Shari’s Solo Flight

17 Jan 2011 In: ballooning, flying, hot air balloon

Here’s a link to our balloon website, ( and my post about my first hot air balloon solo flight:

It was a wonderful flight, and a memory that I will never forget. I can’t wait to do it again! Looking forward to getting my license toward March/April near the end of the flying season. This year, I’m tackling my dreams head on and making them happen.

Flying the Dream

28 Dec 2010 In: ballooning, flying, hot air balloon

I’ve been flying for less than a year. Around Arizona, we take the whole summer off because well, it’s just too darn hot. After the past month of flying, I am finally beginning to feel like a real pilot. Flying a balloon is easy. The aeronautical decision-making in choosing landing spots or altitudes to determine wind direction and speed — not as easy. In the past few weeks, thanks to some great friends and instructors, I’ve been able to get flights that have really helped my confidence on finding and hitting landing spots.

I am getting very close to doing my solo, which I think involves my instructor telling me to do a touch and go landing and then him leaping out of the balloon cackling maniacally as I scream careening into the atmosphere. Okay, well — that last part is probably my imagination. In other words, I think I need to be prepared for a solo at any point.

Had a great flight today with Neil, the pilot of the balloon “Cool Flyings”. He gave me some helpful instructions on what to expect from the flight examiner (think: driver’s test) that I’ll be taking in a few months. I learned to not be afraid of the vent line today — want to come down? Bring that balloon on down and land it! (And don’t bounce back up by 50 feet too while you’re at it). ;)

It’s a beautiful sport — the people are wonderful, the flights are breathtaking, and even crewing is just a great strength workout for me. I love it, and I hope I’m hooked for life.

What dream could you be achieving, piece by piece, that you are too scared to tackle? Take the biggest goal, then break it down into small, tiny bite-sized bits. How do you eat a HUGE bag of Reese’s Pieces? Piece by piece (hopefully with cardio after). Find something that scared you — something you think you could never do. And figure out a way to do it. It’s not so bad if you do it the smallest step at a time.

As part of the O’Reilly Media Blogger Program, I had the opportunity to review this book called App Savvy by Ken Yarmosh.

Buy: App Savvy

The App Store has its own idiosyncrasies that can be confusing for a first-time developer trying to learn the creation and app submission process. Before you launch your first app to the App Store, be sure to read this book first! This book doesn’t only cover apps — it’s also a helpful general business primer when it comes to strategy and marketing. If you have a “great app idea” and don’t know where to start, this book will get you rolling by giving you an inside view of the entire process.
I enjoyed this book because the information was concise and not wordy. One of my favorite features of this book is that at the end of every chapter, Ken interviews successful App Store developers so you can glean from their experiences. There are already lots of books that explain iOS coding. This book isn’t about writing iOS code, but instead is about everything to do with building your own successful application and launching and marketing it to the world. Enjoyable read, and I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in getting into the mobile app business.

Merry Christmas!

22 Dec 2010 In: Uncategorized

About this time last year, we spent the weekend at Disneyland and Disneyland’s California Adventure. It was a wonderful Christmas present, as the parks were decked out in the season’s finest. The lights were beautiful, and so were the parades, snowflakes, It’s a Small World, etc.

This year’s a bit busier, so we’re staying in town. Next year holds a lot of new and exciting things in store — hopefully we’ll get our pilot licenses, run a half-marathon, and who knows what else?

Hope you all have a wonderful and Merry Christmas. Go seek out that brass ring for next year, lean way out on your carousel horse, and GRAB IT!

Half-Marathon? Are You Crazy?!

7 Dec 2010 In: Uncategorized

Well, kind of, I guess. Considering the fact that I do not run. I do not know HOW to run. I have little interest in running unless chased by a grizzly. But some friends have talked me into running a half-marathon. Not just any half-marathon, but the DISNEYLAND Half-Marathon. About the only thing that can get me to run would be a Disney event (or aforementioned grizzly).

