Monthly Archives: February 2007

Beer, Lasagna, and Laziness

Well, this was the weekend of “Gonna do it…but didn’t.” But in the end, that’s OK, I reckon.

The weather forecast for Saturday was dismal, but as the day approached the arrival of the sleet/snow/icy death was pushed further back, finally to late afternoon. We’d been intending to stay in all weekend, but an enticing invitation from roho and genet found me joining them for lunch in Libertyville (takaza had actually believed me when I said we’d be staying in all weekend, and very reasonably opted to sleep in instead). We met up at The Firkin. I really liked this place! Imagine someplace like The Hopleaf only without quite the insane number of beers and a bigger menu (and not insanely packed!). They have a good 25 beers on draft though (as well as Sprecher’s root beer, cream soda, and ginger ale!), and appear to change them regularly. I was in a bock mood, so I started out with an Anchor Bock, which was delicious, then moved to the always-reliable Spaten Optimator. Since they were running Creole/Cajun specials for Mardi Gras, I opted for the smoked alligator sausage and blackened chicken fettuccine, which was…well, it was capable, and the sausage was good. I’d probably stick to their regular menu, which is supposed to be much better.

After lunch we walked around a bit until I was safe to drive to enjoy the shops of downtown Libertyville. We found a fun little kitchen shop that offers cooking classes, then got ice cream from a little shop that also hosted children’s parties on Saturdays. Gah. Anyway, I took my leave of R&G and headed back home.

As for the rest of the weekend? Wow. Not much to say. Saturday night Dan made a fabulous lasagna-esque thing with chicken, tomato sauce, bacon, and lots of cheese. I played a whole lot of Okami (yeah, I’m an addict). And we watched the snow come down from Saturday afternoon through Sunday night; I think we finished off with about six inches of snow and sleet, all told. I also made a very tasty chocolate bread pudding on Sunday night, though the recipe could have been slightly sweeter.

So here we are this week. We have a housewarming party coming up and a good bit of stuff to get done before then. Tonight my main goal is to get the drapes in the master bedroom up, and put a few finishing touches on the guest bedroom as well. That’s pretty much all the structural stuff – after that it’s just cleaning and cooking.

Oh, and last night? Yeah, we watched Heroes. And were suitably blown away by all the wonderful plot tidbits that were leaked out. I very much agree with those who have said that that episode alone qualifies Jack Coleman (“Mr. Bennett”) for an Emmy. For those counting along, that was episode 17 of 23 for the first season, so the finale is coming soon!

More Heroes Geekery

Oh dear. I wasn’t aware of the mini-comics NBC has on their site which offer backstory and off-camera plot developments (like the origin of Wireless, who showed up this week – she’s ex-Mossad!). Each comic is 5-7 pages long, and very well done. NBC seems to be going all-out with this, since there’s also:
* The Heroes wiki
* Hiro’s blog
* Episode commentary (this week featuring producer Greg Beeman and the actors who play Sylar and Suresh, the latter of whom has no accent whatsoever)
(Great quote: “You know, we don’t really talk about this much, but it’s incredibly convenient that all the genetically mutated people are like, really hot.”)
* And, of course, the full episodes can be streamed from their website

Neat stuff!

Caution: Possible spoilers in the comments if you haven’t seen this week’s episode.

Domestic Bliss

That was a lovely weekend that just passed. What did we do? Well, not a whole lot. Hooray!

On Friday, takaza was going to take a half-day because they were finally coming to fix the window in his office. The glass company said they’d be there between 7:30 AM and noon; they actually showed up at 7:35 AM. Wow. They fixed the window in a matter of minutes and were gone by 8:00 AM. Dan elected to call off the rest of the day and spent the day trying to bring some sense to the jumble of boxes down there. Because the room is below grade and has only one vent that is probably not properly balanced, the room stays close to 55 degrees when the rest of the house is at 68. That’s fine for Dan, but I’d freeze; come summertime it should be nice, though.

