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I can't believe its been an entire year. Those first few months went by so slowly I thought we'd never get here. Time is speeding up, just like Andy is speeding up. He's all over the place now: crawling around (still on his belly though), pulling himself up, he's even taken a few steps along the side of the bath tub.
Happy Birthday little guy!
This will hopefully be our new house in less than two weeks! We're closing on April 13th, and at this point, I don't see any more obstacles in our way. I can't wait! Now I get to learn all about home maintenance! Laura and I really like the neighborhood its in. It's older (built in the late 1990s) so there are lots of big trees. None of the newer developments we looked at had any trees to speak of. Plus, there's lots of space between houses, and the nice berm behind the house provides a decent amount of privacy. In a couple of more weeks we'll be grilling veggie burgers out on the back patio, and sipping iced tea on the front porch!
I totally skipped the NaBloPoMo last month. Which is probably for the best, considering I never really have anything to talk about. Plus, there's the whole Super Cool Baby thing. A man's only got so much blogging he can do in a given day.
This weekend Laura went to her annual Alpha Phi regional conference in Albany, NY, leaving me with the wee lad. This has really been quite an experience. Honestly, I'm not sure how single parents can possibly do this. Taking care of Andy 100% of the time takes a whole lot of energy. It doesn't help that he's been waking up on the early side for me. And then, last night, he wakes up at midnight to scream for half an hour. Thankfully, Laura will be home later today, so I can pawn him off on her. Of course, it sounds like she's had like 10 hours of sleep for the whole weekend, so I'm not sure how successful that strategy will be.
I'm writing about this on Super Cool Baby, as well, but I think it bears repeating. iPhoto rocks. I made this year's Christmas cards using iPhoto, and I think they came out very nicely. I wanted a double-sided card printed on card stock, and iPhoto was able to do that for $0.99 a card. Other places I looked at online were at least twice as much, and they didn't even let you customize the back of the card. So I was really happy with the card itself, and I think the photos that Jeff took were also awesome. (My favorite photo, pictured above, was one I snapped myself when I was just fooling around with Jeff's camera).
The card came together really easily. The hardest parts were choosing the design among the many options, and choosing what to say on the back of the card. Don't you just love our heartfelt saying? Anyway, those of you with Macs, I definitely recommend giving iPhoto a shot the next time you want to order photo cards. And those of you without Macs? Get with it!
So, it turns out that Andy really likes it when I dance around like a crazy person. I think I knew this at one point, but now he really gets into it. The funny thing is, I'm too busy dancing my head off that I didn't even notice that he was mimicking me during the lulls of my performance. And when I say dancing my head off I mean that quite literally. My neck was sore for about 4 days after this. At first I had no idea why — I thought maybe I was coming down with a nasty bug. It became quite apparent the next time I tried dancing for him though.
Anderson loves to freak his father out. Yesterday I was taking care of him while Laura was off at a sorority event. The plan was to give him a bottle after his nap, and then put him down for his second nap after a few hours. Seems pretty easy right?
Well, his first nap was woefully short. Barely more than an hour (what happened to the 3 hour marathon naps!). I played with him on the play-mat for a while, watching V for Vendetta. He never really got too fussy (a good sign that he's hungry, or tired, or both) so after a while I decided to give him his bottle.
The last time I tried, it was an older bottle of breastmilk, and he refused to have any of it. This time? Yeah, he refused to have any of it. He makes some funny expressions while making his face immobile so he doesn't accidentally suck on the bottle. Well, they're funny to me anyway. He didn't seem to appreciate it too much. Eventually he went down for his second nap. I kept trying with the bottle, but no luck. Finally Laura came home and fed him -- 5 hours after his last meal.
Our theory is that most of the time he's just not that hungry. He likes to eat, because its comfy and he likes the closeness with his mother. But if he's not hungry, why eat something he doesn't really like.
The good news is, he didn't spit up from the small amount of formula that he did have. So, previously it may have just been some bad formula, or maybe we fed him too much. Still, I'd like to be sure that I can take care of him whenever Laura has to leave the house for a few hours. I have a feeling that if he was truly hungry he would've had whatever I was offering.
Happy 5 months Andy!
Last saturday night Laura and I screwed up Andy's bedtime routine. We were coming back from a family birthday party, and we left for the hour long drive home a little late. Of course, Andy slept in the car most of the way home. Then, after we got home, he was not at all about going to bed. Instead he jabbered to himself in his crib for a good hour and a half before finally getting upset and then falling asleep.
Now, Laura and I both understand that we're the luckiest parents ever when it comes to sleep. Usually we put Andy in his crib awake. He fusses for a few minutes. Then he finds (or remembers?) his thumb and falls happily asleep. Not so much these past two nights. Since we screwed everything up, we put Andy to bed and he screeches until we go in there and pick him up. This isn't the typical bedtime cry-it-out; he sounds legitimately unhappy.
We're starting to craft elaborate theories to explain this behavior: he's going through a developmental leap and the corresponding sleep regression, his routine isn't completely back to normal and he doesn't like it, his normal cry has actually changed to this new screeching cry, etc.
Whatever it is, I hope things settle back down soon. I liked it much better when he was easy to put to bed!
It's been a while since I've posted, and since I know everybody really only wants to see pictures of Andy, I have one better for you: videos of Andy!
Here is Anderson, sitting on his own:
Here's another one of Anderson finding peek-a-boo absolutely hilarious:
And finally, if I had a compound eye, Andy might look something like this:
Anderson will be four months old this week. He's growing like crazy, and every day it's something new with him. Yesterday was the first time we gave him a bath in several months (no, we don't keep a dirty baby, we've been showering with him since he absolutely hated the bath at first). He loved it. He kicked and splashed to his hearts content. And then kicked and splashed a little more. Its true that bath's really tire babies out -- 5 minutes after I had him out and dried off he fell asleep in my arms. Silly guy!
We've been taking evening strolls through the neighborhood for a while. However, it was only on Saturday that we actually started stopping at the park at the end of the street. Andy totally digs the swing. Not only because he likes the actual swinging, but also because it keeps his arms in a position where he can easily stick them in his mouth. Usually after swinging we'll hit the seesaw. I'm not sure who likes it better though -- Laura or Andy. (My guess is Laura).
Andy gets his next round of shots on Wednesday. I'm definitely not looking forward to this, as last time he was very out-of-sorts for the rest of the day. However, on the bright side, we should get the go ahead to start on solid foods! In preparation of this, we've bought all the necessary supplies (spoons, rice cereal, bowls, baby food cookbooks, etc.) and we've started giving Andy a little formula now and then. We made the executive decision that we'd mix his solid foods with formula to start with, just to give Laura more of a break when it comes to feeding Andy. And so far so good. None of the vomiting of previous formula experiments. We're using a different soy based formula. He really didn't like it at first, but I'm chalking that up to taste association with the formula that made him sick.
So this huge thunderstorm hit Arlington on Friday. Actually, it didn't even seem that bad at the time. Just a typical summer storm, with a cell going right over sleepy little Arlington. Well, apparently that cell had it in for us, because a huge downdraft caused a lot of damage on our street. The telephone pole right across the street from our front two was snapped in two, sending a few power lines crashing to the street.
I guess down the road a fairly large sized tree was knocked over onto a house and power lines. And the force of this was enough to cause our telephone pole to snap. Understandably this caused the wires to go flying. The Arlington fire department was here pretty quickly, and it was only purely chance that Laura got nosy enough at just the right time to overhear somebody say that we would be at least overnight without any power.
So, we did what anybody would do when confronted with a) a cranky baby b) 80 degree weather and c) some serious, drip-off-the-body humidity: we hightailed it down to RI to spend a night with Andy's grandparents. Good thing too; it was just under 24 hours without power. When we had finally arrived back in Arlington we found a freezer full of unfrozen food, and a refrigerator full of highly suspect food. The worst part? We had just gone shopping not a day before! Actually even worse than that was the 16 ounces of breast milk that we had to throw away.
When doing "tummy time" on my chest, Andy likes to look left and right. Then left and right again. And again. And a little quicker. Then suddenly, he'll look straight at me for a few seconds. Occasionally he'll let out a gurgle, or smile at the face I make at him. But then its right back to the left and right business.
The way it works in our house is that I am responsible for putting Anderson to bed. Lately, this has been as simple as putting him in the crib and reading him a bedtime story (Goodnight Moon is our current favorite). Every now and then I have to bounce him on the exercise ball in the living room while I watch a little soccer, or MythBusters.
Last night Andy decided he'd had enough with this pleasant system. Instead of nursing himself to sleep, he worked himself up. Instead of falling asleep after Goodnight Moon, he fussed more and more for twenty minutes. And instead of falling asleep while I bounced him on the exercise ball, he proceeded to wail. Now, ordinarily this wouldn't bug me too much, except it was already pushing eleven p.m. and he wasn't showing any signs of calming down. This was horrifically frustrating.
I hate the feeling of frustration, especially frustration towards somebody I love so much. I try to compensate by showering Andy with hugs and kisses whenever this happens, but the underlying feelings are definitely still there. And frankly they're much more upsetting than whatever caused the frustration in the first place!
Our bedtime routine did end happily last night. After a while I was afraid that I was going to jab him in the back of the throat with my pinky, so I got up to fetch a pacifier. As soon as I got out of the living room Andy fell asleep. Literally, steps into the darkened dining room I had a quietly slumbering baby in my hands. I was so shocked at first I wasn't sure what to do. Eventually I just crept into the nursery and laid him in his crib, and then explained to the equally shocked Laura what had happened. Our theory is that Andy is getting to the point where his interest in the world is overtaking his interest in falling asleep. Instead he just gets cranky and freaks out. So I guess what this really means is that I can no longer expect to put him to sleep while watching a little TV.
Things have been super busy around here lately. It seems as though every spare moment is taken up watching soccer games (indeed, right now I'm watching Argentina-Mexico). Since there are sometimes 4 a day, I've been watching them all on Tivo delay, and sometimes in fast-forward. I did discover that the slowest fast-forward on Tivo is 3 times faster than real-time. That means I can get through a whole game in a half hour. Somehow I still ended up going to bed at 11:30 a few nights.
Laura got me a fantastically awesome Father's day gift that she already wrote about. She is right, I'm very glad to have it. She was very coy about what she was getting me although I did manage to deduce that she was getting something framed. However, I was very shocked and very touched when she revealed this beautifully framed picture of my mother.
Tonight we went to a "New Parents BBQ" with some parents that we met at our childbirth classes. We tried not to brag too much about how well Andy sleeps. But really, we have the perfect baby, and after listening to everybody else, I appreciate it all so much more. It was kind of funny though: every baby started off the night fairly calm, but by the time we left at least half were crying. And the other half? They were asleep.