I’m shooting to finish and still be able to enjoy the park later that day and the weekend. The chance to run through Disneyland, California Adventure, and see even some of the back lot stuff — well, for that, I will figure out a way to run 13 miles. :)

What to Do When Your TV Dies

17 Oct 2010 In: Uncategorized

While I was cooking spaghetti Friday evening, Chuck got home and sat on the La-Z-Boy and flipped on the TV. A soft pop emanated from the direction of the TV and the screen remained black. We dug out the manual and started up our engines to Google-Fu. Found the replacement bulb online, but only the Sony Style retailer at the Biltmore has them in stock. To walk in and buy the bulb replacement cost $250. Amazon has it for $125. We ordered from Amazon instead, then moved the DVR to the bedroom to use the old Sony 36″ TV in there. Bulb replacement should be in sometime next week.

Here are the things I did (and did not) get accomplished this weekend:

  • Read two novels in the span of a weekend, and started reading a third. Consider working on my own two very roughly drafted novels, decide it’s too awful a mess to even think about tackling.
  • Vacuum, do dishes, do laundry, clean counters. Consider vacuuming the small bunnies under the bed. Decide it’s too much work.
  • Veg out on Nintendo DS game: Dragon Quest IX. Google when Pokemon Black & White version will arrive in the US.
  • Veg out in Pocket Frogs & We City (iPad/iPhone). Breed strange frogs and mail them between iPhone and iPad accounts.
  • Consider vectorizing hot air balloon logo for embroidering on jackets. Go back to gaming.
  • Take a long, hard hike up Shaw Butte on North Mountain on Saturday. Spend early Sunday morning thinking about doing it again, this time remotely from the couch via Google Earth.
  • Consider editing all of the video / photos captured during Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
  • Go back to gaming.
  • Check the Amazon order status of when the lamp bulb replacement is supposed to arrive.

Only 3-5 more days to go! :D


2010 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

13 Oct 2010 In: Uncategorized

I had THE most wonderful time last week at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. I blogged all about it on our balloon site, Sonoran Star. Here are the pics from the photo gallery we put together. I’ve got a YouTube video coming, but I’ll probably wait until this weekend to start editing it.

This was also the first “long” trip I’ve ever taken without a laptop. Just the iPad, iPhone, and the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. It worked beautifully, and it was easy to log into work via a Remote Desktop app on the iPad if I needed to get in and run any emergency SQL queries.

Albuquerque was a blast. On the way there we took the time to see the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, and when we weren’t ballooning, we hiked all over Albuquerque and saw petroglyphs as well as rode the Sandia Tram up to 10,000 feet for a high-altitude hike. It was a wonderful trip, and I didn’t want to come home. But, you gotta pay the bills, right? At least until I can figure out a way to make all my fun hobbies pay for themselves without a day job! :D


23 Sep 2010 In: Uncategorized

Since GoDaddy’s junked-out, crapola servers ate my blog post I just spent 30 minutes on, I’m now going to regurgitate the abridged version of the post I just lost.

For my birthday this year, my wonderful husband bought me an iPad! 3G, 32gb of magically delicious Apple technology. Yeah, I’m a bit of a fangirl. After all, I’m the one who had the dream about falling asleep behind a couch waiting to yell, “SURPRISE!” at Steve Jobs’s birthday party. Strange dreams, indeed.

Anyway, I’m planning on doing some app reviews here, mainly focused around writing, time management, and productivity. My iPad has completely replaced my Acer Aspire One netbook, which my brother is now making much better use of than I was. I now view my MacBook Pro as the whopper powerhouse it is, and use it for Objective-C coding, video editing, and syncing the iPhone and iPad.

The iPad has even become my go-to writing device. I have an Apple Bluetooth keyboard connected to it as I write this. The keyboard is the exact same size as my full-sized MacBook Pro keyboard, and feels fantastic to the touch. The iPad screen itself has a way of keeping me focused on the writing, rather than the constant distractions of four browser tabs open and an IM window running — all tempting me to play instead of write. For me, the iPad is all business when it comes to writing. Nothing but screen and words. It works.

