Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grape Crush

Mom told me last week that the grapes were going to be ready soon, and asked when we were going to come over and help them make wine.  Today was the day.

This is the third year we've done this.  Mom and dad planted grapevines so they would create a nice shade cover in the front courtyard, but then with grapevines come grapes, and there is no reason to just let them go to waste, right?

Since wine isn't the reason they have the vines, mom and dad don't prune the vines for that purpose, or do enough cluster thinning, so the wine is never going to be super amazing, but it's an interesting experience, and since I'd like to eventually grow grapes to make wine, it serves as a nice practice run.

The first year we did this, the boys (dad, Keith, Bobby) wound up crushing the grapes with spatulas, and developed some nice blisters on their knuckles.  We call it the "blood wine" because there really is a tiny bit of blood in it.  Last year Bobby and I couldn't make it over to the house before it was too late, so we missed out.

This year, a friend of dad's and her sone came by to help out, and I gave Emma a camera so I would have proof of the event.  The cabernet seemed sickly this year, and mom and dad had prevented it from growing any fruit, so we just had the pinot noir to harvest.

Mom and Bobby were cleaning off the grapes while the rest of us crushed.  Everyone else employed our spatula technique, but I just grabbed bunches and crushed them with my fingers.  Bobby suggested that next year we get a kiddie pool and crush them the old fasioned way - with our feet.

As we were crushing away, dad brought out a glass of the wine from last year and the year before so we could try them out.  I thought they were both on the sour side, but I don't know how much that is attibutable to their youth.  Perhaps they will mellow out, perhaps we are doing something wrong, I'm not sure.

When we finished crushing, we had a nice lunch of homemade tamales, salad, and Bootlegger's Amber Alt Ale.  Perhaps one day we'll make wine as well as Aaron makes beer.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day BBQ

Barbecues are one of my favorite things about summer - both the grills themselves and barbecue parties.  When it's warm and light late, I probably grill four times a week or so.  It keeps me from warming up the house any more than I need to, and grilled food is so darn tasty.  Burgers & hot dogs, polska keilbasa & other sausages, steaks, salmon, asparagus, zucchini, portabella mushrooms, onions, colorful bell peppers, corn, tomatoes.  Grilled foods seem so simple and flavorful.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned to Bobby that we should have people over one last time before the summer ended, and today wound up being the day.  Unfortunately it was late notice so it was a pretty small crowd.  But the food was good.

I made up some simple kebabs with polska keilbasa, mini sweet peppers, onion, portabella mushrooms, zucchini and crookneck squash.  Erica and I spent most of last night and this morning making desserts - Lemon Semifreddo, truffles, chocolate chip cookies.

Next time we'll have to plan further ahead, and I'll have to give someone a camera, but it was a nice day.  

Friday, August 29, 2008

Two Weeks Down

Early last week I decided I was going to do it.  Somehow, I was going to start bringing my lunch to work.

I spend way too much on eating lunch all week.  I remember going out to lunch my senior year of high school and being able to get a full meal for under $5.  Granted, I'm pretty much avoiding fast food altogether, but I easily spend between $8 and $15 each day on lunch.

When I'm home for lunch, I do pretty well - tacos or fajitas, fancy burgers, fruit, soup... I can make a good meal.  But when I don't have my grill, or stove, or a good toaster oven... just a microwave?  If I bring something that I need to microwave, then I'm more likely to wind up eating at my desk.

I need to get up from my desk.  When I stay at my desk for lunch, my brain checks out earlier in the day.  Like 2pm.  I just really need to get up, go outside, walk around... something.  I need that mental break in order to last until 5:30pm or 6pm.

And finally, I am really trying to eat better.  I'm not severely overweight, but I am technically overweight, and ideally I should drop about 15 lb.  I need more vegetables in my life, and whole grains, and smaller portions.  Eating out at lunch seems to mean larger portions than I would eat if I brought lunch.

So, what can I bring?

I've done pretty well so far.  I've only bought my lunch once per week the last two weeks now.  I've eaten a lot of sandwiches, which in the past has been difficult for me to keep up with.  This time around I'm avoiding most sliced deli meats, in favor of tuna or steak.  I'm avoiding plain sliced bread in favor of a whole wheat bun, and I've had a few elaborate salads with either tuna salad, hard boiled egg, or salami on top.  I've also had a pasta salad.  Most days I've grabbed my packed lunch and headed over to the University Village near UCI and had a lovely lunch on the outdoor patio/seating area.

