30 November 2012

NaBloPoMo: Looking Back

As I usually do (although I didn't get to it last year), I thought I'd round up this blog-everyday-for-a-month month with a retrospective of my 4 favorite posts from each year. First, to find the last retrospective and copy and paste... and realize that we've been doing this for a long time now, wow. Way to persevere!

NaBloPoMo 2012
Pannekoekun Huis
70 Years!
1996 Ford Taurus
New House: Part 6A

NaBloPoMo 2011
Day 1: Leaves!
Calvin the Video Star
Cat Ownership 2.0
Dance Your Cares Away

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


It's been fun once again and, as I said last year, I hope I can keep up with the blogging more frequently. Goodness knows I have MORE than enough photos of the cat to blog pretty much indefinitely. I mean, come on, look at how cute he is!


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29 November 2012

New House: Part 6B

Subtitle: The Finished Product, Part 2.

Continuing on, as promised. Not pictured: The basement utility/storage room and the attic that has been converted into a large bedroom + storage. It's still a disaster up there... We'll get to it eventually.

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The Kitchen

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Laundry Room, Basement (I LOVE having my own washer/dryer. Laundry is no longer annoying!)

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Basement Bedroom aka Calvin's Room

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Backyard, in sunnier, warmer times.

Calvin approves of this whole new house deal - there are stairs and all sorts of exciting windows! He's also allowed in our bedroom in the new house, which means he can keep warm under the covers while I am getting ready in the mornings. Little stinker:

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Out of focus, I know... still, cute!

28 November 2012

New House: Part 6A

Subtitle: The Finished Product, Part 1

Here are some photos I took very recently of the state of the house right now. It's not entirely finished, and I don't think it ever will be, but it's decorated and we have pretty much all of our furniture etc. So now, part 1 of the photo tour.

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The Living Room

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The Dining Room

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The Office

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The Bathroom

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Our Bedroom, plus Calvin looking into the backyard.

To be continued...

27 November 2012

Business Traveler

As I believe I mentioned in the comments to Santini's blog, I am off tomorrow to travel to my company's boat factory in Cadillac, MI. All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go...

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I don't have much time for blogging tonight, nor will I when I am in Michigan, so I'll leave you this evening with some videos of my boats in action:









Calvin doesn't want me to go:

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Silly cat, sitting on the sink.

26 November 2012

Recipe Sources

I find that I spend a lot of time on my blog talking about food - recipes I like, what I had for dinner, restaurants, holiday events that focus on food etc. I even have a shared food blog with some of my family members who also like to blog (you know who you are). So I thought it might be fun to take a look at where I get some of my recipes/ideas. Here is a photo of the Cookbook section of my bookshelf:

Cookbooks

The main books, from left to right:
  • Good Eats: The Early Years by Alton Brown. This is actually Andy's book, which I guess makes it ours now? We loved to watch "Good Eats" when it was on the Food network and we've found that this book has some extremely easy to follow recipes for fairly complicated things. 
  • How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. An essential for any beginning cook, or someone who is just forgetful. How long to cook potatoes, again? And what's the best way to make applesauce?
  • Food Network Kitchens: Making it Easy. This was an impulse buy while wandering Barnes & Noble once upon a time. I don't think I've actually used it for anything yet. Hmm.
  • The Joy of Cooking, 1976 Edition & The Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition. The first one is my copy, inherited from my father and the newer one is Andy's. We both understand the value of this book and many of our favorite recipes come from one of these two books.
  • Art of the Slow Cooker, by Andrew Schloss. I inherited my parents' slow cooker (from 1979!) a few years back and I was looking for things to make besides pork roast. My cousin Adam gave me this cookbook for Christmas and I have found all sorts of yummy recipes inside.
  • Just 4 Things: Another impulse Barnes & Noble purchase (it's now for sale for $0.01 if you follow that link!) that has proved useful - very basic recipes requiring minimal ingredients. The few things I've tried so far have been quite excellent.
  • Kenmore Microwave Cooking: My parents have this book and I found it at Goodwill for $1. It's great for knowing how long to cook basic things in the microwave - broccoli, potatoes, eggs, etc. I would not recommend any of the more complex recipes, however. And yes, the cover of mine is just as 1980s cheesy as the one I linked to on EBay.

