Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 35 - Closet Raider

Julie has taken to raiding my closet with savage regularity lately, and is always gleeful when she comes into the living room wearing something of mine, saying, "Do you like my outfit?!"  Earlier this week I practically had to wrestle my blue Ralph Lauren sweater vest with the red pony back from her possession so I could wear it myself for the first time in months.  So yesterday morning as I was flailing around trying to decided what the heck to wear, I noticed that she had left her closet light on.  This got me to thinking, "Hey, if she can raid my wardrobe, it's only right that I should raid hers."

Later in the morning I sent her an IM.  "By the way, your green Ralph Lauren zip neck sweater with the purple pony looks fabulous on me."  And I even sent a picture to her phone to demonstrate.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 34 - Raffle Ticket and Starbucks Apps

Wednesday is candlepin bowling league night for Julie and me, so off we went.  There's always a 50/50 raffle (the winner gets half of the money from the ticket sales), but we never play.  Tonight, however, we threw caution to the wind and tossed in two bucks for three tickets.  We didn't win, so that new thing didn't work out so well.

On the other hand, some of the raffle proceeds go to fund the weekly competition.  For the second string (we bowl three strings for the evening), whoever beats their own average by the most pins gets fifteen dollars.  With TWENTY-FIVE pins over my average, I won tonight.  My average is a 70, and I got a 95 on the second string.  My first string was good at a 79, but my third string was the big one for me - 104!  One of the other players on our team totally blew out the stops and got a 122 on her third string.  But for the "beat your average," third string doesn't count, so they showed (and gave) me the money.

On the way home, while Julie was driving, I downloaded the two new Starbucks iPhone apps: one to find nearby stores, get hours and directions, nutrition info on food and drinks, etc., and another to manage my Starbucks card account.  Both will come in very handy.  When I travel for work (which is already a lot but will soon be even more), I'm always hunting down the local Starbucks, and this will make it much, much more simple.  The card management app is also nice, because usually I have to remember to look up my balance before I leave home.  Once I get to the store and am wondering how much balance I have left on the prepaid card, it's too late.  Julie often puts one of the cards in my stocking at Christmas, and then I just reload it through the year rather than using my debit card for threesies and foursies that I have to keep track of with my bank balance.

Overall, a good day of new stuff.

Day 33 - Going to Sleep When Tired

Do you remember when you had a mandated bedtime?  I remember when it was 8:30, then I remember when the parents finally bumped it up to 9:00.  That was the coolest!  After that the gloves came off and there wasn't a set time, although the parents would occasionally resist the envelope pushing.

Well, now I have kind of a self-set anti-bedtime.  I just can't bring myself to go to bed before 9:00, no matter how tired I am.  9:30 is better, and 10:00 is more the standard.  Jules, on the other hand, falls in for her evening nap around 7:30 or so.  But last night I was REALLY tired, and when I checked the clock it was only 8:15.  Normally I would have told myself not to give in, and to fight it until at least 9:00.  Usually if I can get that far, I can go a little longer as well.  So for my new thing yesterday, I decided to just go to bed when I was tired.

This didn't work out so well.  I woke up at 1:45 am.  Bing!  Wide awake.  No more early nights for me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 32 - Back Road Reversed

Today's new thing was small, but this effort is about getting out of my ruts (and hopefully not wearing new ones), large and small.

On my way to work, I go one of two back roads: either Nixon Road to Route 20, or Edmunds Road to Edgell Road to Route 20. Then coming home, I either come back on Edmunds, or perhaps take Edgell all the way to Framingham Center. On my way home today I realized that I never go home by way of Nixon Road. So today I did.

It's always interesting to travel a road in the opposite direction than the usual, as you see things that are hidden from the other side. I found myself not recognizing houses that from the southern approach I know very well. It took me out of my semi-automatic navigation and forced me to pay closer attention.

A nice change.

At work I also tried something new: sitting at my desk but connecting to the network via a Veizon air card and the VPN. This was triggered by being unable to lock in a network connection through my docking station and the LAN, despite my various efforts of disabling and enabling network connections, checking all the cables, undocking/docking, rebooting and throwing in a couple rounds of the hoky-poky for good measure. Finally I got a colleague to put in an IT ticket for me (since I couldn't get to the intranet to open my own).

After a meeting I had was done and I still couldn't connect, I got the air card idea. This got me through the day with only a few restrictions (certain areas aren't accessible over the VPN), which was good since IT didn't get to me until around 4 pm. Turns out when the IT staff at the client site in North Carolina were getting me connected to their network, they set my computer with a static IP address. Silly billies! This is not something I would have had any idea to look for, so I was incredibly grateful to our IT guy for figuring it out.