One of the best lunches so far has been a cold steak sandwich.  It came from a sort of combination of Evan's spinach salad, a Grilled Steak Sandwich recipe from the August issue of Bon Appetit, and a boring cold steak sandwich I'd made a couple of weeks ago.

My boring sandwich was just that, boring.  It was essentially some leftover fillet from the night we'd made beef carpaccio on a leftover roll.  Nothing else was really on it, but the cold steak was nice, but dry.  The Grilled Steak Sandwich was nice, but I don't think I got enough dressing on mine, and it would be pretty difficult to grill up a sandwich at work.

I had some leftover tri-tip, and put it in a plastic bag, whisked together some seasoned rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, ground mustard, and olive oil to taste, and poured it over the meat.  In another plastic bag I put some fresh spinach, sliced tomato & onion.  I packed up those two bags and a whole wheat bun.

I didn't even put it in the refrigerator when I got to work.  When lunchtime rolled around, I began toasting the bun, opened one corner of the meat bag and poured the dressing and juice into the spinach bag.  I tossed the spinach bag until the bun was done toasting, and assembled my sandwich, leaving half the salad as a side.

Oh my was that tasty!  I will definitely have to have this again, maybe with plain old sliced roast beef if I don't have leftover tri-tip.

We'll see if I can keep this up now.  I'm sure I saved myself some money this week, and probably ate healthier than I normally would.  I'll need more variety soon enough, but soup season is coming.  Now, how to keep it warm while I get out of the office...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gorgonzola Mushroom Burgers

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a few of my co-workers recently left the company.  Anytime someone leaves, a group of us will go out for a goodbye lunch.  This time, when Ronnie left, instead of going out to eat, we all drove out to Evan's house and barbecued for lunch.  Like most goodbye lunches, this one ran a bit long, but unlike the others, we spent very little.  I must add it was darn tasty too.  I just love grilled foods!

We kept it pretty simple - hamburgers with the optional condiments, onion, and tomato, a flat-iron steak (pre-marinated from Trader Joe's), and a spinach salad.

Evan made the spinach salad.  He is one of the healthiest eaters I know.  We talk about food at work a lot, as we appreciate many of the same foods, and I must admit I admire just how health conscious he is.

His salad was really simple - fresh spinach, thinly sliced tomato, thinly sliced onion, a splash of seasoned rice vinegar, splash of balsamic vinegar, sprinkle of salt, and olive oil.  That's it.  It was so simple, and yet so tasty.

Even tastier - putting the spinach salad onto my burger.  I'm not a mayo or mustard girl, I put barbecue sauce on my burgers (or ketchup if there is no barbecue sauce).  The dressing on the spinach went beautifully.  Small bites of the steak with a bite of salad was awesome too.

So a few days later, I decided to make burgers at home, and add a few things that I love - mushrooms & gorgonzola.  I used a few leaves of spinach from Evan's spinach salad as the lettuce, and put the whole thing on a whole wheat bun.  (I'm trying to eat more whole grain foods right now.)

I don't ask Bobby what he wants on his burger anymore, I usually just make a single for me and a double for him, assemble it the way I want and he eats it.  This time when he started into his burger, he said it was one of the best burgers he's ever had.  He's asked for it a few times since.

Gorgonzola Mushroom Burgers with Spinach Salad

burger patties and buns of your choice
barbecue sauce
1 spoonful of cumbled gorgonzola per patty
1 slice of provolone per patty
2-3 medium crimini mushrooms per burger, sliced
1/4 small white onion per burger, cut into strips (I like them kinda chunky)
handful of washed fresh spinach per person
1/2 medium tomato per person
seasoned rice vinegar
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
sea salt or course salt & pepper

Grilled your patties, and when appropriate top with the crumbled gorgonzola and one slice of provolone.  While those were grilling, cook the mushroom/onion mixture and make salad.

In a pan over medium-high heat, swirl canola oil, add sliced crimini mushrooms and white onions, salt and pepper.  Cook until soft.

