Category Archives: dining

An Opinionated Guide To Restaurants At Midwest FurFest – 2021

This is an update of a post I made in 2019. While I have confirmed the places listed below are still open, I can’t comment on the impact of the pandemic on hours, staffing, etc.

Note that this is completely unofficial; it’s just me and my overblown opinions. Also, your opinions may be different from mine. I don’t care  Get your own blog!

Midwest FurFest used to publish a 20-30 page booklet of listings and reviews of local restaurants, but unfortunately when you have to print 5,000+ copies of anything (let alone a 20-30 page booklet) costs start to get prohibitive, and with the availability of Yelp and similar sites we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the Restaurant Guide.

That said, I’m happy to offer a (completely biased) overview of restaurants in and around the Stephens Convention Center, though I will leave it to the reader to find exact locations on Google Maps.

Inside the Hyatt Regency O’Hare

  • Midwest FurFest will not be offering a con suite this year, unfortunately. Issues of sanitation and public health dictated the decision.
  • O’H Restaurant: a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food is good to really good, but it’s expensive hotel prices. The good news is that the hotel runs specials for all meals (including the breakfast buffet) that lowers the prices from crazy high to slightly expensive.
  • Red Bar: Bar/restaurant open late afternoons and evenings with has a small food selection available as well. The prices are also not cheap, and the service is usually regrettably slow, although they are actively working with MFF to improve this. It sure is convenient, though!
  • Perks, the coffee shop/gift shop. They have a selection of grab-and-go sandwiches and salads, but even better throughout the weekend they set up a food station (in the past they have offered on different nights Build Your Own Mac and Cheese, Mini Naan Pizzas, Tacos, and Subs) that is actually quite reasonably priced.
  • There are rumors of a food truck as well. Stay tuned to @FurFest for more info on that.

The Hyatt will set up larger food service stands (drinks, sides, burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs) that are on the expensive side but terribly convenient.

In the Stephens Convention Center

  • Expoteria: Right across the street from the hotel. Hours can vary. The food is cheap, and it is certainly…food. So there’s that.
  • Starbucks: In the ground floor lobby of the convention center. Pretty much your standard Starbucks, and the prices are surprisingly not inflated for the location.
  • There will be a concession stand in the Dealers Den in Hall G. Expect drinks, sides, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and hot dogs that are on the expensive side but terribly convenient. The food is provided by a vendor which supplies many school cafeterias. I’m sure the similarity between the food quality is purely coincidental.

In the Parkway Bank Park Entertainment District

  • Five Roses Pub: Pseudo-Irish pub. Average.
  • King’s Dining & Entertainment: Bowling and restaurant. The place is loud, though fun with a group of friends out for drinks.
  • Adobe Gila’s: Mexican-ish. Not recommended.
  • Sugar Factory: Ridiculously overpriced tourist crap (think $19 burgers)
  • Bub City: BBQ. Haven’t tried but reviews aren’t terrible. Takes reservations on their website.
  • Park Tavern: The one bright spot. Gastropub with some good food selections and a great beer list. Service can be slow at peak times, though. Takes reservations on their website.
  • Fogo de Chao: Brazilian steakhouse. “The Meat Faucet”. Takes reservations on their website.
  • Hofrauhaus: Closed, and in the process of being replaced by a craft beer/pizza bar. Unfortunately that is still under construction and will not be open by MFF.
  • Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar: Closed, and replaced by Verlife Dispensary.

Also Nearby

A 10-15 minute walk south on River Road is the Fashion Outlets Chicago (fancy name aside, it’s a mall). The food court and other restaurants have some decent options that are quite affordable. A 10-15 minute walk north on River Road brings you to McDonald’s and also Giordano’s Pizza, one of the Holy Trio of Chicago deep-dish pizza restaurants.

A little further walk (or a short Uber/Lyft/whatever trip) south on River Road, two blocks south of the Loews Chicago O’Hare, is Short Fuse Brewing Company While I’ve found their beer decent (nothing stellar, but not bad), apparently they are doing something right as they were named Great American Beer Festival Brewery of the Year for their class. The food is pretty good, too.

Finally, a few miles south on River Road is Hala Kahiki Tiki Bar and Lounge. This is a shockingly legit retro tiki bar that has no business being tucked away in a Chicago suburb, but there it is. They have a huge menu, and the drink prices aren’t outrageous. You’ll want to eat before you go though – the food options there are pretty scarce.

Other good things to know: The Rosemont Entertainment Circulator is a free shuttle that runs nonstop all weekend and even late into the night. It stops at the CTA Blue Line station, at the front of the convention center, in the Parkway Bank Park, and at the Fashion Outlets Chicago.

Finally, Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash, and other food delivery services are alive and well in Rosemont. Don’t be shy about using them to order as well!

Where Have I Been and What Have I Been Doing?

I could bore you with the long drawn-out tale of how I was captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia, made friends with the captain and wound up entertaining Bedouins in a Yemeni oasis before I was able to escape to Belgium, where I subsisted on crackers, aged cheese, and fine Trappist ales before stowing away on a transatlantic cruise ship and talked my way into a ride back to Chicago in an art-car covered with Hello Kitty dolls, but that would be tedious and wholly fabricated.

Instead, let’s talk about what I’ve been doing the last few weeks.

The weekend of August 21st, I joined aureth, linnaeus, genet, and roho for what we termed the “Milwaukee Booze Tour”. We started out with the Sprecher Brewery tour. We’ve done it before, but this time we paid extra for the “Reserve Tasting”: 15 beers paired with 15 cheeses. Not much beer (a shot glass of each), but most of the pairings were good, and a few were excellent (the Scotch ale paired with a whisky-infused cheddar was stellar).

From there we grabbed a quick bite at a little dive Mexican joint, Conejito’s, then walked around Milwaukee Public Market and did a bit of shopping at The Spice House.

Then it was off to Great Lakes Distillery for a very interesting tour and tasting. The $6 cocktails before the tour were nice. The specifics of their distilling process were fascinating to me as a chemical engineer, and we had great fun sampling their various products. My personal verdicts: Their gin is wonderful, their vodka so-so, the maple-spiced rum kind of vile. The grappa was watery, the kirsch was…well, kirsch (the only think I know to do with kirsch is spike fondue with it). And their absinthes were overhyped. I’ll buy pastis and be happy.

I was only slightly tipsy after the tasting, but fortunately Genet was our designated driver. For dinner we went to Crawdaddy’s, which was apparently a really great place back in 2002. Alas, it’s 2010 and the place is well past its prime. Roho left a scathing review on Yelp, and I agree with every bit of it.

Last weekend I felt the urge to cook. Since I have a lot of cookbooks but don’t use them nearly enough, I decided to pull some recipes from there. We were joined by Aureth, Roho, and Genet, and I made a baby lettuce and arugula salad with peaches and almonds, and a summer vegetable gratin (with zucchini, summer squash, Japanese eggplant, and Roma tomatoes), both from Ad Hoc At Home.

For the entree, I made Anthony Bourdain’s pan-roasted pork chops with Sauce Charcruterie (a brown sauce made with onions, demi glace, mustard, and cornichons) from the Les Halles Cookbook. For dessert, Dan made a delicious fresh yellow watermelon sorbet that was amazing when mixed with Grey Goose vodka 🙂 The salad was pretty good, but the flavors didn’t quite meld. The gratin was amazing and I would absolutely make it again. The pork was OK, but I really liked the sauce more.

The big news this week is that we got shiny new phones, the Sprint Samsung Epic 4G. We’re still getting used to the quirks of Android, but after less than 24 hours I can still say that they are far superior to our Palm Pres. More on these as we’ve had time to play with them!

Catching Up, Part 2

So, what else has been going on lately? Since I’m lazy, I’ll use bullet points.

  • On Friday we helped rustitobuck celebrate his birthday at a dinner that linnaeus put together. We ate at Claimjumper and the food wasn’t too bad. I’m pleased to say that it is possible to get moderate (i.e. sane) sized portions at Claimjumper if you order carefully.
  • We spent the weekend relaxing a bit and finally cleaning up the clutter from the picnic the prior weekend. On Sunday night we had dinner with roho and genet at a fabulous little Indian restaurant that just opened up within a few miles of us. I’m so glad to have expanded opportunities for food around here (and takaza loves their chicken tikka masla, so it’s a win for everyone!).
  • I’ve started using the MyPlate food and fitness diary over at Livestrong (which came recommended by the ever-useful Cool Tools blog). It’s an awesome free utility that lets you get all of your data in one place and even download it to a local spreadsheet. It’s interesting how just the act of tracking what you eat makes you more aware of your diet. I’m not “dieting” per se, just trying to eat better. This is an excellent tool for this.
  • We’ve got travel coming up! In September we’re going to be visiting Montreal. I’m having a lot of fun finding out about the area and making notes of possible places to visit, though as I’ve found on past trips while it’s nice to know some possibilities ahead of time, it’s even more fun to surrender to serendipity when it comes along. If we go to some of these places, great! If not, that’s OK too. We’ve got a group of 12 people coming from all over the country, and coordinating everyone is a bit of trick. We’re still working on who will cook what meals that we eat at the rental house, and putting the finishing touches on some reservations, but otherwise we’re just about good to go.
  • Speaking of vacation planning, the big trip for us right now is the Alaskan cruise that we’re planning for next May. I am pleasantly surprised to see that we definitely have thirteen people signed up, and at least four more who have expressed interest. The beauty of a trip like this is that it’s easily expandable. So hey, if you ever wanted to cruise from Anchorage, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbus, with visits to Seward, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Seattle, we’d love to have you along for this trip! You can find more information over here.
  • In just a few minutes I’m off to meet with the representative of our home builder. It’s almost been a year since we moved in and our one-year home warranty is about to expire, so they’re going to come in for one last pass to take care of any maintenance issues, nail pops, etc. Dan and I went over the walls carefully last night (and poor Dan slipped on the stairs doing so – he’s OK, just a bit sore) and our walls are currently covered with an array of post-it notes marking any defects. Next up will be scheduling their guy to come in and repair all of them.

That’s all for now!

Where’s Your Head At?

Yep, we’re down to the pre-convention head-in-a-fog period where I post even less than I usually do. We’re trying to keep things moderately low-key as we lead up to Anthrocon, which is just seven days away (for us, anyway). That doesn’t mean we’re sitting in darkened rooms all by ourselves, though…

On Friday after work takaza and I had a bit of shopping to do in McHenry, then wandered around a bit through Bull Valley (my gosh, that’s a beautiful area!) before winding up in Woodstock. We had dinner at La Petite Creperie. We eschewed crepes for their more formal dinner menu which was…something of a mixed bag. I felt strongly enough that I wrote up a review on Yelp, giving them 2 out of 5 stars. We’d go back, but only for the crepes.

Saturday we worked around the house a bit, then drove up to Antioch to visit with roho and genet and linnaeus. It was a pleasant evening, nice and laid back (though clearly we hadn’t had enough mind-altering substances to fully appreciate “Sita Sings the Blues” 🙂 On Sunday was spent working on Anthrocon stuff and generally just puttering around the house. Not a bad thing at all!

This brings me to the specter hanging over our heads right now – Anthrocon. It was with a bit of astonishment that I realized last week that I’ve been working in the Artists Alley at Anthrocon for the last nine years, and been in charge of it for the last seven years. Dan started in the Alley with me, then graduated to write the at-convention newsletter, then to create and run the Finance Office. Nine years is a long time, and we have both reached the point where we are burned out and it just isn’t fun anymore. It’s an insane amount of work to run these departments, and I know that at least for me serving as chairman of Midwest FurFest was easy compared to the time spent preparing for and running Artists Alley.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve enjoyed my time managing Artists Alley. I have gotten to work with some really wonderful people, and as I wrap up my final year on Anthrocon staff I leave knowing that the Alley is in excellent hands. rooth, my second-in-command is taking over the position from me, and I have every confidence he will do an excellent job. We haven’t always agreed on philosophical matters, but that’s a good thing – it’s good to challenge and understand why we do what we do. He’s got a great head for logistics, and between us I think that we’ve created a pretty awesome purchasing system in the Alley. And I know he has a ton of new ideas that will be implemented over the next few years that will make the Alley even better.

As for us? We’ll be giving Anthrocon a miss next year, I’m afraid. We’re planning on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our commitment ceremony; I only have two weeks of vacation, and the cruise is going to consume a large chunk of that. We’ll still be active with Furry Connection North and Midwest FurFest, though, and the many and various smaller events throughout the year!

Good Food and Good Beer

Not too much to talk about here, thus the radio silence.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of having brunch with genet and linnaeus (takaza and roho were both under the weather) at Longman & Eagle in Logan Square. This qualified as being OMG SO GOOD, as I had two duck eggs sunny side up over a hash of Yukon gold potatoes and duck confit. They also do some very interested bourbon flights; I suspect we will be returning to investigate!