Dan informed me that we were going to celebrate the window installation by going out to dinner, meaning that neither of us were particularly motivated to cook. We opted to try one of the many Mexican places down the road from us, Rancho Nuevo in Round Lake. Downtown Round Lake (all one block of it) is rather amusing – it’s a toss-up whether there are more signs in English or Spanish. Not surprisingly, between that and Round Lake Park (the short commercial section on IL 134 that’s right around the corner from us) there’s approximately a half-dozen Mexican restaurants. Rancho Nuevo had a reasonably authentic air, though the decor tries a bit too hard, and the “Learning Spanish Is Fun!” placemats are just over the top. We split an order of asada quesadillas and each had the carne asada, mine with a cheese enchilada. The food was delicious, but unfortunately, the service was terrible. There was a decided language barrier with our waitress (though when does “beer” sound like “horchata”?) and the long periods of unrefilled drinks (a bit of a problem when eating moderately spicy food) might keep us from going back. Maybe if we don’t sit sequestered in a corner, outside of the view of the servers…

On Saturday we ran all kinds of errands. We’ve been trying to stop, as I put it, spending like drunken sailors as we continue to set up the new house. Fortunately, we have a little extra unaccounted-for income that we can put towards expenses like that, but at some point we need to stop. It wasn’t too bad for the most part, but it wasn’t until we stopped by the framing place to have three pieces properly matted and framed (to the tune of $300) that I started humming “What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor” under my breath. Still, it’ll be worth it – one of the pieces is Kenket’s original artwork for the 2005 Midwest FurFest con book cover. That is going to look spectacular in our living room, I think.

We stopped by Lovin’ Oven Cakery, the place that supplied the truly deadly chocolate cake for my surprise party. They had king cake! Woo! It was wonderfully moist and tasty, too, but just too darn big for us to get one. We picked up a couple of tasty pastries to sustain us, and I am quite impressed with the range and quality of their products.

On Sunday Dan continued to putter in his office while I did some general housecleaning and cooking. I made a couple of loaves of challah that turned out quite nicely, as well as a wonderful garlic-potato soup from the new issue of Cook’s Illustrated. roho, genet, and linnaeus joined us for the season premiere of The Amazing Race: All Stars. The show was good – better than I expected, even – and the outcome was pretty good too. Numerous comments were made that Joyce looks a lot like chebutykin. By the way, this season they have a series of web episodes called “Elimination Station” the will follow the eliminated racers as they get to “Elimination Villa”, a mansion in Acuapulco where they will be sequestered while the rest of the race goes on. That looks like it could get entertaining.

Yesterday was spent relaxing, and I got to indulge in my latest video game obsession, Okami. It’s a very enjoyable, very pretty game. Not too challenging, but hey – that’s not what I look for in a game. This is something I do to relax, and I like the visuals and the music.

So, this afternoon I have to tend to a bit of house repair (the soap dispenser fell off the wall of the shower) and a few other things around the house. I expect tonight will be another early bedtime, since neither Dan nor I have slept too well for the last few nights.

In Other News…

So, other stuff going on…

I neglected to mention that last Friday we met roho and genet for dinner at Scott Dogs, a tasty find on Grand Ave. in Lake Villa. I had a couple of homemade empanadas and the (gulp!) deep fried dog. It was excellent, but the cheese sauce was over-the-top. Afterwards we went down to Wine Knows in Grayslake to check out their Friday evening tasting and Roho picked up a bottle of a tasty Spanish cava. We capped off the evening by going next door to Something’s Brewing for some dessert; takaza got a hot chocolate, and I got to demonstrate the lost art of pouring hot beverages down the front of your shirt. No harm done, except to my dignity.

On Saturday evening, we met Roho and Genet again for a coffee tasting at Grinders in downtown Grayslake. It was definitely an introductory session, but they covered some interesting aspects of regional coffee variations, and we had a lot of fun. I’ve never really drank that much black coffee, and I found out why when all that acid returned with a vengeance later that night. Ugh.