While the burgers are grilling and the mushroom/onion mixture is softening, make your salad.  Put the washed spinach and sliced tomato in an oversized bowl so you can toss easily.  Toss the spinach and tomato as you dress it.  Splash with each vinegar (probably about 2 tsp. of each per person), sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with olive oil (probably about 3-4 tsp.) per person.  You've added enough olive oil when it doesn't smell too vinegary for you.

As the patties finish, toast your buns.  Pull a few leaves of the spinach, and some of the sliced tomatoes from the salad and put on your bottom bun.  Add on your patty, a healthy scoop of the mushroom/onion mixture, add a dollop of barbecue sauce to your top bun and you are done.

Divide the remaining spinach salad among the plates, and don't worry if you have extra mushroom/onion mixture, it's good by itself on the side.  Or on top of the salad.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


At 3:30ish this morning, I woke up to a tickle on my arm, and when I reached to itch it, it stung me.

Wouldn't you know, I have a bee hive in my house for three months and don't get stung; I have it removed, and that night I'm stung by a bee.

Bobby must have been sleeping pretty lightly, because he asked me what was wrong when I cursed the bee. We laid there silently listening for buzzing. The next one found Bobby instead of me. "There's one next to my knee on the sheet. If I move it's probably going to sting me."

All I could think about were the stray bees leftover in the house, and my bare feet. I found my cell phone and my glasses on the bedside table, and illuminated my way to the light switch. The bee near his knee flew up to the beam at the ceiling.

Now that the hive was gone, I have no qualms about killing the few bees that are left. They will most likely die anyway, right? So I grabbed a magazine and swatted the two bees left flying around our room. We checked the bed, and made sure to cover up with at least the sheet.

In the morning, there were still some random bees flying confusedly around the back room. There was a streak of honey on one of the windows back there too, as if a bee had thrown up or something. We'll have to make sure to wear shoes or watch where we are walking until these bees finally clear out.

Monday, August 25, 2008

And We're Clear

Bee Company #2 (Pro Pacific Bee Removal) arrived this morning to do an estimate, and came back at 5pm (right on time) to start the removal. They set up a little plastic room around the hive, cut open the wall and sucked the bees out with a "bee vacuum."

We obviously couldn't watch, because we don't all have bee suits, but the technician was kind enough to take pictures for us. This next one is a little blurry, but you can see that the bees had filled up the left side with honeycomb and honey, and the pale comb they've just started building on the right side.

When they had finished, the tech allowed us to come see what they'd taken out. The bee vacuum sucks the bees up and spits them into a wood frame box with screens or plexiglass on the sides. We could see all the bees buzzing around inside it. He also showed us the honey and honeycomb that was pulled out of the wall.

There were, understandably, a few bees that had escaped and were now wandering around on the honeycomb he was showing us, and around the courtyard just outside our bedroom. I asked why the bees weren't attacking him or us, considering we were playing with their comb. He explained that the bees were confused and disoriented, and that they weren't being protective of the comb because the queen was in the box. The tech estimated that the hive had been in our wall for three months.

After removing everything, they painted the inside of the wall with a bee repellant so they would not return, and closed up the small gap in the roof where they were getting in.

They started work around 5:30, and by 8:30 they were packing up to go. Very good service in my book. There are a few stray bees wandering around trying to figure out what's going on, but the hive is now gone.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Building Trellises

My parents came by to spend the day with me, finally putting up the trellises for the grapevines while we wait for the bee man to come take the hive away.

The beeman did not show up between 9 and 11 like he was supposed to. We tried calling the home office, but they were closed for the weekend. I had the phone number of the estimator, so we tried him. He answered, but was unable to contact the technician or the owner. There wasn't really anything he could do for us. Mom finally called another bee removal company. The new bee company was sending an estimator between 1 and 2pm, so we stayed in the backyard working on the trellises.

We'd been pretty productive though. At first we all worked together to get the posts bolted into the simpsons, then dad added the 2x4 on tops. It's unusual to have the top bar, but since I don't have a long line of posts with earth anchors on the end, we had to do something to keep the posts from bending inwards. After getting the wire up, I thought the trellises came out quite nicely.

At 12:20pm, the technician from the first bee company finally called. He offered no explanation, but said that he was leaving his house and was on his way. I noticed that he was calling from an 805 area code and asked how long he expected it to take him to get there. "About an hour."

I called my mom, who had gone to visit my grandpa. She said to just let the estimator from the new company and the technician from the first company come. She wasn't taking any chances relying on the first company at this point.