Afterward we walked a ways down Milwaukee Ave., checking out the neighborhood. We found Bucket o’ Blood, a newly-opened speculative-fiction used book store, and stumbled across Revolution Brewing an awesome brewpub. I had the Mad Cow Milk Stout, which was quite tasty. We were also viciously attacked by a plate of chocolate chunk bread pudding, and forced to defend ourselves!

On Saturday we had lunch with Roho and Genet at The Brat Stop in Kenosha, and I was amused by the lingering spirits of .38 Special, REO Speedwagon, and Cheap Trick (even though they’re not dead yet). Afterward we did our weekly shopping at Woodman’s, which wasn’t nearly as insanely crowded as we expected.

Monday we got together after work with Linnaeus, Roho, and Genet to check out the Pub Quiz at Emmett’s Ale House in Palatine. We learned some important things: 1. They start at 7:30. Get there early to get a table! 2. No more than four people per table. 3. It’s $7 per person, and if you’re in the room you’re paying – no just following along. 4. It’s seven rounds, and takes about two hours.

Unfortunately, five people is exactly the wrong number of people to have in that situation, so rather than split up, we said t’hell with it and enjoyed a lovely dinner (with a little beer) on the patio instead. So…who’s interested in doing the pub quiz this Monday? We need at least one more and up to three more people. After listening in to the questions, I think it’s something we could do well in 🙂

Today has been spent dealing with a lot of Anthrocon craziness, but also making some advance plans for New Year’s Eve – keep an eye out for more about that!

Meat and Booze – How Can You Go Wrong?

I need another weekend to recover from my weekend!

We started the fun off on Friday night. Roho and genet carpooled with us down to Downer’s Grove for dinner. We had some time to kill, so we stopped by Binny’s Beverage Depot to look around and ran into linnaeus! While there we were entertained by a gentleman who was offering samples of various spirits that he distributes, including Vana Tallinn, an Estonian liqueur. We were a little so-so at first, but then he had some cocktails available to sample showing how good it was for mixing. In fact, it was fantastic for mixing, especially the Canton Cannon: Vana Tallinn, vodka, fresh ginger, and just a touch of Sriracha hot sauce. It was delicious! Between us, our group bought three bottles of Vana Tallinn. Now that’s a good salesman!

Dinner was a nice little shindig put together by Rayven and Nihaler at Chama Gaucha. I have to say that this is one of the better iterations of the Brazilian Steakhouse type of restaurants – excellent service, really good-quality meats, and a decent price. I was impressed that once Dan told them he was allergic to garlic, not only did the waiters only offer him non-garlic-containing meats, they made a special skewer of chicken breasts just for him. This place is definitely worth going back to. When we got home I had to head off to bed, but Dan stayed up until kellicjtiger and uberhill arrived at about 1:30 AM.

Things were understandably a little slow to get started the next morning. We finally got out of the house and met up with Roho and Genet for brunch at Las Vegas Restaurant. We walked around downtown a bit afterward, then succumbed to the siren call of Antioch Packing House, our favorite local butcher (OMG MEAT!). Steaks were purchased, and then a bit more booze and grocery shopping followed (and once again it was proven that Garden Fresh Market is an evil place for those who make impulse purchases). That evening, we were joined by Linnaeus and a had great night of food, conversation, laughter, and boozamahol followed (we, um, killed about 80% of the 1-liter bottle of Vana Tallinn). It was really a whole lot of fun!

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. The meeting was nice and short (as they typically are this time of year), but we had an extremely useful tour of the innards of the hotel afterward from one of the convention services managers. A small group of us went to Potbelly Sandwiches for dinner afterward, then we headed home. The evening was nicely low-key after such a raucous weekend, with Kellic and Charles working on some Geek Partnership Society work and us rotting our brains with the Survivor finale (which we watched in high-speed: 2 hours of TV in about 20 minutes, woo!).

This week we’re going to be doing a bit of housecleaning and getting ready for Memorial Day fun (more info on that coming very soon!). We need to take Buddy to the vet tomorrow to have his teeth cleaned and a bump removed from his leg that he has licked to the point that something needs to be done about it – it doesn’t seem to hurt him, it’s just an annoyance, I suspect. We’ll make sure that the vet microchips him too, since it doesn’t appear to have been done before. Given that they’ll have to put Buddy under to do the first two items, I’m sure he’ll be a bit of a mess when we pick him up tomorrow night. Fun times for doggie parents!

Spring Cleaning Weekend! Well, Almost…

We had plans, you see.

Spring Cleaning! Lots to do! A three-page list of tasks from the garage to the upstairs office to the back patio, we were going to be a whirlwind!

Well, yeah. Anyway. Not so much. But you know what? It was a pretty good weekend anyway.

We wound up eating out all three nights, which was unexpected. Friday night was dinner at The Lake House with aureth, jenwolf, roho and genet to celebrate Aureth’s birthday. This was our third time at The Lake House, and each time the service and food quality has gone downhill. While the company was great and we had a fun time, I don’t see a huge need to return to that restaurant. There’s too many other good places in the area still to try. (Like Rugan’s, which has a “beer fraternity”!).

Saturday was gray and wet outside, and neither takaza nor I felt particularly motivated. We did give Buddy a bath, which is always amusing. Once he knows that it’s bath time, he’ll tuck his tail between his legs and walk slowly into the bathroom and climb into the bathtub on his own, then look at you with this expression of, “Can we please just get this over with?” Anyway, with him clean we took the opportunity to wash his bedding as well, but then pretty much ran out of get-up-and-go. Instead we opted for a bit of retail therapy. We needed someplace to put all of our DVD’s and (small) collection of video games, so we decided we needed to go to Ikea and pick up a couple of Benno DVD towers.

We called Roho and Genet to see if they wanted to join us; Roho was tuckered out, but Genet was up for it! One trip to Ikea later we had the towers, as well as a few other things (yeah, that’s the way they work). We then went over to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for dinner, the first time we had visited one. The verdict: great fries (yeah, Dan ordered the large size – big mistake), and pretty darned tasty burgers. A little pricey, but I expect we’ll be going back.

Sunday we made a small dent in some of the work to do, sorting through a few of the boxes in the office. Side note: we have a clash of family cultures in our house. We always have had an attic where we had a dozen or more boxes of stuff sitting around. We’d look at it every five years or so, shrug, and back into storage it would go. Dan’s family didn’t have the stash of boxes and doesn’t see my predilection for not minding all these boxes stashed in a closet. So we’re compromising: Sort through the boxes, get rid of what isn’t needed, sort the rest into clear plastic bins, and get some order into the place. Well, that was the idea, and we’ll still finish it at some point. On Sunday, though, we did a little work then decided to take a break. Then it was time to head out for dinner!

Dinner this night was at The Sequoit Creek Lodge a mostly-bar-but-also-a-restaurant in Antioch. There we met up with Roho, Genet, and chebutykin, on her way home from Ebertfest in Champaign (and recovering from drinking gin and Squirt with mirkowuff). We had a fun time, and were surprised at the end of the meal when Aureth and Jenne dropped by, having seen tweets of where we were eating. It was a nice reminder of how fun Cheb is to hang out with, and why we really must persuade her to visit for Memorial Day 🙂

This week is a lot more sane than the last. A high-speed project was created, written up, executed, and the final report signed off late Friday of last week, and I’m still recovering a bit from that. We’ve got plans for the weekend (more on that later) that will keep us hopping as well. Hope everyone has a great week!

Company, Meetings, and Dog Stuff

Well, that was a fun-but-busy weekend!

On Friday takaza and I finished up the last bit of housecleaning from the week in preparation for guests. I went ahead and bought a gas grill and propane tank, too. We’re not getting rid of the charcoal grill, I assure you! I love that smoker too much. No, this is for weeknight cooking, when we don’t want to fool with getting a proper charcoal fire going but would like something grilled and quick. I still believe that the flavor and cooking qualities of charcoal are superior, but when we had a gas grill in North Carolina we used it at least 3 nights per week. Now…I just need to put the fool thing together 🙂

fordshepherd and baja_hyena drove in on Friday night (arriving late enough that I had already gone to bed!), and r_bear flew in on Saturday. We decided on a late lunch at one of my favorite places that we hadn’t been to in ages, The Firkin. Their beer selection has always been top-notch, but we had found their food so-so. The beer was still excellent, but the big surprise was that the food was fantastic as well! We had a really enjoyable meal. We finished off the rest of the evening hanging out at our place and chatting (and, um, imbibing just a bit).

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. It was quick and relatively painless, and after the meeting I was able to give some tours to folks who needed to see what was where. We had an early dinner at Red Bar in the Hyatt, and while the food wasn’t bad the prices were, um, hotel-like. In spite of that, I suspect I’ll be eating more than one meal there during the convention. Ford and Baja hit the road after the meeting, but RB and graywolf769 came back to our place and we hung out and chatted for a while. After Gray left for the ride back to Indiana, we watched a bit of TV and went to bed.

Dog-wise, we hit a great milestone this weekend. We tried giving Buddy the run of the house when we went to lunch on Saturday and again when we were at the staff meeting on Sunday. In both cases he behaved himself perfectly! As far as I’m concerned the crate is a thing of the past for him (thanks for the loan, roho and genet!). He seemed so much happier when I went home to walk him at lunch today, so I think we’re making the right decision. Health-wise, his digestive system seems to be working much better and he’s slowly gaining weight back into a more healthy range. We’re going to need to buy him a new harness because the medium-sized one is quickly becoming too tight! He was also a perfect gentleman all weekend with our guests, snuggling right up to them 🙂

So, now the new work week has started. There’s nothing crazy going on at work, thank heavens. I’ve got an appointment with my optician this afternoon, then I’ll probably go to work putting Boxee on an old server we have (not sure if I’ll put Windows or Ubuntu on there for the OS – we’ll see what happens). The new gas grill needs to be put together too – Dan may do that today or I’ll do it tomorrow. Generally speaking, though, it should be a pretty low-stress week.

(Oh, and if you’re waiting to reserve a suite for Midwest FurFest, watch this space! And , and Twitter, and our website, and our forums…)

Birthday Weekend for a Sheppie!

What a weekend that was! It was fordshepherd‘s birthday, and we were determined to celebrate it in style.

baja_hyena flew into Milwaukee International Airport (MKE) on Thursday night. I picked him up and we came home to a tasty dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes that Takaza had made.

Friday, we were joined by Ford, who arrived just in time for a great steak dinner and a relaxing evening of chatting and relaxing.

On Saturday, the fun really began! Following the surprise (to Ford, anyway) arrival of r_bear, the first stop was Whirlyball, a crazy combination of bumper cars and lacrosse with a really good bar. We were joined by perro, wolphy, deccadoggy, tozier_wah, justincheetah, calapurr, r_bear, linnaeus, and snickershusky. We were able to get in six 10-minute games, and we had a blast! We’ll definitely be going back, perhaps either during Wuffmeet or Memorial Day next year.

After Whirlyball we stopped for a tasty lunch at Eloise Chicago, then it was over to Nickel City Arcade, where after paying $2 admission you can play any of their 100 games for a nickel (OK, maybe $0.15, sometimes). I got an hour’s worth of entertainment on about thirty cents with a couple of games of pinball, an old version of Mortal Kombat, NFL Blitz ’99, and Puzzle Fighter. The place was of course overrun with kids on a Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t too bad.

When we wrapped up there several folks took their leave, and it was down to eight – me, Dan, Baja, Ford, Linnaeus, RB, Cheetah, and Cala. We stopped by Linnaeus’ place to change and then it was off to dinner at Moto. Oh my god, Moto.

Pacific Northwest 2009: Part 2

When last we left our intrepid crew, they had just crossed the border back into the United States on Friday, July 31.
linnaeus, roho, mirkowuff, and I were running about an hour behind schedule. takaza and genet had left Vancouver at lunch time to go to the grocery store to stock the kitchen and check into the rental house; they beat us to our destination. Frysco, using his keen local knowledge to not get lost, and aeto arriving from Seattle after having dealt with a bizarre traffic jam, also beat us there. Eventually our merry band all converged at our designated dinner spot: Nimbus Restaurant in Bellingham, Washington.