It also gave me a few minutes to declutter my desk, which was sorely needed. I find that when I'm feeling stressed at work my workspace goes to hell, which only increases the stress feeling. So by the end of the day I had a clear desk and a clear connection, and a clear sign that it was time to run away home.

May all of us have a better tomorrow.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 26 - Uber-Homemade Pizza

Last Monday (9/14), Julie and I tackled homemade pizza.  We made the dough, we made the sauce, and we made the cheese.  Julie had made the sauce a while ago and frozen it, so she took out a small container and thawed it in the microwave.  While the pizza dough was rising, I attempted a batch of mozzarella.  I don't know what happened, but it just didn't come together this time.  I ended up with a small palm sized ball of mozzarella.  It was good, but not enough for a whole pizza.  So we converted to a tre formaggio pizza, with the addition of asiago and provolone.  The mozzarella we divided into small chunks that were dotted around the pie.  While I worked on the cheese, Julie cut up and sauteed some pancetta.

Let me tell you, turning pizza dough into a viable pizza is no easy task.  It ended up not so much round as more amoeba shaped.  The good news is that the dough recipe was enough for two pies, so we now have another amoeba-pizza dough serving in the freezer for next time.

But the finished product was ABSOLUTELY delish!  The sauce was sweet and chunky, the cheeses blended together so well, and the crust was faboo!  Another successful new thing.

Before baking:


The finished product:


Day 28 - Emerald Aisle

I flew to Charlotte, NC on Wednesday, for a site visit in Hickory, about an hour's drive from Charlotte.  Generally I use Enterprise, but after hearing wonderful things from my colleagues about National and the Emerald Club, I decided to give it a try.  My company does provide us a code that waives the $50 membership fee, so what the heck?

I'm not going back to Enterprise if I can ever help it.

At the airport, as I approached the car rental counters, I noted that the only line was at the National counter.  I didn't let this bother me, as I knew that Emerald Club members don't need to wait in line.  Sure enough, there was a sign posted directing Emerald Club members to proceed directly to the shuttle.  Out I went, and the shuttle pulled up within 30 seconds.  As I climbed aboard, the driver asked if I was an Emerald Club member (I'm guessing he asked since I wasn't clutching a rental agreement in my hand).  After I confirmed that I was, we headed on over to the rental center.  He dropped me off right on the "Emerald Aisle," which contains a variety of "intermediate" cars, all available to Emerald Club members.  There's also an Emerald Executive option, with larger, more luxurious cars, but my company only reimburses for up to intermediate.

Once off the bus, I just selected which car I wanted from the Emerald Aisle, got in, drove to the gate and handed the gatekeeper my license and the card from the dashboard.  Less than a minute later he handed me back the card and license and wished me a good day.  How easy was that??

Day 29 - "Real" Airport Dining

When I arrived at the airport in Charlotte on Wednesday, I passed an airport restaurant named "Taste of Carolina."  I kept thinking about this place, especially after my sushi experiment went awry Wednesday evening, and I decided I would return there while awaiting my flight home, and perhaps have some delicious North Carolina vinegar-based barbeque.

First I located my gate, bought a couple of North Carolina tee shirts for Julie and myself (and resisted the call of additional ten dollar pashminas), then consulted the airport directory since I hadn't passed the destination dining yet.  Okay, I was on Concourse C, and the Taste of Carolina was awaiting on Concourse B, in all it's tangy yumminess.

At last I arrived, seriously debating the wisdom of remaining in business clothes for the return trip (I thought the extra height of the heels might enable my feet to better rest on the floor from my seat on the plane), and I found a table in the back, near the windows.  I requested a sweet tea from the server (how can you be in the south and not enjoy a sweet tea?), and opened the menu.  It was a freaking California Pizza Kitchen menu with a different name and logo on it.  I looked around, and sure enough the place was connected in the back to the California Pizza Kitchen restaurant that from the concourse appeared to be two stores down.  Damn them!  But I went with it.  I mean, I was sitting down, I would get a decent meal at a table with real utensils and I wouldn't be facing the hungry horrors on the flight home.

I ordered the Chinese chicken salad, which sounded just delicious in the description.  This is what I got:

Airport Food

Yes, the server walked over to the California Pizza Kitchen section, carefully picked a pre-made salad out of the To Go case, and hand-delivered it to my table for my dining pleasure.  After suppressing my astonished giggle, I dug in with my plastic cutlery that was nicely wrapped in my paper napkin, and enjoyed my salad in its plastic container, along with the sweet tea in a plastic cup.

At least I tried.