Speaking of Anderson. He's started to coo a little. I'm not really sure why its called 'coo', since its really more of an 'ah-goo'. Sometimes he says it with a side of gurgle, which is my favorite of course. He also gets a serious kick out of Daddy blowing raspberries. You can almost always count on a smile. Finally, when bathing today, he gave what sounded like an actual laugh when I cleaned under his armpits. He doesn't seem to be ticklish anywhere else though (clearly taking after his mother!).
Three lessons were learned today.
- We found out what happens when Andy gets too hot.
- We found out what happens when Andy doesn't get burped enough during a feeding.
- We found out what happens when these things are combined in a single excursion to the shopping center.
Yep, we were a little amibitious and took Andy to Babies 'R' Us and Old Navy, only to be rewarded with not one but two monstrous spit ups. (And then a third once we got him home!) He totally soaked his outfit, got changed, and then totally soaked his backup outfit. We need a bigger diaper bag, because 1 set of backup clothes is clearly not enough. Clearly.
It seems like every time we take Andy out of the house something bad happens. Last time, we spent a single night away from home, Laura comes down with mastitis! Again! We're definitely not ready to go gallavanting about, as much as we'd like to spend our anniversary (coming up, June 9th) up in Vermont (in the same place we honeymooned, no less!).
I've always thought that my "intestinal troubles" have been primarily psychological in nature. They always seem to strike at the most inopportune time. Right as we're about to leave on a 20-hour drive to Florida. Or perhaps when we're out the door for a friends party. My morning commute used to be hellish -- you never knew when the T would decide to take an hour and a half to travel a few miles. Nevermind being late, the thought of being stuck on a train-car still strikes fear deep into my bowels.
That all seems to be different now. Frankly I'm a little scared that even writing about this will bring harsh retribution, but for the past 6 weeks, (at least to my sleep-deprived memory*) I've been totally fine. Laura thinks it's probably because I always have something else more important to worry about. She might be right. Frankly, I don't care what the deal is, as long as I can stay clear of planning out my day around my bathroom.
* When I went to make coffee this morning, I put the coffee pod in the machine and hit the button ... without putting a cup under the spout. I didn't realize this until it was done brewing and I went to fetch it.
I haven't been able to cook something new in a long time, so I overcompensated yesterday and went hog-wild and cooked eggs benedict, maple walnut scones, and a vegetable barley soup for dinner.
The eggs benedict were actually way easier than I was expecting. Of course, I overcooked the eggs a little, so we didn't have the slightly runny yolks that I was looking forward to. The hollandaise sauce was ridiculously easy. I found a recipe that uses a blender instead of a double boiler, so it was basically put a bunch of ingredients in and turn it on. I stored it in a pre-heated thermos while I finished the rest of the meal. Hollandaise sauce isn't something you can reheat. Although I can never be sure, it sounds like Laura did actually enjoy it. She doesn't usually like eggs, although she doesn't seem to mind whatever I make her, whether it be a nice omelet or scrambled eggs.
The maple walnut scones were from a recipe that I got off the Cooking News a while back. Its just your typical scone batter, but with maple and walnuts. Really just what you'd expect. They were good, but I think they'd be better with a little maple glaze on top as well. I hadn't made scones in a really long time. Probably more than a year. My technique has improved drastically. Still, I'm not sure if I'd be up to throwing something like this together and popping it in the oven before an afternoon tea with friends. It's still a little too much involved for that.
Finally, the vegetable barley soup is from a recipe that one of Laura's mother-friends gave us. This fantastically nice woman, Cynthia, has been such a help this past month. She's given us probably 75% of our wardrobe, and has dropped off several meals! Laura met her at the Knitting Room during one of her knitting classes. She made us this soup a while ago, and it lasted several meals. And so I made it yesterday. I couldn't find "quick cooking barley", so I had to settle with the quickest cooking that I could find. I think that threw the recipe off a little, since it came out as more 'stew' than 'soup'. But that's okay with me frankly.
There have been requests for pictures of our produce delivery, so here you go. This weeks box includes apples, pears, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, radishes, baby romaine, broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes.
So far I've only cut up a few radishes for our salad last night, and I just had another of the seriously tasty apples. Gala apples are the best. I don't know why I've been messing around with Granny Smith apples for my entire life.
I'm not too sure what I'm going to do with the broccoli. My first thought was to toss it with some pasta, onions, cheese and a balsamic reduction. However, the Kovixen reminds me that broccoli causes gassy babies. And we definitely don't want any gassy babies around these parts.
Also, I'm watching the NFL draft right now. Am I missing something or has Leinart still not been chosen? Nope, I'm definitely not missing something. I guess rookie quarter backs just aren't what they used to be. Maybe everybody is hoping he falls to the 6th round where all the quality QBs are chosen. Ahh, just chosen. Pick number 10. Weird. Clearly this is why I typically never pay attention to the NFL draft. It never makes any sense!
July 26th last year I broke the 200 pound barrier. And today, I stepped on the scale and it read 185! I've officially hit my goal, and in the process dropped about 75 pounds.
(Yes, its hard to believe that at one point, I was 260 pounds. I still hide those pictures in shame.)
The crazy thing is, for the past few months I haven't really been dieting. I eat when I'm hungry, and stop when I'm full, and yet the pounds were (slowly) coming off. And between the institutional food, and the lack of appetite from general freak-outyness, the last few pounds were particularly easy.
Now the next step is to start going to the gym. I think that between the weightloss and the lack of physical activity (after all, I sit at a desk for most of the day), some of the loss was actually muscle loss. So, I'm going to target my abs and legs in particular to build up a little bulk. Hopefully I can lose a little more fat to offset the gain!
No matter where we eventually end up in the country, our son will definitely be a Red Sox fan. Not that he'll have any choice in the matter, but I'm sure he won't be able to imagine life any other way. Of course, its gonna be weird growing up in a world in which the Red Sox have actually won the World Series, but I'm sure he'll survive.
A few weeks ago we signed up for a produce delivery service called Boston Organics. Its a little like a farm share, except way cheaper, and not necessarily local. But every other week we get a green box filled with organically grown fruits and vegetables. The one surprising benefit to this, besides the fact that I have to do less shopping for fruits and veggies, is that I get things I would normally never buy. For example, my first delivery contained (among other things) an eggplant, and 3 sweet potatoes.
The sweet potatoes were easy enough. I just peeled, chopped, and roasted them with a little salt and oregano. Laura didn't particularly like it, but I thought they were fantastic. And then last night, I made some eggplant parmesan. And boy did it come out great. Nice and crisp. Well seasoned. Even Laura thought it tasted great.
Basically it goes like this. Cut up the eggplant, salt both sides, and let it rest on a rack for half an hour so some of the water is expelled. Then dip the slices in seasoned flour (1 cup flour, 1 tsp pepper), beaten egg, then a breadcrumb mixture (breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, salt, pepper). Bake (at 425) the slices on a sheet with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil for 30 minutes. Flip the slices after 20 minutes. Then assemble: Sauce, Eggplant, Mozzerella Cheese, Sauce, Eggplant, Sauce, Mozzerella, Parmesan. Bake the whole thing for another 15 minutes so its nice and crispy on top and the cheese is melty. I cut up some basil for on top but totally forgot about it. We served it over a little angel hair. Mmm. I can't wait for leftovers tonight!
(Yes, clearly a geek!)
Some delicious little cheeks that just have to be shared with the world.
We went on our first walk today. It was just around the block, but I think the whole family couldn't take being cooped up anymore. Especially on such a nice day. Of course, Mr. Anderson slept through the whole thing, so we'll just have to do it again. Andy also had his first bath last night, which wasn't so much a bath as it was a quick rubdown with a wet wash cloth. Don't worry little guy, we'll make sure you get nice and clean once that umbilical cord falls off. Now, if we can only work on that first night of no waking up...
And since 1 baby photo is never enough:
For those of you keeping track, Anderson was born on Sunday evening, April 9th! There's so much to say, but in traditional male fashion I'll stick to the basic facts for now. Born 5:35pm after 3 hours of pushing and 3 pulls of the vacuum extractor. 8 pounds 5 ounces. 20 3/4 inches long. Absolutely the most adorable little guy ever.
It shouldn't be allowed to snow in April, much less on my birthday. (Happy Birthday to me!). Last year, it snowed all day on Laura's birthday. You can see the result of that fiasco below.
The worst part about that storm? I messed up Laura's angel food cake, and I couldn't go out to get more eggs to make another one. I learned my lesson though, and cook my cakes for the appropriate amount of time now.
I've just about given up hope that I'll share a birthday with my son. Perhaps he can share a birthday with Uncle John?
I've been having baby dreams like crazy lately. And this is coming from somebody who doesn't ever remember his dreams. I always seem to be calming a crying baby. I've been reading Happiest Baby on the Block before bed for the past few nights and I've definitely been applying the 5 S's to the babies in my dreams. I'm not entirely sure if it works on them, but its nice to see my brain preparing itself for many restless nights to come.
Laura and I checked out the Chilly Cow last night; the new ice cream shop in Arlington Center that mysteriously replaced JP Licks (when we least expected it). Its only been open for 3 weeks, so I'll give them a few more chances before I pass judgement. Their flavors were a little ordinary. Nothing previous favorites like Cake Batter or Cheesecake. Hopefully things will improve, as I think it'll be a common hangout for us this summer with the baby!
It was a good thing I was super-productive on Saturday because I had an absolute killer headache all day on Sunday. I'm still not entirely sure why I always seem to get headaches on the weekend. Popular theories include: change in sleeping pattern, change in regular caffeine intake, change in hydration. Of course, none of that matters when you wake up with a headache and two rounds of tylenol don't help at all. Interestingly enough, my headache went away once the Kovixen and I started making peanut butter cookies.
So, that productivity I alluded to earlier? Yeah, I now count 'handyman' among my many hats; I installed two dimmer switches (with permission of course) in the bedrooms. And without electrocuting myself, or burning down the house! It was actually astonishingly easy, so I feel like maybe I did something wrong. The idea here is that when we get up to change S'more in the middle of the night we don't have to turn the light on all the way and wake ourselves up.
In other baby-related news, we pre-ordered our birth announcement envelopes, from the Purple Stork. For those of you in the market, you should check them out. They have fairly reasonable rates, and their designs are just awesome. They do all the photo retouching for you to make your annoucements look awesome.
For the first time in my life, I think, I've actually been doing some spring cleaning. I'm blaming it on nesting. Laura and I went through our cache of junk in the basement, and got rid of a sizable portion, and organized the rest.
