Posts Tagged ‘experiences’

Glass fusing art project

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , ,

For Panda’s birthday, he found a deal for a glass fusing class. At first we were looking at stained glass classes, but once I heard about glass fusing, I knew that’s what we wanted to do. I also figured that we could make plate or bowl-like ones that the cats could then use for their food. Our normal bowls were a bit too deep for their liking whereas they’d lick food right off a plate onto the floor, so neither ware worked well.

Firehouse Pottery and Arts is in Mt. Airy, MD (near Damascus) and it’s a cute shop that does pottery painting, clay pottery sculpting, and canvas painting classes in addition to their glass fusing ones. When we arrived, there was a bit of confusion and it turns out that they’d booked us for one month later. We were an hour too early for their jewelry glass fusion class and about 2 hours too late for their trivet glass fusion class that day, but since we were already there (and far from home), they cleared a table and showed us the ropes to make the geometric trivets that we thought we’d signed up for.

Take a look at the experience and what we made!

firehouse pottery and arts studio in mt airy

There are a couple of areas to work in. So many colors everywhere!

glass scoring station at firehouse pottery and arts

For larger pieces, you can score your glass at the station to get a long straight line.

glass fusing samples of tack, contour, and full fuses

We were shown sample pieces to decide the fusing we wanted – tack (bumpy), contour (moderately fused), or full (smooth).

glass piece with tack fusion - the most bumpy option with minimal fusing

The tack fuse piece was quite bumpy!

glass piece with full fusion and slump

We gravitated towards the full fuse (with slump, which gives it a shape so it isn’t flat).

glass cutting tools and work space

We got some tools, a piece of 6×6 clear glass for our base, and some instructions. Always use the nipper “eyes up!”

pieces of colored glass sorted into plastic tubs

There were a lot of glass pieces to pick out!

designing trivet with three layers of colored glass

I started layering to see what color combos I liked.

standing up to score the glass with hand glass cutter

Scoring the glass can be hard work so standing up for greater leverage helped.

piece of purple colored glass with dfferent shades of layers

Most pieces were the same color all the way through, but the purple (incidentally my fav color) was unique.

cracking glass from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

After scoring, breaking the glass piece was as easy as squeezing on the running plier. Watch how easy it is to break the glass along the scored line in this video.

layers of colored glass cut and layered into design

After finally getting all the pieces I wanted and making sure the bottom colors fit with almost no gap, I was ready to start gluing.

gluing colored glass to clear glass base

We had white glue and hair spray to adhere the glass together. I tried both!

other students' glass fusion trivets ready to go in the kiln

As we were wrapping up, I checked out some other people’s work.

completed glass trivets ready to go in kiln

Our completed pieces, ready to go in the kiln! It takes a long time to first fuse, then slump glass and they had a queue of pottery going in too.

completed fused glass projects with gift bag and cat in background

Weeks later (actually exactly 2 months) I finally got them! They’d had to get a new (bigger) mold for our pieces, which were larger than normal.

fused glass piece of house, tree, sun, driveway, and yard

Panda’s creative landscape (aka Smokey’s plate).

colorful fused glass piece of geometric design

My modern art piece dubbed “straight edge” (aka Missy’s plate).

geometric glass plate layered over house glass plate

Don’t they look cool? I look forward to doing this again sometime.

house glass plate layered over geometric glass plate

Panda decided they were too nice for the cats to use, so there goes that plan.

They weren’t perfectly smooth the way I thought, which is probably because our pieces were thicker than they expected. I wonder if we could have them re-fused and slumped to make them oh so smooth… alas, the place is too far and these are fine, especially given that they won’t be used as plates! I think we’ll end up treating them partly as art and partly as trays. In fact, mine currently holds a bit of money and a receipt.

