a99kitten’s Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

It snowed! It’s winter! OK….not really winter (it will be 60 and sunny this week and melting my snow) but I’m excited for even a hint of it! Decided to make some cold weather food to celebrate!

Saw pics from a twitter/Instagram friend who made a zucchini lasagna. Mmmmm. Looked SO good! And I LOVE Italian food. But love it in the way of I-rarely-make-it-at-home-because-I-will-eat-it-all-in-1-sitting kind of way. BUT….zucchini instead of carby-carby-carberson noodles? OK! I can give that a try.

So I used the recipe my twitter friend used and changed it a bit to suit my tastes (my notes in italics):

INGREDIENTS:
4 large zucchini, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (I used 5)
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced (I DID NOT USE AS I HATE ONIONS)
1 green pepper, diced
8 oz of sliced mushrooms (I ADDED THIS TO THE RECIPE)
Shot of red wine (I ADDED THIS TO THE RECIPE)
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
1 – 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 – 14 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used diced)
2 teaspoon dried oregano
handful of basil, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
handful of parsley, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
red pepper flakes, if desired (VERY MUCH DESIRED)
salt and pepper, to taste
15 oz part skim ricotta
1 egg white
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (maybe a touch more :) )
12 oz reduced fat or part skim shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place sliced zucchini on large non-stick baking sheet (or 1 coated with non stick cooking spray.) Sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes to help dry out the zucchini a bit. This is a critical step. I did 20 minutes and it was perfect.

While the zucchini noodles are roasting, you can make the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, mushrooms and peppers and cook a few minutes until veggies start softening and garlic is fragrant; stir occasionally so that you don’t burn it. Add in ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. Add in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until sauce REALLY thickens up! Season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat to cool. While it was simmering, I also added a splash of red wine (more like a shot-of-sherry-Mork-does-Julia-Child style!)

Zuchini lasagna 1

In a medium bowl, combine egg white, ricotta, and Parmesan. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Add in 1/2 cup of the slightly cooled meat sauce and stir to combine.

To assemble lasagna, spread 1/2 of the meat sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 inch nonstick baking pan (or coat regular pan with nonstick cooking spray.) Place zucchini slices evenly over meat sauce, spread on 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, then sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella on. Repeat layers again starting with the meat sauce, zucchini slices and ricotta mixture and finishing with mozzarella.

Ready for the oven!

Cover with foil and bake for 30 min. Remove foil and bake for 15 (I did 20 actually) minutes longer uncovered.

Baked!

It is SOOOOOOO good! So good!!!! Totally making this again!!

This is the original link for this recipe (which itself is based off another): http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2014/08/healthy-low-carb-zucchini-lasagna-spicy-turkey-meat-sauce/

And hat tip to @kerotab on twitter and Instagram who enticed me with this recipe and sent me the link!

Finally hung my new Mike Kungl piece today!! I bought this at his show at the Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego during SDCC. Going in, I told myself I had no wall space so you are just going to meet Mike, say hi to everyone and leave. Yeah…so…#fail

He did a Marvin piece. I love Marvin (also my very first tattoo!) Plus I am huge fan of the color combo of purples and greens. *please see my love of Maleficent. It is a 1 of a kind. He did a few of these but each in a different color scheme. So this purple and green one = all mine :) #mineminemineminemine #saidlikekDaffy

Kungl Marvin

I also got to meet Mike in person. We spoke a couple times on the phone while he was doing my commissioned piece but I missed him at the last SDCC. And I got to meet his wife. Both were so kind and it was great to hear how they loved doing the husky piece (both are big dog lovers which is also great!) It will always be very, very special to me and I’m glad others feel that way too.

Kungl show

Kungl show 2

And seeing everyone at the gallery again was fun! The staff there was excited about the husky piece. Was a fun night for sure and I look forward to the next one!

This makes 3 Kungl pieces I have: the Leia artist proof, Marvin and my Chewie/Angelus/Storm original commission. This is becoming an expensive habit! I am still coveting a TinkTini original…but again #nowallspaceleft http://www.mkungl.com/2/d.php?contentID=195

Very excited about the new season of Sleepy Hollow!!! If you did not check it out last season, I suggest you do.

Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane is fantastic. His blend of 1700s fish out of water in nowadays Massachusetts is great. Plus he’s cute :) The chemistry of the cast is awesome (especially between Crane and Abbie) and I cannot think of a single thing that I do not love about the show other than it had a short season in its first season out.

