Saturday, April 29

first ride

I took my first motorcycle ride of the new season today. Brian's been after me to go for a ride with him for a month now, but the weather hasn't been warm enough (in my opinion) so I passed until now. Today was pretty nice, but it was quite chilly on the bike. I'm glad I went because we're planning an overnight trip sometime in the next month or two and I'm going to make sure it's good and warm out before we decide on a date. I thought temps in the 60s were going to be warm enough, but I think 70s would be more suitable.

Jake stayed at my parent's last night, so today was supposed to be a work day. We got some stuff done, but never as much as I'd like. The ride didn't take too much time out of our day--we just ran to Conzatti's to grab some lunch and parmesan cheese (which is needed for tonight's supper). I found out the hard way that if you're going to buy Italian food, don't bother going anywhere else--you'll pay too much.

Shortly, we're going to start cooking supper. We're trying out a new manicotti recipe tonight. My current recipe just doesn't thrill me like it used to so I guess it's time to try something new. The recipe I linked to is the first of three that I'm going to try. I'll be sure to post the results of the manicotti cookoff at some point in the future.

Friday, April 28

boulevard grill

This evening was spent with Judy at the Boulevard Grill. We met at 6:30 for dinner and just got home not that long ago. That is a sign of a good evening. We've been trying to hook up for a few months now and finally managed to get our schedules to match up this evening. I had their flatiron steak, which was quite yummy. Brian and Judy both had the Kobe beef burger, which was also quite delicious from what I heard. That's the first time Brian and I had eaten at the Boulevard in a long, long time. And, I have to say, it was also one of the most enjoyable evenings we've spent there.

Sunday, April 23

saturday night's alright for cooking

Yesterday, our friend (and Brian's former co-worker) Steve came over for dinner. So, we pretty much spent the day cooking and cleaning. That's one downside to entertaining inside. I guess that's why we do most of our entertaining on the patio. The upside is the house is nice and clean and we have some leftovers for our lunch tomorrow.

Dinner was quite delicious if I do say so myself. We had Chicken Cordon Bleu, Grilled Antipasto Vegetables, Sage Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, and Romaine Salad with Parmesan Crisps. And for dessert, a Chocolate Raspberry Fallen Souffle Roll.

It's always a pleasure to see Steve. He is an avid gardener and, like us, normally has some sort of home improvement project in the works, so there's always plenty to talk about. We don't get together nearly enough, but I guess that's what happens when you live over an hour apart. We are way overdue for a sushi run, so I guess we'll have to do that sometime this summer (Steve being the guy who introduced us to sushi).

Saturday, April 22

the upside of anger

I used to really like Kevin Costner. He had a remarkable string of good films (The Untouchables, No Way Out, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves, etc.) Then, after cheating on his wife and his subsequent divorce, he had a remarkable string of forgettable films (I'd tell you about them, but I haven't seen any of them). Some might call that karma.

But he made a list of all of the wrongs from his past and set out to make things right and then turned his life around. Oh. Wait. That was Earl who did that. I don't actually know what Kevin did, but whatever it was, it looks like he's back on track with this movie.

The movie was a simple story about a woman whose husband left her and their four daughters. After this happened, she would sit around all day and drink with her neighbor (Costner), who she later formed a relationship with. The movie had the requisite plot twist at the end.

I did learn some important signs that you might be drinking too much:
1. you switch from beer to vodka
2. drinking while wearing your pjs
3. wearing your pjs all day long
4. you buy 3 bottles of Grey Goose at your weekly trip to the grocery store

As for sign #4, if you're buying 3 bottles of Grey Goose at a time, not only are you drinking too much, but you obviously have too much money. But, I digress.