Reston Town Center April Fool’s

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , ,

It looks like the Reston Town Center does a fun joke each year for April Fool’s! Last year the balls were all rainbow colored and this time around they went with a new theme. Pretty fun!

reston town center fountain filled with large plastic beach balls for april fool's

This year, there was a sports theme!

excited girl throwing beach ball in air by fountain filled with balls

I claimed a giant blue one. 🙂

giant blue beach ball being stuffed into backseat of car

There was no way it would fit in the car like that.

giant blue beach ball stuck in door of car

Obviously stuck, and so started the deflation process.

giant blue beach ball squeezing into backseat of car

Getting there…

giant blue beach ball squeezed into backseat of car

Success! Snugly inside.

giant blue beach ball squished in back seat of car

Buckle up for the ride. 😉

view of giant beach ball in rearview mirror of car

This was my view from the driver’s seat.

selfie in car with giant blue beach ball in back seat

Selfie with the ball, of course.

A Galileo thermometer saga

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, stories,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It was a long time ago that I first learned of Galileo thermometers and immediately put it on my mental wishlist (and then my blog wishlist). After many years of waiting, I was super excited when Panda treated me to one – that was four years ago. I proudly displayed it first at my apartment and then in my room at home when I moved back. But just two years into my ownership, Missy managed to break it when she was jumping from a cabinet to my desk’s shelf. Due to the height, and perhaps an impact with part of the desk on its way down, it shattered and left quite an odor in my room. I was bummed and vowed to get a replacement someday.

I’m glad I waited, because I had no idea I would relocate to the east coast and it sure wouldn’t have been easy to transport it on my own. Turns out it was another 2 years before I decided it was finally time to reward myself with that replacement. At first I was sad that I couldn’t get the exact same one I had before. Attempting to reorder gave me an error that none were in stock. I had meticulously compared options and found the 17-inch height with 10 temperature globes inside was the perfect combination for me. I don’t think I would have been satisfied with anything else. I saw 21-inch ones with 10 globes, 17-inch ones with 7 or 8 globes, but not my ideal one. So, I waited.

One day, I just happened to notice they were back in stock! It was pretty thrilling. But then the challenge was that I didn’t want to pay shipping and I was $5 off from the minimum charge to get free shipping. Right around that time, we decided to take a look at headboards, since the furniture store ones were way more expensive than we’d like. Panda found an awesome one for a very good price, complete with shelf space for me. We got that and tagged on the thermometer – yay, free shipping!

cardboard box for galileo thermometer

I was super excited when it came, in the same box I remember.

galileo thermometer and the styrofoam encasing it came in

I carefully opened the box and considered a safe place to display it.

galileo thermometer tinted blue by broken globe inside

I found my spot, but then noticed that strange blue tint. Was it supposed to be like that?

galileo thermometer with broken pieces of globe inside laying at bottom

Turns out one of the globes completed shattered inside and dyed the whole thing blue. Sad times!

Luckily, it only broke on the inside and it wasn’t leaking. I had to file for a return and spent some time trying to figure out how to do a straight exchange. Turns out you can’t when the item is sold by an individual vendor like mine, versus by Amazon itself. All I could do was return and reorder. I printed out a label and a UPS guy even picked it up from my front door one day! Unfortunately, due to the shipping charge, I’d have to order something else to get that free shipping again. I found myself waiting yet again… the item went out of stock, but then eventually came back. I figured out what I could order with it that was around the $5 price range, so I ordered it a second time and hoped that it wouldn’t get thrown around during shipping. About a month after getting the previous one, this one arrived.

galileo thermometer with broken pink globe at bottom

So I got my second one and all looked well until… hey, what’s that pink one doing so low?

bottom of galileo thermometer with pink temperature globe laying leaking

Upon closer inspection, the tip of it was broken just enough to leak.

large red reusable lint roller for cleaning clothes

I got a lint roller in this shipment to pad the cost. I’ve wanted a large one for years!

See the tiny globs of pink liquid escaping? I considered keeping this and having a non-functional globe that looked ok from afar. I couldn’t do it. So again, I returned it. This time UPS even printed the label and applied it! I just packed it up and left the box outside my door. I quickly found another $5ish item to get – a hand boiler toy. I reordered once more before they ran out of stock on me. I almost didn’t dare hope. I mean, shipping had been rough and these things aren’t crazy delicate, but they can’t be thrown around. It might just take some luck to get an unbroken one. How many tries would it ultimately require?

beautiful galileo thermometer on display at home

Thankfully, this one came in mint condition! It is now on display with my other items.