But when she came back from her visit, the estimator called to verify the directions, and she told him that we may not need him to come out now. She'd call him back and let him know.

Well, 1:30 came and went. So did 2pm, and 2:30pm. Still no one had come. I called the technician (I love caller ID), and left a message indicating that I hoped he was still on his way. At 3pm, mom called the estimator back - he was already in San Clemente, and would have to schedule it for Monday morning instead.

We had one other thing to build as well. I planted some peas in my kitchen garden, and I needed to construct some trellises for them to grow on.

A few stakes and jute, a hammer and a staple gun. I had my trellis

3:30. Mom called the technician one more time and he answered. He claimed that he had not said he was on his way, and that he would be here at 5pm. Excuse me? No, it wasn't that long ago, I know what I was told.

I really just want him to show up and take the hive away. I"m not particularly afraid of bees, but I don't like having them in my bedroom wall. And I don't like that I can't walk around my house barefoot without being very careful not to step on any bees.

Come 4:30, he calls again. He won't be coming. His excuse? The company was supposed to give him money for gas and they never did. So he's not coming.

Mom called the new company to confirm. My co-worker also has a beehive in his house, and come Monday, I'll be sure to tell him not to use Adkins Bee Removal. Hopefully, the new company does a better job.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Snip, Snip

I've done it again - I chopped my hair off.

My hair had reached my waistline. I was tired of it, it was pretty damaged, and I just kept it up most days anyway. Now it is back to above my shoulders.

It's funny to see people wince when they make the cut... like they were taking a finger or something. I didn't even mean to grow it out that long - I'm just to lazy to make an appointment to get it cut, so I only wind up going once a year or so. But I like it when it's shorter.

We did save it though, and I will be donating it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Bobby woke up at 4:30 this morning. The buzzing was a little louder this time.... and there were a few bees in the bedroom. By the time I woke up, he'd figured out why.

The bees had burrowed a hole through the wall into our room and were coming in and out as they pleased.

Yes, through the drywall. The can apparently dig, or burrow, or whatever.

Bobby got some liquid nails and filled in the hole so they would stop coming in. At least temporarily. The bee people are supposed to come Saturday to clear out the hive... hopefully the bees don't dig another hole before then.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Reunion in the Park

Today was a popular day. I had an invitation to a birthday party/poker game, a birthday party for a 5 year old, and Bobby's family reunion at a park.

I really wanted to go the 5 year old's birthday party. I know that sounds strange, but I haven't seen my friend, her mom, since her wedding a few years ago. I figured Bobby would still be working on his parents' pool, and Emma and I could go to the party - I was sure she would love being around a bunch of other kids too.

But as I was mentioning it to Emma, I saw the flyer for the family reunion that same day... and vaguely remembered that we'd missed it last year. His mom seemed saddened by our missing last year, so we made sure we would go this time.

Initially, I was thinking we could go to the reunion for a while, then leave after a few hours and head to the birthday party. Alas, we've only just made it home and we are all downright exhausted. I have a nice little sunburn too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Still Buzzing

I took the day off of work today, postponing my PTO break even date, so that I could be here when they removed the bees. I'm pretty excited about the whole process, and I wanted to be here for the show.

It was apparently a bad day for me to be away from the office... turns out the Exchange Server decided to take the day off too, so I was getting calls at 8am. You would be amazed at the panic that ensues when people cannot send or receive emails. It wasn't anything I could fix anyway, so I directed them to the guys that set up the server for us, but that didn't stop a few of them from calling me repeatedly to see if I was sure there wasn't anything I could walk them through over the phone. Right, because you want me to experiment with the server using a proxy that doesn't even know what a page break is. Um... NO!

The bee guys arrived shortly after 9am, but they didn't seem to be prepared. I had to show them where we think the bees are, (though we already showed the estimator), and after looking around for a bit, the mentioned that they were going to do the removal from the roof. Mom was quite adamant that was not going to happen.

We have a crazy roof. Almost magical even. Aside from the hallway where the air conditioner ducting is, the whole house has vaulted ceilings, and the tounge-in-groove 2x6 spruce that you see is the actual roof. With the roofing material right on the spruce, the house's insulation was terrible, making the house a sauna in the summertime. So when my parents were doing all the work on the house a few years ago, they had a new roofing material put on. It's like 3 layers of insulating material, then the shingles. (The downside is that it actually blocks cell signals - we can't make calls on our cell phones inside our house - this is actually the single most frustrating thing about our house.)