I also put together our new crib, graciously provided by Grammy Ricki. The instructions were a little obtuse, but everything turned out to be fairly simple, especially once I started using the drill to tighten all the bolts. That was definitely not something I'd want to do with the little tiny Allen wrench that they provided.
At this point we're basically ready for the baby to come. Sure, there'll always be more we can do, but if I had to take Laura to the hospital today (knock-on-wood), we wouldn't be hopelessly unprepared. Less than a month to go!
I think the so-called nesting instinct skipped right over laura and went straight to me. Maybe its just the residual effects of the crutches (that I spoke of just the other day), but when I woke up this morning, I felt the burning desire to get everything done on my todo list. And I nearly did! Not that it was very long, but I did get the car seat installed today, along with my usual weekend chores. I still have to take it to the police station where my skills as a problem-solving engineer will be routinely insulted. (Its an extremely common practice I hear). Then they'll install the car seat the right way.
Laura had the great idea of enjoying the warm weather with a picnic at the park. We sliced up a perfectly ripe mango, grabbed some triple-creme brie, a loaf of french bread, our cameras and headed to Robbin's Farm Park. I can't even remember the last time I had a picnic, but it was a blast. I'm thinking its gonna have to start happening more often, that's for sure.
Laura's got the flu. She had a hard time making potatos from a box. I'm not sure she got the proportions right, because they looked awfully thick and pasty to me. But what else would you expect from Idaho Spuds? She did seem to really appreciate the fact that I came home early from work to bring her some food. I made some tomato soup, and some jello, and bought other sickness necessities on my way home: Cepacol, Robitussin cough drops, apple sauce, and of course the #1 necessity, Coffee Ice Cream.
Here's an embarrassing admission for everybody. Sometimes, I get so nervous that I'm going to get somebody's name wrong, that I'll do anything to avoid saying it. This doesn't happen for my closest friends, but it does happen for more people than I care to admit to. Its not like I have their names wrong either. There's just a little voice in my head that says "Peter, are you SURE that's his name? You'll look an awful fool if its not!" And instead of a proper greeting, out comes "Heeeeey... whipper-snapper".
Yesterday it was officially two months until Laura's due date. We're starting to hit the time when we tear apart the house in hopes of making it better again. We moved nearly everything out of our home-office, and we're starting to turn it into a full-fledged nursery. We've only got one more major piece of furniture to put in there -- the crib! Of course, it still needs lots of work. Like those shelves right there? Totally dusty. Yes, we live in squalor, but its not like we could've reached them for cleaning before anyway.
I want to thank Jeff for letting me use his camera to take these pictures. I think I'm going to have a hard time giving it back. At least until I can convince Laura that I need one. Hey, its bonus time soon at work. Too bad we have a down-payment to save for.
Another week, another picture. As the Kovixen mentioned, we spent most of the weekend moving furniture around, and for some reason today my right hamstring is killing me. I don't get it. I did go to bed with a sore back. I guess I did a decent amount of lifting, but it was only four boxes of books! If I have to move again (and surely that'll happen eventually), I have a feeling I'm going to be in a lot of trouble. Maybe its time to start hitting the gym again.
Really, is there any other kind of fudge worth having? The last of it was finished off today, so I figure now is as good a time as any to post some pictures of this fabulous creation. If you want to make it, and I highly recommend that you do, you can get the recipe from the King of the Kitchen, Alton Brown. Sure, 234° may scare you off, but really its not that hard. I got my candy thermometer from the hardware store for $4!
What starts off as a simple mixture of sugar, butter, chocolate and half and half becomes the gorgeous fudge that you see below. The hardest part was the vigorous stirring required to make all the tiny crystals that give fudge its characteristic texture. But, just like childbirth, while it may suck at the time, looking back on it, I could totally do it again. (Did I really just compare making fudge to what the Kovixen is going to go through in a little over 2 months?)
I should mention, if you do make it yourself, please for the love of all things holy, line your 8" x 8" baking dish with parchment or wax paper. The directions neglect to mention that, and I had a heck of a time getting it out of there with no squishing.
For those of you keeping track, my surgery is scheduled for March 2nd. Hopefully, it's going to be much easier this time since I'm only getting local anesthetic. The thought of waking up on the operating table ready to puke was a little too much for me. Hopefully a skin graft won't be required so my recovery will be nice and quick. Otherwise I'll be on crutches for 2 weeks.
It turns out I get to keep my toe. Yay! I went to a plastic surgeon, who fit me in between a breast reduction and a tummy tuck. He tells me that if he can't sew up my incision then he's going to do a skin graft (probably from a piece of skin from my thigh). The only problem with a skin graft is I have to take it really easy for about two weeks. Crutches easy. I'm hoping I can just work from home. Work from bed even. I hate crutches. They always hurt my arm pits. I'm definitely not going to subject myself to hobbling down the ridiculously long hallways at work.
Speaking of work. I've been working on a new project in Java. I have to take back most of the wicked things I've said about the language. Its not half bad. I still find C++ much more familiar; Java is still a foreign tongue, but its definitely bearable.
It was a good thing I had those moles removed, as it turns out the funny looking mole on my foot was a melanoma in situ. From what I can tell, this essentially means that while it is cancer, its completely contained and can be cured by a simple removal of the affected site.
The only problem with that is its on a funny spot on my toe where there isn't exactly a whole lot of extra skin laying around. The initial surgery was complicated enough to sedate me, and my doctor isn't sure there's going to be enough room in order to get everything out. He's even bringing in a plastic surgeon to help. Should that be true, it may turn out that they'll take my entire toe off. Thus, Peter Ninetoes.
Not that I'm hoping for this conclusion, but it will definitely allow me all sorts of fantastical tales to tell when I'm lounging about the pool with the family. Right now the #1 explanation will be that I lost it during my days an an international spy, or perhaps that time I was bitten by a barracuda when I was doing some undersea exploring. While I may lose a toe, just think of opportunity gained!
Happy Birthday to my beautiful wife and soon to be mother! Remember a year ago, when it looked like this outside? That certainly wasn't a fun birthday weekend. Sure, this weekend wasn't too exciting either, what with me stuck in a lay-z-boy all weekend nursing my foot. But at least I successfully made an angel food cake for you!
Happy Birthday! You'll always be 23 years old in my eyes.
Yesterday I spent most of the day at the hospital getting 2 suspicious moles removed. The doctor decided that it would be best if I was under a light sedation along with local anesthetic. He initially thought that local anesthetic would be enough, but I guess he figured the surgery was going to be harder or longer than he originally thought.
After dressing in a buttocks-exposing gown, and in a robe over that I was put in a holding room with Laura. They tried putting an IV in my left hand, but failed miserably (and painfully!). Giving up on that for the moment, I was moved into a bed in the "Preoperative Holding Area", this time without Laura. This time another doctor managed to get an IV into my right elbow. Usually I have such prominent veins, I can only imagine that the difficulty was due to a lack of water, or something. Now, after a 40 minute wait, everything happened all at once. My surgeon came out and initialed the location of the moles to be removed, a nurse anesthetist gave me a dose of knockout, and they began to wheel me into the OR.
I felt woozy almost immediately. And now, thinking back on it, I don't actually remember going from the bed onto the operating table. I have this fuzzy idea that I did it myself (and exposing my butt in the process!), but the memory isn't really in there.
The surgery itself was painless, and seemed to go by really fast. In reality I was in there for about an hour, and each incision required 10 stitches or so. There was one slightly freaky moment when I woke up in the middle and felt really really nauseous. I had an oxygen mask on at the time, and I couldn't figure out how to signal to the people in the room that something was wrong. I think I eventually twitched my hand, although I'm not sure anybody noticed. In the end, I just swallowed the rapidly pooling saliva, and went back to sleep.
(Yes, I'm a drooler when it comes to vomiting. In fact a few months ago, I was sitting in my easy chair watching TV when all of a sudden my mouth started salivating like crazy. I ran into the bathroom expecting to vomit, but eventually everything calmed down. The weirdest thing was I never felt nauseous.)
Anyway, once it was done, I was wheeled into the recovery room where I slept for another 20 minutes or so. Finally they felt I was ready for a few ice chips, and then some cranberry juice and saltines. The whole time I was still under the influence of the local anesthetic, I didn't really feel a thing. It wasn't until I put my shoes on to leave that I finally felt a little pain in my food.
Then, on the way home, with Laura graciously driving, a new wave of nausea hit. Luckily the hospital isn't so far away. Really only about 10 minutes with no traffic. I've been hopped up on darvocet ever since. I have a prescription for percocet, but I can't really justify it given the low amount of pain that I'm in. Its really nothing to complain about, unless you expect me to actually be up and walking around. I'm sure by the time monday rolls around, Tylenol will be sufficient. I hope so anyway, otherwise I won't make it into work!
I made these cookies for the Kovixen's sorority. I hadn't made sugar cookies since I was a little kid. As it turns out, they're ridiculously easy. That is, until I got to frosting them. I was using a mixture of beaten egg whites, vanilla, confectioner's sugar and a little red food-coloring. The recipe called for about 3 egg whites and 4 cups of sugar. I only made half a batch of cookies, so I decided to halve the frosting. Boy was that a big mistake. The egg whites didn't quite beat up the way they were supposed to. However, the real problems came when I transfered the frosting into a piping bag -- a zip lock freezer bag with a piping tip in the corner. At some point a little hole was punctured in the bag and the frosting came out of that instead of the tip. I did manage to pipe out some frosting on a few of them before I gave up and started spreading thick layers on everything in sight.
I was due for an utter failure on the cooking front. I tried to make a lemon meringue pie for the football game on Saturday, but instead I ended up with meringue on top of lemon soup. It was still very good, but not very pie like. I looked over the recipe again, and I can't figure out what I did wrong. Next time, I guess, I'll just have to try a different recipe.
To make matters worse, I also screwed up my attempt at a pie crust. I had to pre-bake the crust for the first time, and so I put a piece of parchment paper in it, and filled it with black beans (since I have no pie weights). I cooked it for 10 minutes, then when I attempted to remove the weights, a huge chunk of the crust came with it. Yeah, that sucked. Luckily, Wild Oats had plenty of pie crusts for me (and frankly they weren't so bad either). I'm not ready to give up completely on pie crust making, but I'm definitely one step closer.
Happy New Year everybody. I could take this chance to reassess the past 12 months, but we don't do that here at kovax.org. Always looking ahead, we are. However, I will take a moment to tell everybody about my fun New Years celebrations.
We played this cool game called Celebrity. I haven't played this since New Years Eve two years ago. Basically everybody writes down 5 people or characters (fictional or otherwise) and puts them in a hat. Then 2 teams take alternating 1 minute turns where you can say anything but what's written on the paper in order to get your team to guess the person. You get 1 point for a correct answer, and you lose a point for every one you pass on. After you go through all the slips of paper, you start the second round, where you can say exactly one word. Of course, everybody is somewhat familiar with what's in the hat and so "Paris Hilton" becomes "Ho" instead of "Heiress". Finally, in the third round you have to act it out without using any words.
