Tuesday, March 30, 2010


This little friend flew into my frame as I was taking a picture of this crazy flower with pollen on its tips. Doing his job as a pollinator. Can you see him?
After some debate, and finally consulting the Audubon Society field guide, we've decided these bouncy little friends are Eastern Cottontails.

In our college days, Erica and I had pet lizards. (Erica had pet lizards and I would drive to the pet store to get them crickets, so I felt like they were kind of mine.) The other day we say one in the wild!

That same day we saw birds in captivity. (Only captive because they rescued and cannot be rehabilitated to survive in the wild.)
The great horned owl was our favorite. Just beautiful.
Peregrine falcon
Harris hawk, a very angry one. She is not happy. Found only in the Sonoran Desert.


Part of learning to enjoy desert living has me reading field guides and plant identification books.

One plant has really grown on me; it's currently one of my favorites. I guess it's a whole family of plants, the Agavaceae family. Or agaves and yuccas for those of us who just identify plants because we're curious, not because we're botanists.
If you're like me, if you saw an agave, you'd probably think they were another form of cactus. But they're not. You know all the cute little succulent people grow in pots? Imagine those times 300. They're huge succulents. But their flowers are what sold me.

From the midst of their succulent-y leaves they grow this huge stem. Sometimes one, sometimes more. A huge stem that then grows flowers on the tip.
Or, like the one I saw today (and took a crazy turn off the main road to snap a picture while sitting at a stoplight), grow flowers all up the stem. It's crazy. And I love it.
A desert in bloom really is a beautiful sight, even if we're just seeing from the road!

(Bonus points if you can see a jack rabbit in one of these pictures!)

sewing 102

With neither teacher nor pattern present, I managed to put what skills I do have to work and made a double-sided flannel blanket for a friend whose first baby is due in 4 weeks.

**Note to sisters who have children: don't be sad I didn't do this for your kids! I love your kids dearly! I didn't know how to sew back then! If you have more kids, I'll make them blankets!

(Any advice on closing the hole used to pull the blanket right side out would be appreciated. I did it and it looks pretty good, but I'm wondering if there is an easier way?)

Monday, March 29, 2010


Cactus flowers.

Claret-cup cactus: Echinocereus triglochidiatus

Saturday, March 27, 2010

bzzz bees

Sadly honey bees in the US of A are becoming more and more scarce.

Things are different here in Arizona.

On my hike the other day, this sign greeted me:
Killer bees! Not honey bees. And not a shortage.

Killer bees. And lots of them. They swarm and attack.

On the news every night, along with car accidents and random shootings (oh local news), there is inevitably a story about people being attacked by a swarm of bees.

Don't worry, I checked out a book about living Sonoran Desert and it taught me how to defend myself if I'm ever swarmed and end up on the news.

(Another note about local news: there are about 5 channels dedicated to weather. Weather in the desert where the sun shines. Every. Single. Day.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

maple surple

Who doesn't love to get mail? Especially fun, bulky package mail.

Count me in. I love packages. And I got one the other day.

I was excited. But to say I was excited once I opened the package is an extreme understatement. More like giddy.

Giggling like a giddy school girl. A solitary giddy school girl.

Inside was this:
Fresh (as in less-than-two-weeks-old fresh) maple syrup from the great state of New Hampshire. From dear Cheryl.

In the move I had to leave behind a whole quart of this deliciousness. And it's super expensive out here. (What you can find here comes from Canada, not NH. My Gram says the Canadians water their syrup down. Now I don't know if that's true, but I do prefer the New Hampshire variety. It's thicker and more golden.) (No hard feelings Canada, you know I love you and look forward to retiring to the land of the maple leaf!)


So I made these.
Banana Maple Walnut muffins.

(Mr. Yin doesn't like most baked goods, but he likes muffins. Especially ones made with real maple syrup.)

guessing game

Guess what we're having for dinner tonight?

(And then cross your fingers that it turns out, I don't have a backup plan!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

a lemony bust

Tonight's menu consisted of citrus pesto on linguini with broccoli on the side.

The broccoli (by Mr. Yin) was perfect and delicious.

The linguini (by me) was perfect and al dente.

The citrus pesto (by me) was a bust.

Citrus pesto turns out dramatically different than imagined when you only have a fledgling basil plant from which to pluck basil leaves.

Too many pine nuts, not nearly enough basil.

Photo from Bon Appetite.


I can blog about basketball now because my team has been eliminated.

Typically I don't vote for a number one seed team to win it all and this year was no exception.

Maryland was my choice. For no good reason except I had heard someone talking about them right before I did my bracket. And because my sister lived near the University of Maryland last time they won and I was thinking about that.

Up until Maryland lost today all four of my Final Four teams were still in. If California can hold on against Duke I'll still be 3 for 4. And seven for eight in the Elite Eight.