I also love Ichabod’s constantly pointing what is wrong with today’s world. This clip from an episode in the upcoming Season 2 where Ichabod comments on banking and credit is a prime example :)

Seriously – check out the show. Comes back on Fox 9/22

I finally watched the last 2 episodes of S4 of Game of Thrones last weekend. As usual with GoT, the 2nd to last ep of the season was WAY crazier. Like…amazing crazy. Jon Snow and Ghost continue to be my favorites of all time.

But since this finale was rounding out Book 3, I was hoping to see some things that we did not get :/ And I was very bummed about this. I really felt the story they left was a key one – Catelyn??? KEY. (we’ll ignore the Arya and Hound changes right now.) And would certainly create quite the stir. And I’m left thinking that the storyline is actually not at all important for the books, so all of the future possibilities I imagined with it are non-existent, since I imagine GRRM would have insisted it be kept in if it played a large part going forward. Very Big Bummer. Although I still hope it does. But I must say, I was looking so forward to that :(

Then today I read, for the 2nd time this week and from different sources, the “spoiler” about upcoming story lines. None of it was a surprise and makes perfect sense and I assumed half of it already. BUT…in 1 of the news stories, it said how the upcoming season 5 (which should be following the story lines of Book 4) would have important details from Book 5. Huh?

So now I’m starting to think we will fast forward Book 4, which is actually pretty much fine since it was my least favorite, and head to Book 5? And since we already got things not in the books so far (hints for Book 6?), will the show veer more off the books?

All I know is the end of Book 5 made me want to throw my Kindle across the room. So I really wish GRRM would finish Book 6! And is he delaying on purpose for the show? And if the long unkept secret spoiler of Jon Snow is true (the days before the internet were kind sorta better in a way), I think we need a LOT more story and fast!

Heading to SDCC this week (SQUEEEE!) and will be trying to get into Hall H for the GoT panel. And by trying to get in I mean waiting in line for a wristband on Thursday night and hoping to get a spot in a line on a lawn (if you are on the concrete, you could be in trouble) so we can eat pretzels and energy bars for hours on end and then run but not run for seats…but then once you are in – YOU ARE IN!

HBO is having a pop-up store dedicated to GoT and there is an interactive Survive the Realm at the Omni Hotel. Will definitely try and check out both of those as well. Oh! And don’t forget getting the flocked Ghost Funko POP!! I need 2 of those :) Ned Stark will also be at SDCC…in the form of Sean Bean for a different show starting in August. I just might need to check that panel out as well. I’m still bitter about Ned…

But they never, ever give away spoilers at their panels so not expecting much in that area. Although I am imagining that the In Memoriam they do every year, and which had people almost crying (and not just me!) last year for Robb and Greywind, will cause a break out in applause and cheers for Joffrey. Muahuahuahua!

Plus Jon Snow will be there :) Now if they could just bring Ghost!!!!

Just calculated my Q4 and year-end trading account returns. Not too bad. Overall I certainly did well but we were (are) in a spaztastic bull market so can’t take all that much credit for it. And I did not make my goal of a double due to some dumb trading errors so that’s a drag.

For Q4, I had a 10.7% return. Had it not been for November, probably would have been much better. This quarter my biggest wins were (big surprise) in momo stocks: $TWTR (seriously the gift that keeps on giving in December), $SCTY, $GOGO, $NFLX, $WYNN and $AMZN. But then also in $AAPL and $ISRG (went short on that which I never do so that was fun.) Also did well in Chinese solars stocks that should just be called roulette.

Biggest loser was hands down, no questions asked $NUGT. But since that should also be called roulette, what are you going to do. Since it was a huge winner in previous quarters, I won’t complain. Too much anyway ;) This thing really should be in my don’t ever, ever trade this again category. But I haven’t put it in that bucket yet.

For the year, I was up 39.5%. A good year for sure. I hope I can do as well next year. I’ve done decently on sticking to my “take profits” rule but did leave some money on the table in $TSLA. But I think I’ll get that back. Did OK on my “stop trading so many options” rule. BUT, besides 2 initial buys/sells on IPO day and some sitting in my long-term account, I’ve traded $TWTR only through options. And done very well. So that will likely keep me in the casino.

Still taking most ideas from inside the 12631 trading room. Followed @chessNwine in pretty much all of his longs. I don’t go short much though (other than his $ISRG which worked GREAT!) I followed more of RaginCajun’s quick strikes this quarter and ideas from other members that worked out quite well for the most part. Much smarter market people in there than me :) Plus I’ve gotten some great long term ideas from Chess that are working very well in my 401k.

