06 December 2013

Feta Spinach Tarts

First things first - my Xanga blog is really, officially no more. I have transferred "the archives" over to WordPress and you can find it here:

A Traveler at Home on Wordpress

Re-reading some of those old posts has been entertaining, at least for me. For example: this is the first post that mentions EMSA, posted almost six years ago - it'll be six years for us on December 18th. Apparently I liked that he's tall. Still true. :-)

B) You may have heard that it snowed here in Minneapolis/St. Paul. You may have also heard that it's cold. Remember all that whining I did about cold back in the beginning of November? My complaints were premature.

Yep. Feels Like -17. Tomorrow: High temp of ZERO. Yikes. Winter is no longer coming, winter is HERE.

III) Because of all this cold, Andy and I are feeling a bit like hibernating, so we wanted to find something to make for dinner that required the oven. We turned to our new cookbook which we bought on a whim at Barnes & Noble in the bargain section. Today's adventure: Feta Spinach Tarts.

Cheese and Bread
Our appetizer course.

Tarts Baking
Tarts in the oven.

Tarts Cooling
Cooling down. Pretty nice looking, right? Getting them out of the tart pans on onto a plate was... less successful:

Tarts on a Plate
Exhibit A, on the left. Oh well, they were still delicious.

If we make them again, which we probably will, I'll make sure to put them on the food blog. Also, please note the exceptionally nice tart pans getting their first use. Thanks, Dad.

02 December 2013

Tour of the Pacific Northwest: Portland

Yes, I know it's December and blogging is no longer required. But what can I say - Jimi and my family have inspired me. Plus I realized that I never finished my travelogue of our Pacific Northwest trip. Huge oversight. The story continues...

As with the Vancouver-Seattle train ride, the Seattle-Portland trip took place in the evening. We pulled into Portland around 8pm or so and took the light rail and then the tram (yes, two kinds of rail based public transportation. Andy was in train-nerd heaven) to get to our riverfront hotel. In addition to lots (and lots) of public transportation that is super efficient, Portland also has a thriving biking culture (2nd only to Minneapolis, I hear) and lots of excellent beer. It's like it was tailor made for Andy and I. And now, some photo highlights. Warning - my Portland photos are somewhat uninspiring:

Our Amtrak train.

Beer at what ended up being our favorite beer place.

Warning: Don't ride your bicycle on the tram and/or light rail tracks.

The "Portlandia" building.

My best shot (of many) of the riverfront 4th of July fireworks.

We had a great time - I am so glad we finally got around to taking this trip. The cats missed us, of course, and thank you to our loyal cat watchers, who were a well oiled team - Mom, Brad, and Lois. We couldn't have left our dear cats in better hands.

30 November 2013

NaBloPoMo 2013: A Retrospective

And here we are again at the end of our month-long blogging adventure. Did everyone have fun? I know I did. I will be going with my traditional wrap up post, links to my favorite posts over the years

NaBloPoMo 2013
Answers, Part One
Answers, Part Two
Rock Band with the P-Ster
Thanksgiving Wrap-up

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 - The blog post that started it all.

Wow, this is/was year SEVEN? Craziness... That's way longer than either of these two wieners has been alive!
Cats: Excellent leg warmers.

29 November 2013

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

Well, we did it. We successfully attended two separate Thanksgiving meals and our stomachs didn't explode. Andy came close, but he managed to survive the day. There was an emergency nap thrown in there in the middle, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Our first stop was at Brad and Lily's new house for their first ever Thanksgiving dinner (well, lunch). We were among the first to arrive but ultimately there would be around 15 people there. Lily and Brad had prepared a veritable smorgasbord of food. For example...

A 27 pound (!!) turkey

Three kinds of mashed potatoes (only two pictured).

Two kinds of stuffing, plus a lovely pomegranate relish.

Creamed collard greens with bacon, mac and cheese, potato/leek gratin, green beans (with a special guest appearance by Rubio).

A lovely table setting - oh, and the mushroom soup! I almost forgot.

This is what my plate ended up looking like. There was also ham. My turkey is hiding under the green beans. And I also went back for some of that pomegranate dressing. It was divine:

Thanksgiving Plate #1

Keep in mind that I was trying to eat in moderation, as we had another meal yet to attend. Andy had probably two to two and half plates like this. There was also some excellent wine and beer to go alongside - I think everyone really, really enjoyed the meal. Brad and Lily really outdid themselves. The collard greens (center of my plate) were an unexpected highlight.

We spent about 3.5 hours at our first stop before it was time to load back up in the car and head over to St. Paul, where there was a much more sane sized meal waiting for us:
See? Not that there was anything wrong with the amount of food at our first stop, this just seemed much more manageable. 

Plate number two. Ying made that cauliflower soup in the cute little bowl. An excellent addition.

She also made these almond and chocolate croissants, from scratch. YUM.

A good time was had by all. You'll notice that Andy is not in the photo. He had a small amount of soup and then had to go lie on the couch for a while to recover. None of us begrudged him that - he had a LOT of food yesterday.

