31 December 2010

Christmas Round-Up

As I have always done since... as long as I can remember, Christmas Eve was spent over at my mom & dad's. Mom and I went to the 5pm church service with Grandma Opal, at the church I was confirmed at as a much younger person. It's a small congregation and the Christmas Eve service is always very well done. I do like singing the Christmas hymns, especially at the end when we sing Silent Night in candlelight. That's my favorite part. We came home to the traditional christmas tapes playing, and my dad just finishing up our Christmas feast. This year it was meatloaf, as featured on the family food blog. Yum! We exchanged some gifts and a good time was had by all.

The "traditional" Nativity Scene. I arranged it thematically this year. Over there on the far right are the Men of Science.

The Christmas tree chez Miller/Elvecrog. Mom and I showed a bit of restraint with the ornaments this year. Although the sheep of course still make an appearance.

Christmas day is always slightly more eventful. The morning is spent with the Jim Miller clan chez eux. They provided a lovely brunch, seen here:

Kelsey, working hard on brunch prep. Obviously.

The brunch spread. Mmmm, bacon.

Post-brunch, the gifts were exchanged and we made a phone call to our relatives in sunny Florida. That was fun. We may also have played some Super Boggle. I was doing pretty well when we had to quit and head over to the Elvecrog get-together.

Boggle

The Elvecrogs were their usual boisterous selves. Mom and I had been put in charge of food (there was a lot of stress about that, believe me), so we showed up with a big ass ham, LOTS of meatballs, and some turkey. I think the food was a hit. I spent almost all of my time working on the ridiculously difficult puzzle. As a result, I sort of forgot to take pictures of anything else...

Seriously, it was REALLY difficult.

In the days following Christmas, a normal routine has reasserted itself. One of my favorite gifts was the Le Creuset french oven that my dad got for me. Maren also got me a smaller Martha Stewart version. Here they are:


Aren't they pretty? I am anticipating many excellent cooking adventures. The first was last night, actually. I took the ham bone from Christmas (with lots of ham left on it....) and threw it in the big guy there with beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme and a bay leaf and let it cook for 90 minutes or so. I have to say, the results were super delicious:


PLENTY of leftovers. Good thing it was yummy.

And now it's New Year's Eve and our party plans may be spoiled by the rain/snow/sleet we've got going on at the moment. We will endeavor to persevere. I think 2010 has been a good year and 2011 should shape up to be one as well. Happy New Year, all!

20 December 2010

And yet more snow...

I read somewhere that this is our 6th significant snow "event" in the last 7 weeks. It sure does feel like it's snowing constantly, so I guess that makes sense. Combine that with the fact that this is my late day at work, and my evening plans became pretty self evident:





It's a perfect evening to get all of that done, now that my car is safely parked during the 3rd Minneapolis snow emergency in the space of a week and a half. Now if they can actually plow the street next to my house tonight, I'll be all set.

12 December 2010

Blizzard 2010: The Day After

I woke up this morning to clear blue skies and absolutely freezing temps. I think there was no actual temperature the first time I checked and then it got one degree COLDER. But at least it wasn't snowing anymore. After a delicious breakfast and some hot tea, I bundled up and ventured out to check out the results of the most recent snowpocalypse.

I guess that yellow VW Beetle made it out somehow. I don't see it here, so either the owner performed a miracle or the City of St. Paul towed it away. Note that the sidewalk is only cleared to the edge of Andy's building. Sidewalk shoveling is the responsibility of the adjacent home/building owners, so I don't blame them for only going that far.

So much for that path to the street that someone went to all that trouble to clear out yesterday. I can see that the snow plow made quick work of it.

No one had yet cleared a path through this drift to the street. The sidewalk just sort of... stops. I had boots, it was OK. But they'll have to get to that eventually. But I imagine that for the time being, they have more pressing concerns.

They did finally plow a path between Andy's building and the parking lot. But I can see that none of his neighbors have yet made any efforts to un-bury their cars. Not that I blame them - who wants to do that in sub-zero weather if it's not absolutely necessary?