This week we’ve been relaxing a bit, which is nice. Erin (nymphara) hitched a ride home with Dan on Monday night rather than deal with her commute in from the South Suburbs on Tuesday – good call. We had a pleasant evening watching some good episodes of Heroes and The Dresden Files. Then last night we went to work on shipping out the leftover sponsor items from MFF. We actually sold seventeen sponsorships after we ran out of pint glasses, and in the chaos of the holidays then moving this was the first chance we’ve had to get these out. Dan kindly packed everything up; I had to print up the letters to go inside the boxes and the shipping labels today. I’ll seal them all up and put them in my car tonight and take them to the post office tomorrow. After that, my focus tonight is going to be on making a tasty batch of chicken and dumplings. Yum!

Finally, PICTURES! Erin posted the pictures that she (and Dan) took at my surprise birthday party on Sunday. Lost of great (and embarrassing) shots there 🙂

Yep, It’s That Day Again

So here we are, another year, another Valentine’s Day. Buy y’know what? takaza knows that I love him – I tell him that every day, and that love isn’t going to increase or decrease based on any given date on the calendar. I’m a very lucky guy, and I know this.

So instead here’s wishing a Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my friends. I’m surrounded by an amazing group of people, and I count myself fortunate to have such caring, generous, and funny people in my life. Thank you all, and I hope that our friendship endures and only grows stronger with each passing day!

Well, That Was A Surprise

As many of you noted (and thank you all!) yesterday was my 39th birthday. I was expecting something kind of low-key from what takaza had talked about: a quiet lunch out with the two of us, a spot of shopping, and dinner with roho and genet. Little did I know that Dan had been working behind my back on other plans!

We headed out at about 11:30 Sunday morning. Our first stop was Lovin’ Oven Cakery, where Dan picked up a birthday cake for me (I wasn’t allowed to see it though). After a so-so lunch (Dan’s first choice was closed, unfortunately), we did some grocery shopping, then went over to a bowling alley/arcade/pool place. All the alleys were booked and the arcade games were lackluster, but they did have a Pirates of the Caribbean pinball game that I was able to run pretty well, as we got a succession of free games out of it. Dan suggested playing some pool, but the smoke from the bar was getting to me and irritating my still-recuperating sore throat, so I was more inclined to leave. Dan said we had to stop one more place, and directed me to Culver’s, where we split an Oreo concrete. Then we headed home. I was expecting to relax for a bit, then start brining the chicken for dinner and start other dinner preparations. We pulled into the garage, unloaded the car and started up the stairs. I got as far as the living room and heard

“SURPRISE!”

I looked over and stuffed into the living room were datahawk, emrldgirrl, wiktowasichu, rustitobuck, justincheetah, posicat, feren, lady_curmudgeon, moryssa, brianblackberry, roho, genet, woodychitwn, luckytheevildog, nymphara, and Scott.

Yep, they got me. Fooled completely and thoroughly, and I’m not unhappy about it a bit! It turns out that Dan had been planning a surprise party for the last three weeks, and had pulled it off flawlessly. The rest of the evening was a blur of great conversations with friends, some very large peach-pomegranate cosmopolitans, pizza, incredibly rich chocolate cake, and a very silly (and large!) game of Apples to Apples. I received some lovely gifts, and I had a truly delightful time. Thanks to everyone who attended! I’m so lucky to have such great friends, and even luckier to have such a wonderful and caring husband. I love so much, Dan!

Well, That Bowl Wasn’t So Super (But Who Cares?)

Another busy weekend passes by…

You know folks who say they’ve lived someplace for years and are still unpacking from moving? That would make me insane. On an unrelated note, we invited a small group of friends over to watch the Super Bowl. Couple the desire for getting the place unpacked and into some semblance of order with a mania to have the house look perfect when company comes over and you get a sense of urgency that just won’t quit. (This is the part of the entry where I nominate takaza for sainthood for putting up with me when I get like this 🙂

On Saturday I was up far too early (before 6 AM), and by 11 AM had run various errands, including a sizeable grocery store run. We spent the afternoon putting up blinds in the kitchen and living room and I am pleased to say that we now can have privacy in our house. Hooray! We finished out the day with a little more unpacking and sorting. We briefly considered going out to check out a little Mexican joint in Round Lake I read about but instead ordered pizza and salad in because neither of us wanted to face the sub-zero temperatures and wind.