Brian and I both enjoyed the movie, but I was even more pleasantly surprised with our snack choice of the evening: pretzel nuggets with honey-mustard sauce. I made the honey-mustard sauce myself. Ingredients: coarse-grained mustard and honey. Pretty easy, eh? It turned out pretty well. And, surprisingly, it went well with our Margaritas. I wasn't so sure it would, but it did. And, it was way healthier (but, not tastier) than last week's snack--a can of pringles and a gigantic vat of homemade chip dip. But, you can eat that kind of crap every week. Not at this age, anyway.

Thursday, April 20

mint invasion

You couldn't ask for a more beautiful day in April, so Brian took today off so he could ride his motorcycle all day. And, I do mean all day. He got up this morning, took the long way to Bellwood and met up with his former co-workers for lunch. After that, he drove here, there, and everywhere, finally arriving home about 8 hours after he left.

As if this wasn't enough riding for one day, he and Jacob went out for another hour long ride after supper. Who am I to argue?

What does this have to do with mint? Well, while the guys were out riding, I worked on my herb garden. I did the edging, weeded, trimmed the dead growth from the perennials. There was nothing more to do. Except one thing--remove the extra growth from the mint that has invaded every neighboring plant in my herb garden.

My herb garden is in a checkerboard pattern, with square stepping stones making up the checkerboard. The mint grew under all of the bordering stepping stones and into the neighboring plants. I had to remove all of the surrounding stepping stones in order to remove the extra mint. Talk about invasive! It does not help matters that I have three types of mint growing. If I can't figure out a way to contain their growth this year, I think I'll cut back to one plant next year to make my life a little easier (assuming removing a mint plant is a feasible action). Until then, I guess I'll be spending the summer keeping the mint in check.

Wednesday, April 19

gardens and bikes

Given the beautiful weather we've been having this week, each night we've been going outside after supper. I've been doing gardening and yardwork. I find it very relaxing to do this type of work when I'm not on some kind of schedule to get things done. Typically, I don't start on the yardwork until May. It's not that there's nothing to do before that, I just never get around to it until then. But, this year is different--there are no big spring projects on the schedule (unlike the past few years). So, I can pace myself a little better this year.

I guess I can thank the neighbors for this. It all started on Monday when they cut their grass. So, I put "cutting the grass" on Brian's Monday evening agenda. While he was outside doing that, I did the trimming. The trimming led to pulling weeds and such from around my vegetable garden (which is well under way--garlic, onions, lettuce, and potatoes, so far).

Each night, Brian has also been working with Jake to help him ride a bike without training wheels. He's going to be six next month, so it is time. He's doing pretty well. I'm sure he'll get things figured out by summer.

And, this evening we went to Cernic's Suzuki and bought Jake a motorcycle helmet. Jake is all about motorcycles, let me tell you. He and Brian went out for a little ride around Westmont this evening. Here's a picture of the happy couple.

I see many hours of quiet gardening in my future.

10,000 days

God bless the internet.

Brian downloaded the new Tool from the internet last night. The new album isn't due out for a few more weeks, but we have it now! I'm sure Maynard's panties are in a bunch if he's found out that the album was leaked, but he should give it a rest. It's hard to be patient when you have to wait this long between albums.

I gave it a few listens today. I haven't been able to form an opinion yet as it takes me a few weeks of listening before I can form an opinion on a new Tool album, but I'm sure it'll be good. There are some elements that remind me of the last album. I found this kind of surprising because all of their albums have been very different in my opinion. Another first impression is that it is not as heavy as I was expecting, but maybe my ears are just tuning in to the mellow parts. Time will tell.

Sunday, April 16

happy easter

This morning I was planning on getting up at 8am, but Jake had other ideas. He awoke at 7am, came into our bedroom and said that the Easter Bunny hadn't left him anything. Of course, he went no further than his bedroom before he made this determination. Brian told him to check the dining room. Jake did and found his basket and a bunch of hidden eggs. He reported back to us that indeed, the Easter Bunny had visited after all. And, he surmised that the Easter Bunny was probably afraid to go in his bedroom because Lizzy was sleeping in there. Makes sense to me.