This guy only barely made it into the parking lot before giving up. Then the plow moved in behind him and he is now thoroughly stuck and will need a team of people with shovels to get out, I think. Here's the view at the front of that car:

Another good reason why Andy's neighbors had not yet bothered to shovel out their cars. Where were they going to go, after all?

As for me, this is the view from where my car was parked for the weekend:
A little bit of snow, but absolutely nothing compared to out on the street. And here's Chad:

No snow anywhere to be seen at 3 or so this afternoon. Andy is a genius. I was all set to blog that this was the best $10 that I ever spent, but then an amazing thing happened. Andy and I drove to the exit to the parking garage and there was no attendant on duty, and the gate just opened on a sensor as soon as I drove up to it. So it turns out that parking in the ramp cost me absolutely nothing at all. Brilliant!

Parking in both of the Twin Cities continues to be a complete disaster as they deal with the sheer amount of snow and number of cars that must park on the street, so I have retreated to the suburbs where my parents have ample space in their driveway. I'll hunker down here for the night and hopefully the freeways will be clear for my drive to work around 9:00am tomorrow.

How was everyone else's weekend?

11 December 2010

December Blizzard 2010

One of the local weather guys predicted that the snowstorm we are currently in the middle of would rival the Halloween Blizzard of '91. As I park on the street and am subject to snow emergency plowing/parking rules, some advance planning was required. After many phone calls and theorizing, I took Andy's suggestion and decided to park my car in a parking ramp in downtown St. Paul and hunker down at Andy's apartment for the weekend. As it turns out, this was a brilliant plan:








Andy and I ventured out to try and go to the gym - it's across the street from his apartment. Those are our footprints you see on the far right of the second to last photo. We waded through knee high drifts to find the gym open! However, 15 minutes after we got they, they walked around telling everyone that they were closing. Oh well, points for effort, I guess? After coming back through the knee high drifts, I took some of these photos. We are now once more safely ensconced indoors. We have plenty of food, beer, wine, and movies, so I think we'll stay. I just read that they've closed the airport completely for the first time in YEARS and Metro Transit has suspended all bus service. Even if we wanted to go somewhere, I don't think we'd get far.

This post marks my 100th on blogger, according to the screen on my Dashboard page. The blizzard seemed like the perfect subject with which to mark the occasion. Good luck out there to my fellow Minnesotans - stay safe!

30 November 2010

National Blog Posting Month: A Retrospective

So in this, my 4th year of NaBloPoMo, I am pretty proud of the fact that I didn't have to resort to some sort of Internet meme to keep the posts coming. Granted, not all of them were stellar, but I think I succeeded in getting actual content out there for each of the past 30 days. Even if it was just some random photos.

Since this is the last day, I think a sort of summary of this year and all past NaBloPoMos is called for. So here are links to my favorite posts from this year and from years past:


NaBloPoMo 2010:
Turkey Day
Stuffed Squash
Happy Birthday, Grandpa!
Beauty of Fall

NaBloPoMo 2009:
Turkey Day, Part 2
Old Friends
Day 5 - A YouTube Clip
Moon in the Morning

NaBloPoMo 2008:
Pasta Carbonara
A Day in the Life
Yes We Did
88 Years Young

NaBloPoMo 2007:
Les Aventures de Domo-Kun
Sunday in France
A 10 Hour Day
A Month of Posts - Day 1


To be fair, I stole those last two groups from the retrospective post I did last year. They are still my favorites from those two years, so I'm going to let it stand. One more post tomorrow (my 100th!) and I'll be done with blogging for a while. Happy December, all!

29 November 2010

Out & About with the Grandparents

My grandpa had a bunch of routine check-up appointments at the VA hospital today (it's an annual thing, apparently), which my mom was kind enough to chauffeur him to. Since they were going to be back around dinner time, I decided that I'd meet them + my grandma for some dinner after I got done with work. We headed to Kimson, a local Vietnamese restaurant that my grandma particularly enjoys. Here are my dinner companions:


After dinner we headed on over to G & G's house for a few rousing rounds of Bananagrams.


Have you played this game at all? It is sort of like Scrabble, except each player is working independently and creating their own matrix of words. I won quite a few rounds, and here are two examples:



It was a lovely evening with family. I don't see my grandparents enough - I should really head over there more often. They are the only grandparents I've ever known, after all, and they unfortunately won't be around forever.