Also, I have to say, toast and honey is a great hangover remedy. I'm not sure where I read it first, but it worked like a charm this morning. Something about honey replacing lots of necessary nutrients. Not only is it tasty, but my headache disappeared right away. Although, the cup of coffee certainly helped as well.
This is the inagural post using a new ecto script that I created that automatically fetches the appropriate information from the Flickr API and inserts the appropriate text into ecto. Sure it saves me about 30 seconds, but lazy developers hate doing the same things over and over again.
If you find this interesting, check it out: Insert-Flickr-Picture.pl
I join the Kovixen in wishing everybody a very merry Christmas. As is becoming a tradition around here, the mother-in-law and brother-in-law joined us for the festivities. I cooked up a storm yesterday and made Cranberry-Pecan muffins, an angel food cake, and mint chip ice cream.
This is only the second time I've (successfully) made an angel food cake. I tried for Laura's birthday last January but failed miserably. (I think I didn't cook it long enough, because it collapsed out of the pan as I turned it upside down to cool.) But I think I have more of the technique down and hopefully can crank these babies out more often. The benefit of making angel food cake is the plethora of extra egg yolks. This time I made ice cream (8 yolks), but maybe in the future it'll be a crème brûlée.
Speaking of ice cream. I don't know exactly what I did differently, but this time the ice cream came together in record time. Maybe it was the extra company in the kitchen, or a more carefree attitude, but it seems like I barely had to keep an eye on it. Maybe it was the fact that I prepared the sugar and egg yolk mixture while the milk was scalding. Whatever it was, it was quick. And delicious.
"I look like a house", Laura says. "Or a truck."
Also note the kickass Rebel's Volleyball tshirt that Laura is wearing. My parents found this somewhere on our last visit down there. A different volleyball tshirt plays an important role in the development of our relationship. Before we were even dating, I came over to Laura and asked her to hold my tshirt as I changed. Laura claims that the shirt I gave her was completely soaked through with sweat, and that she immediately started having second thoughts about wanting to date me at all. I think maybe watching me change my shirt before each match may have convinced her to tough it out, since here we are today, more than 10 years later!
The problem with cooking is, you learn exactly what's in your favorite foods. Take this toffee for example, all it is is half a pound of butter, and a butt-load of sugar. It sure tastes good though.
I probably need a real candy thermometer to perfect this; my digital thermometer was jumping all over the place, and it was hard to tell when the whole thing really hit 300°. So I think my candy is a little under done. You can tell if you look at how its supposed to be. I don't know when I'm going to make this again though, probably not until next year!
There was some strange cloud cover which caused the sky to first grow red in the east. That was a very strange sight, but not long after the entire sky was lit up with some spectacular colors. I knew I didn't have enough time to throw on proper attire (it was really cold!) and head down to the lake to take a better picture, so I got this off the back porch.
Its been said that every pregnancy has a glitch. Snazzykat, for example, has had way more than she deserves, whereas some people don't have any until the delivery. Well, the Kovixen and I had our first (and hopefully only!) glitch. We didn't really talk about it with anybody simply because we didn't really know anything yet. On November 21 we had a routine ultrasound appointment where the doctor discovered something known as Choroid Plexus Cysts. These are essentially harmless cysts in the skull that usually go away by the 24th week (they did). However, there may be a correlation with certain genetic abnormalities, particularly Trisomy 18. So, we've been waiting on today's appointment with much trepidation to find out if there was anything wrong with our baby.
On today's day off from work, we went downtown to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (I know! I went downtown during the week!) where we had another round of ultrasounds and a consultation with a doctor who basically said that the markers present weren't concerning enough to warrant an amniocentesis, much to our relief. There is still a slight possibility of Down's Syndrome, or even Trisomy 18, but really these aren't enough to worry about.
I can't tell you how much of a relief this is. The whole idea that there could be something wrong with the baby is just about enough to put me in a constant state of worry. Is the rest of my life going to be like this? Especially regarding things I can't really do anything about?
Sooo... although we had told the ultrasound tech we didn't want to know the sex, we were rather non-committal about it. And when Laura asked if she could tell what it was, we were surprised to hear that yes she could, and that come April, we're having a baby boy! It feels very weird to know this information. And yet, at the same time it makes the whole thing much more real. I'm going to have a son! There are two great benefits to finding out now: we don't have to worry about buying things that are "too masculine", and we can throw out half the name book and get down to the business of really picking out a name. Well, really names. You can't pin Laura down on anything. Our current strategy is to narrow the choices down and take a look at the baby and pick the one that seems most obvious. That sounds a little duboius to me, but as long as the name is not Peter, I'll probably be happy.
We're off to the store to get ingredients for toasted pecan toffee and some rustic potato chowder. I'm not sure how "rustic" this chowder is as it uses some fancy new potatoes, but I bet it sure will taste good!
Today I learned something very important about work. Don't leave an hour early on a snow day. Everybody else has the same idea, and for some reason, nobody can seem to leave the office complex. It took me nearly 2 hours to get out of the complex. And when I got to the entrance I wasn't even really sure why I waited so long! There were a bunch of cars and trucks trying to get up the driveway (which has a decent incline) and getting stuck. They're not allowed to use salt on the roads around us, as we're right next to a huge resevoir. I even saw a FedEx truck give up and turn around. So much for guaranteed delivery.
Once I got out of the complex it was clear driving. Luckily I had the subaru so I could drive my normal backroads home. I never slipped or skidded at all. Of course, I was driving very carefully. You know how those pregnant wives freak out when they find out you've been speeding in the snow! (PS, I wasn't. Really.)
For a few minutes at the Brian Regan performance on Saturday I felt like a total lame-o. This happened when I realized that everybody there knew all of Brian Regan's jokes because they had his CD. Just like me. I can probably recite several of his funnier bits, and so could they.
To make matters worse, he comes back for an encore (a comedian doing an encore? Hey, its Brian Regan, I'm not going to complain!) and everybody uses that as an excuse to call out their favorite bit in hopes that he'll do it. He makes fun of this of course, but without fail they're bits from the CD. In the end, he was hilarious. I had tears streaming down my cheeks. The warm-up act was really funny too. Of course, I can't remember his name now, and I can't be bothered to look it up.
Today, sort of on a whim I made my second pie ever. Another pumpkin pie. The filling is nice and quick; I can easily get it done during the 30 minute rest of the pie dough. I was much happier with this pie than the last one. However I'm still sort of struggling with the pie dough. I think I probably just need to be next to somebody as they put one together. You see, you sort of have to know when to stop adding water. Most novice pie makers add too much so I probably over compensate and add way too little. But I have no frame of reference, so I have no idea at all!
Laura and I decorated our Christmas tree last night. We had to get it a little early this year because she's having an Alpha Phi Alumnae event here at our house. This is the same as last year actually. I don't mind so much. We get a festive house nice and early. The only problem is keeping our tree needleful until January 6th!
I'm recycling a really old picture here. In fact this was taken more than a year ago when, for some reason long forgotten, I was getting to work really really early. The early morning light coming across the city was just spectacular, and even better the day before.
Last night Laura and I trekked into Chestnut Hill to pick up a dresser for our nursery. Laura is saving us lots of money by finding things for sale on craigslist. We've gotten a small computer desk, a changing table, and now a dresser over the past week. I can now officially say that I've been in a house easily worth more than $1 million. In fact, every house in the neighborhood was huge, with decent sized lots. This house was 3 floors, and with a loft above that. I think they were in the process of moving, perhaps to a smaller place, as it seemed somewhat empty and there was another couple there picking up more furniture. I honestly wouldn't mind living in Boston if I could live in a house like that. Of course, that's utterly unrealistic so I'll never speak of it again.
Colors like these are officially gone. Everything is dark, dreary and brown. I actually had my window open all day at work; something I can't usually do because of the glare. At least everything isn't covered with that cold white stuff yet. I can't wait for the day when I don't have to deal with winter anymore. I don't do much skiing anymore (at all really), and I have no reason to sled for a few more years, so I just don't really see the point!
Last Wednesday I was around the corner at the pizza shop when I get out to the car and it refuses to start. Its not a dead battery as everything seems to be powered just fine. I eventually have it towed (making me late for gaming night!), and it turns out that the starter kicked it. I have no idea why. And it happened awfully suddenly. Cars are like that to me. It must be like how other people view computers. One of these days I'll have to teach myself car maintenance. We had some serious trouble picking it up when the barely-fluent gas station guy wouldn't take my money. I guess he wasn't sure if the car was ready, but I was! And then, this morning I get into the car and find out that my radio doesn't work anymore. It just says SAFE. So yeah, if anybody knows anything about that, I'd appreciate it.
We didn't think that the Kovixen had grown much in the past week. Then last night as we were strolling through the aisles of Baby's 'R' Us, (a new fad that's starting to catch on), she swears that she could feel everything stretch. I called her crazy (you're always right when you call a pregnant woman crazy), but it seems as though her belly really is bigger this week.
We started a baby registry at Baby's 'R' Us, but for some reason we're having trouble getting it activated on Amazon.com's website. Computers. Do they ever do anything right?
Today, as Laura and I arrived for our post-Thanksgiving brunch, we were greeted at the door by some rambunctious dogs. My mother tried to corrall Yeti, but was unsuccessful and exclaimed, "Don't let Yeti out!". Laura reached down, and grabbed Yeti by a finger-tip. Now, Yeti is not a huge dog, but makes up for his stature with pure muscle. One finger most certainly wasn't going to hold him anywhere. Laura yells at me to help grab him, and I lunge at the dog while losing my balance. I take two steps backwards; kicking over a pot of frozen mums, two pumpkins, and finally tumble over backwards off the front steps. I'm flying through the air for what seems like an eternity, constantly struggling to regain my balance. Luckily there's a few inches of snow on the ground to make a nice cushion for my fall. It was a good thing I answered Laura's "Are you okay?" quickly, because she was ready to start screaming hysterically. I think it probably looked much worse than it actually was. I was fine, of course. No worse for the wear other than a few scratches on my hands, and some numb fingertips. I still haven't quite figured that one out.
We enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house up in New Hampshire this year. She cooked an awesome turkey, and Laura and I had a chance to help in the preparations. Laura even helped make some dinner rolls, although she was really afraid of measuring the flour. I think bread is a little more forgiving than other baking. For the most part you have to guess how much flour you need based on the temperature and humidity.