It was a lovely Thanksgiving and even though it meant a lot of food, I was really glad we were able to spend time with both sides of our family. Tomorrow we'll be headed back over to Brad's place and help them dig into some of those leftovers. I am sure they'll have quite a lot. :-) P.S. - Even the cats got to celebrate their own little Thanksgiving yesterday:
Turkey and Giblets

Although they probably spent the whole day doing this:

28 November 2013

Pop Star Comparisons

The Thanksgiving wrap-up post will come tomorrow, when I have more time to sift through photos etc. Today, I want to post these two songs without much in the way of comment. Let me know what you think:

Sara Bareilles, "Brave" - released in May of this year:

Katy Perry, "Roar" - released in September of this year:

One of the local radio DJs was appalled. Guess which woman is the bigger star? (Not hard...)

And now, since it's November, cold, and almost winter, a photo of the cats in warmer, sunnier times:

The window is open and everything.

27 November 2013

Thanksgiving Eve

I realize that's not a thing we celebrate, but maybe it should be? In any case, I once again found myself Chez Gzmoohoo, this time to participate in the annual baking of the traditional cranberry bread. We are master chefs of this particular item, that's for sure. See? I even have a tag devoted to it on my blog. Today we had to share the kitchen with Mr. Moohoo, who was busy making Spaghetti Squared:









Photos of the cranberry bread as, you know, actual bread will have to wait until tomorrow. I left before it actually came out of the oven. It certainly smelled delicious. :-) Speaking of tomorrow I, for the the first time, will be going to TWO Thanksgiving meals in one day. EMSA's family eats at 1:00 and the Miller family will be eating at 4:00. I will endeavor to practice a bit of moderation at each meal.

Did you guys know that Calvin also has his "own vent," much like Lucy? His is a more recent acquisition:

Calvin Vent

26 November 2013

If it's Tuesday, I must have The Band.

That's how that goes, right? The lateness of today's blog post is due entirely to the fact that, as mentioned earlier, on Tuesdays I leave for work at 7:10am and don't return until after band rehearsal, which runs from 7-9pm in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. So here I am, blogging relatively late at night but still well under the wire.

I have been a member of the Calhoun Isles Community band for going on 5 years now (I think) and I do not regret for one minute my somewhat impulsive decision to join back then. I love my flute, and I love the music I can make with that group. We had a particularly successful series of concerts over the summer, as we always do, this time with a Minnesota State Fair theme of sorts, with a little bit of randomness thrown in. Did you know there is a Minnesota State Fair March composed by one John Philip Sousa? Sure enough, it was the opening piece for our concert series over the summer. However, my favorite piece of all was "Variations on Scarborough Fair, played here by something called the Rochester New Horizons Symphonic Band:

On my birthday, we played a concert at the Como Lake Pavilion (pictured often on Jimi's and Gzmoohoo's blogs) and I got to play that gorgeous flute solo. It was amazing. I got a standing ovation of sorts. :-) We have a Christmas/Holiday concert coming up in a few weeks (Dec 17, to be exact) entitled "From Russia, with Love: A Classical Christmas." Think the Nutcracker and that sort of thing. It's going to be wonderful.

We don't take videos of our concerts anymore, although we may in the future, but please do check out our YouTube page for some of our greatest hits. I am even in most of those videos!

And now a photo of little tiny Calvin:
Calvin, Day 1. Andy's best birthday ever.

25 November 2013

We Will Rock You

For those of you following along at home (so, all of you, I guess...), you may have picked up on the fact that for the past few entries, I have been blogging about events that happened the previous day. It is all part of my end-of-NaBloPoMo strategy, you see. Mondays are hard, particularly the last Monday of NaBloPoMo, but I had all sorts of fun yesterday and I knew it would be an extremely bloggable day.

It all started last year - the musical Book of Mormon was coming to town and I was pretty sure the only way to guarantee I'd get to see it was if I became a season ticket holder for the Broadway series at the Orpheum. So EMSA and I started to look into ticket prices, which turned out to be slightly insane. Cue a lightbulb over my head - maybe my mom would like to go in on the tickets with us! Two tickets split three ways and she'd get to go to almost all the shows. And I am happy to say it worked and Andy and I got to see possibly the most vulgar and uproariously hilarious theater production I've ever seen. The Mormons sitting next to me were even amused.

Initially, this was going to be a one-season only kind of deal. My mom already has season tickets to another theater in town, so it seems silly to have two... But then, we got the flyer in the mail announcing this years' season. Wicked, a musical I have ALWAYS wanted to see, was coming to town. Also? We Will Rock You, the 2nd best theater experience I've ever had. I saw it in London about 8 years ago and haven't been able to shut up about it since. We re-upped and improved our seats! Wicked was last month, so sadly I will not be blogging about it in detail. Here's a photo for you, though.