So I’m ready for 2014 to be another good trading year. Who knows what the heck will happen in the market but I think being in 12631 gives me a definite advantage. I invest in my 401k. I trade in my trading account. I do not confuse the 2. I will still keep my trading account relatively small. I will still make my quarterly physical gold and silver purchases. I will not trade Bitcoin. And I will still keep most of my money in cash or private investments. Kitten is generally conservative and will keep it that way.

A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place. ~ Gordon Gekko

New Year’s Eve was a bit weird. First NYE spent without my (ex)husband in 17 years. And since Shadow was with his Dad last night, first without my doggies in 13 yrs. Picked up Angelus on New Year’s Eve in 2000 and spent the night sleeping on the kitchen floor with him (even though I was sick) as he was missing his doggie mom and puppy pack on his first night away. But I think our bond was created that night as he always loved me most :)

I had several invites for parties but didn’t feel like driving anywhere with any drunkards on the road. So I went to the closest friends home – they live about 5 minutes away. Super nice couple who decked out the house in NYE decorations. As the husband put it – Party City threw up on the house ;) Yummy Thai food brought in and champagne punch plus a lot of other liquor concoctions that I did not try. 2 tea cups of punch was it for me!

It was 6 couples – all with little kids or babies. And me. Doh. All the women started talking about babies and breast feeding and pregnancy (1 was pregnant with 2nd on way) so I mostly hung out with the husbands talking football. Then somehow the ladies all migrated into the conversation and the hippie lady started in on corporate greed and why the bay area is sooooooo much better than anywhere else aaaaaand so I had to chime in on those subjects…. Got the ladies to leave that convo and started talking football again! I was exhausted so left around 10:30 and ended up reading the New Year in.

I say good riddance to 2013. I won’t say it was an awful year. I moved up to Tahoe full time (yay!) Did pretty well in my trading (but didn’t hit my goal – boo.) Did a lot of hiking (need to do more.) Had fun with my friends (although not enough.) And most importantly, got my “annual” (every 5 yrs) physical and a clean bill of health.

But I also lost Stormy in August. And my divorce was finalized. For someone who isn’t a fan of change (that would be me), it’s been a bit tough. Sheldon (Big Bang Theory…if you don’t watch it yet, you should) is a big fan of homeostasis. And so am I.

But I’m also pretty tough. And I certainly do not have anything to complain about in my life. Other than I feel it is grossly unfair that dogs don’t live long enough.

So let’s go 2014. I’m ready.

So I *just* had a conversation with a friend over Thanksgiving about how I did not need any new purses except a small black bag. I live in the mountains. And already have a lot of bags. BUT…I realized that I didn’t have a small, simple black bag for daily use. I have evening bags or bags with black but not just black. But until I found just the right one, I didn’t really need it. Brown is more my base color anyway. So I was not looking.

I was in the bay area this past week and was doing some Christmas shopping. I meandered through Neiman Marcus and saw a gorgeous chocolate brown Balenciaga mini City bag. I didn’t even know they made those! So, so, so cute. But I JUST said I didn’t need anymore bags….except a small black one….like the one in the next case. Doh.

They had 3 small black ones actually. 2 exactly same style but 1 with gold hardware and 1 with pewter. And then another very similar but more tassley things that Balenciaga likes to use. Oh boy. After much thinking (hours actually), I went back with a friend and between her and the 2 saleswomen, and much walking by the mirrors with both (girls are funny), it was decided that the black and gold was THE one. Which is very odd for me as I am more of a simple (so pewter hardware or platinum if jewelry) girl. Not as flashy. But for some reason – I loved this little bag with the gold pieces. And apparently it went with my hair (not blonde so ok…but saleswoman said!)

So I did it! And I used to today for the first time and LOVED it!!! No buyer’s remorse = Excellent Purchase!!

Merry Christmas to me :) falalalalalalalalalaaaaaaaa

Balenciaga Giant 12 Gold Mini City Black

Every day over the last 2 weeks, I have seen news “news” stories about why people will argue over Thanksgiving because of discussing politics, healthcare, etc, etc. Things are pretty polarized right now and the media loves nothing more than to stoke that even more.

How about this? Apply the old adage of do not discuss politics (or religion in some cases) at the dinner table. If you know people disagree with you, and you won’t be changing anyone’s mind just like they won’t be changing yours, why ruin a family holiday/dinner/get together with subjects you KNOW are bombs.