A little while later, he yelled for Brian to come and check something out. It turns out that darned Easter Bunny left some candy wrappers and a box that contained a toy motorcycle (that was in Jake's Easter basket) in our garbage can. So, apparently he assembed the basket here, too. Lazy rabbit!

After all of this excitement, we went to church. We're getting smarter in our old age and actually got there when there were still seats left. After church we came home, got changed, and gathered up some stuff to take to my parent's where we spent the afternoon eating too much food. And what do you do when you've spent the afternoon eating too much? Well, apparently you go home and eat some more. At least that's what I did.

Saturday, April 15

grill

I bought new grates for our Weber grill a few weeks ago. When I tried to put them on, they wouldn't fit (by approximately 1/4 inch). For whatever reason, the cook box had warped and that was the cause of the problem (I guess the old grates still fit because they were falling apart). So, I pulled out my warranty and found that the cook box had a lifetime warranty.

Since I hate dealing with customer service reps on the phone, Brian was nice enough to call them and report the problem. He had to email them photos of the warpage and a few hours later they called to say they'd be shipping us a new cook box. It arrived within a few days and has been sitting in our family room since. That is, until today. Today, Brian took apart the grill and installed the new box. It wasn't as easy as that, but things went pretty well once he got all of the rusty fasteners loosened. I was hoping to give the grill its annual spring cleaning today, but didn't get around to it, but at least the inside is ready to go.

I hate when stuff like this happens, but at least everything went as smoothly as it possibly could and we're back in grilling shape (just in time for the nice weather).

As an aside, I replaced my stainless steel grates with porcelain enameled cast iron ones and I can't believe what a difference it has made. I guess it is because cast iron holds heat so well, but I have never seen such beautiful grill marks on my food. Yes, grill marks can be beautiful.

fear and loathing in las vegas

I probably shouldn't even comment on this movie because I lost interest in it quickly and wasn't paying much attention to it by the end, but here goes...In case you can't tell, I didn't really like this film. The acting was fine--you can't go wrong with Johnny Depp or Benecio Del Toro (I like saying "Benecio Del Toro", so I'll say it again, "Benecio Del Toro").

The movie was based off a book by Hunter S. Thompson. The book is supposed to be semi-autobiographical. Not that it really matters, I guess. There wasn't really much of a plot. The two main characters were in a drug-induced haze for the entire length of the movie (two hours). Not much else happened. If that's your idea of entertainment, you're going to love this film.

Tuesday, April 11

on the run

Someone (ahem) left the shop door open this evening and later, Marley was nowhere to be found. I was in the middle of making tuna salad for tomorrow's lunch (You have to do something with all of those Easter eggs. And to think that we haven't even colored our eggs yet), so I sent Jake outside to scout the yard. He told all of the neighbors about his missing cat. The one neighbor was nice enough to walk around the neighborhood and look for Marley.

Anyway, Jake couldn't find the cat anywhere, so he wanted to walk around the neighborhood as well. I went out with him, but I wanted to check out the yard first. We didn't make it far before I found Marley. He was laying on the grill cover which was on our patio. I wasn't about to pick him up, so I tried to tempt him with some tuna. He wasn't interested. I sent Jake into the house to unlock the back door. As soon as he opened it, Marley got up and walked into the house. So much for that dilemma.

Like I told Brian the other week...we need to move Marley upstairs before someone leaves the door open and he gets loose. I guess I'll have to put that on the agenda.

Monday, April 10

pro nun see ay shun

After sitting in the living room, pronouncing out loud each and every word on the list, I felt compelled to post this article. Good stuff. I sounded like the Italian I aspire to be. The French stuff, I don't have much use for, but it's good to know. The wine list was pretty useful, too. Now, if only I could remember how to pronounce all of these words, I'd be in good shape.