That's pretty much it for my in-use, hard copy sources. There are also two websites that I rely on A LOT to figure out potential recipes/meal ideas. They are:
  • Simply Recipes. The Parmesan Chicken is so, so bad for you but also unbelievably delicious. However, our favorite is the Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce. Also not health food.
  • The Pioneer Woman. A lot of her recipes are very high on butter/oil and carbs, making them slightly less than ideal but also super delicious. My personal favorite is the Crispy Yogurt Chicken. We'll have to make that again soon.
That was fun! Where do all of you get your cooking ideas, aside from our totally fantastic food blog, of course?

And now, the obligatory Calvin photo. It would not be a complete blog post without cat content:
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25 November 2012

New House: Part 5 (The Super Train)

When Andy and I first started talking about buying a house we determined that wherever we ended up, it would need to be close to either a main bus line or the light rail line (or Super Train, as Andy likes to call it). I am the only car owner between the two of us, so Andy needs good transit access to get to work near the Capitol building in St. Paul. When we learned that Jill and Andrej were looking to sell their house, we knew it was perfect from a transit perspective (not to mention for many other reasons). Our New House is only two-ish blocks from this:

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The VA Medical Center Station on the Hiawatha Line (soon to be the Blue Line)

Today we took the train here:
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Warehouse District Station, Downtown Minneapolis

The gym we are members of has a location only two blocks from this stop, which used to be the end of the line. They extended it one more stop when Target Field opened a few years ago. It is indispensable for getting to Twins games and all sorts of other sporting events. And really, to getting all sorts of other places. Here's a map:

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We also use it all the time to go to Mall of America for shopping or movies... and occasionally, to go on some rides. They are building a second line (the Central Corridor or Green Line) that will connect the two downtowns, branching off at the Metrodome Station and then terminating at the newly renovated Union Depot in St. Paul. It is set to open approximately 18 months from now. We're a little excited. The Green Line will have a stop just in front of Andy's office, so his commute will be a breeze.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have turkey stock simmering on my stove that I need to check on. I leave you with another cute Calvin photo:

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Nap time.

24 November 2012

1996 Ford Taurus

My grandfather just celebrated both his 70th wedding anniversary and his 92nd birthday. For a guy with that many years under his belt, he is in phenomenal health. However, for an average person... perhaps not so much. His children recently made the very wise (and perhaps tardy) decision to tell him that he really shouldn't be driving anymore. He is taking it surprisingly well - they are giving up their underground, heated garage space as of the end of the month and Andy and I volunteered to act as used-car brokers. So today I went over there to take some photos of their beloved vehicle, a 1996 Ford Taurus with only 91,000 miles on it:

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Parked in the aforementioned underground parking space, where they've kept it for the last decade.

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In the out-of-doors, from the other side. It's in amazingly good shape.

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The pristine interior. Grandpa Bud always took excellent care of his cars.

He took it for his final drive today - out of the garage to the parking lot for photos and then back into the garage to stay parked until we move it on December 1st. I plan to post an online ad late this week and I don't think we'll have any trouble selling it. Any takers out there in the blogosphere?

And now, the Calvin photo of the day:

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He does love his Purrrniture.

23 November 2012

What's for Dinner?

For lunch today, of course we had Thanksgiving leftovers, after a trip to the gym in downtown Minneapolis to work off some of yesterday's food. We were not the only people who had that idea. We also did a bit of browsing of the Black Friday sales at Macy's and elsewhere. Nothing too super tempting.

Dinner was another story - two meals of leftovers just weren't appealing. So we started cooking - can you guess what we had based on the following photo slide show?

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It was super delicious and a nice break from Turkey. I think we'll be making Turkey & Dumpling soup on Sunday with the carcass that Gzmoohoo sent home with us. I am looking forward to it already.

Calvin observed the cooking progress from the usually forbidden table:

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22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a lovely time celebrating Thanksgiving over at Gzmoohoo's house. I didn't get any photos of people (I am bad at remembering to do that), but here are some photos of the delicious food and fun activities:

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The turkey had just come out of the oven and the potatoes were cooking away on the stove.

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The table all set and ready to go, just waiting for all the wonderful food.

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Pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. That's half a pie per person.

IMG_3003Mom made whipped cream by hand. So much better than Reddi Whip, and don't even talk to me about the abomination that is Cool Whip.

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Adam was brave enough to have a piece of each right off the bat. I staggered my three pieces over a few hours instead. All delicious.

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Then it was time for the Miller family tradition of word games. First Bananagrams, then some Boggle. I won with 48 points. The words "smash" and "mash" in that particular round put me over the edge.

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Our sign that it was time to head home. We had a wonderful time, as I think did everyone else.

Calvin was very happy to see us and I think will soon be taking up his usual place on the couch, snuggling between his two people:

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P.S. A note to those who may be curious - there are absolutely no Cheetos available on Thanksgiving, even if it seems like there might be. No Cheetos!