Unlike 42.2% of the population, I had Kansas losing in the Sweet Sixteen so that didn't really hurt my results.

But Maryland bowing out to Michigan State did me in.

I know you all care so much, right?

Still, it's the best I've ever done on a bracket!

Friday, March 19, 2010

a new tradition

We've decided to keep track of the places we've lived (and will live) by buying a cool, original art of each city.

First up? This gorgeous serigraph from Heads of State.

(The Miami poster is so perfect I almost want to move there to justify it!)

Discovered via Design*Sponge.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mrs. P.

Last week my friend and former roommate was in town to visit her brother.

Lucky me got to spend the afternoon with her and her adorable and funny one-year old.

Her sister-in-law (who was feeling under the weather) was kind enough to share her barley salad with us, and boy am I glad she did. I made some for the Yin home and have been eating it for lunch this week.

A friend and a sister visiting all in the same week?

Glory be!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

new name, move down

I changed the name of my blog.

"The Yins" was a place-holder name until I came up with something less boring.

Now we're "Yins and Outs" because that's what this blog has turned out to be, the ins and outs of the Yins.

Mr. Yin likes it and I like it.

And we hope you do too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

take me out to the ball game

Herman and Chris came to visit. And that meant we had to go see some baseball of the spring training variety.

San Francisco Giants vs. the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants vs. the Oakland Athletics.

I'll spare Giants fans (my dad, Herman, Chris) the gruesome details of both games and suffice it to say it was perfect weather for a relaxed game in the desert.
For the SF v Seattle game we had front row seats on the 3rd baseline. Lovely.

Yes. I'm wearing a fleece and jeans. Perfectly warm and toasty. With the sun on our backs and a slight breeze in front. And of course my Red Sox hat. Doesn't matter who's playing: must wear Red Sox hat.
SF vs Oakland. Lawn seats. It turns out it was more like a daytime frat party than a baseball game. Mr. Yin was able to join us for this one.

And sunglasses. Always sunglasses in AZ.

Despite the gallons of sunscreen we slathered on, I still managed to get a bit of a tan and lots of freckles.

(I think Chris has better pictures on his phone.)

bloomin' desert

One thing I do love about the desert is the flora. It is a far, far cry from the lush green of the East Coast, but the delicate little flowers that do bloom light my heart. Each one of them had to work so hard to get here and I love them for it.
It was a windy day, Mr. Yin had to man-handle this poor purple flower to get a close up.

This crazy plant now has dark red flowers on it, I need a new picture!

These are my favorites. Perfect, tiny white flowers.

This puffy ball of happiness is really tiny. See the pollen? (Don't sneeze Jaime!)

(I'm trying not to miss spring in New England. I hear crocuses and tulips have broken through. Trees in full pink and white bloom along the Charles are not far behind.)

Friday, March 5, 2010

setting goals

One day when I've proven to myself that I deserve it, I will own an awesome camera.

And to carry it around I will have an awesome camera bag. Probably Lola from Epiphanie.

Until that day, I am happy taking pictures of the desert with our little digital.

(And if Providence smiles upon me, maybe that camera will come sooner rather than later!)

(Providence usually makes me work for things and then smiles upon me, so I'm happily working towards this goal, fancy camera or not.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

blowing off Thursdays

Each Thursday, the landscaping crew at our apartment complex each hoist leaf blowers onto their backs and walk around blowing everything. Leaves (of which there are not many: we are in the desert), seed pods, pine cones and rocks.

A lot of which ends up in our patio area. They then aim the leaf blowers at our patio area and blow that stuff around.

I've yet to see them scoop or slurp any of these things to actually get rid of them. Maybe they need to make sure they'll have something to blow around next Thursday.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

a desert day

Today Mr. Yin and I picnicked for lunch.


Please say hello to the newest members of the Yin family.

Rose Mary

and Basil (named after the John Cleese character in Fawlty Towers.)

(If you look closely you can also see our car, Pinnacle. But she's a few months old now, and already has 1500 miles, so kind of old news compared to Rose and Basil. Plus she adds to carbon emissions while Rose and Basil do their little part to combat her output.)

Rose already helped make some delicious, individual chicken pot pies.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

lady of leisure

My dear friend Cheryl has family in Scottsdale. And she came to visit them. So guess what? I got to see Cheryl.

Hurray for family in Arizona.

She came with her mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephew to celebrate nephew's first birthday with his cute Canadian (I mean Newfoundlander) great-grandma and extended family from all over. Lucky little guy.

And lucky me.

It was a joy to see a Boston friend and catch up. We of course took pictures. And I will not post them because only Cheryl looks cute and if I cropped the picture so it's just her, she might not might not want to be my friend anymore. I can't risk that.

Her mom asked me if I was still a "lady of leisure" and indeed I am.

But I feel much better having a title.

I can go by Lady for short.