Since Friday was Linnaeus’ birthday, we thought a special place for dinner was in order. I recall with amusement the look on huskydoggeh‘s face as we discussed plans for the trip a few months prior when I told him we were spending the day in Vancouver before going down to Bellingham for dinner; I suspect it was akin to saying we would be spending the day in Chicago before going down to Kankakee for dinner 🙂 Nevertheless, the choice turned out to be an excellent one. Nimbus is at the top of the tallest building in Bellingham. This isn’t saying a whole lot since it’s all of 14 stories, but the view of Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound as the sun sets is just spectacular. The evening skyline of downtown Bellingham was quite pretty as well. The service was excellent as well. The real question, though, was how was the food? Oh my, the food…

First off, there were the drinks. Their bartender was quite a talented fellow, and we had a blast working our way through the specialty cocktails, including the Cucumber Craze (cucumber water with Hendrick’s gin) and the evening’s winner, the Garden Martini (basil, gin, lemongrass, and simple syrup). The latter was so good that Mirko got an audio recording from the bartender describing how to make it 🙂 And then there was the Watermelon Enfuego (watermelon, vodka, jalapeno water). Takaza ordered this for me as a surprise, and it was certainly a surprise! It received the nickname “Liquid Hate”, but Linnaeus had the best description of it: “It’s like a knock-knock joke that ends with a horrible racial slur.” The sad thing is that I kept sipping it until it was gone 🙂

And then there was the food. Takaza had a filet mignon that was excellent; Genet and Frysco’s steaks were unfortunately a tad overseasoned. Linnaeus got a four-course chef’s tasting (unfortunately, since he was on the far end of the table I.m not sure what he received); Mirko, Aeto, and I splurged and went for the chef’s seven-course tasting menu. Oh wow, that was good! How good? Well, here’s how it went (with pictures for most courses, provided by Mirko):
1. Vegetarian BLT: Heirloom Tomatoes, Local Head Lettuce, Smoke Portabellas, Avocado Puree, Shiitake .Bacon., Brioche (Yummy! Takaza even liked the mushrooms!)
2. Alaskan Halibut: Golden Beets, Rainbow Carrots, Horseradish Creme Fraiche, Shaved Fennel, Italian Parsley (Amazing)
3. Heirloom Tomato Salad: Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato Water Gelee, Marjoram Frozen Yogurt, Savory Pine Nut Granola, California Olive Oil (Loved the tomato gelee)
4. Hawaiian Long Line Ahi Tuna “Poke”: Grilled Watermelon, Braised Kombu, Sesame, Cilantro, Scallion (Tuna to die for)
5. Tofu “Wellington”: House Made Tofu, Exotic Mushrooms, Puff Pastry, Melted Leeks, Dijon, Shiitake .Bacon. (Meh. It was tofu.)
6. Pan-Roasted Duck Breast: Lentils, Seared Apricot, Crispy Cauliflower, Apricot-Curry Reduction (Sadly, the least successful dish – the flavors didn’t meld well)
7. Flourless Chocolate Cake: Hot Chile-Chocolate Mousse, Apricot Puree, Habanero Glaze, White Chocolate Whipped Cream (An excellent finish! The habnero heat complimented the chocolate so well)

The meal, the company, and the view were all wonderful – it was a really great evening.

After dinner we piled into our cars and drove east on Mount Baker Highway for about 45 minutes to the small town of Glacier, Washington. We had rented a lovely house there and I was very pleased with the accommodations.

We had four bedrooms and a loft; Aeto and Frysco wound up in the lower level on air mattresses. They probably had the coolest nights of anyone – we had the misfortune of being in the Pacific Northwest during the worst heat waves of the year, with temperatures getting up to 90 F even in the mountains. Fortunately the evenings were cooler, and Aeto and Frysco were kind enough to bring fans from home, making things much more bearable.

Wow, two entries and we’re still in the first few days? I suspect the next few days will be summed up much more quickly, though they were still very enjoyable!

Coming Up: Rafting! Rafting! Rafting! Beer! Kayaking! Grilled Meat!

What a Great Weekend…

And we didn’t really even do that much!

Last weekend, fordshepherd came up to visit. We were, of course, mostly selfish and kept the sheppie hidden away, enjoying a quiet weekend at home. We’re mean that way 🙂

Ford didn’t get in until late Friday night, which is how we found ourselves sitting down to dinner at Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood with linnaeus at 10:30 PM. They were quite gracious, though, and the meal was delicious. We left there around midnight, and spent the next few hours chatting and unwinding.

Saturday started predictably late. We shared an excellent lunch with roho, genet, and Roho’s mom, who I really enjoyed seeing again. Afterward, plans for a semi-fancy dinner sort of fell apart in a fit of laziness and contentment as we relaxed at home, watched some stuff off the Tivo, and enjoyed Ford’s company. Pizza was ordered, some truly amazing white port was enjoyed (thanks again, baja_hyena!), and we closed out the evening with a viewing of The Lion in Winter. Wonderful!

Sunday came all too soon. I enjoyed an excellent lunch at Cooper’s Hawk Restaurant and Winery with woodychitwn, ramalion, Ford, and Linnaeus (the peach bellini was yummy, the raspberry sangria not so much). The Midwest FurFest Board meeting followed shortly thereafter. The one item of note is that Midwest FurFest has a chairman for next year and that would be…Takaza! Yep, it all comes ’round again 🙂 The staff meeting was mercifully short, and then we took our leave of the merry crowd, dispatching Ford back Columbus-ward with his crew in tow. We spent the evening unwinding and making plans for our trip next week.

After such an excellent weekend, it’s tough to get back into the grind. Things were OK at work today, though, and the balance of the week should be busy, but no late nights will be needed.

Oh, and we’re working on the real estate front, but nothing new to report there just yet. Sorry, Mom 😉

Pre-Convention Stress Weekend!

Right, one last real post before I fall down the rabbit hole…

The weekend started with a bang as takaza and I met some of the western suburbs crowds for drinks and dinner at The Bank in Wheaton. We had an awesome time, and it was a real hoot chatting with Patrick, the chef there. I had the antelope appetizer, served on fried plantains. It was extremely tasty! And the pistachio gelato in espresso for dessert was amazing. The company was outstanding as well. We had to leave far too early, but that 5 AM wakeup call takes a toll on you on late Friday nights.

Saturday I had to work. yay. I was in longer than I had intended, but got a good bit of work done. When I got home, Dan and I ran some errands and did some pre-Anthrocon shopping. Sunday was spent doing more prep work (printing paperwork, setting up the Artists Alley cash register programming, and putting the finishing touches on some policies). We still have a few things to do between now and when we leave, but I’m feeling pretty good about things.

And back to work I go…

Updata

Whoa, what a crazy week. Work has had me slammed all week, and it will probably be more of the same into next week. Still, it’s manageable, just doesn’t leave a lot of time for things like LiveJournal updates.

Waaay back on Friday we met up with daveqat, linnaeus, perro and darkwolph to see the Pride Edition of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. It was a fun show, though not one of their best overall. We still had a good time. Afterward we walked over to Big Jones for what turned out to be a really enjoyable dinner. We worked our way through their cocktails menu, and my shrimp and grits was fabulous (if this sounds weird, imagine the grits being served more like polenta). Dan’s country fried steak was tasty as well, up to Heaven on Seven standards.

Saturday was pretty low-key. I went in to work in the morning, then that afternoon we had Paul, roho and genet over for dinner. We grilled up some steaks, chatted a good bit, sampled some mighty fine beers, and played the new Boom Blox game. And Sunday? On Sunday we didn’t do anything – just stayed in and relaxed. That was nice.

This week has been busy on the housing front. The home inspection for the new place was on Tuesday, and everything looked pretty good. There are a couple of exterior GFCI outlets that need to be replaced, but we’ll have the seller take care of that prior to closing. I’ll be meeting with our mortgage broker today at lunch to sign off on paperwork and hopefully secure as good a rate as possible.

Last night we got the letter we’d been expecting, a Notice of Motion to the Court of Lake County setting a trial date for the foreclosure of the townhouse we’re living in. The good news is that this is just another step in a long process, and the bank won’t take over the property for at least another four or five months – we’ll be long gone by then. The other good news is that in lieu of refunding our security deposit, our landlord told us we don’t have to pay rent in August. This is awesome!

In the meantime, planning is still going ahead full steam for the Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic, which right now has about 100 RSVP’s. Yikes! We’ll definitely have free strip steak for everyone (and some chicken breasts for non-beef-eaters); I’m working with a local caterer to figure out what the sides and desserts will be. I’ll be posting the menu next week as soon as we get it locked down.

And finally, there’s Anthrocon looming large on the near horizon. I need to deal with some items on my to-do list for that this weekend, and make sure that everything is ready to go. One advantage to having done this for so many years is that I’ve got lots of notes about things that need to be done before the convention. That will definitely save my sanity (what little I have left). OK, back to the grind!

Playing Catch-Up

I see I’m in my usual post-convention blogging quiet period. This month is pretty crazy, and as usual, when I’m busy I don’t have much time to document it.

Last week included a delicious dinner with perro, darkwolph, and linnaeus at Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood, which sadly is due to close its doors very soon (along with RT’s Lounge and Osteria di Tramonto) due to Rick Tramonto departing the joint venture. We’ve heard some promising possibilities about what will be happening with those restaurants in the new year, but nothing for certain. We’ll see what happens!

The next day I joined justincheetah and calapurr for a tasty dinner (with some tasty wine) at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant. The short ribs there were delicious! I’m thinking that during Wuffmeet we may need to swing by there and sample their latest wines.

On Saturday, takaza‘s family came over for an evening of dinner and games. I made a killer Lasagna Bolognese that was simply outstanding. I substituted ground bison for the ground beef and, not having ground veal readily available, did 50/50 ground bison and ground pork. Instead of Parmesan cheese, I used an aged Mahon cheese which was quite tasty (and half the price of Parmesana Reggiano). This was good enough that I think it may be one of our entrees for Wuffmeet. I just need to figure out the logistics of making the sauces, assembly, baking, and reheating.

Sunday? We did nothing. And it was good. (Oh, and the person I was rooting for won Survivor. That was nice too.)

Yesterday I finished my Christmas shopping. Yay! Hooray for Amazon.com 🙂 I’m impressed that some of that stuff will be arriving today. I {heart} Amazon Prime – we really do get our money’s worth on that.

And then there’s today. I’m keeping a close eye on the weather radar as we’re supposed to get hit with 2-6 inches of snow in the next 24 hours. I’m not wild about this since tonight we’re having dinner with the folks we’ve worked with at the Westin North Shore down in Lincolnshire. Still, travel difficulties aside, it should be a good meal and I’m looking forward to it.

For the rest of the week: I’m hoping that we can help genet celebrate completing her last final for the semester tomorrow. Then on Saturday (after I have to work all day in exchange for getting Christmas Eve off), Dan and I will be going over to his mom’s house to exchange gifts with her, since we’ll be out of town on Christmas. Oh, in case I haven’t mentioned it, Dan and I will be in St. Louis visiting my parents and my sister’s family from December 24th through 28th. We hope to do a bit of touring around the city (though I just found out yesterday that a main highway is closed – man, that’s got to suck!). If nothing else, hope to hit one of the fine eateries the Good Mister Brown visited during his road trip through the city.

Well, time to take care of a bit of work before today’s free “Holiday Lunch” – the usual uninspiring beef/chicken/pasta buffet. Hey, at least it’s free…

Edit @ 5 PM – No steak dinner for me – the Westin folks cancelled due to weather, and I can’t blame them. Dan is on his way home, and he’s thinking that his normal 50-minute commute is going to be closer to 2 to 2.5 hours.

Beers and Dinners and Meetings, Oh My!

Now that was a busy, but fun weekend.

ramalion was crashing at our place on Saturday night and he had mentioned that he had never tasted my cooking. Those of you who know me know that this is a dangerous challenge! We invited roho, genet, and linnaeus to join us for dinner and I got to planning, digging into my online recipe stash to find some new and interesting recipes.

Prior to dinner, though, takaza and I met up with Roho and Genet at Wine Knows for their Fall Beer Tasting. It was a blast! So many good beers, but the real standout was the Browning’s Brewery Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, which is aged in bourbon barrels. Absolutely amazing! (And sadly out of stock. But Genet is going to check in with them later this week!) We picked up a couple of bottles of wine and some good beers, and ventured to the store, then home to start dinner.

Rama was there when we arrived, and Linnaeus arrived not long after. I dove into the dinner preparations. The menu included Eggs with Cream, Spinach, and Ham, Spinach and Bacon Salad with a Roasted Shallot and Dijon Vinaigrette, and Potato Gnocchi with Meat Sauce. I learned a couple of useful things:
1. Don’t start cooking an involved dinner at 6 PM. Fortunately, the beer and wine (and chips and salsa) helped maintain everyone’s good spirits when the food was served at 10 PM.
2. Gnocchi is neat and fancy, but it’s a pain in the ass. Next time, keep it simpler.
3. The Eggs with Cream , Spinach, and Ham is nothing short of astonishing. Saute the spinach with garlic and shallots, then coarsely chop and place in a ramekin. Simmer diced ham with heavy cream, then spoon the ham into the ramekin. Break an egg into each ramekin, then spoon the cream over the egg. Bake until the white is set but the yolk is still runny, and serve with buttered toast. Heavenly!

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. The meeting went a bit longer than I usually like, but we got a lot done and made sure that no action items from the past year has fallen between the cracks. After the meeting, we adjourned to Mi Mexico, a new Mexican restaurant just north of the hotel (in the old Weber Grill location, for those who know the area). Wow! What a great find! Our meals were really fantastic, and they handled a large crowd of people extremely well. Plus, if someone is looking to eat cheaply, you’ve got a winner here, with $5.00 entrees available.

The rest of the evening was spent at home relaxing, working on some small MFF projects, and watching The Amazing Race (yay for the comic book geeks!).

