 herbs: Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Dill), and making it.  
Something like this (not me, a girl who submitted her plant project for a contest or something similar: http://www.hort.cornell.edu/art/gallery/images/2008fallprojects/pressed_herbsx1200.jpg)

Great Books 4.04

While listening to Descartes today, at the beginning of every section of the audio book someone says "read by so-and-so, if you would like to volunteer, contact us at bla-de-bla".  Some of the people reading have extremely thick accents, including British, Scottish, or German.  It got me to thinking - maybe I should dictate some books.  It would make me spend more time on them, I might learn more, and there's a certain book that I've been wishing had an audio format... yup.  Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine - about 2800 pages (giant text book sized) and 300-something chapters.  It's on my mind...we shall see if I ever go through with it.  

Other thoughts during my Descartes drive today - he spoke of a time he spent in Germany where he was stuck there during a war and being unattached to any people he sought solitude and spent time with his thoughts, just thinking.  Reminded me a little of Henry Walden Thoreau which, though taught by my pot-smoking English teacher in my last year of high school (can someone say senioritis?), conjured up idyllic images of being by oneself in a cabin in the woods, taking nature walks, spending hours upon hours away from computers, radio, television, people, and obligations just to ponder.  A similar scene was described in Atlas Shrugged when Dagny Taggart tried to "quit" the world on her own, but in her case she was restless and eager to return to work - not because she didn't like pondering, but because she had so much she had calculated and figured out and wanted to do that she couldn't stand sitting idle.  If I ever have a summer home, or even time to rent a cabin somewhere for a weekend, that is something I would love to do.

As for German, still going strong on that.  Getting more used to some of the verbs and building different sentences.  Lesson 8 so far.  More tomorrow.  I haven't made much progress on the Norse Saga on my phone's Kindle, since it is long and the translation is not particularly good...hard to understand some of it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Great Books 4.03

The week is starting again, as is my book/language regimen - starting today I am on Pimsleur's Speak and Learn German lesson 07 and starting Rene Decartes' Discourse on the Method.  So far with German I know how to talk about understanding/speaking German and English, wanting something to eat or drink, please, thank you, asking how are you, responding, etc.  I think next is telling time and asking for quantities of things.  I did the Japanese Pimsleur lessons and those were great, and I did the first 15 of those lessons before starting an actual semester-long beginning course in Japanese, and the lessons matched what I was learning in those first few weeks, so that adds credibility to Pimsleur.  Also my boyfriend can understand my German and he took it in school as well.  

Haute Cuisine 1.08

After the last abysmal failure I decided to cook something normal-ish.  Not quite Haute cuisine, so I should probably make this a different category of just plain FOOD but I think I'll stick to it - it's all part of the process.  I went through a period of liking Japanese bento boxes, see below.  It was fun, creative, but the problem is it was very work intensive.  However, at the end of the phase, I had four bento boxes and various accessories.




I am now returning to bento-style meals.  I do not know if I will return to apple bunnies or chick eggs (they are adorable, aren't they?) but I am going to make two meals (one for each tray) and pack them in advance of the week.  They are small boxes so they stack easily, and fit in that awkward middle shelf of the refrigerator which is barely large enough to fit anything, and it cuts down on how much food storage I need to use up for the meals themselves.  The latest recipe was...

Fruit Salad (Crunchy, Low Carb) - 4 stars
- 2 orange bell peppers
- 1 small jicama
- 2 large grapefruits
- 1 cucumber (optional)
- Any other light, durable fruit that you can stomach the idea of eating (did I mention I am extremely picky?)
- Lemon or Lime juice (to help keep it fresh)
- Splenda (optional, adds a little sweetness, mostly for the jicama)
Instructions: Chop into nickel-sized pieces, mix together as evenly as possible, douse in some lime/lemon juice, and sprinkle some splenda on top (to taste, may not need it).

I also like to add some grated almond on top, it adds a nice soft flavor, almonds are good for you, and it looks neato.  Only changes I would add would maybe add more fruit, to add more variety.

Fried Brown Rice - 3.5 stars
- 3 eggs
- Garlic powder
- Ginger powder
- 2 cups petite peas (frozen bags, keeping it simple)
- 1 pound mushrooms, your choice
- 1.5 cups brown rice
- Salt or Soy sauce (optional)
Cook the 1.5 cups brown rice - water in a boiling pot, about 30-35 minutes, depending on your preference for 'done-ness'.  Chop the mushrooms however you want and saute them on the stove at medium-high heat.  Whisk the 3 eggs together and mix in with the mushrooms or cook separately, just know they're going to be scrambled no matter what you do.  Mix the mushrooms and eggs together in the pan, it's good to use a wok for this.  Then add the brown rice, mix it all together, season with soy sauce, garlic powder, ginger powder (to taste), then spread the mix out so it is an even thickness on the surface of the wok.  Mix it every couple minutes and re-spread the rice mix.  Steam the 2 cups of petite peas (microwave or on the stove, whatever works best) and then add those and stir everything together.  Keep mixing and cooking until you feel like it's cooked enough.  

Ta da - two healthy-ish meals for myself.  



I also made some chocolate mousse over the weekend - it is delish.