And of course, there’s the fun part. But I’ll save that for an app review sometime. I’ve got a Doctor Who episode to watch. ;)

Lebanese-inspired Lamb Wellington

12 Sep 2010 In: Uncategorized

Here’s tonight’s adventure in dining: Lebanese-inspired Lamb Wellington in a puff pastry with tzatziki sauce. Absolutely delicious, and fairly easy to make (after all the chopping and blending). ;)

Lebanese-inspired Lamb Wellington, 4 servings, 8 pastries

Lamb Filling

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Heat a skillet on medium-high. Add olive oil and coat pan. Add lamb, tomato, onion, and parsley; stir to combine. Add spices and stir. Saute until the veggies have released their juices. Reduce heat to medium and stir occasionally until the juices reduce. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Blend ingredients with a blender (an immersion blender works great) to emulsify.

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
Add cucumber to emulsion and blend just enough to make the cucumbers a coarse blend.

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup greek yogurt
Mix sour cream and yogurt together. Mix in cucumber emulsion. Let rest for at least an hour for the flavors to meld.

Lamb Wellington
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry (17.3 oz)
Aluminum foil for working area
Spray oil or olive oil
Lamb filling, cooled to room temperature

Lay out a piece of aluminum foil big enough to fold out the puff pastry on, and coat it with oil. Fold out the puff pastry onto the foil. (If too stiff, let it sit for 10 minutes and then fold it out.) Allow the puff pastry to come to room temperature, resting on the foil for 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut each puff pastry sheet into quarters (a pizza cutter works well for this). Place a scoop of the lamb filling on each piece of puff pastry. Bring the four corners together and pinch at the top. Pinch the seams together. Make sure the seams are tight – as the pastry bakes it will want to pull apart as it puffs up. Place the pastry packets onto an oiled cookie sheet, and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve hot with a dollop of tzatziki sauce.

Operation: Grand Theft Segway

10 Sep 2010 In: Uncategorized

Every time we go somewhere and we see police, mall cops, or information guides on Segways, I always joke with Chuck about Operation: Grand Theft Segway. The only time I have illegal machinations is either in sushi bars (where I like to imagine doing a a smash-and-grab on the tako behind the glass and running out the door) or when I see a Segway. I don’t know what it is, but something about seeing someone on a Segway gives me the urge to toss them off it, hop on, and glide off into the sunset cackling like an evil villain.

So, probably to keep himself from having to post my bail one day, my husband surprised me with a Segway ride on my birthday this year! The JW Marriott Resort & Spa offers 90 minute guided Segway tours. We arrived, and despite his having dropped clues throughout the weekend, I had no idea what we were doing there. And then I saw the Segways.

I squealed in delight and had to resist skipping like a six year-old as we got up to the line of Segways, and Chuck signed us in. Then, with a brief introduction, they let everyone get on one at a time and get used to the balance of the Segway. If you’ve ever been on an Indo Board, it feels quite similar to that at first. Lean slightly forward and you begin to move forward slowly, lean forward with more speed and off you go!

They started us out in “Turtle Mode” which meant we couldn’t exceed five miles per hour. Within about ten minutes of Turtle Mode, the two of us were bored and eager for more. One of the guides, seeing that we weren’t about to kill ourselves, came over and turned off the governor for Turtle Mode, and off we went at a blistering twelve miles per hour!

Once everyone had their Segway “sea legs”, we followed the guide one-by-one, on a tour of the resort along a winding sidewalk that paralleled their gorgeous desert landscaping and 18-hole golf course. We were tailed by the second guide, safely encapsulated like baby ducklings on their way to the pond. It was a FANTASTIC experience that I’d recommend any adventurous person try at least once. It was quite easy to balance, everyone (all shapes and sizes on this tour) got the hang of it quickly.

And now I can at say… I’m totally prepared for Operation: Grand Theft Segway.

About this blog UI/UX Developer by day, a million other hobbies by night. Attracted to shiny objects that need recharging. Passion for life, love, and sushi. Hot air ballooning, triathlon, running, hiking, books, and travel are just a few of my interests. Multi-platform (Android and iOS) enthusiast.


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