This week is crunch time for the Midwest FurFest Restaurant Guide. We’ve got 120 restaurants listed and my goal is to have a useful review for every single one of them. Once that’s done I need to go to work on some other projects. No panicking yet, though – everything seems to be coming along nicely.

Postcard from Columbus

takaza and I are halfway through a lovely weekend in Columbus, Ohio, staying with fordshepherd and kai_darkwolf. We were able to scoot out of Chicago earlier than expected, at about 11 AM on Friday. Traffic was surprisingly light and we made it to Columbus in less than seven hours. Because we are horrible guests, we surprised Ford and Jack with a call saying we would be earlier than expected, but they handled it with aplomb. After some pleasant chatting and a tour of their lovely house. It reminds me of how much I really loved my bungalow in Joliet, subsiding foundation, collapsed sewer tile, and all. For dinner we went to the Elevator Brewing and Draught Haus. The food was quite tasty, though the beer was somewhat lacking. The company more than made up for that, though. And yes, visiting their place reminds me that we need a dog(s), since I’m really enjoying being around Nathan, Pete, and the visiting Jazz.

Yesterday we had a somewhat early start as we met up with Rob and Dean (alas, I can’t recall Rob’s furry handle, but Dean is SeetherWolf) at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and an entertaining tour of the CSI exhibit (“Darn, I left my syrup of ipecac at home!”). After wandering around a bit we adjourned for a tasty lunch at Ted’s Montana Grill where we amused our waitron muchly with silliness. The evening brought a great party with about 15 people, some truly amazing marinated and grilled pork tenderloins, and lots of beer. Life was good. I was amused to hear that Dan knows Dean from about ten years ago (and hey steviemaxwell – Dean says hi!). Furry fandom is indeed a small town. It was great to see some familiar faces (Alaskanwolf, kwik, truegrave9) and make some new friends.

As for today? Probably a lot more laid back. We’ll seek some lunch eventually, maybe meet up with Kwik, and there were rumors of going to see a movie. Maybe. Who knows? We’re having a blast, that’s all that matters. I’m keeping an ongoing gallery of the weekend, sure to be updated more as the weekend goes on.

On a more serious note, I’m keeping an eye on Hurricane Gustav. Even though my links to New Orleans are somewhat tenuous (a year and a half at Tulane University over twenty years ago), I still have wonderful memories of my time there. Genet, I’m keeping your family in my thoughts and I’m hoping everyone rides out the storm OK. The same goes for everyone who has those they hold dear who are in the storm’s path. After the terrible events of three years ago, I dearly hope that there were some good lessons learned and that those will be well-applied over the coming days.

Mongolian, French Toast, and Long Island Iced Tea: Now That Was an Awesome Weekend!

Man, what a crazy few days, and this week is shaping up to be pretty crazy too.

After work on Friday, I sped out slightly early and picked up takaza at his employer in Buffalo Grove. Then it was a stressful drive through Friday rush-hour traffic down to Lisle, where we checked into the Hyatt Lisle. After a short break it was back into the car for a short drive to Bolingbrook and BD’s Mongolian Grill. There we met up with ottr, datahawk, feren, lady_curmudgeon, roho, genet, linnaeus, wyldekyttin, and unclevlad for a fun dinner and drinks. Alas, I agree with Dan – I am kind of over BD’s. For one thing, it seems that no matter what I do, everything I put together there ends up tasting the same. I’ll freely admit that’s my own fault. The drinks were pretty weak, too, which was unfortunate. Ah well, at least the company was good.

After dinner we retired back to the Hyatt with Roho, Genet, and Linnaeus and had a lovely swim before bed. On Saturday morning, the five of us had a delicious brunch at Juicy-O then went our separate ways. Dan and I stopped by perro and darkwolph‘s place to drop off some MFF stuff and we wound up talking shop for a bit.

Then it was off to Dan’s mom’s place to try to get her Wii hooked up to wi-fi. I’m not even sure if what we were trying to do can be done: She has a laptop running Vista with built-in wireless as well as a Sprint EVDO card connected via USB. We were trying to create a bridge so the wireless would receive the Wii signal and go out through the EVDO. No joy, though. Instead, she brought her Wii over to our place and we downloaded a bunch of older games for her. She left after a bit and Linnaeus arrived shortly thereafter.

After a bit of chatting we jumped in the car and drove up to Kenosha, where we met the crowd from the previous night (as well as several new faces) for dinner at Charcoal Grill. The phrase that pays is “half-price appetizers and drinks after 8 PM”. Holy cow! So good, and those Long Island iced teas had a kick!

On Sunday…we did nothing. And it was good. OK, actually, we finally showered late in the afternoon and went out to Target at about 7 PM to pick up a few groceries and things for the house.

And here we are back in the middle of the work week. I’m really looking forward to Friday – I just got the OK from my boss to take off early, so Dan and I will be leaving at noon or before for Columbus, OH, where we will abuse the hospitality of fordshepherd and kai_darkwolf. I have only a vague idea of what the plans might be, but I’m sure we’ll be in good hands. I promise to take lots of pictures 🙂

Apparently, I’m Less a Husky and More a Booze Hound?

Great googly moogly, it’s been a crazy seven days!

After work on Friday roho and genet came down and we grilled up some burgers and brats and celebrated the end of the week with a very tasty drink that included mango juice, pineapple rum, and Cointreau.

On Saturday I drove down to LAFF Softball while takaza worked on Anthrocon finance stuff. I had a great time hanging out with friends and generally socializing. After the game ramalion and I came back home to de-grungify, then Dan, Rama, and I met up with justincheetah and calapurr for dinner at Cooper’s Hawk Restaurant and Winery, which is located right in front of the Westin Chicago North Shore (MFF’s hotel).

We had a very tasty meal at Cooper’s Hawk; not quite the level of Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood, but better than Claimjumper. The price point is about the same as Claimjumper, too. I had the bacon-wrapped scallops, which came with a yummy mac and cheese and a fabulous mango salsa. I also found the wine to be surprisingly good – Cheetah and I ordered the “Red Wine Flight” ($12.95), 2 oz. pours of four of their popular red wines. Three were good, but their cabernet sauvignon, while OK, had some VERY non-cabernet flavors going on. When our waitress asked what we thought of the wines, I was candid in my appraisal. She surprised me with a sample of the cabernet sauvignon reserve, which I found to be excellent. She then brought Cheetah, Cala, and I samples of the oak-aged cabernet sauvignon (also gratis), but the reserve was by far the best of the night. The only downside of the place is that at peak times (like, say, on a Saturday night at 8:30 PM), it is extremely loud and crowded. Overall, though, it was a great meal and I look forward to going back. It will be a great addition to the Midwest FurFest Restaurant Guide, too.

On Sunday, we relaxed for most of the day and worked on Anthrocon stuff. In the evening we had the online Midwest FurFest staff meeting, where we covered a lot of useful topics. It’s coming up on Labor Day weekend, the point where people start to realize, “Oh crap! We have a convention to put on in less than three months!” and things really move into high gear.

Then came the work week. I had not one, but two projects moving into high gear this week. Both projects have involved a lot of time out on the production floor, and by the end of each day I’ve been exhausted. Today was a little different, since I spent most of the day in a mandated technical writing class, one of two. It was…yeah. As I observed to one cow-orker, “This is not the most productive use of my time that I can think of.” Tomorrow it’s back to the grind to wrap up one project and figure out some snags with the other. I’m looking forward to drowning my sorrows in Mongolian BBQ and good company tomorrow night, though!

Way Busy Weekend

Whoa. Been kind of quiet around here.

Work has been busy, and between that and Midwest FurFest planning I haven’t had too much to write about here.

Last week was linnaeus‘ birthday. We celebrated this by going out to one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago, Heaven on Seven. We carpooled down with roho and genet; Roho was kind enough to brave the horrid Friday traffic. the company made the time pass quickly, though, and we got there with time to spare. We were joined by simbalion, siriuswolfstar, and rustitobuck, and we had a very good meal. Not as awesome as usual (the halibut was only so-so, and the beef tips were served with an unfortunate Worcestershire-based sauce that was very like A-1 Steak Sauce), but the company and the very tasty drinks made up for it.

On Saturday I was up far too early to go in to work. We had some testing that needed to be done when the plant was not in production, and this was one of the few weekends we could do it. I got in at about 7:30 AM; by 9:30 AM the engineer we were working with had determined that the database he had prepared the upgrade files with was of a newer revision than the one on the production floor and that he had to completely revise his files. While he was doing that, I took off for home since there was nothing for me to do there. As I was leaving the parking lot I heard the dreadful “tick tick tick” sound of something lodged in one of my tires. A quick trip to the nearby tire store and a $30 repair later, I had the upholstery nail that had been lodged in my tire. Bleah. At 2 PM I got the call that they were ready to resume testing, and I went back in and worked until 6 PM or so.

Sunday morning was nice and lazy, which was pleasant and needed. At around 1 PM takaza and I drove down to steviemaxwell and magicpaw‘s place for a birthday party for Magicpaw and Linnaeus. Various folks were there and a fun afternoon of movies and games followed. We ducked out a little early to take care of our grocery shopping for the week, then came home and relaxed.

Back to the grind now. I’ve got a couple of projects going right now, one of which is in the process of wrapping up. The boss is out on vacation this week, so things aren’t too stressful. On my to-do list for tonight is to cut up the ten pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts we bought on Sunday ($1.59/pound!) so we can freeze it in smaller portions perfect for a single meal.

This weekend we’re hosting Dan’s family for a birthday BBQ for his mom; looks like the weather will cooperate so I suspect we’ll be grilling up some steaks. On Sunday there’s a possibility of another BBQ, but we need to see what the plans are there.

Midwest FurFest plans are slowly coming together. If you have mentioned to me that you were interested in volunteering and I haven’t yet directed you to someone, do please remind me because I have some departments in mind who could use a bit of a hand. We also have some loose plans percolating for Wuffmeet, especially on how to divide things up so Dan and I aren’t quite so stressed out the whole event.

Lazy Sunday

(Narnia not included)

Wow, so this is what a quiet, lazy weekend is like. I haven’t seen one of these in a long time.

Since my last substantial post, not too much has happened. Work has returned to more normal stress levels, thank heavens. Takaza is finally feeling better – thanks to everyone for their kind words. Unfortunately, this is a chronic condition that can’t be cured, but can be managed. He’s working on finding a new doctor who will help him with that.

Meanwhile, on Monday I did join mongologue at one of the Chicago stops of his long, long road trip. Linnaeus, simbalion, and siriuswolfstar joined him for a fabulous dinner at Tre Kronor. Great company and delicious food.

On Thursday, roho and genet came over, ostensibly to go to the Lake County Fair. However, after evaluating exactly how much fun there would be available for an $8 admission fee, we instead opted to go to Vickie’s Place for a pleasant dinner right out on the Fox River. Dessert afterwards was from Oberweiss, which was expensive but tasty as usual.

Following a quiet Friday night in, I went over to my friendly local podiatrist to have one last ingrown toenail taken care of. This has left me gimpy and slightly grumpy, unfortunately. Dan’s mom came over for dinner last night and I’m afraid I wasn’t the most sociable, but Dan did grill up an excellent steak dinner with Syracuse salt potatoes and grilled onions and grilled corn.

And here we are at today. Dan is working on the final reconciliation of Anthrocon’s finances. I hope to add some small bit of help where I can as well. For the most part though, it’s just a quiet, pleasant afternoon.

Birthday Surprise 2008: Success!

Greetings from South Carolina!

I had posted about this under friends-only posts before because I was planning a surprise…and it worked! On Friday I left work at 11:30 AM and drove north to Milwaukee. As I was driving I called my mom and wished her a happy birthday, and apologized for not being there to help celebrate it. I told her I was driving to lunch as we chatted, and then that I had to go because I was “approaching the restaurant”. Actually, I was approaching the airport.

I caught a flight on Midwest Airlines from Milwaukee to Atlanta (on a 717, nice comfy wide leather seats, decent food provided – note to linnaeus, their food is designed by the executive chef at Mader’s!). Once I got to Atlanta I picked up my rental car, the most stripped-down Chevy Cobalt you have ever seen. No power windows, locks, or anything, and no cruise control. Ugh. Anyway, I drove out through crowded but not crazy traffic and arrived in Anderson, SC, in almost exactly two hours. I pulled up and surprised the heck out of my mom when I got out of the car!

This has been a lovely and relaxing weekend so far. My sister and her two sons are here as well, and we’ve been having fun swimming, playing video games, and such. For dinner we went to Liberty Hall Inn and Cafe. Their website didn’t offer a lot of information, but my sister recommended them. It was a great choice – the dinner was excellent, and our server, Ashlyn, was a real hoot! For dessert we went out to the deck and had a good enough time that one of the other diners came out to see what all the laughing was about, because “y’all are having a lot more fun than my group.” After dinner we came home and swam some in the pool and relaxed. It was a very enjoyable evening.