I had to check and recheck this one over the course of a week or two before I truly felt like it was pristine. I was worried I might have missed something! But no blue tint and all globes float! So finally, I have my replacement. Isn’t it gorgeous? This one better last me my lifetime!

Smokey’s calming collar

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, stories,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes, Missy and Smokey will get into wrestling matches. I can’t quite tell who is instigating it and who is causing more damage, but Smokey is larger, so just putting her weight on Missy is potentially dangerous. For a long time, I’d just make a loud noise when the fighting appeared to get aggressive. One day, Panda suggested we put collar back on so she can’t sneak up on Missy. We decided to give it a try and we found a surprising result: Smokey appeared to be much nicer overall with the collar on!

smokey cat sleeping on body pillow with red collar on

Look at how angelic she is! She’ll even touch my leg when she’s sleeping.

Not only did she and Missy fight less, but she was less aloof and more tolerant of being held or picked up. It seems that she became more docile, as if it exerted control over her and kept her bad behavior at bay. What a curious effect. It ended up being far more effective than we’d imagined, so now whenever she acts up, we put her collar on. She’ll sit there frozen as we strap it in and then calmly strut around, not looking for trouble. When she sleeps, she actually looks happy. Not alert, or wary, or downright uncomfortable/unhappy. It’s like she’s finally at peace.

This usually works for 2-3 days and then I start to feel bad because she can’t hide from Missy and I also notice her starting to kick at it. So by and by, I remove it and let her be free (but perhaps more prone to attitude too). At least we’ve found something simple that can help curb her issues if they escalate again! Overall she’s getting better at letting us pet her and even hold her at times. I’ll retrain her yet!

Frying Pan Farm animals

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , ,

Panda and I were going to do a trip to Nashville last weekend, but due to the weather we thought better of it and ended up staying more local. One of the things he found nearby is a fun little farm! I’d driven past it on the way to work before (and wondered about it), but I had no idea it’s part of a park and free to the public. Nor did I know there were so many cool animals waiting to be visited.

We went on a freezing cold day. I totally underdressed, so I was quite cold and we didn’t stay long. However, we still managed to see horses, cows, sheep, pigs, and rabbits! Next time we’ll have to go when it’s a little less brisk so we can stroll around more and check out the general store too.

three pigs in stall with hay and heat lamp for winter cold

The pigs kept pushing each other out from under the heat lamp. The right one has a black head with pink body!

brown cow staring from inside stall in barn

She just looks like she should be a Bessie, don’t you think? Her eyes and nose are HUGE.

sheep mama with baby lambs in stall inside barn

This mama has three little lambs! Two boys and a girl.

baby lamb sticking head out to be pet

One of the boys was super friendly and wanted to be pet. 🙂

lamb and cow sniffing each other

One of the lambs and the cow would sniff each other.

sheep staring through wooden fence

Getting the stare down from the mama.

cow mom and baby calf in stall of barn

Cow mom and baby calf in their stall.

white rabbit with black accents in cage with frozen bowl of water

Rabbit with a mustache. 😛

frozen bowl of drinking water for rabbit

It was so cold most of the water bowls were frozen over!

pretending to kiss cow sticking its tongue out

Would you kiss a cow? I pretended to. Those tongues are weird!

My court date

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, stories,Tags: , , , , , , ,

Back in November, I got a ticket at IAD when I was picking up my parents. I felt it was completely unfair and the officer was very rude, so even though it was only $40, I decided to contest it. Part of it was also a curiosity of that whole process. I called in about three weeks after receiving the ticket, when I was sure that I wanted to go forward with contesting my citation. The gentleman let me know the next available slot was more than a month out from that point – Feb 3rd at 1:30. Apparently in VA, officers have a certain slot where they handle all their cases from the previous weeks and for my officer, that was his next time. I booked it and was told I’d receive some more information at home.

loudoun county sheriff's car parked outside in dark

I meant to get a picture of what went down in our foyer, but in the excitement I forgot, so I got their vehicle before it drove off.