And yesterday... yesterday we got to see We Will Rock You, live and in person. While the man playing the lead was definitely no Freddie Mercury, he and the show lived up to my very loft expectation. The story doesn't matter here, but you should know that the main character is named Galileo Figaro. And the chick by his side is named Scaramouche. I think many of our fellow theater goers also bought season tickets because of Wicked - this show was perhaps not entirely up their alley. But I LOVED it. Again. Always.

At the very end of the show, after the cast has taken their curtain call, a black screen comes down and it flashes:


*massive cheers, as the song does not appear in the show*


And the whole cast comes back out for a final encore. It's amazing, although not quite as good as this:

Mom and I went out for our usual cocktail and snack after the show, to our now-usual restaurant, Crave.

Crave Cocktails

A good time was had by all.

Then, when I got home, EMSA had made a delicious lasagna dinner, courtesy of Joy of Cooking. He even made the tomato sauce from scratch! It was awesome.

The cats were sadly not allowed to share. They had their own foods to nom on anyway:


24 November 2013

Rock Band with the P-Ster

We were fortunate to host my beloved (and much older and wiser) cousin Kelsey last night for dinner. We made this delicious Sausage & Potato roast (red potatoes, mediterranean lamb sausage & chicken/spinach/pine nut sausage) from the family food blog, as well as some sauteed kale with shredded carrots. All highly recommended. After having a really nice chat and catching up on the goings on in each other's lives, we turned to one of our favorite pastimes. It was Rock Band time:

Rock Band 1

Rock Band 2

Andy played too, at which point I was playing the drums. Our band is called "The Crazy Furnace" and we have now achieved Rolling Stones Immortals status. We rock at Rock Band, is I guess what I'm saying. It was a fun night.

And now, a photo of Andy holding Lucy the only way she'll actually tolerate it. 

Goofy Lucy
Cats are strange.

23 November 2013

Timberwolves vs. Nets

As I mentioned yesterday, Andy and I went to see our beloved Timberwolves play the Nets of Brooklyn last night. We had excellent seats:

Timberwolves vs. Nets 11.21.13

It was my first Timberwolves game this year and I have to say, I really, really enjoy the new version of the intros. First, there is new music - watch/listen to it here on YouTube. We will be victorious, indeed. For a team that hasn't been lately, it certainly is an effective way to motivate the crowd. Plus - LOUD. There is also now a drum corps to complement the (silly) Timberwolves Dancers. The drum guys are great. Finally, it was great to see Kevin Garnett playing at Target Center again. This is the 25th season for the Timberwolves and during one of the time outs, they did a nice tribute to KG - a montage showing how important he was to the team over the years. He was very gracious about it (from the bench) and stood up and waved at/thanked the crowd. It was very classy. Having said that, KG is starting to look his age - he's definitely lost a step and it's a little disappointing. 

On a silly note, I was particularly amused when the announcer said at one point "Time out, New Jersey!... um, Brooklyn. Time out Brooklyn!" Well done, sir. Maybe if Jay-Z and Beyonce had been there, he wouldn't have made that mistake? 

My uncle Jim and my aunt Kim were both talking yesterday about their experience 50 years ago on the day that JFK was shot. Excellent stories, both. My dad shared his with me when I was over there for pot roast. It's amazing the clarity of those memories. For me, and others of my generation (and I suppose my dad's as well), I will never forget what I was doing on September 11, 2001. But that is probably a story for another day. I just thought it was interesting to see all the specials about JFK and the personal stories. The power of history is remarkable.

Today was lazy most of the day until dinner time. I spent a lot of time reading the 3rd book in the Hunger Games series, again. And relaxing on the bed with Calvin napping by my side:

Calvin leg nap

It's a good place to be on a cold day in November.

22 November 2013

119 Days to Go

I am off to a Timberwolves basketball game shortly (something that seems to happen every year during NaBloMo), so I don't have a lot of time to blog. I just wanted to mention the very exciting mail that was waiting for me when I got home from work this afternoon:

Wedding Paper Divas

Also, a dog is not the answer. We are emphatically not dog people. We are plenty happy with our two cats who think they rule the world. 

It's hard to argue with that much cute. 

21 November 2013

Important Question for the Blogosphere

Which of these cases do you think I should put on the new phone?

Phone Cases
I am leaning towards the bright green on the upper left but am willing to take suggestions.

In other news, as Monsieur Gzmoohoo reported, we got some accumulating snow today. This was my car when I went out to the parking garage at the fancy new job.

I did not miss using my ice scraper, as it turns out. :-(

I have not yet worked there long enough to get my very own reserved parking spot in the covered section of the parking garage. Only 24 years and 10.5 months to go. There are LOTS of people with reserved spots. But fortunately, it was only a small amount of snow so no big deal. The roads weren't even that slippery.

After my Thursday gym trip, as per usual, (fancy new job provides me with a discount on my health insurance if I go 12 times a month), and a brief stop at the local liquor store, I arrived home to my beloved EMSA and some very chill cats.

Calvin looking imperious on the couch.

Lucy, enjoying the heat coming out of "her" vent.