This morning we had kicked around ideas of driving around a bit and maybe even venturing into the North Carolina mountains. Unfortunately the weather is pretty lousy, so we’re going to stay near the house instead. After I shower, Mom and I are going to go pick up some breakfast from Panera, and this afternoon I’ll probably play my nephews in a few rounds of Boom Blox.

I’ll be here until tomorrow; my flight from Atlanta leaves at 7:55 PM. I’ll probably head out early in the afternoon and kill some time around Atlanta before going to the airport. Maybe drop off the car and jump downtown on MARTA? We’ll see. For now, I’m off to shower, and then breakfast!

Dinner with Top Chef?

Well, not quite. But close!

You see, rasslor was passing through town and wanted to get together for dinner. takaza and I met him and linnaeus at the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling to have dinner at Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood. Once we walked in and talked to the hostess, we found out that they were also hosting a viewing party for tonight’s episode of Top Chef, which was filmed in the restaurant last year! This of course isn’t the first time we’ve eaten at Tramonto’s, and the meal was excellent as usual. Here’s what I had:

Cocktail: Sake mojito
Appetizer: Hamachi sashimi in a miso-pineapple emulsion with chili oil
Entree: Roasted halibut with organic spring peas, fava beans, and pea tendrils
Side dish: Fire-roasted asparagus with Hollandaise sauce
Wine: A Bourdeaux sec (yes, a white – very rare for me!)
Dessert: Malted milk chocolate souffle with Ovaltine ice cream

After walking around the hotel a bit, we parted ways and came home to watch said episode of Top Chef. I was amused to see our waitress from this evening shown prominently a few times in the episode, and Dan recognized enough faces to guess that the “patrons” in the restaurant when they filmed were all employees of Cenitare (the part-Tramonto-owned company that own Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood and Osteria de Tramonto) or their guests. It was a good episode, and I agree with their choice for elimination, though when it came down to the final two it could have gone either way (and the person who didn’t get eliminated should really be the next to go).

And now, we’re off to bed.

The Calm Before The Storm

Before the craziness of this week’s preparations for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, we had a very nice weekend. On Friday we met up with linnaeus, roho, and genet for dinner in Antioch. We had originally planned to try out a BBQ joint I had read about, except we found that it was not only closed, the space was vacant and available for rent. Well. Instead, we walked down to the little Italian place a few doors down, Petrucci’s. As we were standing outside debating, one of the employees came out to cajole us into coming in. After she went inside, Linnaeus took a deep whiff and said, “Smell that? That’s Calvin Kline’s Desperation.” We shrugged and went inside.

After being seated, the waitress asked what we wanted to drink. I asked what beers they had on tap, and she…didn’t know. The manager came over and told us the beers they had: Michelob, Heineken, and Moretti (sure, they had a Peroni neon sign out front but they didn’t actually, you know, carry it). Evidently the three-beer beer list was too much to remember. Drinks arrived, and many giggles were had as we admired the Dunkin Donuts straws we were given. That was when I started pushing for just getting appetizers (a selection of fine frozen, fried cheese sticks, onion rings, etc.) and getting dinner elsewhere. I got outvoted, but we ordered the simplest possible thing we could: one sausage pizza, and one pepperoni pizza. To their credit, the pizza sauce wasn’t bad, and the toppings were OK. The crust, though, was terrible. It reminded me for all the world of cheap frozen pizza. Needless to say, we won’t be going back.

Saturday saw me at work in the morning while Dan slept in. He was awake and showered when I got home, and we headed out to run some errands. We happened upon a local coffee house now in its third incarnation since we’ve been in the area, and had a very tasty lunch there (they carry Intelligentsia Coffee! Yay!). Then it was up to Antioch Packing House to gather information on buying a side or quarter of a cow to fill up our freezer. We also picked up some excellent bacon and a couple of fantastic steaks. Once we got home we were joined by tozier_wah for the evening, and introduced him into how we have a small dinner for company: grilled NY strip steaks, baked potatoes with Monterey Jack and Parmesan, and grilled asparagus with rosemary and goat cheese, all accompanied with an excellent Australian shiraz blend. The evening ended with me nodding off on the sofa while Dan and Toz played Mario Kart Wii.

Sunday was the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. It was lightly-attended, as expected, but we got some good stuff done. perro has done a great job of fitting all the major events into the allotted space; now he can start thinking about the smaller panels. Afterwards we went over to Cafe Mistiko, a curious “European sports bar” that I really wanted to like more than I did. They made killer smoothies, and the saganaki was quite tasty. My crepe, “The Zembekiko” (Loukaniko [Greek sausage], tomatoes, peppers, and feta cheese) was only so-so, though. I’d be willing to go back and try something else on the menu, though. And lest you think of crepes as dainty little things, these suckers were huge, taking up three-quarters of the plate. I did also pick up a copy of the menu for the Japanese sushi joint next door and it looks like that may be next on the list of places in the area to try.

This week, we’re cleaning and shopping in preparation for the coming weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing some of our out-of-town friends, and hopefully repeating the fantastic time we had last year. Never a dull moment!

Great Weekend Wrapup!

What a great weekend! Uptime and downtime – the best of all worlds.

On Friday I was feeling antsy and wanted to get out, so takaza and I met up with roho and genet for dinner at the always-fabulous Scott Dogs. My jumbo shrimp were indeed quite jumbo, and extremely delicious! It’s always such a pleasure to go there because Scotty and his aunt (whose name, shamefully, continues to escape me) always recognize us, make sure to ask how our food was, and really go out of their way to make sure the meal is a special one.

Saturday morning found us hard at work clearing out Dan’s office. He had emptied out the storage closet down there a month or so back and we kept meaning to get everything re-stowed, so now was the time to take care of it. Unfortunately my back was giving me some pain so after about 45 minutes I had to turn it over to him. In the meantime went upstairs and finished making a couple of loaves of a fantastic multigrain bread. The went into the oven just as people started showing up for Game Day. Our guests included aeto, Roho, Genet, posicat, nymphara and her boyfriend Nick, colliedoc, hypersnazz, woodychitwn, truegrave9, and Bob.

We played several games, including a nice round of poker, Cosmic Wimpout, Blokus (I blame rigelkitty – on the strength of his good comments about this game we picked it up. It’s a lot of fun!), Quelf (an aggressively zany and wacky board game – think Cranium, only trying way too hard), and Catchphrase (another good game we learned of from Rigel and xydexx). Pizza was ordered, beverages were consumed, and a good time was had by all. Thanks to everyone for coming! We’ll definitely have to do one of these again soon (and not schedule it again softball 🙂

On Sunday, we did…nothing. Well, we did laundry, but mostly we just did nothing. And it was good.

Coming up this week, I’m trying to interest tozier_wah and little_wolf in a beer and cheese tasting at Milwaukee Public Market on Thursday evening – anyone else interested?

Oh, and I finally got a LinkedIn profile. I’m not sure how useful it is or anything, but hey – feel free to add me to your network!

Friday’s here, let’s all cheer!

Well, I’m not cheering as much as takaza, who took off this afternoon to go see the Cubs play. If it were 80 degrees on a nice late-spring day, maybe – 47 degrees and 15 mph winds coming in off the lake, not so much. Still, I hope he’s having a good time as I write this. The good news is that since I worked last Saturday my boss was nice enough to give me next Friday off, which means an earlier start to Furry Connection North for us. We’ll probably take off just after morning rush hour, and get to Ann Arbor at around 2:30 PM or so. We’re looking forward to it!

So as I mentioned earlier, on Wednesday Dan and I decided to go out for dinner and try Lindy’s Landing in Wauconda. Not only did their specials look good, but they have NTN! They were in the middle of a poker tournament on NTN when we got there, but the staff was nice enough to turn one of their many TV’s to the NTN Trivia channel for us. The food was OK – the fried wonton-wrapped mozzarella sticks were a pleasantly crunchy diversion from the usual, and the garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli that came with my meatloaf were tasty. Alas, the meatloaf itself was rather tasteless and covered up by a spicy barbecue sauce (?!) that masked whatever flavor there might have been. Dan’s pizza was to his liking, at least. I was impressed that when I ordered a 23 ounce Fat Tire Ale, I was told that they were out of tall glasses so the waitress just gave me two pint glasses – all for three bucks! We’ll
definitely be going back.
The only other item of note from this week was the surprising revelation that I can actually find a frozen entree that isn’t completely nasty! Garden Fresh Market carries a line of frozen Indian from SWAD Foods. I picked up the mutter paneer a few weeks back and finally got around to making it. I made up some white rice and served it with the mutter paneer and…wow! Excellent flavor, and a surprising spiciness that I’m not used to from a frozen entree. I’ll definitely be picking up a few more of these entrees to keep in the freezer.

Plans for this evening are kind of hazy. Depending on how the afternoon goes for him, I may go into the city and meet Dan or I may just hang out at home. As for the weekend, the plans we had for Saturday night fell through, so we’re kind of at loose ends. We’ll see what develops!

The Downward Spiral

And so we enter the last few weeks before Midwest FurFest. Saturday was spent doing a good bit of preparation for Midwest FurFest 2008, the fruits of which I hope will be evident at this year’s Closing Ceremonies. After takaza and I met mirkowuff for lunch, Dan headed home to work on Publications stuff (yes, still). Mirko and I worked on The Super Secret Project, then drove into Chicago. We had some time to kill so we tried a couple of nicer restaurants around Lincoln Square, but either their menus were unexciting or they were completely booked for the evening. Man, I hate trying to eat out on Saturday nights. We wound up settling for a small taqueria at Lincoln and Montrose that was actually amazingly good, and cost about a fifth of what dinner at any of the other places would have run. Great horchata, too! Afterwards, we headed over to an impromptu party that woodychitwn was hosting. I’m sure descriptions of who was there and that accompanying embarrassing pictures will show up in his journal soon, but suffice to say that I had a good time and it was fun to meet his other friends. Alas, Mirko and I had to head home on the early side (i.e. before midnight), so we missed the various eating-of-cake-off-body-parts, etc. Ah well.

Sunday brought he final planning meeting for Midwest FurFest 2007. It was pretty much the shortest meeting we’ve had all year (36 minutes!) because really, if you don’t have your act together this late in the game, you’re pretty much screwed anyway. Fortunately, every appears to be on their game and we’re in for an excellent convention, I think. For my part, pretty much everything that needs to ordered is in, with the exception of badge blanks and at the door registration forms, which will hopefully be sent to dexcat tonight. Our numbers are looking good, with not only our total attendance following past normal growth patterns, but our sponsorship numbers are matching last year’s as well. The latter is a nice confirmation that we’re doing something right.

After the meeting broke up, roho, genet, and linnaeus joined us back at our place, and we were shortly joined by steviemaxwell and magicpaw. Pizza was ordered, tasty cheese and crackers (and wine) was enjoyed, and we had a good time watching the season premiere of The Amazing Race 12. I was quite pleased with the outcome of the first leg, and I see several teams in there that I will really be cheering for this time around.

The rest of this week will be helping Dan with the last bits of Publications, including a really nice innovation he came up with last week: a small pamphlet for staffers that has all of the information they’ll need, from telephone extensions to emergency procedures to quick schedules, and a lot more. With luck, that will be wrapped up tonight or tomorrow and we’ll get a night or two to relax. On Friday we’re going to Windycon in Rosemont, where we will be working on Operations staff and in our spare time maybe helping out the Dorsai. It should be a fun weekend, and it’s a nice change of pace since neither of us is actually in charge or anything 🙂

Townhouses, Beer, and Heroes!

In retrospect, we didn’t really do all that much last weekend. On Friday we stayed in and were couch potatoes for the evening.

Saturday, we hit the road. takaza wanted to check out a couple of townhouses under development, and I think we finally found a floor plan that is just perfect for us. The Wilmington floor plan in NeuHaven in Antioch would be fantastic – the “Optional Extended Kitchen” means that the kitchen, dining room, and great room are all one continuous space, and that fits our style of living and entertaining very well. The downstairs family room approximates Dan’s idea of a basement enough to keep him happy; we’d just need to install a bar and an entertainment center and we’d be good to go! The salesman was annoying and couldn’t wrap his head around “January, 2009” and kept trying to sell us on a unit for summer, 2008, but they’re still building and should have some models that match what we’re looking for when we are ready to buy. And hey, we’d be about a half mile from aureth‘s parents’ place 🙂

While we were out, we also stopped by Antioch Packing House and put in the order for steaks for the LAFF Softball picnic (20+ pounds of steak. And it’s not too late to put in your RSVP!). Then it was down to Wine Knows where they were doing their Oktoberfest beer tasting. Holy cow, that was a lot of beers! After trying a couple of interesting beers from Summit Brewing and Brewery Ommegang, I moved on to the next table, where they had the entire line of Unibroue beers available. I have to admit I got about halfway through before I had to surrender – most of those were 7% – 9% alcohol, and they weren’t being stingy with their pours! All of them were pretty tasty, though. The one real horror of the tasting was the Rodenbach Sour Ale, which may be true to its style, but was truly horrible to my taste. The runner-up was the Wells Banana Bread Ale; being a homebrewer, I’m afraid I associate the smell and taste of esters in my beer to be a sign that something has gone quite wrong with the fermentation.