I didn't really get a chance to cook anything this year. That's okay though, as I'm now loaded with lots of new recipes to try in the coming months. And I'll have plenty more opportunities to perfect my pie crust techniques. I just hope I can find enough people to eat all the pies I'm going to be making!
I don't want to take anything away from the debut of Critical Gamers, but Settlers of Cataan was awesome. That's a game I wish I had learned to play a long time ago. In fact, I think Peter Phelps played it in the "Game Club" back in High School. Yes, I didn't know there was a such a thing either. And this is coming from somebody who was on the Math Team.
Everybody, say hello to Kreacher. We had our second ultrasound this morning. It went very well, and by all indications we're going to have a very healthy baby. The hospital thinks that Kreacher is already a little large for his age; 20 weeks instead of the 19 (18.5 Kovixen says) as measured at the first ultrasound. That means either we're going to have a very large baby (baby like father?), or there's an outside chance we'll have another birthday paradox in the Kovacs family. I think April 5th, 2006 has a nice ring to it (04/05/06 anyone?). However, I think we're just going to have a brute of a baby.
We decided to not determine the baby's gender. So even though I call Kreacher a he, I have absolutely no evidence of that fact. Laura insists that its a boy, but so did the couple with the 5 week old girl we met last night. Frankly, all be happy with either. No, ecstatic!
Behold. This is my first ever pie. I made the whole thing from scratch (well, I used canned pumpkin, since finding sugar pumpkin at the supermarket isn't too likely) including the pie crust. I definitely need to work on my technique a little more. Alton wants me to roll it out inside a zip lock bag, but that didn't work so well. I ended up re-rolling it out on the board with a little extra flour. So the crust was probably a little tougher than it needed to be. Also, I may have taken it out of the oven a little early, as I didn't think the bottom of the crust was completely cooked. Everybody at the Beauchamps fabulous feast seemed to like it, even if they were just humoring me.
The Kovixen seems abnormally large, and she's not even halfway through the preganancy. Its hard to imagine the belly getting much larger, but it will! We've got our second ultrasound tomorrow, and we'll be able to bring home some pictures from this one. Tomorrow will hopefully be Kreacher's blog debut! So everybody be nice and welcoming.
I got pulled over for the very first time on my way home from Florida. Turns out that South Carolina is notorious for speed traps, and I got caught in one. I don't remember going much faster than everybody else on the road, but nobody was really around me when I went past the policeman. There was a little hiccup with my registration. See, in Massachusetts you don't get a seperate proof-of-insurance card, because you have to have insurance in order to register your car. So that information is printed right on your registration. But I guess the cop didn't like that, and combined with my nervousness of being pulled over, I didn't explain it very well.
I guess a weekend of taking pictures got me reinspired. So here it is. A picture of Laura's Shirley Temple. I think Laura secretly loves being preggers just so she can order this drink without feeling silly. Honestly I don't blame her. I used to get these during Happy Hour at the Embassy Suites back when my family would take annual trips to Boston. Of course, I called them Roy Rogers instead.
This is Laura's ever-growing belly. It was not nearly this large even a few days ago. Its going to be enormous. She's only 18 weeks at this point!
In other belly news, I felt the baby kick last night. Its unusual because Laura doesn't really feel kicks too often. But there was absolutely no doubting this. It felt like a soft punch. Laura even jumped a little; she was so surprised by the force.
Laura and I spent our 4th weekend in a row away from home. This time we spent a little time on Cape Cod, visiting with my parents. Being November, it was a little chilly. We still haven't gotten out the winter coats from storage, so I was wearing a windbreaker with a down vest on top and Laura's freshly made mittens on my hands.
We spent a little time at the Visitor's Center of the National Seashore (where this picture was taken). We watched some short movies about how the Cape was formed when the Ice Age ended. It was really neat, and you can see the evidence all over the place. Also, I found out that George's Bank was an enormous island until about 6000 years ago. Its possible that there were even people living on it! (Although certainly there's no evidence of that.)
... And all I got was some cold showers.
The Kovixen and I made do with some unfortunate timing and arrived here in Florida just as the first hurricane blown sun showers started to come down. We were expecting a small and quick tropical storm to pass through on Monday, but instead we were treated to a full fledged category two hurricane. I've got the pictures to prove it!
In the hours before the hurricane hit, there was certainly some rain and wind, but hardly anything to be worried about. The house had already been boarded up except for this one sliding glass door.
Things didn't get really exciting until after the eye had passed. There was one band of particularly vicious rain and wind. And, of course, due to the rotation and movement of the storm, Port St. Lucie was stuck in this band the longest -- for about 90 minutes. By this time we had finally lost power (not to be regained for another 6 days) so we were listening to the storms progress via radio. The plywood shutters were rattling, one was even ripped away from its cement-anchored bolts. (Luckily not in the room we were in!) I managed to take a little video with my camera, so check it out.
Once that had passed the storm was basically spent. It was moving remarkably fast, about 24 MPH to the north east, and so it was done in a few hours giving us the opportunity to clean up and get the generator started while there was still plenty of daylight. There is definitely something to be said about having a generator in such a situation. It really turned what would've been a disaster of a vacation into something a little more routine. The only things that we really missed were hot showers and a fan at night.
Now that we've got our power back, things are finally returning to normal. The Kovixen and I are seeing lots of movies, reading lots of books, and doing all the things you'd expect on a Kovacs Florida Vacation.
Laura and I raced home from Ludlow, VT so we could watch the Pats nearly make the comeback of the ages. It was not to be, but certainly exciting while it lasted.
Ludlow was relaxing as usual. We hit the usual spots, including Tacos Tacos (twice) for the best nachos on the planet. Ludlow is much sleepier than Stowe, yet there seems to be much more to do. Perhaps that's just a comfortable familiarity, or more likely, the fact that there's a nice comfy house filled with old memories to kick back in. I certainly can't wait until we get another opportunity to go up there.
I had originally wanted to post this following the Patriots awesome last second victory on Sunday. It really captured the moment. But somehow that post got lost.
I'm in ActionScript hell at work right now. I'm the only one in the engineering department with a decent amount of flash experience (mostly because I've been here so long and flash development was among our responsibilities in the past). Not only is it hell writing in this language, but the code base does not have very rigorous coding standards applied to it. A nice double-whammy there. And of course everything is on a tight deadline. What can you expect.
Russ has a theory about King Richards Faire. When you first get there you're all psyched up about it; ready to take in a joust, watch the crazy fire-eater, eat a leg o' meat. You're excited. Then each time you buy a sheet of food tickets, pay a few bucks to go through the torture "museum", or get taken in on the carnival games your level gets knocked down a notch. Then you get to the joust, which ends in what appears to be an abruptly stopped all out brawl (to be continued at the 5pm showing), and your level gets notched lower and lower. Then you leave disgusted that you spent so much on food, and suspecting a scam at every turn.
Ha ha HA! Christina hates it when I take pictures of her. But she's just going to have to suffer, because I like this one!
Team Iron Monkeys stormed into first place this week. Of course we had nine people. There was grumbling, and the rules (stupid rules!) dictated that we take 2nd place.
I've also come to the conclusion that it just isn't worth drinking crappy beer. I never had any sort of buzz going on. The beer didn't help me relax. And the next day, it still made me feel a little sick. What's up with that. Premium stuff for me from now on.
Check out the extended entry for some cool pictures of the golden retriever that my family had while I was in high school.
Laura and I took a trip up to Jordans and picked out our new sleeper couch. This is the color we got. It was cheaper because they keep it in stock, but given the choices we probably would've picked this anyway.
We just got rid of our other couch, and we weren't even planning on replacing it any time soon, but we realized that we needed a decent place to put guests, and an air mattress just wasn't going to cut it.
I find out on Tuesday if I get my semi-annual bonus. I have a feeling that I will, but you just never know until you finally get that check in your hands.
A strange thing is happenning to me. I used to hate tomatoes with a passion. I would even pick them (along with the pickles) off my fast-food. Once I gagged on a tomato eaten on a dare at a dude ranch. Then suddenly my ... err ... tounge has been opened to the perfectly ripened tomato. Now I can even enjoy a great tomato salad like the one pictured.
This whipped up really quickly, and is a good way to chow down on those pints of cherry tomatoes you have sitting around. The dressing is milk, yogurt, mayo, salt, pepper, and 1 clove of garlic. The salad is a few slices of (fake) bacon, 1 avocado, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, and 1 head of Bibb (or Boston) lettuce. I could eat this thing every day.
Posting a few pictures retro-actively here. Preggo makes me cook for her tummy these days, so whatever she says goes. Invariably it ends up being some sort of bland comfort food. This casserole almost totally worked, except the potatoes were a little too big, and there wasn't enough to it. Laura seems to have liked it, so I guess it succeeded there. What she really wanted was the puff pastry topping. And what she wants even more than that is the little puff pastry desserts I make with the leftovers. Thank goodness she's easy to please.
I recently inherited this bridal portrait of my mother. She died when I was 4, of breast cancer. It must have been extremely traumatic for me, because I don't remember a thing about it. In fact, I cannot remember anything about my mother at all. This is something that I think about all the time; maybe not on a daily basis, but at least a few times a week.
Thank goodness that my family was blessed with a wonderful step-mother. She has definitely taken very good care of us, even if we didn't all appreciate it at the time.
I like to keep pictures like this around, just to remind me of that part of my family history that I've forgotten. Maybe someday I'll remember on a comfortable couch at a psycologists office, but for now this is the best I have.
Its starting to get dark out when I get home nowadays. This is going to make taking photos that much more difficult. Ugh. This photo is from back in early July, but I felt it deserved to see the light of day, so to speak.
Pictures of the belly are coming one of these days. Laura thinks its twins. I don't know why she thinks that; but its sort of freaking me out. Is our apartment even big enough for 4 people?
Its either the heat/humidity or I've got some sort of bug, but today I've been totally dragging. Like it was a serious challenge just to drag my sorry butt down the street to Church. While there I could barely stay awake. And this was the noon Mass!
Actually, now that I just finished moving our couch out (a nice college student came by with her father to pick it up), I'm feeling a little more ambitious. Maybe I'll actually get my act together and go grocery shopping. I really just hope that a storm comes through and cools us down.
How am I going to be able to handle a screaming child if I always feel like this on weekends?
Sleep has been a little elusive this week. This is somewhat due to reading before bed, but mostly due to Laura and I talking long after the lights have gone off. Each night I get more tired until tonight when I fall asleep after dinner.
Why does this matter at all? Well, I'll tell you. When you're sleeping, you aren't taking pictures. This picture is of my adorable little cousin that I took last month. Last month? Yeah! Cousin? I have nieces older than her! I know! Such are the foibles of family. Kreacher is going to have some young first counsins once removed.