Weeks went by. I worked, took time off for the holidays, returned to work, and went on with life as usual. Then one night I got a message from Panda that sounded totally ominous. Officers had stopped by and needed to talk to me! This totally threw me off. What officers? Why did they need to talk to me? Panda just said they’d be back later that night, so I needed to get home around 7. Apparently they needed to issue me a ticket for running a stop sign or something? No such thing had happened, so that had me very confused. It all sounded very odd to me, so I called up the local police station to check in on whether that was standard protocol. They looked it up and determined that there was something the officers needed to deliver to me. I suddenly remembered the court date and figured out it was probably the summons for that. So I got home, called the police station to let them know I was home, and the officers came by. They were really nice and said they just had to give me the paperwork in person on behalf of the officer who wrote me the ticket. Loudoun officers need to deliver summons on behalf of the airport officers it seems. Must be a jurisdiction thing.  The officers also let me know that it could go pretty quickly or I might be waiting at the courthouse for hours, so I cleared my schedule for that afternoon, just in case.

loudoun county courthouse in leesburg virginia

Beautiful day and a very nice courthouse.

Finally, my court date rolled around today. I went to work as usual in the morning and worked until lunch. I ate a quick meal before heading out with plenty of buffer time in case I got stuck in traffic, lost, or otherwise diverted and delayed. The drive was good and I arrived with plenty of time to spare. It took me some time to figure out where to park and which area of the building to walk to. Upon entering the courthouse, there was a security check where we were told that cell phones were not allowed except for lawyers. There were free lockers you could put them in – I had also brought my iPad to play a game while waiting, but I figured they probably wouldn’t want that either so I locked it away as well.

When I walked through the metal detector, it beeped and I looked worried. The cop monitoring it said not to worry, they were there to help and attributed my shoes for setting it off (metal in the heels I guess). I then continued in where another officer was able to take a look at my paperwork and direct me to an area with two possible courtrooms. She told me to check the monitors outside for my name so I’d know which one to enter. I skipped the windows where clerks of some sort were helping other people. The whole area was very bright and clean – very impressive. I thought it’d be a stodgy old place that smelled kind of strange and had off-yellow light, but it was airy and quite white.

At first glance, courtroom 1D only had 4 names for 1:30, so I went to 1C. That one had a list of names for 1, so of course I wasn’t on it. After standing around waiting with everyone else for awhile, I noticed the screen outside 1D change. Turns out I had only seen the last few names – the first screen had the bulk of them, which included mine for 1:30. A good 15 minutes beforehand, they opened the doors and we filed in. Nobody talked, so I wasn’t sure what to do, but I figured I was at the right place so I’d follow them in. The courtroom had a bunch of padded benches for us to sit on. Everyone chose a spot (I went for the second row, left side) and settled in. I gazed around at the room – tons of lighting, a portrait of some man on the wall closer to me, the judge’s seat with a nice big chair, tables for both sides, and a podium in the middle.

It felt like hours of sitting waiting at people came in and out. Some folks had lawyers who came to talk to them, then exited to talk to others. It was all very confusing. I just hoped I wasn’t first, since I would have no idea what to do or say. The police officers came in and took the front right area, where a jury might normally be. Most were in uniform but I think a few plainclothes people were also part of them. It was hard to tell who was a lawyer, who was an officer, and who was a normal citizen. At first I sat rather straight, but my back quickly started to hurt. The seating was soft, but the back of the benches were pretty far back and it seemed too relaxed to lean back like that. Alas, I caved and sat back after awhile. Right around 1:30, the guy who must have been the bailiff (who I thought was just another police officer attending court) had us all rise for the judge. We then took a seat as the judge quickly explained how it would go.