This crazy roof was quite expensive, and my mom is very protective of it - she was not about to let them go in through the roof. The technician said that if they go in through the roof, they can do the live removal, if they go in through the inside, they would have to exterminate the bees first.

This is not what the estimator told me. He had said that they could do the live removal, and patch the drywall and repaint. To me, this indicated that they would be going in from inside the house.

So we started asking more questions. Bobby asked what they move the hive in. "Well, normally they give us a box for the hive, but we don't have one today." We also noticed that they didn't have any drywall tools, or roof tools, or anything that might be necessary for cleaning up afterwords. The tech then admited that he'd never done a live removal indoors before - only from the roof.

This is not what we signed up for. The technician and mom both called the office to clarify what we wanted to have done. Eventually, the appointment was rescheduled for a week from tomorrow. Until then, we still have bees!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So Long

Three people quit this week. Well, sort of. One guy's last day was Friday, and two more will be leaving tomorrow. I work for a small firm (20 or so full time people), so that's a lot for such a short time. I've been here a (long) while now, so I've seen a number of people come and go, but I always find it a little saddening to see people go. Not that I think they should stay, just that I will miss them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Silence of the Bees

Okay, so I'm a little (I think understandably) obsessed with bees this week.

Mom sent me this link today: Silence of the Bees.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bee Inspection

The Bee Man came out to the house today. I showed him where we suspected a hive, and when I mentioned that you could see them from the roof, he jumped right on up the fence and onto the roof.

He said we definitely have a hive, and went over our options. We could have him spray and kill them right then, or we could do a live removal later in the week. If we chose to have them sprayed, they still recommend having the hive removed, because once the bees stop caring for all that honey, it would just start oozing into the drywall, and attract rodents and other bees.

I asked if we get to keep any of the honey, but he said that since it's in our wall, there's a good chance it has insulation or other building materials inside it, and we wouldn't want to eat it anyway.

We had already decided we wanted to keep the bees alive, so we made the appointment for Friday. I'm excited to watch and take pictures.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Dark Knight

Sometimes, really great movies are spoiled by their own hype. When the first Austin Powers movie came out, I had heard so many quotes, and saw so many re-enactments of key scenes, that by the time I saw it, I'd already heard all the funny parts. I was dissapointed. After the second movie, and then watching it again much later I was finally able to enjoy it.

The level of hype surrounding The Dark Knight made me worry that a great movie would again be spoiled. I don't watch a lot of television, and other than a couple of reviews, tried to avoid most articles. But word of mouth is hard to avoid.

I know, Bobby and I waited awhile to see the film - it may sound crazy, but we had more important things going on. That left plenty of time for everyone I knew that had seen it to tell me that it was the most amazing film they'd ever seen. Everyone literally gushed. Even the rating on was a solid 94%.

Bobby and I finally got around to seeing it tonight, and I have to admit it really was a very good movie. I love comic-inspired movies as it is, and this was definitely one of the good ones. Heath Ledger's performance was very good - and his makeup and voice were so well done that if I hadn't been aware that he was the actor, I never would have guessed it. In fact, he really did steal the show - Ledger's Joker seemed much more developed than Christian Bale's Batman.

The best movie ever made though? No, I don't think so. Entertaining, definitely, but in my opinion, an amazing movie will illicit more emotional response than this film did. Great films draw you in, and you sympathize with the characters. Biting your nails through suspenseful scenes, crying in sad ones, etc. For me the scenes that illicited the most emotional response for me had nothing to do with the Bruce Wayne - Rachel Dawes relationship, or Bruce's internal struggle, but with falling from extreme heights - more because I'm afraind of heights than because of any brilliant filmmaking.

Batman Begins was very good, and if you enjoyed that one, you'll like this one too. I would say The Dark Knight was better than Batman Begins, but not leaps and bounds better. When Bobby and I were back in the car alone, I asked him what he thought of the movie. "I really wish I hadn't heard so much about it." We agreed, it was a very good movie, and we both enjoyed it, but the hype had definitely killed the excitement for us.

Go see it, and expect to be entertained - not blown away.