I've got to make dinner for myself 2 whole days this week! While I really want to have something really bad for me, like turkey dogs, I decided to do a little recipe I found in last months Eating Well. This is just pan-seared cod with a citrus sauce. The green beans and potatos were last minute freezer loot. Dieting sucks, but I figure with my dessert waiting for me tonight, I can suffer a little.
That's not to say that this was bad. It was really freaking good. I just wish I could eat both portions that I made.
Tonight was another fun cooking night. I made some tomato risotto from Cook 1.0 (my favorite cookbook!). It was way easier than the last time I made risotto, which was a marathon 45 minute stir session. This came together nice and fast, and didn't have any weird ingredients, except perhaps for marscapone cheese (which I omitted) and fresh basil (which I had on hand).
I'm not really sure if Laura liked it. She famously and coincidentally got sick the last time so she might be a little tainted. I thought it was fantastic. Basil and tomato go so well together.
Today's picture is a self portrait. This project is starting to suck. But I'll stick with it as long as I can. I just have to remember that not every picture has to be a masterpiece. That's not the point of this exercise.
I hope that I never become one of those parents who finds it perfectly acceptable for a child to scream for 15 minutes straight in a restuarant. This wasn't McDonalds, but Za, a relatively upscale restuarant. This place is cursed with the appearance of being kid friendly. I say appearance because Za serves pizza and salad. Every kid loves pizza. Except these pizzas often have exotic adult flavors like balsamic soaked cherries, goat cheese, and so on.
Even I, the famously laid back Peter, started getting annoyed after the 10th minute of screaming. Finally the parents took turns with the kid outside. The strangest thing? The kids were screaming in a "happy" way. Ugh.
I mentioned yesterday that I made some chocolate ice cream from Alton Brown's recipe. Well, I ran it through the ice cream maker this morning and let it harden all day. We just had a few scoops with some marshmallow topping. I have to say, this is some of the best ice cream I've ever had! Sure, its not very good for me. What with the pure half-and-half, and the 8 egg yolks. But damn, I'm thinking homemade ice cream is fast becoming a Kovacs family tradition. And I'm okay with that.
I should mention, that on this rainy lazy sunday, Laura and I took a nice little nap. I know, get them in while we can. The funny thing about naps is I always seem to be more tired afterwards than before hand. This picture was taken shortly after, which explains the state of Laura's hair. I think its super cute of course, but Laura was less than thrilled when this became my picture of the day.
Laura and I went to El Guapo (Powerderhouse Sq in Somerville) for dinner tonight. We realized that we had't eaten out in quite some time. Together at least. I think this resturant is great. Despite the not-so-glowing review in the Boston Globe, I think it has a decent atmosphere (its a bar, not a classy restuarant) and some killer food.
The entrees are on the expensive side of things, but I think that they are definitely worth it. In fact, this place is the new gold standard for mexican food around here. While I've never been to Tu y Yo, it definitely beats Rudy's and Ole.
Despite the heat today, I did end up doing a little cooking. I whipped together some homemade granola bars, as well as some "premium" chocolate ice cream. I'm still waiting for the ice cream mixture to cool down, so I won't be enjoying that one until tomorrow. But the mixture already tastes just like melted chocolate ice cream!
I went for a walk in the woods behind work today and discovered a little development of nicely manicured houses, all in a pretty circle. It looked like classic suburbia. It must've been recycling day, because all the little blue bins were neatly lined up on the curb. These houses would've probably been $250,000 anywhere else in the country. But Lincoln, MA? A cool $1.2 million. Sure, there's no housing bubble. No siree.
Laura and I aren't the kind of people to keep news like this quiet. We just found out this morning, but we've been suspecting it for a couple of days.
I'm really excited about this obviously. I don't think it has completely sunk in yet because I don't feel the slightest bit scared. I know my life is going to be completely different, I just haven't wrapped my head around it yet. I like to break things down into what I can easily handle. For example: I have to cook a little better and make sure Laura gets the kinds of things she needs. More protein and calcium (being a vegetarian does make the whole protein thing difficult). We're eventually going to lose our "office". We're ditching the desktops and getting a laptop; but that's such a long way off it hasn't even entered the picture yet. Other than that, its just little things. Like the fact that I'll be WHOLLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ANOTHER HUMAN-BEING! Holy crap. What have I done!
Haha. Just kidding. That kind of responsibility is old hat. I do take care of Laura well enough. I'm sure we can handle it.
What is with Hollywood and its inability to make 90 minutes of a funny movie? Invariably the movie gets tangled up in its own plot, and ends up falling on its face. Laura and I just got back from Wedding Crashers. It started off humorously enough. I even laughed out loud, sniggered and snorted many times. But the last half hour wasn't filled with any laughs. Sure I was mildly amused, especially at the Will Farrel cameo.
Other movies have done this too. Even great ones like Office Space. It can often be forgiven depending on just how hard you laugh at the beginning.
Listen up script writers. We don't need tidy endings. We don't even need everything to make sense. Take a page from Dude, Where's my Car, or Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and deliver us some non-stop laughs the whole way through!
Laura and I went to the park on our way home. In addition to offering sweeping views of downtown Boston, we found this plaque in the middle of a bare hilltop. I'm not entirely sure what happened to the tree. Perhaps I'll just have to find out.
I had no idea what to make for dinner tonight, and Laura suggested a rice bowl from the ever popular Cook 1.0. This is a really simple recipe, but it does require a few exotic ingredients: thai green curry paste and coconut milk. But if you have those in your pantry (inexplicably, I did) then it comes together really easily.
Only 1 more week on the hard-core diet. And then I can actually have seconds when I make a fabulous meal like this!
Ben Folds rocked the bitches and shit tonight. I mean, he rocked. Russ whined earlier that Songs for Silverman wasn't hard enough, but let me tell you he rocked that bitch.
There were two unfortunate moments tonight. Ben Folds didn't have an encore. At least, not one that we waited around for. And then Rufus Wainwright came on. I'm sure Rufus is a great musician and all, but I just wasn't digging his music at that moment. Add that to the pot heads lighting up behind us, and the fact that we wanted to beat the huge lines back to South Station, we were practically forced to leave early!
Seriously though. Who lights up at a Rufus Wainwright concert?
I didn't even notice, but as of Sunday, I've been taking pictures for 2 months straight. Well, I missed one day in there. It was early on and it completely slipped my mind. There's not too much to take pictures of when its 11 o'clock and you're in bed already. Oh well, I'll have 364 pictures when I'm done (or perhaps I'll just go one extra day).
Of course, in reality, I probably won't stop, but just slow down a little. At the very least, this has trained me to bring my camera with me EVERYWHERE! Except, this friday I can't bring it to the Ben Folds concert I'm going to. I'm not sure what he and Rufus Wainwright are so worried about. Afraid I might take pictures of their patented secret drumming technique. Or document Ben's various stances while pounding away at the piano. I'm not even going to bring it with me for fear it might get confiscated, or I'll have to go home to drop it off, and that pisses me off!
Work seriously pissed me off today when I spent a good 2 hours tracking down a "bug" when it was another member of our team performing some black-hat testing. That is, they were purposely trying to break everything to see if there were any security holes. Due to some horrible miscommunication, I spent all my time on a wild goose chase looking for a non-existant bug. I was none too pleased.
Laura and I went to two family events today. A cookout at my parents, attended by a whopping 2/3rds of my family and then cocktails at the Dunes Club with Laura's grandparents and her Aunt and Uncle.
I call her crazy, but Laura was struck by the disparity between our families. Her's is very talkative and political (on this we agree), while mine is quiet and reserved. I disagree on this. I may be quiet and reserved, but there was no silence (uncomfortable or otherwise) that I was aware of at my family's gathering.
If there is any difference, it probably comes from the fact that her family is full of lawyers, and mine is full of engineers.
Laura and I went to Flora for dinner tonight. The Company picked up (most of) the tab, as a bonus for all the hard work I've been doing lately. That's super nice of them, especially since I don't think I've been working especially hard lately. As hard as I usually do, surely, but nothing extraordinary.
Flora was awesome. On the expensive side, but definitely something I would consider again for a special occasion. A full review will be forth coming.
I realized something today. Before I took this job, I used to constantly read technical books. I'd always try to stay on top of the latest trends in Computer Science. I'd pick up new languagues like C# or Ruby on my own, just based on their intrinsic coolness. Some times I'd read books that would help me become a better programmer, like the highly recommended Pragmatic Programmer. Or Writing Solid Code.
The thing is, I haven't read a single technical book since I moved up here about 2 years ago. I'm not sure if this should worry me. Maybe I'm losing my drive to become a better programmer. It could be, instead, that my job is simply pushing me in ways that no previous employment has. I feel very fulfilled at the end of the day. I have a constant supply of interesting and challenging projects to work on. It helps that I'm of the opinion that the end product doesn't have to be all that interesting for the work to be interesting. (I mean, I don't have any desire to work at a game company). I just enjoy solving programming problems every day. After working here for 2 years, I finally feel that I'm in a position where I could go anywhere and pick up any new job easily. This, of course, is something that I won't have to put into practice for some time. Its a nice feeling nonetheless.
Another Mexican Casserole tonight. This time with smoked chipotle rice (a Lipton rice packet thingy) and 2 green peppers. I also inverted the crunchy topping and the cheese, based on the advice of the esteemed Alton Brown. I can't wait to dig into this.
If anybody is interested in making this, please let me know how it comes out!
Laura and I took a little walk this evening. I even had some other pictures ready to go up for today (for example), but this one was just too good to pass up.
What a spectacular sunset to end such a lovely day.
Today at work we had a fire drill. You know, the kind where you all have to shuffle outside in the oppressive 95 degree heat, and line up with your class, I mean company, until the all clear gets sounded.
Why do we do this again? This is the first time I've ever done one since I was in High School, so its not as if its a wide spread practice. I guess its to get accustomed to where you have to go if there's an emergency (no elevators!). But if it were a real emergency, would people be filing out so calmly? What happens if that stairwell is blocked? I don't even know where the other one is. Oh, the humanity!
After what seems like forever, I finally reached a milestone in my diet. I got below 200 pounds. I started about 2 years ago, when I weighed 260. Yes, I was a very large man. I could barely see over my burgeoning gut, and it was uncomfortable sleeping on my stomach.
Those days are no more. Now I regularly receive comments on how thin I look. I can sleep just fine. And I think my digestive system is thanking me for its new-found efficiency.
I only have 14.5 more pounds to take off. After that its just maintainence. Maintainence is easy. In fact, when I first moved up here, I stayed at about 215 for a good 4 months straight. Lets hear it for eating less!