So tomorrow is the last day of this NaBloPoMo nonsense... Is everyone excited? I may have to go one day over because this post marks my 98th for this blog. For the fellow number enthusiasts in the family, you can see why it would be hard to stop

28 November 2010

End of a Long Weekend: Lazy Sunday

It's the end of a four day weekend and I have to admit, I was not motivated to do much of anything today either. It's kinda cold and windy outside and it just seemed like a better idea to sit at home and relax. That's what weekends are for, right? Here are the two most pressing things I had to do today:


I have not quite finished the crossword yet, but it's getting there. Just a few pesky clues left. I may have to resort to Google.

In the meantime, this was lunch:


Quiche with broccoli, bacon, onions, and plenty of cheese. Super delicious, and it will make excellent leftovers for lunches this week. Yum. And for the first time since Thursday, I have not yet eaten any leftover turkey. I thought about putting some in the quiche but just didn't quite get there. I think I'll skip it for dinner too - I deserve a day off from leftovers.

This week promises to be busy as most of the people I work with worldwide did not realize that Thursday and Friday were not work days for me. So I should have a nice backlog of things to take care of when I get in to the office tomorrow. But for now, I am going to continue to be lazy and take full advantage of the rest of the weekend.

27 November 2010

JBAB

It's getting to be the end of National Blog Posting Month and, as with every year I do this, I am finally struggling with finding fun and exciting blog content. It's the weekend after turkey day, not much is going on, and there's a bunch of snow on the ground, so outdoor activities are few and far between. I went to the gym today and that's the most exciting thing so far. Not really very bloggable, particularly as I think they'd frown on my taking pictures at the gym. So I have decided to share some random photos from the last month or two that didn't make it on to the blog, for whatever reason. In roughly chronological order, here goes...

Andy and I went the season opener for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Basketball is actually his favorite sport, so it seems a shame not to mention it. Here are two photos from the game; pretty nice seats, I thought:



Here's one from the driving lessons with Kelsey. We passed that lady walking her dog approximately 6 times. I think she finally noticed after a while that it was the same car. I wonder what she thought we were doing?


Another outdoors shot; here's Andy on our walk that involved all of those stairs. He LOVES that jacket. He picked it up at a random rummage sale at Har Mar Mall a year or two ago.


Finally, some previously neglected Thanksgiving shots. The first is to prove to Nancy that I am not afraid to touch the turkey - I was rubbing olive oil on the outside of it just before putting it in the oven. The second shows Kelsey preparing the excellent relish tray. It's a multi-generational effort now, as you can see.



That's all I've got for today. Andy and I are off shortly to meet his parents for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Minneapolis. It's called Masa and it's an upscale but authentic Mexican restaurant. Should be yummy!

26 November 2010

MN Wild

Did today feel like Saturday to anyone else? Just me then? Ok. In any case, it was nice to have another day off work. Long weekends should come around more often.

After a morning trip to the gym to try and work off some of that turkey and pie from yesterday, Andy and I headed to the Xcel Center to see the MN Wild play the Nashville Predators (side note: Nashville has a hockey team? What?). We got some free tickets courtesy of his dad. Here's the view:

Pre-warm ups.

The two teams warming up before the game.

Let's Play Hockey!

The Wild were winning extremely convincingly after two periods, and the hockey was kind of boring, so we begged off after only two periods. But it was super fun to see hockey live - it is way more faced paced in real life relative to what it looks like on TV. The rest of the day has been devoted to not going shopping and eating some more leftovers. An excellent non-work day, as extra days off go.

Finally, I've posted the rest of my thanksgiving photos on Flickr. You can find them here.

25 November 2010

Turkey Day

As promised, my dad put me fully in charge of the turkey today. He was acting solely in a mentoring capacity. Here now, a photo montage.









So I think it turned out pretty well, don't you?  It certainly tasted good, but I'm the cook so I'm not supposed to pass the final judgement. I'll leave that up to my readers who were in attendance. Speaking of, here's a few more photos:




Happy Thanksgiving, one and all. I am thankful for each and every one of my wonderful family and friends. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. Try not to go too crazy out shopping tomorrow.