After the tasting, I walked out with a four-pack of Brewery Ommegang’s Hennepin Farmhouse Saison (extremely tasty!), as well as a bottle of the Woop Woop shiraz and a very tasty and inexpensive Spanish tempranillo/cabernet blend. I was feeling a bit tipsy, so Dan drove us to get some food. My first choice, The Full Slab, was closed due to equipment issues, so we settled for Bill’s Pub North. Um, yeah. As my review says, we chose poorly. ‘Nuff said. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and snuggling 🙂

Sunday we did a bit of housecleaning, then dexcat came over and he and Dan talked MFF publications stuff. I was peripheral tot he conversation, but it sounds like Dex has a lot of great ideas and can really improve on our already pretty nifty con book, pocket program, and restaurant guide. I ran tot he grocery store, then made a tasty roast chicken. The rest of the evening was spent watching The Simpsons and a couple of other programs before heading to bed (not nearly early enough).

Oh, and tonight? Oh yeah, Heroes is back!

One more thing: As of today, I am no longer a contractor but a full time employee at $employer! W00t!

Thai, Moving, Meeting, Moving Again

After work on Friday, we got a call from colliedoc: he was on his way up from his new job (yay!) until his car died and he was stuck in North Chicago, near Abbott Park. We drove down and picked him up, then proceeded over to Wine Knows where we browsed a bit and tasted some of the wines they had available. Straif picked out a Riesling, and I got a bottle of the 2005 Woop Woop Shiraz. We were then joined by roho, genet, feren, and lady_curmudgeon and we went over to Lovely Thai for dinner. They happily served our wine with no corkage fee (!) and the seven of us had an excellent dinner with appetizers that came to $90. What a great deal! the wines were quite tasty as well, I might add. After dinner takaza and I took our leave from the rest of the group and went home to head to bed.

On Saturday, after a follow-up visit with my podiatrist (everything is healing nice, thank you!), Dan and I drove down to Naperville to help the folks at Ohana House move. We got in three trips between Oldhana and Newhana (heh) before it got too late to deal with things. their new place is quite fabulous, though I think the real winner is emrldgrrl, who got a snazzy studio apartment out of the deal 🙂 For dinner we went to a Chinese restaurant near Newhana that featured amusing patrons and a hostess/waitress who didn’t speak much English but was certainly very fast! Dinner was quite tasty as well.

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest staff meeting, which was rather productive. As we were eating lunch after the meeting we got a call from datahawk that there was a problem with the landlords of Oldhana and they might need to get everything out before the night was over. We hustled down to Naperville again to lend a hand, but the crisis was averted just before we arrived and they have another week to move stuff. As long as we were there, though, we packed a load of stuff and hauled it up to Newhana. From there we drove home (with a stop at Oberweiss Dairy, ’cause we had a hankering for tasty ice cream) then went off to bed.

Not too much going on this week except for maybe a trip down to Elk Grove Village on Wednesday for some factory testing of new equipment for my employer. And hey, we don’t seem to have much in the way of plans next weekend. I’m sure that will change between now and then, though…

I Don’t Think Marble Slab Makes Rogan Josh Mix-Ins…

Now that was an entertaining weekend! First off, the week was instantly made better on Friday afternoon when takaza returned from the wilds of Indiana. Of course, not an hour after he got home we had to leave again, but it was for a good cause: dinner with friends at Bombay City Indian Restaurant. We had a lot of fun seeing familiar faces and meeting some cool new folks too (who I hope we’ll have a chance to see more of!). The food was, as always, fantabulous, though I have learned my lesson: while tandoori stuff is tasty, the sauced dishes are where it’s at. Fresh naan dipped in the chicken tikka masala sauce…heaven! Unfortunately, we’ve been there three times and each time the service has been sub-par. This time we waited about 30 minutes for our check once we were done. It might be time to investigate other Indian places in the area, sadly. For dessert, we went to Marble Slab Creamery with steviemaxwell, roho, genet, and linnaeus, which was a perfect capper for the evening.

On Saturday, after a very quick follow-up visit with the doctor about my toe (it’s healing nicely, thank you), I returned home and Dan woke up not long after. I knew that I needed to go to laffsoftballLAFF Softball to drop off the badge holders for Mephit Furmeet to ramalion, but it was up in the air if Dan would be joining me. Between a couple of calls to Stevie, making some lists, and having some cool ideas for grilling, it suddenly transpired that he had talked himself into going and we were going to be grilling for the picnic after the softball game. We stopped by Sam’s Club and picked up a huge amount of food (as well as a nifty new portable table) and then headed over to the softball game. Aeto was kind enough to make a quick store run for us for a few things we couldn’t get at Sam’s Club and to lend us the use of his cooler – thanks, Aeto! We watched some of the game and chatted with the various folks who were there (too many to name!). At about 4 PM we took all of the supplies over to the cooking area and fired up the (one, very small) grill and set to work prepping the food. Dan and I had agreed that we were going to make “Jucy Lucy” burgers (sic), and we set to work making the patties. Perro and Darkwolph let us store some of the perishables in their refrigerator, which was a huge help! I learned that the grill didn’t put out as much heat as I had hoped as I limped along with the first batch of bratwurst, but once we got a handle on it (and added another chimney full of charcoal!) we got things working properly. We wound up feeding 25 people or so, and even managed to break even in costs! Dan and I are kicking around ideas for the end-of-the-season picnic, possibly including steaks. We’ll see if we can make that work, though.

After grilling, we were both drained, so we drove home and crashed. We were both silly and didn’t put on sunscreen (not too bad – we were mostly in the shade) or bug spray (bad – I’ve got multiple unpleasant welts!), so we’ve got some tokens of the day to remind us to properly prepare next time!

Dan’s sister came over Sunday afternoon and they worked on her computer for several hours while I puttered around the house doing laundry and cleaning. That unfortunately meant that Dan had to stay home to work on work-related stuff while I headed out to have dinner with Roho, Genet, chebuytkin and CAJones at Dave and Busters. The company was excellent, with much smoffage and comparisons of conventions (I like the idea of road-tripping to Minneapolis next July 4 for Convergence!). The food was surprisingly good as well, as was my strawberry margarita. The games afterwards…not so much. If you like shooting or driving games, D&B’s is the place to go. Unfortunately, shooting games have zero interest for me and my passion for driving games is limited at best. I left with credit still on my card, but the night was getting late. I got home just as Dan was wrapping up for the evening, so it all worked out.

It’s a new week now, and it looks like it’ll be a busy one at work. We don’t have much planned during the week, though at the end of the week is the Chicago Air and Water Show. Also, keep an eye out here because plans are in the works for another game night at our place next week!

Great Grilling, and “Oh Yeah, That’s Why I Don’t Go There…”

So besides the weekend’s technological trials and tribulations, what else happened?

On Saturday we decided that since roho, genet, and colliedoc were coming over, a tasty grilled dinner would be in order. We laid out where we needed to go, but the circle slowly got wider. See, we needed some really good corn on the cob, and while Garden Fresh Market’s isn’t bad, I think the best corn around is from Stade’s Farm Market, so a detour to McHenry was added. And heck, as long as we were going that way, if we want really good steaks, we were going to need to go to our favorite butcher at Antioch Packing House. The farm stand was delightful, as expected, and we picked up some fresh peppers, beefsteak tomatoes, and some delicious apple-cinnamon bread along with the corn. And Antioch Packing House always has good ground beef and bacon, so we had to get some of those while we got the 1.5″ thick New York strip steaks. Stopping by Garden Fresh, I got some asparagus and some other goodies. Once the Tivo was up and running, I fired up the grill and I grilled the asparagus with a garlic-rosemary-lemon vinaigrette that was divine. The steaks cooked up perfectly, and the rest of the meal (as well as the company) was excellent!

On Sunday we unfortunately had to bow out from magicpaw‘s birthday shindig (we’ll make it up to you, we promise!). While we were out picking up the networking gadgets we needed, I wanted a quick and cheap lunch. Hey, there’s a White Castle! I haven’t been to one of those in over a decade. And after having eaten there, I can safely say it’ll be at least another decade, because that was just plain nasty. Once we got everything up and running, the rest of the afternoon was spent lazing around relaxing, and scheduling our Tivo to fill up with weird, random programming.

And now it’s Monday. It should be a quiet week, though it looks like Dan will be working late on Thursday and Friday. Hmm, maybe I’ll actually get around to start that Harry Potter book this week (sorry Roho! 🙂

A Full Weekend

Right, so how did we spend the weekend?

On Friday, we went to bed early. Wasn’t that exciting?

On Saturday, we bummed around the house in the morning, then headed down to Schaumburg to stay at the Amerisuites Schaumburg. You see, back at Midwest FurFest 2006, r_bear won a certificate good for one night at the Amerisuites at the charity auction, which he then presented to takaza. We were finally able to take advantage of his wonderful gesture this weekend, and had a nice, relaxing time there. We met up with linnaeus, datahawk, aureth, and mirkowuff at Big Bowl for dinner. The food was just delicious, and the two pitchers of sangria were pretty darned good too! It was a very enjoyable meal and I’m glad we could all get together. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and took advantage of the lovely swimming pool and hot tub before stumbling up to bed.

We took advantage of the tasty free breakfast at the Amerisuites before checking out on Sunday, heading right across the parking lot to the Hyatt for the Midwest FurFest board and staff meetings. Everyone has already seen the results of the board meeting. The staff meeting passed uneventfully, and there was some good discussion afterwards as well. The group got a late lunch/early dinner at Potbelly before heading out separate ways. Dan and I were exhausted and pretty limp Sunday evening, and we wound up heading off to bed a little before 9. This lingering cough is kicking my butt, and the cough syrup, while extremely effective, makes me quite fuzzy in the head, so early bedtimes are good to prevent any lingering morning fuzziness.

And here we are with a new week! We have a game night coming up later in the week, and on Wednesday I have an appointment with my doctor to discuss the results of my latest blood test (standard stuff), and what to do about the fact that I probably have enough cholesterol in my blood stream to make some butter. Not too much planned for this coming weekend (for all that I tried to talk Dan into driving to Pittsburgh on a whim), though I believe there is also a birthday get-together or two in the works. Big fun!

Now Is Not The Time To Be Sick

Still fighting this summer cold. The good news is, all indications are that no infection is present so it’s just your garden-variety Upper Respiratory Ick; hopefully it’ll pass within the next day or so.

Saturday was a crazy day. We met up with datahawk then met justincheetah at the MFF storage locker and unearthed the cable protectors and power distribution panel he needed for Anthrocon. A very pleasant lunch at Chipotle followed (mmm, burritos). We don’t get to see enough of that kitty, something we’ll need to work on after Anthrocon. From there we headed into Chicago to drop off a few things with linnaeus which he will be graciously ferrying to Anthrocon for us. Then we fought our way through downtown traffic to Merrillville, Indiana where we saw Weird Al Yankovic in concert. It was a fun show (and eventually I’ll download the pictures off my cell phone, including a close-up of Al crooning to Data :-), though I admit that it hit my pet peeve of concerts, where the show sounds exactly like the songs on the albums. Sure, something is added in the performance (and Al is nothing if not expressive!). That was a minor complaint, though; overall the concert was a blast. The drive home was long, and we didn’t get to bed until 2 AM.

Sunday morning I woke up at 6 AM, of course, and couldn’t get back to sleep. Bless his heart, takaza put up with my barely-functioning, grumpy self. A midday nap helped a good bit, but the migration of the sinus stuffiness to my chest with some mild coughing didn’t help much. We did accomplish a good bit of the laundry and packing the we needed to do, though in the course we figured out that Dan needs a new dress shirt and I need a new pair of khaki pants. We closed out the evening with some Flip This House and Dirty Jobs, then stumbled off to bed.

And here we are today. I’m feeling a good bit better. My sinuses still hate me, but at least the headache I woke up has receded. I’ve got the cough-syrup-with-codeine in my bag if I need it, but hopefully I won’t. I’m off to Gurnee Mills after work to pick up the pants I need, then we’ll put the finishing touches on the packing tonight. I’ll be taking off from work tomorrow at 2:30 PM, then parking at the Grayslake train station and catching the train down to O’Hare, where I’ll meet up with Dan. Our flight out is at 7:05 PM. I’ve hit the long downhill slide before the con where I just want it to start – months of planning has gone into this, so now it’s time to see how well those plans work.

It’s Been a Quiet Week In, um, Hainesville…

I know I’ve been quiet here this week, but I have excuses! You see, much of our week has been consumed with preparations for Anthrocon; even when we weren’t actively working on convention planning, we were thinking about it and that kind of wears on you. Add to that the fact that I’m fighting off a mild summer cold. Yuck.