We hit JP Licks in Davis Square. They have the best ice cream flavor there: cake batter. I'm not really sure how they make it. I don't really care either, as long as they keep it coming. Of course, I couldn't really partake in the eating due to my raging lactose intolerance. Instead Russ and I sat in the square, surreptitiously taking pictures of people.
This mutant miniature took it upon himself to sneak attack Russell from the Hill of Dice. It wasn't very successful, as there were hardly enough reinforcements to get the job done. Gaming night kicks ass. I finally found an "orc voice" that doesn't sound like a pirate.
Speaking of pirates, I heard a great piece on Shakespearian english on NPR during the drive home. Some linguists taught some players the Original Pronunciation, and they are taking it to the stage in Troilus and Cressida. These people sound just like pirates! Or more correctly, I suppose, pirates talk like them. Or did, back in the 16th century. Honestly to me it sounds most like a combination of a brogue and pirate-speak. Go ahead, go listen!
Laura woke me up at 7:30 this morning. She had to get to Barnes and Noble to buy the new Harry Potter book. 10 hours later and she's 3/4 of the way through the book. She'll regret reading it so fast when she realizes it'll be another 2 years before the next and last book comes out. I'm not complaining though. The sooner she finishes, the sooner I can read it!
Christina is hereby always invited to dinner, as long as she brings s'mores for dessert. We made these over our gas stove, and man were they delicious. I still say that they're much better over a campfire. I think its the combination of even heat from the coals, as well as that outdoorsy atmosphere combined with happy childhood memories. So maybe Laura won't be able to enjoy that last bit. That's not to say she doesn't have happy childhood memories, just none that involve camping. You too can enjoy some of my culinary creations if you bring a dessert worthy enough!
Jon and Nathan Short (no relation!) joined us for lunch. Originally I was going to post a picture of Jon to make up for the fact that I captured his arm in a previous picture but neglected to credit his vital contribution. Unfortunately his picture didn't make the cut.
Nathan recently joined me at the Company, and will be moving up to Wakefield shortly. Hopefully he'll start coming out with the gang to trivia, poker, etc. The more money on the table the better, after all.
Another easy picture: Mystic Lake at Sunset. Its nice having such a photographable subject so close to home. The runners up included a panorama of the homestead (for posterity sake I guess), and another picture of the ice cream I made yesterday, this time in a more wholly frozen form. In the end it was an easy call. This is a great picture.
The protesters were out in force today at Rt 60 and Mass Ave. I can never figure out the schedule that they're on, but they're usually out there once a week holding up signs like "Fund Education not War", or "G.I.s died for Bush's Lie". I can never really figure out the motivation people have for doing things like that. Maybe they believe these things a lot more passionately than I do. I'm glad somebody's out there anyway. Makes me proud to live in a town like this.
Another lazy sunday filled with cooking. Today it was some homemade ice cream (courtesy of Cook 1.0), and chocolate sauce. And for dinner I threw together a great pasta dish: 1 onion halfed and sliced thinly, a few handfuls of fresh spinach, olive oil, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes all sauted. Once the pasta was done, I mixed in the onion and spinach along with half a lemon (squeezed), a cup of chopped basil, and half a cup of shredded parmesean cheese. Toss with 2-3 more Tbsps of evoo. On top of all this goes a balsamic vinegar reduction. Absolutely delicious. We used whole wheat pasta for the extra protein kick. If anybody's interested I can point out the recipe that I received from the CooksIllustrated.com people. I'm on their mailing list, and every missive includes a recipe, several of which I've made.
It was a lively party. People were outside drinking while Eva walked her dog around the house. She couldn't bring her tiny mutt inside for fear of the large dogs there.
A few hours in the hot sun has made Avery thirsty and she is looking for a refreshing refill. She comes running up the stairs on the front porch and tosses the contents of her cup off the side. Mostly ice and water spray all over the trees and bushes. Eva, having just rounded the bend with her dog gets soaked as well.
"Hey, you just threw your drink all over Eva!" exclaims Dan.
"You named your tree Eva?" Avery asks, incredulous.
And that is how Eva became Eva the Tree.
I guess this is Peter's corollary to the Third Party Rule: 4th party stories can still be funny. A little bit anyway.
Poker went really well. I made up for my double bust-out last time by leaving with $55. I thought I played really well towards the end. I tend to get a rush of adrenaline whenever I'm in a big hand, so I think a little bit of alcohol helps me out. Not so much that I'll bluff off all my money, but enough to make a big bluff when it counts. (3 last night! Ha ha ha suckers!)
Trivia factoid for the day:
All U.S. currency is printed on special patented paper made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen. This paper is made only by the Crane Company, based in Dalton, Mass. Crane obtained the patent for this paper for the Treasury in 1879.
I'm not terribly upset that Jeff shot my answer down at trivia. I wasn't really sure about it anyway, and his made as much sense at the time. I think if we paid more attention to the wording of the question we might've gotten it right. We'll get 'em next time.
On my way home from work an idea struck me. Fajitas for dinner. We haven't had them for an entire year. At least, I don't remember ever making them at our current place of residence. I think my cooking skills have improved greatly since the last time I made fajitas. These were quite excellent, but I guess it really all just comes down to the fact that I cooked the peppers and onions correctly. Just a splash of oil, a pinch of salt, and a quick saute over med-high heat until nice and translucent. Laura and I always put the wrapped fajita back on the heat to get a nice crispy finish.
I also make some chocolate chip cookies last night, sort of on a whim. This was the 3rd thing I made in my new Kitchen-Aid mixer. Let me tell you, that thing kicks ass. It made what is usually a bowl juggling mess into a quick and easy. Although it was unclear whether I should let the machine mix in the chocolate chips or not. Between that, my new scooper (to make consistently portioned cookies) and my scale, baking is a breeze! I can't wait to tackle more challenging things like pie crusts, or even loaves of bread!
I can't believe how fast these kids grow up. Such a cliche, I know, but it's true. This was actually the first time I met my niece Julia. She has got to be one of the happiest babies that I ever met. Just like her sisters, she takes after her father both in looks and in disposition.
This was also the first time I saw Margaret, another niece, in a long time. She's almost two now. She's just like a real person, with a personality and everything. :) Okay okay, so I'm a little sheltered here in Boston. Young children aren't exactly common place, if you didn't notice.
Our neighbor, two doors down, has a fantastic garden. I noticed this for the first time last night when I strolled past on my way to get money at the ATM. It takes up the entire yard and is filled with vegetables and flowers. An assortment of tiger lillies, roses, and tiny little yellow flowers line the outside. The whole thing is surrounded by a 8 foot fence supporting a creeping vine. This fantastic pink rose sits at the corner and provides a colorful foreground to this shot.
I definitely don't have a green thumb. It seems that every plant I have invariablly ends up ill-kept. I managed to keep an ivy plant for a year and a half, but it finally succumbed after we went on a 2 week vacation. I never think to ask the cat-sitters to water the plants and they invariably suffer. Last year I grew tiny little tomatoes out on our west-facing deck. After harvesting, I completely forgot to use them! That would never happen now, I use tomatoes all the time. Although I still don't really appreciate the taste of tomatoes, but they go really well with a little salt, garlic, onion and olive oil.
Jeff's annual July 4th cookout was a blast as usual. Except for when you get singled out in the water ballon toss, or blamed for breaking the neighbors priceless heirloom rose bush with an errant toss of the football.
The food was fabulous as usual, and I'm glad everybody seemed to enjoy my contribution. Here is the recipe for anybody interested, it comes courtesy of Alton Brown, via the Food Network.
2 lb carrots, approx 12 - 15 medium
1/2 c mayonnaise
pinch kosher salt
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c canned, crushed pineapple, drained thoroughly
1/2 c golden raisins
2 t curry powder
1 t minced garlic
pinch celery seed and/or caraway seed (optional)
Wash the carrots and peel, if necessary. Using a vegetable peeler, cut the carrots into wide noodle shaped strips.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, salt, sugar, pineapple, raisins, curry powder, garlic, and celery and/or caraway seed. Add the carrots and toss to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1 hour to serve cold.
I just got back from War of the Worlds. That was a very stressful movie. Laura freaked out a few times. Hopefully she'll be able to sleep tonight, and not think that the fireworks going off in our neighborhood are intergalatic visitors. Overall I thought it was good. Definitely worth the money, but it had a few minor plot holes, and a goofy ending which kept it from perfection.
Yesterday, the power went out at work for about 10 minutes. For the second time in 2 hours. I wasn't here for the first one, but it sure came as a shock to the guy on the treadmill downstairs. What are you supposed to do when the power goes out at work? I sat around in the dark, thinking about how I just barely figured out what I was doing before I left the day before, and how I'd have to get my computer up and running again.
At sunset yesterday the clouds rolled in. I strolled down to the Lower Mystic Lake again and spied this boat tied up at the shore. I think this is my landlords boat. The water was so still. I tried to capture that calmness in this picture.
Today marks 1 month worth of picture taking! I'm beginning to think that I might actually accomplish this feat. I know its going to get a lot harder as the months wear on. It'll be especially difficult in the winter when its dark at quitting time. I guess I have 2 choices then: get a tripod for some nighttime picture taking or take more pictures while I'm at work.
Laura and I went to Sandy Beach at the Upper Mystic Lake in order to cool off and take a few pictures. The place was pretty crowded for a monday evening. Lots of families were there enjoying a cookout despite the restriction on open fires. There's a tiny little swimming area. Comically small, especially when you consider that there are 4 lifeguard chairs. It makes me wonder how much protection is afforded at a beach where the lifeguard chairs are spaced 100 yards apart.
I like the dramatic effect of taking pictures right next to the water. I didn't think this was a particularly striking picture at the time. Its growing on me, and several people have commented on it on flickr.
This project is making me really want a nice digital SLR camera. I really have to fight my camera sometimes to get decent pictures. I have all the manual features turned on that I can possibly find, but 1/2 the time it focuses on the wrong object, or can't take the macro shot that I'm looking for. I never really know until i get home and load the pictures into the computer. My successes so far have me convinced that I can certainly wait a while.
Do you ever get tunnel-vision? I think I do when I'm nervous, uncomfortable, or generally disoriented. I feel funny taking pictures of random people, especially when they're children. So, after taking this picture of kids cooling off at the Frog Pond, I turned around and immediately stumbled over a chain hanging about 10 inches off he ground. Nevermind that I probably looked like a serious idiot (didn't I just step over the same exact fence not 30 seconds ago?) but now I've got an enormous bruise on my shin.
A contemplative Fat Tony. He was concentrating very closely on the camera-strap, which he then proceeded to attack. Silly Tony.
Some great pictures of "medieval Boston"
Dave and Caitlin have started yet another social night. It originally started as Drinking Wednesday, which then evolved to Poker Thursday (still celebrated every other week), and finally now we have Trivia Wednesday. These are all really just excuses to get together for some drinks and engage in mildly competitive activities.