We had the option of 3 pleas: not guilty, guilty, or no contest. For the latter two, he would provide a sentence since you are basically admitting wrongdoing. No contest was meant that we recognize there is enough evidence against us. The majority of people before me entered “guilty with an explanation” – I guess they just wanted reduced sentences. Many of them had lawyers, so I felt rather alone. The judge was very kind and I got the impression he was looking out for our well-being. When one gentleman approached with no lawyer, explaining he tried and couldn’t find one he could afford, the judge suggested appointing one. The guy refused (he just wanted to plead guilty and get back to work), so the judge made sure he understood the ramifications before providing the paperwork for him to waive his right to an attorney. Another guy – a kid, really – seemed dumbfounded when the judge told him he’d have to get back to that case since the attorney for the Commonwealth of VA had not yet been consulted on whether to pursue jail time as part of the sentence. The judge was so concerned about him he had the kid return to the podium, look him in the eye, and confirm that he was ok before moving on.

The majority of pleas were guilty, so the judge would quickly provide a sentence. When there was proof that the person had started to fix the problem – take a driving course, apply for a VA license, or change out a car that had expired plates – the judge was more lenient and gave a lesser fine. When the person was a no-show, he would quietly let the officer know what the final fine amount was and the officer noted that in some giant binder they seem to come with. When there was representation, the case got pushed back for later. When it was more complex than a few quick minutes, the case also got pushed back. The whole process was rather efficient, getting as many cases out the door early in the process as possible. Finally, after a dozen names or so came the officer I was up against. Or so I thought. He had two no-shows, the judge issued a fine amount, the officer thanked him, and walked out. I was immensely confused. What about me? Had I somehow not shown up in the docket? Suddenly I started to question whether I was in the correct courtroom. After all, nobody had confirmed anything when we first entered.

Just as I was considering going to the back or outside to ask someone, I heard the judge call my name. Oh, and another thing I really liked about him – he greeted each defendant with “good afternoon” and asked if he was pronouncing the name correctly. With me, of course I had to correct him and I actually remembered it as he addressed me. When he asked my plea and I said “not guilty” he told me to take a seat. I got grouped into the “more complex” ones since I wanted to fight my ticket. However, the officer then spoke up and told the judge that since he did not have notes on the matter, he wanted to dismiss (or did he say withdraw?) it. I stepped back to the podium as the judge let me know that due to the officer’s request, my citation was null, so I was free to go. That was it! I thanked him and walked out pleased that I didn’t have to go through the whole explanation later.

As I picked up my electronics and exited the courthouse, it all felt surreal. Should I have gotten some sort of signature or stamp? How would I have proof that this was actually dropped? Did I really not have to do anything?! What a strange feeling. I didn’t even need the summons and ticket that I had brought with me. It really couldn’t have been simpler or tidier of a process. I walked back to my car and drove off not really believing it was so easy. I guess with a minor ticket like mine, they figure they have bigger fish to fry. People who actually committed a serious offense, like running a light, speeding waaay over the limit, driving without a license, or driving under the influence (all cases that had come before me today). So less than 25 minutes from the moment I stepped in that courtroom, I was already back in my car driving back to work. I’d say contesting my ticket was totally worth it!

Traveling by plane with a pet

laelene Posted in how to guides, lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ever wonder what it’s like to fly with a cat? Here’s my story… (or skip to the tips if you’re pressed for time)

cat sitting on person meowing and looking out window of back seat of car

Off we go! Missy was a bit worried. What are all those cars?!

My mom finally relented after over a year and a half of debating whether I could and should bring Missy to the east coast with me, so yesterday I boarded a plane, cat carrier in tow. I purchased the in-cabin pet ticket about a week ago – originally there was a place to add the pet from my reservation online, but when I went back when I was ready to commit, it was nowhere to be found. I ended up calling up the airline to purchase it for $125. Luckily, we already had a carrier that my mom used back when she moved one of my previous cats, Jerriey, to Beijing.