In general update terms, though, things have been going well. If I didn’t mention it earlier, I haven’t been hired on full-time at my employer yet since they were still working out which positions were open and which they were going to fill with whom. I have been assured, multiple times, that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” I get hired, though. My contract was extended to the end of July, and that’s OK by me. While that means my three days off for Anthrocon will be unpaid, the good news is that I still come out ahead in net salary. I had a good talk with my boss this week and he is satisfied with my performance and seems willing to put a bit more on my plate, which makes me happy.

Work for takaza continues to be stressful; I worry about him and I know that all of this stress takes its toll on his health. Things got a little more difficult this week (I won’t go into it here, but my heart does go out to those involved), but he’s been assured that it won’t affect his vacation time. He is justifiably skeptical and unfortunately probably will have to log in from Pittsburgh to do some work for some part of the time that we’re there.

We did find time to relax a bit last night. We had a pleasant dinner with roho and genet at a frozen custard place in Antioch (good sandwiches, not so good frozen custard), then we caught the late showing of Ratatouille at the Antioch Theater. GO SEE THIS MOVIE! It was so much fun! Great character design, a nifty score, and a really great expression of the love of food and cooking. I adored it, and wouldn’t mind seeing it again. As an aside, I also love the Antioch Theater – $4 admission, popcorn for a couple of bucks (and free refills on popcorn and sodas, provided by roving ushers), a trivia quiz by a real live employee before the show. When we went to see Waitress a few weeks ago we went to the Regal theater in Round Lake; tickets, plus popcorn and soda came to over $30 (and that’s at matinee prices!). That’s just plain offensive.

Ahem. Movie theater ranting aside, it looks like the next few days are going to be pretty nuts for us. I can’t even guarantee that I’ll be posting between now and Anthrocon, so here’s a quick rundown:

Today, once datahawk gets up here, we’ll all head down to Arlington Heights to meet justincheetah at the MFF storage locker to get a power distribution panel for him (I hope it’s not buried too far under everything!). Then it’s over to linnaeus‘s place in the city to drop off some stuff that he is kindly carrying to Anthrocon for us. After that, it’s down to Merrillville, Indiana where we have tickets to see “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert!

Tomorrow will be con packing and (more) planning, and staging everything as best we can. Oh, and relaxing somewhat, since that’ll be our last chance before the con. Monday will be work as usual.

Tuesday, we fly out from O’Hare at 7:05 PM, arriving in Pittsburgh at 9:32 PM (supposedly). Give that it’s an evening flight in the summer out of O’Hare, I figure if we get to PIT before 11:30 PM we’ll be doing good. We’ll spend the night at the La Quinta Pittsburgh Airport, then on Wednesday morning catch the 28X bus downtown to the Westin Pittsburgh Convention Center. We hope to be at the Westin by 11 AM or 12 noon.

And after that? Madness and chaos. With any luck I’ll be able to document some of that…at some point.

Booze, Bingo, and, um…Man, I Fail At Alliteration

Let’s get up to speed, shall we?

After work on Friday takaza and I stopped by Gurnee Mills to pick up a few things. We were just looking for a new belt for me but wandered into the game store only to find that they were having a buy-one-get-half-off-another sale on games. We walked out with two games that look like they’re going to be a lot of fun at our next party: Malarkey and Wits and Wagers. When we finished shopping we drove up to Antioch to our favorite liquor store to stock up on a few things for Anthrocon (a couple of new Scotches and a bottle of Grey Goose, ’cause I likes me some good sipping vodka). We met up with genet (roho was under the weather) and had a pleasant dinner at Las Vegas Restaurant.

Saturday was craziness, but in a fun way. For the second year in a row we ran the bingo games for Dan’s company picnic. It’s a good thing that Dan thought to bring our bingo set (purchased for use last year, but not used) because we found that the provided bingo set was missing four bingo balls. That would have sucked. We ran two sessions, each 90 minutes long, and gave away a little over $2,000 in gift cards to Target, Wal Mart, and various restaurants. People seemed to enjoy it. Dan had bought a huge chunk for tickets for the charity raffle (to benefit Gilda’s Club) and for the second year in a row he won an iPod, this time a 4 Gb iPod Nano. Which would be nice except that we both have 30 Gb Video iPods. Ah well, we had fun, at least, and the day’s surreal moment was provided by the CEO of Dan’s company inquiring if we’re brothers. I guess it’s true that the longer a couple stays together, the more they start to look alike 🙂

After the picnic we headed into the city, where we met up with datahawk and emrldgrrl to see the GLBT Pride edition of Too Much Light makes the Baby Go Blind (“30 queer plays in 60 straight minutes”). As always, the show was amazing – funny, poignant, and thought-provoking. I admit, it’s the silly stuff that I remember most, including “Two Minute Strip Rock Paper Scissors” and “All The Boys in the Frat House Say Ho(mosexual)!” Because it was a benefit show, even though they ran out of time on play #25 everyone agreed that we should see the last five plays, so we did! After the show, we drove down to linnaeus‘s place and got dinner from our favorite taquiera. It was great ending to a great day.

And on Sunday? We rested. Well, we did a little work on Anthrocon stuff, but mostly we just rested. And it was good.

Games, Family, and Cons

Hmm, I’m getting slack about updating again. That’s not so good.

Last week we had to get both of our Honda Elements serviced, mine to have the upholstery repaired before the warranty expired and takaza‘s for its 60,000 mile service. Rosen Honda in Gurnee proved a mixed bag in terms of getting this accomplished. Just setting up the service was difficult, as it took no less than four calls just to get through to the service department, including getting hung up on twice. I dropped my car off on Wednesday night, and got a call on Thursday that they had completely disassembled the driver’s seat and opened the box with the new seat cover only to find that it was the wrong color. We therefore had to leave the care there Thursday night as well. I picked it up on Friday afternoon after work, dropping off Dan’s car in the process with the request that the service be completed by noon on Saturday.

I stopped to get gas before heading down to pick up Dan and it’s a good thing I did, because while filling up I saw that in the process of putting the car through the car wash just before giving it back to me, they had torn off the rear windshield wiper and it was hanging by a wire. I high-tailed it back to the dealership and arrived just as the parts department closed. The service guy was very apologetic and fixed things up enough that the car wouldn’t be damaged until I could bring it back the next day to get the wiper assembly replaced.

From there I headed south to meet Dan at the Buffalo Grove Metra station (gods, I hate Lake-Cook Road on Friday afternoons). We killed some time playing minigolf at my favorite place in the area, Par King, then met up with daveqat and synicism for dinner at Osteria di Tramonto. Dinner was fabulous, as always; I had the cavatelli with roasted escarole and chicken; Dan had chicken Parmesan, Dave went with the hanger steak, and Jim had rack of lamb. All were excellent, and my chocolate torte after dinner was superb.

On Saturday, Dan and I went to pick up his car. $520 later – ouch! – the car is in excellent shape, though I’m told the front brake pads need replacing soon. Somehow I’m certain that I can get it done cheaper than the $289 they’re offering; heck, from what I understand, if I had the service manual and a couple more tools I could do it myself. It’s something to consider after Anthrocon, perhaps; in the meantime, since he’s putting all of maybe four miles a day on the car going to and from the train station, it’s not hugely urgent.

We stopped by Lovin’ Over Cakery for some tasty dessert stuff, then headed over to Dan’s mom’s place for an afternoon of games and lots and lots of food. She had roasted a 20+ pound turkey (!) and had made all of the trappings. This just for me, Dan, Dan’s brother and sister, and her. We had a great time playing Scene It! Squabble (truly annoying, with offensive gender stereotypes for all!), Apples to Apples, and Balderdash. I enjoyed Balderdash the most, though I’m thinking that we need to pick up a copy of Malarky, which encourages a little more elaborate tale-spinning. We capped off the evening with a family portrait, which Dan posted in his journal.

On Sunday, Dan and I worked on various Anthrocon and Midwest FurFest tasks, taking a break to hit the grocery store. Dan made a tasty turkey and rice dish with kielbasa using the huge amount of leftover turkey his mom gave us before we left the night before. We “attended” the MFF online staff meeting, then I edited the log and sent the notes out shortly afterwards. The rest of the evening, we watched a bit of TiVo and the Robot Chicken Star Wars Special, then headed off to bed.

So, this week: Poker Night on Wednesday, and I need to run various errands after work on Wednesday and Thursday. Next weekend is Dan’s employer’s company picnic, and we’re going to be running the bingo games again this year. Should be…um, fun. Yeah, that’s it. Fun. 🙂

Indian Food, Parties, and Movies!

You know, as exhausted as I felt at work on Friday, I was astonished at how much energy I had when I got home. It turned out that the power had actually come back on at 8:30 AM, which meant that while the freezer was pretty much OK, some serious culling needed to be done in the refrigerator. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad – mostly party leftovers and anything with dairy in it (including, sadly, the Keke Key Lime Pie liqueur). Once takaza got home, we talked a bit about dinner and decided that we both wanted something more than a hot dog. We decided that Indian food sounded good, so we met up with roho and genet for dinner at Bombay City. The food was, as always, delicious and the company was excellent as well. It was fortunate that we weren’t far from home, because once the food coma set in, I was very quickly ready to fall asleep.

Saturday found Dan and over at his mother’s house with some family to play some games. I have to admit I had some trepidation going in, but I was readily accepted and we had a whole lot of fun. We played Scene It, Apples to Apples, and Taboo, and it was a blast. It was even better since we moved the table out to the deck and we got to enjoy a perfectly beautiful day outside. At about 7:30, it was time to head south to wyldekyttin‘s birthday party. Because it was such a beautiful evening, we wound up taking back roads through Crystal Lake down to Randall Road, all the way down to Aurora. It was a very pleasant drive along the western edge of the densest Chicago suburbs. When we got to the Holiday Inn Select Naperville (her party was held in conjunction with Duckon), we hung out for a little while, but as is always so typical, between being tired and having a long drive ahead of us, we had to leave before the party really got going well. It was a pleasure to see so many of our friends, albeit briefly. One nifty thing: On the way out through the parking lot we passed by the Tesla coil demonstration. I thought to grab our camera out of the car and grabbed a quick 30-second video of the powerful electrical arcs, which were set to music:

On Sunday, we met up with Roho and Genet to see Waitress. It was a lovely movie, and I really enjoyed it. Not too deep or profound, but enjoyable nonetheless. Keri Russell was fantastic in her role, Nathan Fillion was adorable as always, and the late director was also very good in her supporting role; it’s a crying shame that she passed away before the move was released. After the movie we retired back to our place for a marathon of home improvement shows, including Hometime, The Real Estate Pros, and Flip This House (as well as some Good Eats and Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares). We ordered some pizza somewhere in there, and mainly just relaxed and hung out. Quite a nice, low-stress day. Right before bed, though, I was contacted with an interesting bit of news that left me a bit gobsmacked and made getting to sleep difficult. Nothing bad, just surprising.

And so we have this week. Looks like I may have to work some off hours this week (and maybe the next few weeks) to support a project here, which is fine. If anything, it’s unusual that I haven’t been asked to do this before, and it’s not as if it’s mandatory (the boss is cool like that). We’ll work something out.

That Was a Weekend?

Sometimes a weekend is so low-key you hardly know it’s there until Monday whacks you upside the head with a two-by-four.

We had a nice, relaxing “cat weekend”, something that I promised takaza we’d try to have at least once a month. I’m a go-go-go social butterfly kind of guy, but he needs a weekend to recharge his batteries every so often (and I suppose it doesn’t do me any harm either). Dan got to sleep in late both Saturday and Sunday, and we even stayed up far too late on Saturday night (yes, I can stay up later than midnight! So there!).

On Friday we relaxed a bit after work then thought about going out for dinner. We started to leave but looking at the radar and the approaching storm front elected to delay our departure by a half-hour. It’s a good thing, too, because a fast-moving storm blew through with torrential rain and 40 mph+ wind gusts. The sky was amazing right after the front went through; Dan took a couple of pictures and e-mailed them off to the local CBS affiliate, who posted both of them to their website! For dinner, Dan wanted to try the Popeye’s Restaurant, just because it was something he hadn’t had before. One underwhelming meal later, we knew why he hadn’t had it before. We won’t be returning. After dinner, we decided to stop by the Round Lake Streets of Summer Festival. The rainstorm had taken its toll, and the actual festival attendees were outnumbered by the festival staff and security. It was really pretty sad. We walked through the festival grounds and listened to the increasingly-awful band playing (more volume does not mean better music!) and decided to leave.

On Saturday we had to take my car in to the dealership to have some upholstery checked for a possible warranty repair. That’s a whole other rant, though. Afterwards we got a tasty late lunch/early dinner at Scott Dogs. We bummed around the house for a bit, then snuggled up on the sofa and watched Spellbound. I had meant to see this years ago, and I am pleased to report it is every bit as engaging and entertaining as I had heard. What a great movie! Afterwards, we stayed up far too late watching Flip This House.