Sunday, April 9

quiet

Jake stayed at the Law's last night. Coloring Easter eggs was on the agenda for him and his cousin, Erika. This enabled me to enjoy an evening of solitude because Brian had band practice in Windber and was not home either. For the most part, I didn't do anything special--I rearraged some of the pantry, cleaned the kitchen, and other exciting things like that. I also was able to sit down and make a few birthday cards for the coming year. It seems I'm always behind with my card-making, so that was time well-spent.

Don't get me wrong--I love my guys. But, I also enjoy spending some quality time alone. Since I rarely get that, I relish it when I do.

Tuesday, April 4

spring has sprung

Well, we turned the clocks ahead this weekend, so spring must finally be here. You know how you can tell? It's April and it's calling for snow tomorrow. We need to get our April snow shower out of the road early this year. Last year, it didn't come until the end of the month and it screwed up my gardening schedule.

In other weather news, we had this brief hail storm yesterday. In my 35+ years, I've never seen hail that large before (we're talking dime-sized). I went outside to grab one of the "hails" to show Jake and boy does that stuff hurt when it hits you. I was glad Brian took my car to work yesterday because he parks in a covered garage. You always hear about hail damage to vehicles on the news, but this was the first time I was concerned about it.

Getting back to the time change...I hate turning the clocks ahead--it messes up my sleep schedule. I've been tired all week and it's only Tuesday. It really does a number on Jake's sleep schedule, too. He's not tired (there's no reason to be tired when you don't catch the school bus until 12:15pm). But he has been wide awake each night when he's been put to bed (and therefore he spends the evening interrupting my regularly scheduled tv programming). The only good thing about springing forward is that it gets dark later. I don't know why we can't keep the clocks like that all year.

Final thoughts: gardening. My pre-gardening has been going really well this year. I cut back on my planting (I'm only planting veggies from seed this year--no herbs or flowers) and things have been going smoothly. I was a little concerned with my pepper plants because I planted them over two weeks ago and they hadn't sprouted. The directions said they'd take 10-21 days, but I didn't remember them taking that long last year. I saw the first sprout today, however, so hopefully more will follow in the coming days. And, very soon, it will be time to do the real gardening--plant stuff outside. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, April 2

happy birthday, ivah

It was a birthday kind of weekend. Today, we went to Brian's parent's house to celebrate his mother's birthday (which is tomorrow). Jake and I got to play with the puppy, which was cool. Maddie is about three times bigger than the last time I saw her. That's the cool thing about big dogs--you can just sit around and watch them grow. As an added bonus, I got my birthday gift today (my birthday is in June). While we were eating dinner, I was telling Brian's dad about all of the vegetables I've been planting. Brian's mom abruptly ran upstairs, grabbed a box, put it on the table and said it was my birthday gift. Everyone broke into the "Happy Birthday" song. It was kind of weird. Anyway, the gift was cool--it was a miniature planting tool set complete with tote bag. This will be perfect for my indoor gardening (which is why I was given the gift today).

Saturday, April 1

silly republicans

I might be a lot of things, but Republican isn't one of them. So, I'm not quite sure how I got on the Republican National Committe's mailing list. In the past week, I've received two surveys from them. These surveys seem to be a thinly veiled attempt at fundraising. They request a generous contribution so that you can join the RNC. Or, if you are unable to do that, they request $11 to cover the cost of tabulating the survey. So, I keep mailing their surveys back to them in the hopes that it costs them $11 to tablulate my surveys. More likely, they are throwing them in the trash because I didn't send any money. But, one can always hope.

Chipping away at the Republican National Committee, $11 at a time...

happy birthday, gwen

Brian's grandmother's birthday is this week so we went down to Frostburg, Maryland today to visit her for the occasion. This year, we took her out for lunch. Normally she cooks us dinner, but that doesn't seem like something you should have to do for your own birthday, so I came up with the idea to take her out to eat. She really seemed to enjoy it. We went to Applebees. Frostburg is around 60 miles from here, so it's not a bad trip--all country roads and we hardly saw any other cars. It would make a good bike trip, which Brian already has in the works.