Day 31 - New Runkeeper Photo Feature, Strawberry Transplants

I haven't been out hiking in my extended backyard, aka Callahan State Park, lately, so this afternoon after gardening I hit it.  Along the way, I tried out the new photo feature on Runkeeper, where you can take pictures along the way and Runkeeper will display them on the route at the spot where you took them.  Here's the link to today's hike.  If you go to it, you'll see two sets of photo icons along the route.  If you hover over one, you'll get a pop up with a thumbnail of the picture.  Click on it, and you'll get a larger pop up of the photo.  It's a cool feature, especially since it does geotag them along the route, and before this if you wanted to take a picture you had to pause the activity, leave the app, take the picture, return to the app and resume the activity.  This way is much better.  You just click an icon on the app screen and you get a second screen to post a status and/or take a photo to go with the status.  Very nice.

I was pleased to find that they have posted laminated maps of the park trails at various trail intersections, with "you are here" markers.  This is a lovely addition to the already well-maintained park, and something which really is in need up in Maine on the Trail to the Sea Path.

New Callahan State Park Signs

I also did some yard work today, including what I hope will be the last mowing of the season.  Then I pulled out some of the vegetable plants that have gone well by, and transplanted some of the potted strawberries into the garden.  This will be my first attempt at developing a perennial strawberry garden, so keep your green thumbs crossed!

Day 30 - Cardamom (Golden) Raisin Almond Bread

The national weather service had a frost advisory out for parts of Massachusetts last night.  Not actually in my town, where it only went down to 39, but cold nonetheless for mid-September.  Seemed like a good night to try out the recipe for cardamom golden raisin almond bread.  I didn't have any golden raisins, only regular dark raisins, but they worked just fine.

This was in the bread machine, which is a large capacity model, but since Julie's away for the weekend I opted for the smaller version of the recipe.  I have to say, it looked very odd while cooking, as it was only 2/3 the size that the loaf would usually be with the full size recipe.  At first I thought perhaps I had screwed up on the yeast and that it wasn't rising, but then I realized it really was bigger than at first, just not as big as a full recipe.

I have to say, once it was baking and the aroma started escaping the kitchen, I couldn't wait for it to be done!  Spicy, nutty, mmm, good.  I thoroughly enjoyed it with Brummel and Brown.  This morning I had a slice of it toasted.  Equally delish both ways!

Cardamom raisin almond bread

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day Something or Other - New Wave Sushi

[Updated to add - this was from Day 29]

Okay, I've been slacking in recording my new stuff tried. I've been doing new things, just not blogging.

I just got back late last night from an away mission to Hickory, North Carolina, where I had very mediocre sushi. So back home, I decided I needed to bump up the Friday Night Sushi. After reviewing the menu, I added New Wave maki to the selection.  "Spicy tuna inside, yellowtai, salmon, avocado outside, tempura crumb with 3 kinds of special sauce on top."  Conclusion: yum!

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ratatouille crepes

Made with zucchini and eggplant from the garden.  Homemade crepes surround the ratatouille, and that's rich asiago sauce topping it off.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 19 - Metropolis

I get all kinds of facebook invitations for this game or that community, so for my new thing yesterday I tried Metropolis.  This was sent to me by my uber-industrious FarmTown neighbor, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Not so thrilled.  Details later.

Day 18 - Blair Witch Trail

On our final day in Maine, Julie went golfing at a course she had never played, on Deer Isle.  Kathleen and I decided to do the Trail to the Sea hike, as detailed on the Healthy Blue Hill trail map. I'd give you a link, but apparently this trail has either not made it onto the larger Health Maine Walks list, or has been taken off.  But we were working from the recently acquired print map, and there it was.

I'll fill in the details later, but basically we had to search to find the start of the trail, should have been warned away by the "work in progress" notation on the temporary sign, really should have been warned off by the trail markers of deep maroon paint on construction stakes, but were only warned off when we entered a Blair Witch type area of the woods where we could no longer find any stake at all.

So I guess this was two firsts:  attempting the Trail to the Sea path, and giving up on a trail.  If my sister hadn't been there to be the voice of reason, I'd probably still be out there wandering around.

Day 17 - Hiking the Primeval Swamp

More details and photos later, but just a quick note here that my day 17 was hiking the Beaver Flowage Trail on Holbrook Island Sanctuary.  Saw no beavers or any large bodies of water, for that matter.  There was plenty of water just beneath the surface of the mossy trail, however.  For much of the trail, each step was met with the sinking of the shoes into the ground, to be retracted only with much effort and a giant sucking sound.  At one point about half way around, Kathleen and I simply gave up caring about it.  I mean, once the shoes and socks are soaked, does it really matter if they get more soaked?