A couple of weeks ago, Bobby sent me an instant message saying there was a bee buzzing around the light in the back room, and when he went to check it out, he noticed a few dead bees nearby. We don't have a lot of bees in the yard, so it seemed strange. But sure enough, each day there seemed to be a bee near the light, and dead bees around it.

Sometime last week, on a quiet morning, he made me get out of be and stand silently in our bedroom doorway. "Do you hear that?"
Very sleepily, "No."
"Be really quiet and listen."

And then I heard it. Very faintly, I could hear a low buzzing, and the sound of bees running into the backside of the wall.
"I hear it!"
"We have bees in the wall."

I have never known anyone with bees inside the wall. None of us are allergic, so I wasn't too concerned, but wow! So I did what any renter would do in this situation - I called my landlord.

"Mom, we have a beehive in the wall."
"Really?" She doesn't believe me. I told her about all our evidence - the dead bees around the light, the sound in the wall. She says she and dad will come by sometime soon and check it out. I mentioned that if there is a beehive, I would feel bad exterminating them because of the disappearing bee problem. She agreed, then we started talking about finding someone to transport them to a beekeeper, rather than exterminate them.

I first read about the disappearing bee problem in Fortune last September. Colony Colapse Disorder is affecting bee keepers nationwide, and they only have theories as to why the bees are leaving. Essentially, all the worker bees will leave the hive permanently, leaving behind everything. For the agricultural industry that relies on bees being brought in to pollinate crops, it is a huge problem.

So today, while my laundry was drying and my banana bread was baking (this time instead of 2 cups of All Purpose Flour and 1/4 cup Hazelnut Flour, I used 3/4 cup each of All Purpose Flour, Amaranth Flour, and Hazelnut Flour, and added 1/4 cup of Wheat Germ - it was tasty!) mom came by to investigate our invasion. After a minute or so, she heard them in the wall too, and we started looking up hive removal services. When dad got there he set up the ladder and put his ear right on the wall.

"Oh yeah! There are definetly bees in there." Then he climed on the roof, and found where they were getting in and out. We definitely have a hive!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Finally - Rest

The last few weekends have seemed so busy, spending all day one day doing chores while Bobby worked on his parents' pool, and then going out to help with the kids on the second day while he stayed outside working on the pool some more. Both the weeks and weekends seem to end before they begin, and I've been longing for some quality rest time.

Sure, I still did some chores - cleaned the kitchen, dining room, and living room - but I spread them out over the today and tomorrow, so didn't seem like near as much work. Bobby had an interview for a new pipe fitter early this afternoon, so he stayed home for the day.

For breakfast, I made pancakes from scratch again, with sausage and eggs (I love breakfast!), and after I finished cleaning up the house, I made a light lunch - grilled some polska keilbasa, corn on the cob, and zucchini. There is something wonderfully satisfying about lunching on my back patio, and today was such a beautiful day. I felt peaceful and rested even though I hadn't yet rested.

That was next though. Now that I had finished what I wanted to get done, I spent a good few hours sitting in one of the sky chairs on the patio, reading a fantasy novel I picked up recently - Karavans. It was so nice to just relax and do something completely unnecessary.

I made some shredded pork fajita tacos for dinner, along with some salsa fresca made with tomatoes from my garden, and guacamole made with some of my salsa fresca. After dinner, Bobby and I climbed in the car with the intention of seeing The Dark Knight with Brian and Jessica. On the way there I remembered that I had wanted to see it in IMAX, but there wasn't an IMAX showing at a reasonable time. The boys were getting up early and going to work on a jobsite in Brea.

But we drove out to Norco anyway, and after tucking the kids in bed, we left them with their nana and instead spent a little while at a local dive bar, playing pool and having a couple drinks. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for a dive bar - they are so much more relaxed than other places.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Heat Ultra Lounge

Bobby's been working on a number of projects at the new GardenWalk nearby. A couple of weeks ago we checked out Pop the Cork, and we spent this evening at the now open Heat Ultra Lounge.

An old high school friend of mine was finishing up her very last final, and wanted to go out on the town. I had mentioned the club last week, and she called the other day to see if we wanted to join her. So when Bobby came home from his time with Emma, we got dressed up and headed out.