Yes, it’s nice to be right. And of course you feel you are (I know I do!) :) But entering into a losing battle is stupid. And throw in alcohol consumption and you’ve got yourself a doozy. So just stop. Even if that ignorant, know-nothing uncle, aunt or in-law keeps pushing your buttons. It’s not worth it. Because then everyone gets angry. And looks dumb. And there is a good chance those people will leave early anyway to make sure they get in line for their cheap junk because THAT’S what the holidays are all about – not enjoying the day spending time with family.

And all the kids listening to the bickering? They will have another memorable family get together. Which is why when they grow up, they have Friendsgiving.

Cut up 4 Smoked Andouille chicken sausages. Browned in 2 tbsps of vegetable oil for about 20 mins over medium-low heat.

Made a package of Zatarain’s Dirty Rice and tossed in the sausage about 15 minutes into simmering.

Voila – delicious and SUPER easy Sunday night dinner on a cold night while watching Peyton’s team dismantle Tom’s team (so far at least..17 – 0 in 2nd quarter! Gisele is not pleased….)

photo-8

And since Peyton is a Louisiana boy, this dinner works :)

When I was at San Diego Comic-Con this July, I was on the look out for some new, interesting Chewbacca art. He’s actually not the easiest character to portray correctly. I was never able to find anything that I loved (well…Chewbacca wise I mean.) On the last day I made it over to the Chuck Jones Gallery….as evidenced by this purchase: http://a99kitten.com/?p=10450

While there, I also bought another piece. It caught my eye as soon as I walked in but I had been so involved in my purchase of Bad Girls that it took me a while to get over to it. It was not Chewbacca, and I typically don’t collect Leia art, but this piece definitely caught my eye:

FullLeia

It is a good sized piece – 36″ x 24″ on canvas. It’s an artist proof (#3 of 10) and extremely cool in real life :) I’m typically not into the modern or art deco look honestly, but the colors of this just grabbed me. I love the various silvers and greys with white and black (I think another reason I will always have a husky.) My color scheme at home is all browns. Deep, rich browns in various tones. So she doesn’t really fit in but it’ll work. I have a HUGE bus stop poster of Jango Fett framed from Attack of the Clones (all blues and silvers) so they will work together. As I was discussing this piece with the gallery rep, I asked if the artist had done any Chewbacca art. He said not that he was aware of but he could contact the artist. I had actually JUST missed him that day. Darn! And it turned out he left the gallery and went over to the Acme Archives booth inside SDCC. Doh!

Anyway, turns out that no, he had not any done Chewbacca art but that he always wanted to if it was the right feel. Chewie is hard because a lot of artists portray him too cartoony or goofy. I like the fierce Chewie. So we discussed him doing a commission just for me! He would have to get OK by LucasFilm once he did the piece but I was pretty excited!

On a conference call to discuss ideas for the piece, the artist (Mike) asked why I loved Chewbacca so much. That’s easy – because he was Han’s best friend. And protector. Who was big and strong and scared most people but he was a marshmallow inside…to his people. Just like Angelus and Storm were for me. Angelus even sounded like Chewbacca when he talked. And Chewie’s sounds were inspired by George Lucas’ malamute Indiana (who looks a lot like Angelus) so it was a perfect mix. Plus we live in Tahoe and the snow and I always called it Hoth when I’d take the buds out in the snow.

Mike loved the story and it turns out he and his wife are big dog lovers. So he appreciated my love of my buds. And how it translated to my love of all things Chewbacca. So I sent him a bunch of pics of the buds as well as my favorites of Chewie so he could get a sense of how I liked them. He obviously would be keeping it in his own style (art deco-ey, modern. See his site linked below) but incorporating the Chewie, Angelus and Storm in the snow.

The finished work arrived (yes, LucasFilm signed off on it!) and I just got it back from the framers. I. Love. It. He captured the expressions of Angelus and Storm perfectly. Like….perfectly. Plus having an original piece of art commissioned just for me is pretty darn nifty. The fact that it incorporates my beloved friends who are no longer with me along with one of my favorite fictional characters brings together 2 things that I have spent a lot of time in my life enjoying.

I look at this all the time and smile. The buds brought me smiles every day while they were with me, so it’s only natural they keep doing it.

Pic

Mike Kungl: http://www.mkungl.com/2/index.php There are **easily** a handful that I would love to hang in my house.