21 November 2012

Turkey Day Eve

I have heard from various sources that today, the day before Thanksgiving, is the busiest day for bars all year. Bigger even than, say, New Year's Eve. Do people dread seeing their families that much, or is it that all their old friends are back in town? Regardless, I don't think I will be taking part. We've got very important basketball to watch here. Plus, I've already put on my comfy pants and it's been a pretty busy day, considering that I did not have to go to work.

After sleeping in a bit (but only a bit - the cat won't let me sleep in too late), and hanging out with the cat...

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... I got in my pre-Thanksgiving workout and then headed on over to my parents' house to help Mrs. Smith with some Tgiving prep. We started with a yummy lunch, then proceeded to make the always traditional cranberry bread (with 11 ingredients as usual). It goes from this:

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To this in not very much time at all:

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While at the gym, I noticed once again that my workout shoes are getting pretty worn out - they look just fine from the outside but I can feel that the internal support is breaking down. Mom and I like any excuse to go shopping for shoes, so off to my former employer we went. They were having a buy one, get one half off sale so I may have splurged.

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Hondaramic, no?

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I almost got some in bright orange, but these fit better. Also...

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They were half price, I couldn't resist.

20 November 2012

CICB: YouTube Hits

I had band rehearsal this evening, as I do every Tuesday, so today's blog post is going to be abbreviated. And while I am at it, why not also highlight my band, the Calhoun Isles Community Band? We are in our 31st year as an organization and we have a concert coming up on December 18th. There will be Christmas music, for those of you that may be interested in that sort of thing. Here are two YouTube videos of pieces we played at a concert last year, among my favorite pieces we've ever done:



And the second video:



I took tomorrow off from work to help with Thanksgiving prep and also because I have some vacation time to burn. My (and Andy's) contribution to Turkey Day thus far:

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Calvin would prefer that we concentrate on food for him instead:

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How is that comfortable?

19 November 2012

Underground Parking

Back before the company I work for went bankrupt, was sold/restructured, and moved our offices to the suburbs, we worked in one of the most famous buildings in downtown Minneapolis. Said building...

(seen here on a dark and stormy night, reflecting Spook Central across the street)

... had an underground parking ramp in which all company employees could park for free. Until I started taking the bus to work, free downtown parking was one of my favorite things about working there, plus it meant my car never, ever got cold nor did I have to walk to my car in the dark. It was an unbelievably nice perk. However, we moved to the suburbs, so not only can I no longer take the bus to my office, but I now also have to park outside. With occasional less than ideal results. Poor Chad. :-(

Here's the thing though - our new building does have underground parking available, just in very limited quantities relative to the amount of office space/employees in the building. My company finally decided to spring for a few parking spots down there and they rotate among the employees on a 3 week cycle. This is my week:

Everyone, please meet Desmond, Chad's younger, cooler sibling.

Today's weather did not make indoor parking a necessity but it was still pretty nice when I was walking out to my car in the dark. Which apparently now happens at 4:30pm? We're definitely domed. On the other hand, it almost got up to 60 today, in November, so dome is still a little ways off, I think.

Calvin seems unfazed:


18 November 2012

OOTNNDITHD

Today was decidedly one of the nicest November days in the history of days, as Gzmoohoo would say. Andy and I had plans for this afternoon, so we decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather this morning and take a short bike ride. Here's me, all dressed up and ready to go:


It was a bit too chilly that early and we were under-caffeinated, so we biked over to a coffee shop along the river. 


I do love a latte now and then. But, as Andy noted, "Do people really pay this much for coffee EVERY day?" Also, it turns out we were not the only people in Minneapolis today who had this idea:


It was a beautiful morning to be outside and we enjoyed every minute of it. Though we didn't get in a huge amount of miles, it was nice to get in a bit of exercise before our afternoon plans. Andy's parents will be out of town on Thursday, so they had us and Andy's brother (Brad) and his girlfriend (Lily) over for a late lunch. Brad & Lily brought their dogs:

 Mimi, aka Moo-Bear

Rubio, aka Rubs

They are tiny and energetic and Calvin outweighs the two of them combined. But they are definitely an excellent source of entertainment. We had some delicious lasagna and good conversation. Plus, you know, the dogs are somewhat cute. But no one is as cute as Calvin.

Awww, my boys.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my cousin TJ. 14 is just way too old, but I hope it was a great one! Here for nostalgia is a link to one of my favorite videos of all time. TJ Running Down the Dune. That will never not be funny.