This past week we decided on a new strategy. Form 1 big team, and try for second place, as first place is reserved for teams with 6 people or less. This worked wonderfully as we all pulled together for an easy 2nd place win!
We live within spitting distance of the Lower Mystic Lake but you wouldn't know it during the summer when a thick stand of trees obscures any view that we might get through our kitchen windows. It turns out our landlord often commutes via the lake in a little dinghy. Given the traffic around here, its probably faster and less stressful in any case.
I love how the after picture is always much more smiley and happy, as if the transformation undertaken so greatly improved my life that I can't help but take money to evangelize. Except in this case I'm not particularly happy with my haircut from the "Arlington Hair Salon". They do a decent job, but they don't have a #4 on their shaver! WTF? Instead the stylist guesses how long it should be, and let me tell you its way too long. While I'm sitting in the chair, I can't really tell as I'm not wearing my glasses. Instead I realize a week later when I look in the mirror and think, "Wow, I really need a haircut again".
I really miss the Kendall Barber Shop. They did a great job, including a straight-razor on the back of the neck. Alas, with the Company now in Waltham, going there isn't exactly practical.
Yes, I missed a day. Go suck on it.
Poker can really kiss my ass sometimes. Last thursday I lost my stake on the 3rd hand. I lost a ginormous pot on the 1st hand when I had a pair of Kings and got sucked out by suited 6-8. I guess I didn't jam the pot enough pre-flop, but knowing Jeff, he would've called anyway. Aggravating. I lost the rest of it 2 hands later when I had a pair of 8s in the big blind. I lost a race to Jeff, of course.
Don't mind my complaining, I'm just slowly realizing that I'm really not as good at poker as I'd like to think I am. I definitely have my moments, but I have just as many moments when I get badly outplayed.
Roy recently left the Company to go work at a summer camp for the criminally deluded. They teach kids to fear the olive companies who've secretly hatched a world-wide surveillance conspiracy. You thought those were pimentos? What he will do in the fall no one knows, but I have hopes that he'll come back here!
Ariel, aka "fluffy girl", doesn't meow. She says "fluff" instead. This is especially true when, upon arriving home from work she accosts me at the door and demands to be fed. "Fluff, FLUFF!" she says. "Fluff, right now!" Lately I've been ignoring her, feeding the cats at my leisure.
Even when Ariel pukes she says "fluff". Its sort of a head-bobbing belly busting fury that curiously sometimes never finishes. Where does cat puke go when it doesn't come out?
Pizza is one of those crazy foods that you can really push the culinary boundary with. Take this balsamic-soaked cherries, goat cheese, onions, and walnuts pizza here. Absolutely freaking delicious. Previously, I've had pears on my pizza. Again, absolutely freaking delicious.
I've tried to make a few more ambitious creations myself, but they usually involve adding a little goat cheese, or some olives. Nothing ground breaking. But had you asked me at this time last year if I'd be making pizza from scratch (okay, canned tomatoes are involved) on a regular basis, I'd have called you crazy. In fact, you are crazy. Or maybe I'm crazy. But this is good pizza. If you live near Arlington, and haven't been to Za, then you're crazy too.
I'd love to have a pizza making party at some point (as Danielle helpfully suggested), but I just can't figure out the logistics. I've only got 1 pizza stone, and I am lacking in the peel department. This means that its a little difficult to make the pizzas ahead of time. The longer the pizza is sitting on the baking sheet, the harder it is to get off (it soaks up the corn meal), which can lead to some pizza disasters on the floor of my oven. Not the kind of thing you want to clean up at 500°.
Holy smokes was that a heat-wave. High 80s even before I was out the door in the morning. You have to understand, the weather up in Boston just isn't like that. Spring comes late, and lasts a long time. The heat broke in spectacular fashion. One morning it was in the high 80s as usual, but by the time I left work in the evening it was in the low 70s. The reservoir down the road was steaming like mad. Of course, the one day I don't bring my camera with me.
Tony and Ariel basically get along these days. When they fight, they're clearly playing. That's not true with Ziggy, who doesn't appreciate any intrusion into her personal space. She'll start growling whenever her insolent brother Tony gets too close, and eventually give him a swat on the head. Tony loves bugging her though. He'll chase her through the house, and then play the game of "How close can I get to Ziggy without her running away?" He'll stand about 10 inches away, and slowly raise a paw while Ziggy growls and hisses the whole time.
This picture looks a little weird with white background. What a crappy cropping job. Maybe I'll revisit that at some point. However, looking at this picture makes me wish it was a little warmer so I could enjoy a big glass of the hooch.
A week ago, Laura and I needed some comfort food. But not just any comfort food. Homemade comfort food. So I took a quick stop at the supermarket and picked up some cheese and penne and whipped together this mouthwatering macaroni and cheese.
My roux have been coming out really well lately. I think in the past I haven't been heating up my target liquid (in this case milk, but previously vegetable broth). I have no idea why that works, but I don't really care either. The liquid doesn't have to be boiling, just hot, and everything thickens up quite a bit.
A few people have said that this photo looks like it should be in a cookbook or a magazine. What do you think?
This elaborate relief sculpture is above the door to the kitchen of Dalí, where Laura and I went to celebrate our anniversary. If I had taken a moment to compose this a little better it wouldn't suck so much. I've got to learn to not care what people think as I'm taking pictures on the street. As it is, I feel sort of stupid with this little tiny point & shoot camera, but I'm getting better.
This new trivia place, at the Powder House Pub sucks. The competition is much harder, and the only big tables are way in the back. It doesn't help that we aren't doing very well. Last night we were going pretty strong right up until a few stumbles at the end. Isn't that the way it always is? Its funny, we try to stack the teams sometimes, but I'm not convinced that we can make the perfect A-Team. With too many good people it becomes a competition of who's more sure. Sometimes, the person who is 100% positive of their answer is dead wrong (limbic system anyone? Sorry Kim!). If you're not assertive enough about your unsure answer, you tend to get overlooked. But if you're the only one putting an answer forward, it gets written down.
Go Iron Monkeys!
NerdFactor++; This shot is from my biweekly D&D group. Originally titled "Beware the Caltrops", the adventurers were entering a fortified hallway with javelin throwing goblins at the end. We survived, with nary a flesh-wound thanks to some clever thinking. See, we tricked the goblins into coming to our end of the hallway, so they wouldn't have several free rounds of tossing javelins at us.
Sometimes you just can't find that good picture, mostly because you're too busy and forgot to take a good one. This is the type of thing you're left with, a photo with very little redeeming value.
Occasionally at this intersection there are war protesters gathered about with signs. They never seem to be there when I have my camera, and really wouldn't it be a little weird if I started taking pictures of them from my car? They'd probably think I'm some sort of g-man assembling an enemies list.
Every year Arlington has "Town Day" when they shutdown Mass Ave, and all sorts of vendors open up booths. We went last year, and got the chance to see what's going on in our town. East Arlington, feeling left out I guess, has a "Feast of the East" every summer.
Compared to Town Day, the feast was pretty lame. It was basically a massive open-house of all the shops along Mass Ave in East Arlington. Laura and I took a quick stroll through it, and were about to leave when we ran into Russ & Christina and Jeff & Kim. We all decided to have a quick lunch at the Arlington Diner, which was decidedly unfulfilling. That place is great for breakfast, but the lunch menu was only so-so (and very vegetarian unfriendly I might add).
I like to make a simple pizza dough on the weekends. The recipe I use makes enough for 6 9-inch pizzas, enough for two assuming that there's some other food involved. Until recently I've made the dough in my food processor. It comes with a special dough blade (which isn't really a blade at all), but I only have a 7-cup capacity and so its been a messy proposition to stick 4 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup corn meal, and 2 cups of water/oil in there. The first time I made the dough it came out perfectly. I had no problem tossing the dough, and the pizzas came out very nicely. That was less true for next few attempts.
Its all different now that I've received my Kitchen-Aid mixer. I stuck the dough-hook on there, and combined the ingredients. After 5 minutes, I had a pile of well kneaded dough. This dough rose a lot better than previous attempts, but I chalk that up to the extremely warm weather we've been having. I usually just stick the dough in my oven (its not on obviously, but the pilot light keeps it warm). This is the first time that the dough collapsed with an audible "whomp" after I punched it down.
I'm thinking tonight might be pizza night, so we'll see how it goes!
I had my first big winning session playing no limit hold'em at Russ's the other week. It does help when you pick up the rockets on the 3rd hand, and bust Russ (for the 1st time). That quick start allowed me to play a little looser than I normally would, and make a few calls of all-in bluffs in somewhat marginal situations. I think I played pretty well, except when I called off a little too much money chasing cards to the river. (The implied odds were huge, I swear!)
This photo was touched up in Picasa, as usual. The flash on my camera is a little harsh, so I usually subtract 1/3-step on the exposure setting, and then raise the settings afterwards. The result on this photo is some great atmosphere, although the reflection off the glass, and the shadows are a tad harsh.
This was the first real photo that I've taken as a part of my daily photo journal. This isn't exactly the best start, since my life is pretty mundane. But I after desaturating the photo a little, I really liked the way this came out.
My desk at work gets messier and messier. For a good 2 months I really made an effort to clean it off every night before I went home. Its funny the things that you stop doing once you get under deadline pressure. I'm certainly not going to take 5 minutes to tidy up my workspace when I'm already staying an hour and a half late at work. The irony is, I'd probably be a little more productive if I maintained a clean work environment.
At work, there's a antique coke-bottle machine, from which these bottles came. It takes 10 cents to buy an 8oz bottle (yes, we have subsidized caffeine at work, we're not barbarians you know). However, I didn't realize this the first time I tried to buy a bottle. Everything else in the building is 25 cents. So I stuck in my quarter and forced the lever down. The machine didn't give me a soda, and I was too embarrassed to find out why. A few days later I noticed a "Dimes Only!!" sign pasted to the front. Now that I've figured that out, I've been enjoying the occasional glass-bottled coke. I find it to be just about the perfect size, and none of that funny metal aftertaste.
This is the first photo from my (hopefully) year-long project to take more photos. You've actually seen this before, but I felt it was appropriate since Laura and I made bruschetta again last night. This is an absolutely awesome appetizer in the hot summer months when tomatoes are at their peak. This time I think I might post a more complete description of the recipe.
- 3 medium tomatoes, skinned and seeded
- 1 small or 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 2 T thinly sliced basil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 3 T olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- splash balsamic vinegar (optional)
Combine all the ingredients, cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Slice a loaf of french bread on the bias. Toast, spoon mixture on top. Serve immediately (otherwise the bread will get soggy)!