Sunday I was up early again and doing some preparatory cooking. After making too darn many crepes, I took a break from the kitchen and Dan and I cleaned the house from top to bottom, stowing any remaining boxes, vacuuming, and generally whipping the place into shape. We finished right as folks were expected to show up. I was expecting a night of food and boozing, but it was a lot of the former and not much of the latter. The amount of food we had was crazy: cheeseburger dip, monkey bread (both herb and cinnamon sugar), guacamole, and chicken tenders. My contribution was a pair of baked crepe dishes. One was crepes stacked with béchamel sauce, spinach, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese and baked together, the other was similar only with a fresh tomato and garlic sauce, prosciutto, Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella cheese. We finished off the meal with a pair of homemade frozen treats: Dan made cinnamon ice cream, and I made a green apple sorbet (aka “booplesauce!”). Though good individually, the two combined to be quite yummy.

Oh yeah, and there was some football game on, and the Bears lost. Eh. Nobody was particularly upset about the loss, and watching the game on TiVo made the game move SO much faster. Of course we watched the commercials, and though there were some funny ones, overall we were generally unimpressed. We sent folks on their way on the late side, and as a result I’m dragging badly this afternoon, something not helped by the fact that I’m fighting off some kind of upper respiratory ick. I’ve got an appointment with the doctor at 5 PM today, and even if she can just treat the symptoms, that will be an improvement.

datahawk spent the night last night, with the intention of just heading to work from our place this morning. As cold as the night was (-12 degrees F), it’s no surprise that her car didn’t start this morning, and as far as I know hasn’t started yet. She’s instead suffering through the torture of relaxing in the living room and cuddling up with our TiVo. It’s a tough life 🙂

It was lovely having folks over and getting the house into shape, though we still have some stuff that we need to figure out where it goes (mainly that’s all in the garage). Dan and I are thinking about throwing a housewarming party sometime in March; we’ll be sure to give plenty of notice once we figure out a date.

Worth a snicker

I was checking the headlines on WBBM-TV’s website, and this bit was in the text traffic synopsis (usually only read by traffic reporters):

Hot Spots: SOLDIER FIELD SPECIAL PARKING RESTRICTIONS IN FORCE …..THE SOLDIER FIELD SOUTH LOT WILL OPEN SUPER BOWL SUNDAY FOR TAILGATERS AT 8 AM. FANS ARE URGED TO TAKE COLD WEATHER PRECAUTIONS WHILE TAILGATING. (YES, I KNOW THE GAME IS IN MIAMI, AND THAT IT’S 2 DAYS AWAY…BUT PEOPLE CARE ABOUT THIS STUFF!) .”

Thats right, woodchuck-chuckers

Babe…I got you babe…

First D.J.: Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.
Second D.J.: It’s coooold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?
First D.J.: Not hardly. And you know, you can expect hazardous travel later today with that, you know, that, uh, that blizzard thing.
Second D.J.: [mockingly] That blizzard – thing. That blizzard – thing. Oh, well, here’s the report! The National Weather Service is calling for a “big blizzard thing!”
First D.J.: Yessss, they are. But you know, there’s another reason why today is especially exciting.
Second D.J.: Especially cold!
First D.J.: Especially cold, okay, but the big question on everybody’s lips…
Second D.J.: – On their chapped lips…
First D.J.: – On their chapped lips, right: Do ya think Phil is gonna come out and see his shadow?
Second D.J.: Punxsutawney Phil!
First D.J.: Thats right, woodchuck-chuckers – it’s…
[in unison]: GROUNDHOG DAY!