Sunday we pretty much just bummed around the house before heading out to the week’s grocery shopping. Dan made a big pot of a very tasty chicken/rice/chorizo stew which we had for dinner and we’ll both be having for lunch for the next few days, then we watched some TiVo before going to bed.

Excitement city, eh? But it was a very enjoyable weekend nonetheless. Oh, and obviously we never did get out to see Waitress. Hopefully it’ll still be around next weekend.

Memorial Day Weekend, Part the Second

…and we pick up our program on Saturday night, already in progress.

Saturday night a good number of folks headed home, but Rusty, Simba, and Sirius (along with my mom) crashed at our place, and Linnaeus, Jaycee, Nyuni, and Erin crashed over at Roho and Genet’s place. The lot of us met up for brunch at our old standby, Las Vegas Restaurant in Antioch. After a pleasant meal, I took Mom back down to O’Hare so she could catch her flight home, then returned to our place, where everyone else had gone after brunch.

The afternoon and evening were full of games and fun. We played Cranium (which, as usual, was about 30 minutes too long), then some TransAmerica, as well as some Lupus in Tabula. Throw in noshing on leftovers and an occasional break to watch “Ace of Cakes” and you’ve got a lovely day with friends. I went to bed at about 11:30 PM, leaving Rusty, Linnaeus, and Dan to play a few more games of TransAmerica; Dan came to bed around 2 AM.

Monday we had set aside to do absolutely nothing. Paul had gone home after the game wrapped up, so Rusty was our only guest, which was fine – he’s family, so he qualifies as a low-maintenance houseguest 🙂 The day was spent pretty much just lazing around in the living room. Dan got up at about 1:30 PM, and we munched a bit on still more leftovers. I got curious and after asking a few questions, I downloaded the client and now, heaven help us, both Dan and I are on Second Life.

Here is Dunc McMillan. Theoretically, he’s an anthropomorphic Siberian husky. I may need to work on a better avatar.

And here is Dunc sitting with his partner, Takaza Guffey. Isn’t Takaza just the cutest thing?

I don’t see getting too involved in Second Life much more than I am involved on FurryMuck, which is to say as a glorified IRC client. But hey, it’s there and maybe I’ll have fun with it. We closed out the wonderfully relaxing day with our new Monday habit, since Heroes has gone away for the summer: Doctor Who. We’ve had all of the second season sitting on our Tivo for quite some time, so we’ve started watching those, beginning with last night’s “Christmas Invasion”. Hmm. David Tennant is no Christopher Eccleston, but he’s definitely growing on me…

So that’s our Memorial Day weekend. Now we can start worrying about other fun stuff, like Anthrocon, and FRAC, and MFF, and all the usual stuff! 🙂

Mercy Me, What a Weekend!

What a fantastic weekend! And yes, sumatrae, this is another post all about food 🙂

On Friday, we met up with roho, genet, linnaeus, feren, lady_curmudgeon, and a host of other folks from R&G’s gaming group for dinner at Bombay City Indian Restaurant in Gurnee. takaza was pushing his boundaries a bit, but I was really happy that 1.) he was willing to try it, and 2.) he really liked it! The restaurant manager(?) approached our group of 14 and suggested we try ordering family style, and since there were a number of neophytes he suggested a set of entrees, including chicken tikka masala, rogan josh (lamb in a tomato and onion sauce), lamb badam pasanda (lamb cooked in cream and nuts), chicken biryani, and saag paneer and mutter paneer (cubes of cheese cooked with spinach and peas, respectively). The nan (bread) was yummy, and I loved my mango lassi. It was a fantastic meal, and both Dan and I look forward to visiting Bombay City again soon. To answer your question from Friday, posicat, I definitely recommend this place! Apparently it’s only been there for about a year.

The weather on Saturday was perfect. I had to fire up our new grill to season the inside of it. I figured that once we had it hot we might as well use it, so we invited Roho and Genet out to help us inaugurate the grill. They were kind enough to stop by Antioch Packing House and pick up some amazing 1.5″ thick strip steaks. I picked up some yellow and red bell peppers, onions, and corn, all of which got grilled up with the steaks. I still need to work on my charcoal grilling technique (I’m sure the hair on the back of my hand will grow back eventually), but the nice thing is that the grill has enough surface area that if I keep the coals to one side, I can position the food at various distances from them to control the cooking. The steaks came out perfectly, and the entire dinner was delicious! Dan and Roho baked up some tasty puff pastry/peanut butter/chocolate thingies for dessert to cap off a great evening.

Sunday was the very-lightly-attended Midwest FurFest staff meeting. Before the meeting, though, we had to indulge in a bit of home shopping. You see, our pantry is nice, but I hated the way that our “liquor cabinet” looked – it was really just a collection of bottles that sat precariously on the wire rack. The bottles were prone to tip over, and it was difficult to see and access what we had. We also wanted to free up the space in the pantry, so we decided to go to Ikea to find a proper liquor cabinet. I’m pleased to say that we found the perfect thing. Dan did the assembly work and I helped secure it in place, and here’s the finished product:

Here’s the new cabinet. I wanted doors because I thought having all the bottles in plain view might suggest that we’re complete lushes. I love all the shelf space on the bottom.

And here it is open, showing all the boozy goodness! And hey, it’s not even completely full 🙂

I like it because it is shallower than the cart we had there before and it provides a lot more storage space – I now can have all my cookbooks in the kitchen!

So now we’re back to the work-week. We’re in a frenzy of listmaking in preparations for our Memorial Day weekend gathering (post on that to follow). That should be a blast too!

TGIF-ness

And the week has thus wound down. Hooray! It’s looking like we’ve got a lovely weekend coming up (well, Saturday, anyway – Sunday’s supposed to be colder and stormy). I’m up in the air about going to LAFF Softball on Saturday; both cars need a thorough washing inside and out, and I still need to fire up the new grill and “season” the interior before we do any grilling or smoking. So, we’ll see how things go.

Sunday will be the May Midwest FurFest staff meeting. Things are perking along there, and I feel better now that I’ve gotten the first of the confirmation postcards out. I need to sit down with neowolf2 and work out who’s going to do what this year as well. Maybe we’ll get some food afterwards, or not – we’re playing it by ear.

I’m looking forward to dinner tonight. We’re going to an Indian restaurant in Gurnee. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a good restaurant, and roho and genet tell us that this is a really tasty place. I can’t wait!

That’s it for now. It’s ice cream time!

A Whirlwind Weekend!

Whoa, that was a crazy weekend. A whole lot of fun, though.

On Friday, takaza was stuck at work until late. When he got home, we elected to grab dinner at Charcoal Delight, finishing up just as we got a call from mirkowuff the he had arrived at our place. We stopped by to pick him up then went up to Garden Fresh to do a bit of shopping for the following morning. The rest of the evening was a whole bunch of laptop geekery and the very amusing season finale of Ace of Cakes (with a bizarre furry reference in the opening minutes).

Saturday morning we were joined by Linnaeus. Following a quick but tasty breakfast of pancakes, we headed up to the Sports Center in Round Lake Beach for the Spring Stampede. That’s a big enough deal that it’s going to get its own entry following this one (with very silly pictures!), but suffice to say that we had a lot of fun. After that wrapped up we met up with roho and genet at Antioch Liquors (of course). After some shopping there, we stopped by Lovin’ Oven Cakery (om nom nom) on the way home, and enjoyed hanging out for a bit and sampling some of the pastries we picked up there. After some chatting, we decided on Dog and Suds for dinner, since the weather was so nice out. The atmosphere was great, the place wasn’t too crowded and the food…well, the food was only mediocre, unfortunately. It’s a shame because it’s a nifty drive-in, but I don’t see us going back any time soon. After dinner we went back to our place and spent the rest of the evening trying out some of our purchases from Antioch Liquors, including Roho’s kek Ke Ke Beach key lime liquor. It tastes just like key lime pie…including the graham cracker crust. To my taste, it was actually more graham than lime. It was deemed to be Not Right and pretty much undrinkable (well by most of us. I think Genet liked it in small quantities!). Sadly, because we’re all old and boring we wrapped things up by 11:30 and Paul, Roho, and Genet headed home.

Sunday morning, Mirko, Roho, Genet, and Dan and I made the requisite pilgrimage to Las Vegas for brunch, which was delicious and remarkably filling, as usual. Mirko had to head out afterwards, so Dan and I went home and napped a bit. That evening, Paul, Roho, Genet, steviemaxwell and magicpaw came over to watch The Amazing Race. It was an OK episode, though the ending was disappointing, leaving us with none of our favorites to cheer for during next week’s season finale. On the bright side, we ordered some delicious pizza, and had French silk pie from Lovin’ Oven for dessert. Everyone had a great time, and I look forward to seeing folks again next week for the finale. I think I’ll have some fun making dinner 🙂

Following a lousy night’s sleep (it was too hot – need to reset the thermostat’s programming!), here I am back at work. Not too much going on this week, except for dinner with partran on Friday night. After such a busy weekend, it’ll be good to relax! Oh and hey – Heroes tonight. Yay!

Busy Yet Fun Weekend!

Well yesterday was a bit nuts and I didn’t get a chance to write much. Let’s backtrack a bit, shall we?

Saturday was surprisingly busy. I was up stupidly early, as usual (darned early sunrises) but that gave me some time to relax before my follow-up appointment with the podiatrist. It was a blessedly short visit, pretty much just long enough for him to check that my toe was healing well, give me some simple after care instructions, and send me on my way (with no co-pay. yay!). I woke up takaza when I got home and after a bit we went down to The Firkin to meet up with linnaeus, roho, and genet. After a delicious meal and some excellent beer, Paul had to take his leave to return to his evil employer. The rest of us wandered around a bit and picked up some yummies from a local bakery. After that we retired back to Roho and Genet’s place and spent the afternoon chatting on their deck and enjoying the lovely weather. Once we finally rousted ourselves out of the sun-induced torpor, we trekked up to Gander Mountain and shopped around a bit (we got some new folding chairs), then stopped by Jewel on the way home and picked up some munchies. The rest of evening was spent sampling some tasty beer and enjoying several episodes of Venture Bros.

On Sunday, Dan and I finally got around to getting some work done around the house. I took apart the plumbing under the sink to find the cause of the leak I had noticed there; I determined the cause, finally, but I still need to stop at the hardware store to get the parts to fix it. I also finally got around to hooking up the ice maker, a reasonably simple task that cost all of $8 (the cost of the ice maker tubing kit). We now have ice! We also did a good bit of housecleaning, which made me feel a bit better. Roho, Genet, and Linnaeus joined us that evening for dinner, the online MFF staff meeting, and The Amazing Race. Genet made an extremely tasty pot roast, supplemented by Dan’s mashed potatoes and a salad with a quick vinaigrette I threw together. Much fun was had, plus we got to enjoy said bakery yummies from the day before.

And here we are, a new week. Work is keeping me busier than usual, as I noted above; it will be that way for the next few weeks, I think. This weekend, mirkowuff will be joining me, Dan, and Linnaeus for a scavenger hunt hosted by the local park district. I’m really looking forward to that! Meanwhile I hope to get some MFF work done, and I also need to come up with at least one more person for my staff for Anthrocon. Anyone have any suggestions?

Weekend Recap Before I Forget Completely

Right. So. the weekend that was.

Takaza had taken a half day off from work so that he could meet up with linnaeus and they could go to see a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Well, sort of at Wrigley Field; they were actually across the street in pretty posh digs. This meant that they were in the city by the end of the afternoon. I was itching to do something, as was nymphara, so we all agreed to meet up in Vernon Hills. We walked around Barnes and Noble and the game store at Hawthorn Mall for a bit, then decided to head north for dinner, eventually winding up at Lovely Thai. I liked my entree a lot more this time, a barbecued-pork-and-vegetable noodle dish, and the company was excellent. Sadly, although we’d talked about playing some games afterwards, by the end of dinner we were all too tired and everyone tottered off home.

I had big plans for Saturday, a nice list of all the things I wanted to get done around the house. Unfortunately, a darned ingrown toenail got in the way. I had to go to a podiatrist in the morning, and he cut away about a quart-inch of nail along the side of my right big toe. It was of course numbed all to heck and didn’t hurt a bit, and only took about three minutes. The bad news is that I had to spend the rest of the day staying off of it and keeping my foot elevated. We watched a lot of TiVo on Saturday 🙂

On Sunday, after a rough night (aided by a bit of Tylenol 3), I gambled a bit on how much I could walk and how far. We went to cheer on invncble at the Blackwolves game against the Madison Thunder – and the Blackwolves won! It was fun to hang out with datahawk and her mom and RC, as well as jimcyl and perro and darkwolph. Alas, my foot was hurting and Dan had a ton of work to do, so we had to pass on the reception and Wolves game afterwards, but I hope everyone had fun!

And here we are back in the work week. I’m gimping around a good bit still, pumped up full of antibiotics and trying to stay off my foot (and failing). I’m hoping that things should be back to normal by the coming weekend, though.