The morning of, we packed my bags and then brought Molly down to witness Missy leaving. Molly kept running away and didn’t seem at all interested, but she did notice Missy in the carrier. At first Missy was a little confused, but calm as she wondered what was going on. Once we started to drive, she got scared and meowed all sorts of meows – timid frightened ones, deep guttural ones, and loud complaining ones. Occasionally she panted as if she were hyperventilating.

cat sitting in back window of car driving on freeway

For awhile, she “hid” in the back.

At one point, my mom complained of the smell of feces. My cousin and I were oblivious until much later, when I suddenly smelled it too. I saw one piece, which I was able to pick out with a paper towel. My mom didn’t believe there was only one, so we let the cat out and found a bunch more! We picked them all up in the paper towels and I tried to ignore the smell. Eventually, I found a plastic bag to tie it all up in and Missy seemed better when she was able to move around, sit on my cousin, and look out the window. We continued on and all seemed well until my cousin noticed a strange smell. She looked around and found that somehow Missy had pooped again – this time it was more wet and probably due to the nerves. At this point we were stopping so I could get some See’s Candy to bring back. We used the last of the tissues and paper towels we could find to pick up the new batch and I took the plastic bag with everything to throw it out.

By the time we reached the airport, I felt like the carrier smelled of urine. There was nothing I could do just yet, so I met up with Panda and we checked in our luggage. The cat carrier counted as an item, so I couldn’t bring my suitcase AND the tote bag I usually have, so I checked the suitcase. Since I had to check a bag anyway, I decided to pack an extra suitcase and bring back some of the things I had been meaning to transport, like my Lumnique candle (the whole box it came in) and my set of Crate & Barrel glasses, carafe, and tray that I won.

person carrying cat through security at airportWhen we went through security, I was surprised to discover they had me carry Missy through the screening. I thought I’d bring the whole carrier, but that went through the x-ray like everything else. They also made sure to wipe my hands to check for explosive residue (or whatever else they want to make sure you didn’t touch). Good thing Missy’s an easy-going cat or I don’t know what sort of insanity might have ensued. If it were Molly, she’d be so upset I’m sure I would have gotten injured and she likely would have escaped. If it were Smokey, she’d probably be scared out of her wits and run off to hide. I zipped Missy back into the carrier, gathered our things, and headed to the gate. Once we got there I wanted to do something about the smell coming from her carrier.

cat in carrier by sink with mat being washedI left Panda with our stuff and took Missy to a restroom, where I washed the sherpa mat that sits at the bottom of the carrier. I could see a large stain at the bottom, so the whole thing needed to be rinsed. After washing it with soap and wringing it dry as best I could, I went to all the restrooms I could find to see if there was a hand dryer. Unfortunately, they all relied on paper towels and I didn’t want to waste any more of those (I’d used many sheets trying to pat the lining dry). Back at the gate, I asked Panda to see if the men’s restrooms might have a dryer and he eventually came back with just a slightly dripping wet mat that he’d put through a Dyson Airblade. He got two stacks of paper towels, one to put underneath the sherpa and one to put on top. The nice thing about that material is that even though the bottom was still quite wet, the fluffy top part was practically dry so it was actually pretty comfortable for Missy to use again.

cat face through mesh web of carrier cat sitting in carrier for plane ride united in-cabin pet ticket receipt

cat face peeking out of carrier on plane


I’m pretty sure that Missy managed to pee once more at some point after that, but oh well. The smell wasn’t too strong and I really could only tell when I had my nose right up to the carrier. Soon, we boarded the plane and held her carrier on my lap until we were pushing back from the gate. When I went to put her under the seat in front of me, I discovered that there are these annoying plastic boxes that take up a good 2-3 inches, so there was no way the carrier could fit length-wise. I had to put it parallel to my legs, with only the back half under the seat. The seat was also so low it was pushing down the walls of the carrier. I think because we were in Economy Plus, they gave less foot room there because there’s more leg room (most people wouldn’t notice that part so long as their knees aren’t squished).

cat sleeping snugly on lap of person on planeThroughout the ride, I kept leaning over to check in on Missy. I let her head pop out a few times and I pet and scratched her to make sure she got attention. After the beverage service, I left a little water at the bottom of my cup and tried to give it to her, but she wasn’t interested. Later in the trip, she kept trying to break out, so I let her crawl on my lap for a little bit. She was shivering like crazy, whether cold or stressed or both. I then delivered her back to her carrier for the remainder of the trip and checked in on her when we landed. A couple of times she meowed super loud, but the people around me didn’t seem to notice or care. Overall she was great though, and patiently sat in the carrier without a peep.


cat exiting carrier after plane ride

Yay, home!