Chocolate Mousse - 5 stars
- 2 teaspoonfuls of white sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet, or whatever you want really)
Instructions: Separate the eggs - mix the sugar with the egg yolks until blended well.  Then whip the heavy whipping cream until you get a cool whip like consistency, or until it forms solid peaks.  Do the same with the egg whites, until they form stiff peaks.  It is best to use an electric egg beater for this or you'll be doing it for a while.  For the chocolate chips, you can try melting them the traditional style with the pan-on-water-filled-pan method, but I get the same results microwaving on high for 1 minute, mixing it with a spoon, then microwaving for another 30 seconds on high.  Once that comes out, stir - the residual heat will melt the remaining chips, and then wait until it is about lukewarm.  Add the egg yolk/sugar mix to the chocolate, and hand mix until it has a smooth consistency - probably glistening a bit.  Then add that to the whipped heavy whipping cream, until it has a smooth consistency.  Then add the egg whites and gently fold the egg whites into the mixture - you don't want to be too rough with the egg whites because that is the ingredient that is most important for producing that soft fluffy mousse consistency.  When that is evenly mixed, pour into small serving containers (e.g. custard bowls or margarita glasses) OR you can pour them into chocolate shells.  See the following images.

  


Friday, September 2, 2011

Future Planning 6.01

Me (and my boyfriend) often like to talk about things we would like to have in our future final house, as well as ways of raising children, things we want to incorporate into our lives, and the like.  I think this deserves a certain spot in this blog.  I'll start with the stuff we have already discussed and add to it as new things come along.

1)  I plan to do most of the artwork in the house, which I envision will include abstract painting, pressed plants, mounted insects (caught by us, or from exotic travels), and maybe some impressive photographs.  We may also include some vary special prints of artwork, or posters and charts.  The one below is already made. 


2)  Minimalist - we don't want fancy artistic tiles, wallpaper, busy fabrics, clutter.  We like an efficient, spacious arrangement.  

3)  Geared for our needs - there are not very many things that we need.  The main things are a well-stocked kitchen, a garden, a small pool/Jacuzzi, maybe an exercise room (I want one), an entertainment center, and a study for each of us - maybe shared ones even, as long as one was for computer gaming and the other for actual work.  See items 4-8.

4) Entertainment center only needs an efficient gaming and video watching console, most of it will probably be streamed from the internet or our computers, and a large screen.  There will need to be a table and couches or chairs.  Simple as that.  A mini-fridge for snacks and drinks would be good.  Maybe even a microwave if the room is really far from the kitchen.  Something smaller-scale for the bedroom - probably just the screen TV and audio system.

5) The kitchen - large, maybe with an island, lots of space, a huge refrigerator and freezer (another one in the garage or elsewhere for meats), a huge spice collection, most of the pots and pans could be hung on the island, no grout or seams between areas, no spaces for things to fall between the oven and the stove or counter tops, electric flat stove top, professional grade knives, extensive durable tupperware that is easy to match the tops to and has all the appropriate sizes.   Nothing is more irritating than not having containers for leftovers, or searching for the right top, or having it all fall out from the cabinets.  Also good knives, and lots of good appliances.  Maybe most important - a big amazing badass dishwasher.  

6) Study - I think the best arrangement would be to have one room for computers and the other for work - with bookshelves, etc.  So the computer room will have two desktop computers and maybe an extra desk for laptops.  There will be adequate cooling in this room (that will be essential) and a well-organized area for the computer cables.  Comfortable chairs, amazing sound systems for each computer, and great headsets for when we are going at the same time doing different things.  For the other study, there will be a lot of bookshelves, each of us has a separate desk, maybe a mini-fridge in there for drinks or snacks.


7) Jacuzzi/Small Pool - something small would be nice, which has a natural tropical look to it.  Something like this, though maybe with an even more integrated look.  It's small, can be heated easily but has room for playing around.  Nothing too big since it will be a waste of space.  We don't exactly entertain a billion people.

8) Food Garden - the garden may include a greenhouse (or two or three) and possibly a hydroponic fish tank of some kind.  A bit elaborate, so we shall see - the fish is the least important.  Most important is figuring out all the different plants we want to grow.  My boyfriend will want herbs, onions, tomatoes, etc.  I am a bit heavier on the fruit plants, so probably some trees - what would be great would be figs, cherries, pomegranates, citrus of some kind (maybe blood oranges?), lemons (for lemonade), apricots or plums, Asian pear, Avocado, Japanese persimmon (the square shaped, not the pointy shaped ones).  It would be great to have the fruit trees staggered so that we have one fruit tree always producing fruit at some point during the year.

9) Recreational Garden - maybe Japanese style - in the corner of the backyard - maybe with bamboo, a Japanese maple, a nice stone bench, something pretty, maybe a small fountain/pond.  Someplace just to sit and relax.  Maybe a hummingbird feeder (a pretty ornate one, not the gawdy ones with the plastic yellow and red).  

One thing I was considering that I thought would be neat would be to have a beehive - keep a couple bee trays, have some flowers for them, but I think that would only work if we had a lot of space.  Plus the neighbors and kids might complain.  

Another thought, which prompted this post, is it would be neat to have a tree house - an old tree in the backyard with a small wooden tree house, enough for a few people - and under the tree some long soft grass - not like a lawn, but just a carpet of grass that is hardy, doesn't take too much water, but is still soft and would be good for resting under.  Kids would love it.

As for the front yard...it may be a good place for a fruit tree or two, some landscaping, haven't really thought about the front yard, since that's for other people and not for us, unless we lived up a private road.  That would be really great - people basically waste having a front yard.  It's wasted because it's main purpose is to make the place look nice for other people - it's too public to have a picnic or play around if random people are walking by, driving by, or neighbors are looking out their windows.  Perhaps a secluded house would be nice...

Pets: Inuit dog or other similar-looking dog, cats (Russian blue, Egyptian mau, rescue breeds), snakes, maybe a tarantula, an octopus (inlaid into a wall), maybe another aquarium, but it has to contain hardy fish - not ones that'll quickly get fin rot and die.  Probably no birds - loud and messy.  

That's the plan as of now.  More to come later.