Since a a few of her other friends came out, we had a sizable group, and had bottle service at one of the larger tables. The club looks really nice, and the sound was great. They played a healthy mix of music - some rap, hip hop, house, Michael Jackson, and even a little Pink Floyd. I only danced a little bit, so Bobby and I spent most of the evening watching the crowd and the go-go dancers.

It was a slower night, but it was still a really good time. We decided we should come back sometime. It's nice having a little more nightlife closer to home.

Some reviews of Heat Ultra Lounge: LA Times, OC Register

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Shouldn't Be Here

I had a plan, and this wasn't it. I was going to leave Monday, and be in Italy by now. First two weeks of August, that was the plan. But alas, a shortage of PTO time and cash have left me here. At work. Sitting in my cube rather than in the warm Italian sun drinking a nice chilled sparkling white wine.

On a positive note, in just over 5 weeks I will break even on my PTO time. No longer in the negative.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Geeking out at Work

You can tell we are being really productive, when someone asks how long it would take the Millennium Falcon to travel 200,000 light years... and then we proceed to research the answer. No, we don't normally talk about Star Wars - in fact I don't recall a previous Star Wars conversation - but today we did.

First we had to find out how fast the Falcon is, right? Are you aware that there is a Wookieepedia? Amazing, right? I suppose there is a wikia for just about anything out there, right?

Okay, so from the Wookiepedia, I find the line I was looking for "she does 0.5 past light speed." But .5 what? Is that a percentage or a unit? km/sec? miles/hr? What?

Trying to find that answer, we looked at the statment Han made that they "did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs." What's a parsec? A Parsec is "a unit of length, equal to just over 30 trillion kilometres, or about 3.3 light years." Wait. So a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. Since the Kessel Run is an 18 parsec route, I was kinda confused as to how he could run it in 12 parsecs. That's sort of like saying "I did a 30 meter race in 20 meters." Huh?

Apparently, "Solo was not referring directly to his ship's speed when he made this claim. Instead, he was referring to the shorter route he was able to travel by skirting the nearby Maw black hole cluster, thus making the run in under the standard distance, he may have indirectly referred to the speed of his ship here because to be able to go closer to black hole and still be able to get out of its gravitational pull you will need to be able to go faster. However, parsec relates to time in that a shorter distance equals a shorter time at the same speed. By moving closer to the black holes, Solo managed to cut the distance down to about 11.5 parsecs."

Never helped us solve our question, but we should all do some actual work. Don't you feel a bit more enlightened now, though?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Homemade Pancakes

My mom always made pancakes with Bisquick, so that's how I always made them. They tasted about the same as pancakes I'd had in restaurants, so that's what I expect pancakes to taste like. My ex once mentioned that his grandmother made amazing pancakes, but I didn't know how you could improve them. But then I was reading a post on Smitten Kitchen the other day about Blueberry Pancakes, and I was tempted to try her from-scratch recipe.

This morning I woke Bobby and Emma up early so that we could get out to his parents' early enough for Bobby to return something they'd rented for the pool construction, and after I dropped them off I headed off to the store to buy the necessary goods.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

I probably should have halved the recipe, but for some reason I didn't. I did include the melted butter, and eventually added a touch more buttermilk because the pancakes were really thick. But OMG they were so delicious. Instead of being slightly tough, which I think of pancakes as being, they practically melt in your mouth. I had one with and one without blueberries, and both were delicious.

Katie woke up a little late, and was rushing to get to church on time. She originally declined when I offered her a pancake, but then I made her try a little bite of a dry pancake - no syrup or anything. She stopped in her tracks. "Are you sure you don't want to take one with you?"
"No, I'm not sure at all. I think I should."

I don't think I can go back. Now I'm wondering what I'm going to do with the giant box of Bisquick in my cupboard.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Manning the Brewery

Aaron and Patricia went up to Mammoth this weekend for a beer festival, so I agreed to take a half day at work to man the brewery for the growler fills.

It was a slow day. I think Aaron had told the regulars that they would be out, and some of the regulars even went up to the festival with him to pour beer. But after work it started to pick up, and people that came in to buy one style tasted others and wound up buying another growler so they could take home two styles.

Dad was there to help me out, and make some keg deliveries to local restaurants carrying Bootlegger's. One local place recently took Widmer off tap so they could add Bootlegger's Old World Hefe. That was pretty exciting.

It is nice to hear all the praise for Aaron's beers, and I'm glad to see business slowly ramping up.