So based on what I’ve learned, here are some tips:

Make sure you buy your pet ticket ahead of time and ask the attendant at the check-in counter to print the receipt for you (keep it handy, they’ll want to see it when you board).

Get a travel-approved pet carrier (soft sides, appropriate size, sturdy – and that sherpa lining on the bottom can be quite useful!).

Book a window seat so you can place the carrier on the ground without bothering other passengers and blocking their way out of their seat.

Either make sure your pet goes to the bathroom the morning of the trip (if possible) or try to use a plastic hard carrier for the first leg of the trip so accidents are easier to clean. Of course if you can’t leave the carrier with whoever’s driving you or you don’t have free checked luggage, you might just have to deal with a dirty carrier.

Try to bring a blanket to help cover the sides of the carrier if it’s going to be cold or you don’t want your pet stressed by everything outside.

Prepare some plastic bags if you need to clean up poop and bring old towels you can swap out in the carrier.

Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and smelly. Use a jacket that is a tougher material if your pet has claws and might try to kick you with them (that way it doesn’t hurt and it’s easier to wrangle her back to the carrier after security).


Have you traveled with a pet before? What would you recommend for air travel, especially for cats?

Toilet trouble

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , ,

This weekend I discovered the toilet having issues, so we embarked on a home improvement journey. I’ve never taken apart a toilet quite so much before, so it was definitely a learning experience.

tube of water from toilet running after flush

It all started when I heard trickling in the toilet. The tube wouldn’t stop sending water down the overflow.

metal toilet supply cable connecting water supply to toilet tank

We turned off the water and drained the tank to unscrew the contraption.

blue toilet float in toilet tank

Turns out the float wasn’t triggering the stop of the flow of water to the tube.

blue toilet float piece removed from tank

After removing the entire piece with the float, we examined it to see if we could fix it.

toilet float with cap removed

The white bar inside the cap is what triggers the flow of water to start and (eventually) stop. It wasn’t returning to the fully “off” position though.

new toilet float part to replace broken one

Once we found we couldn’t get to the broken part to fix it, we brought out the new one from the store.

inside of toilet tank with newly replaced toilet float

With the float replaced, all was good again!

Black Friday (on Thanksgiving) for a First-Timer

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My family isn’t big on shopping and my mom’s great at getting deals unrelated to the craze of this time of year. Growing up, we never did Black Friday (who wants to wake up that early?) and we enjoyed a much more chill holiday weekend. However, in recent years with retailers opening Thanksgiving night, it’s become something that I actually considered doing. Lining up at 5 pm at night is far easier than crawling up at 2 in the morning to get in line by 3. This year, Panda and I decided the one item we’d look for is a TV. We had never really gotten a TV since moving to the condo, so we had this giant living room area and no screen to match. What we’ve had is a 24″ that came free with the couch set. Not nearly the size you need when you’re sitting a good 10 feet away.

This morning, the ads came and we confirmed what we wanted: a 48″ Westinghouse at Target. With doors opening at 6, we decided to get into line around 5.

line outside target store thanksgiving night for target black friday store opening sale

It got pretty cold in line, but it definitely could have been worse.

target crackers with deal coupons inside

I’m not sure Americans know what crackers are, but the Brits certainly would!

westinghouse 48 inch tv on sale for black friday at target

Snagged that and went to check out!

broken brand new westinghouse tv screen

Not what we wanted to see upon turning it on.

westinghouse 48 inch tv being exchanged for in-stock 50 inch at target

Of course they were out of stock when we went to exchange it, but we were able to get the 50″ instead.

brand new 50 inch tv versus small 24 inch old one

Now that’s more like it… the old TV was sooo small.

It turned out to be quite the adventure and required another trip to Target. At first, the manager seemed reluctant to give us an exchange for a similar product without charging us the difference (which sort of defeats the purpose of the Black Friday deal, don’t you think?). Luckily, when we found the same brand with a slightly larger screen, she was willing to let the extra $100 price difference slide and gave us an even exchange. At least we got an extra 2 inches for all that hassle!

Working remotely in Hawaii

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I spent a week out in Hawaii while doing everything to make it seem like I wasn’t even gone work-wise. It was a last-minute thing: when I realized Veteran’s Day was the following week, I had asked Panda what our plans were (anticipating taking Monday off to enjoy a 4-day weekend). Instead of the type of answer I was expecting, I discovered that would be the week he was slated to go to Hawaii for work. I was so disappointed because I was really wanted to enjoy the weekend with him, but work travel meant he’d be leaving me Sunday morning. In other words, what I thought would be a long weekend would actually only consist of Saturday. For the first time, I was actually serious about joining him on a work trip. I really didn’t want to lose out on making it a holiday weekend worth my time.

So, once it was confirmed that he was going, I decided to make a decision and book tickets too. I’ve never planned a trip like this on such short notice, but it was one of those things I knew I’d regret for ages if I didn’t go for it. I figured I could still get all my work done at the normal EST hours I work and then I’d have the afternoon to enjoy the surroundings in Hawaii. Just like that, we found tickets for times I felt were reasonable and least interfered with work. By Sunday, we were off on our journey to spend a week out at the North Shore.

turtle bay resort at north shore hotel room with king bed

My office for the week.

I woke up daily (except Veteran’s Day and the weekend) at 4:30 HST to start work. I joined meetings remotely, answered emails, and worked on projects. Before I knew it, the sun would be rising and people were going off to lunch. I’d usually have a late “lunch” break and go enjoy the breakfast buffet downstairs. I savored the meals and watched the waves coming in as the heat began to build outside. Then it was back to the room for more work, which flew by pretty quickly. I found myself to be more productive (or at least it felt so) working from the hotel. This was probably because I had very few distractions. I hardly even got up for a drink or restroom break whereas usually at work I’m up at least once or twice an hour.

view of sunrise from turtle bay resort hotel room

Being awake for the sunrise was pretty cool.

view of turtle bay beach and ocean from turtle bay resort hotel room

The daytime view was pretty awesome too.

breakfast spread from breakfast buffet at turtle bay resort

A typical breakfast halfway through the work day!

I tried to finish my day around 1, but it usually went past that, though for the most part I was able to stop working by 2. At that point I had the choice of beaches to play at. One day I went the less traveled route and happily caught dozens of hermit crabs, snails, and even fish. Another day I found other crabs lurking by the rocks and swam around in the bay following a variety of fish around coral reefs. Yet another day I caught more critters and had a staring contest with some ghost crabs. I kept meaning to go to the banyan tree everyone checks out, but there were so many distractions along the way that I never quite made it there. I did have fun filming storks taking off in slo-mo, getting super close-ups of the creatures I caught, and generally basking in the sun.

clear plastic cup with a fish, hermit crab, and sea snail

Just the beginning of my catchings.

As the sun went down, we’d search for dinner and my night would wind down. I’d shower off the sand from the day and spend some time online before calling it a night. I tried to sleep around 8, but oftentimes it was closer to 10 when I got to bed. And then the day would start anew just past 4 as my alarms began to ring. It was much easier to wake up at that time than I thought it might be. I was quickly alert and ready to go! On our days off, we’d sleep in until 9 or so and then grab breakfast before embarking out on some adventure. Panda didn’t get the weekend, but luckily was free on Veteran’s Day and had some opportunities to leave work for a few hours. We went to Waikiki twice, hiked Diamond Head, visited Pearl Harbor, and even swung by the Dole Plantation. Not bad for a working vacation!

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