Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My New Toy

Chester ever so kindly bestowed a new laptop upon me for my birthday (albeit a few weeks early). It's speedy, cavernous (as in it has LOTS of storage space) and lovely, and will aid me in my quest for a degree.

I consider myself lucky that the computer with the most battery power (up to 6 hours!) in Chester's price range just happened to be the one with a lovely design. I'm also quite tickled that Chester was able to find a matching Bluetooth mouse!

The inside is pretty to look at as well.

One of the coolest gadgets that came with it was the little Windows Media remote that can be tucked safely inside the computer.

As evidenced by the picture below, I'm pleased as can be!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ode to Steel Cut Oats

Seemingly not in line with popular opinion, I find oatmeal to be an enjoyable breakfast food. Although, admittedly, the brown sugar I put in my oatmeal certainly doesn’t decrease my daily sugar intake, I feel better about making oatmeal my main breakfast food versus most boxed cereals. (Side note: this weekend I discovered that both corn flakes AND rice krispies, cereals I previously considered somewhat innocuous, contain high fructose corn syrup!) In fact, buttered toast dipped in oatmeal is quite the tasty treat.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was content with plain old rolled oats. Although I initially dismissed the idea of steel cut oats, mostly because of the time they take to cook, my conversion began with an impromptu purchase. I was in the store to buy cornmeal, but I wanted to try a coarser grind than usual. I also felt a little silly (congratulations, grocery stores) buying only one thing. I scanned the selection of other grains and recalled my curiosity regarding a possible expansion of my oat experience.

First off, I was surprised by the shape. I had pictured a steel cut oat to look like three rolled oats stacked together, but they actually look like someone put whole oats in a blender for about 10 seconds.

I was completely taken off guard by the tastiness that oats have the possibility to provide! The texture was much more palatable and delightfully chewy. The taste is pretty much the same, but it’s amazing the difference a little texture can provide. If you’re tempted to completely give up on oats-with-essence-of-library-paste, I would recommend giving the steel cut variety a chance!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction

A few years ago, I became quite disenchanted with my near-exclusively fantasy-and-Stephen-King reading habits and have since worked at building up my book genre repertoire. Something that surprises me is how much I’ve come to love non-fiction books. One of the first, and one of my all-time favorites, in the string of these books was Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (a wonderful, eye-opening, socially relevant book about four different meals and their backgrounds). Since then some books I have found immensely enjoyable are Animals in Translation (a book about similarities between how animals and autistic people think, by an autistic woman), The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City, a couple of books from Cesar Millan’s collection, various memoirs about animals (do these count as non-fiction?) and quite recently, The Other Side of Desire, which delves into the lives of four “sexual deviants”.

Currently I’m in the middle of reading Your Inner Fish (a book that takes the whole people-from-primates theory one step—or three—further and presents evidence regarding our similarities to fish) for a book club I’m quite excited about. Last night I picked up a book about rats, and The Secret Life of Lobsters is high up on my list (sometimes I suspect all it takes to entice me is some allusion to finding out secrets).

As my community college career comes to a close and the necessity of making a decision looms, my excitement about the above makes me feel fairly confident in my decision to pursue a biology degree. Regrettably, textbooks are not always as enthralling as books like the ones I’ve mentioned…

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On My Knees

As much as I wish it wasn't the truth, it seems that the best way to clean a floor is on one's hands and knees, with a bucket and a rag. I did this today in both our kitchen and our bathroom. The kitchen was particularly in need of attention, since we have a white tile floor and a black, busily shedding dog. We also upgraded our kitchen and bathroom trash cans to stainless steel jobbies.

Excitement abounds around these parts!

Friday, April 11, 2008

La Belle Vie

As you all have probably heard so many times you're quite nauseated by now, this was a very exciting year: I turned 25 (five squared) and my mom turned 49 (seven squared). I always have trouble thinking of what to get my mom for a gift, but this year I had the perfect solution: a fancy dinner. La Belle Vie was recommended to me by one of the attorneys I work for, a self-proclaimed foodie. He proclaimed La Belle Vie the best restaurant in the Cities, which is all it took to pique my interest. What better way to commemorate such a special year?

As we pulled up on Friday and handed my mom's car off to the valet, I began to suspect we would not be disappointed. We were led through a big hallway, past the bar/lounge area into a brightly lit room with maybe fifteen tables. At first, we were the only ones there. The silence and emptiness of the room, combined with the several fork and spoon layout on our table (incidentally, this fancy silverware was replaced after every course) caused us to sit up very straight, talk quietly and giggle a lot, at least until the room began to fill with other diners. We decided on the chef's taster's menu: an eight-course dinner filled with things I had no hope of deciphering (except for the promising mention of beignet).

Among the notable bits of the meal were the irregular and truly lumpy lumps of sugar for our coffee; the delightful rye bread with (golden!) raisins accompanied by an attractive and ample circular pat of butter; the glass of Riesling, adding a bit of sophistication and ; the crispy fish and magical beans (who knew a mere bean could be so tasty?) in the soup; the bright orange trout roe (eggs) making the fish course a delight to not only my taste buds, but to my rods and cones; the tasty cow thymus invitingly called sweet breads; the tiny, delicate wafer with holes so large you could poke a pen point through, which I miraculously still managed to fit all my fancy gouda and jam on; the tablespoon or so of grapefruit and fancy yogurt which came with the daintiest of spoons; and last, but most definitely not least, the chocolate syrup-filled chocolate beignet and chocolate custard/crème brulee.

I can't wait to go there again!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Birthday Adventure

It would be remiss of me not to include a blog about the adventure had on my birthday! Part of the motivation for this particular outing was to share with Mikey our favorite things about living in this metropolitan area. Since I am always quick to point out with pride my light rail stop, and to talk about the excellent people-watching to be had on the light rail, it makes sense that we would use it as our mode of transportation for heading downtown. We were not the only ones who had that idea, however—so did hundreds of people attending the Twins game. I suppose one cannot truly experience the light rail until one has been packed like a sardine, although I’m not sure how good sardines would be at standing, let alone hanging onto a handrail so as not to be jostled too much.

Our first stop in downtown was aimed at completing the thrilling task of renewing my driver’s license. It was pretty cool to do it in one of the downtown government buildings, and again, another excellent people-watching opportunity. After that, we wandered around the skyway until we stopped off at the new library to get me a library card (happy birthday, indeed!). It was at this juncture that I thought it would be kind of fun to figure out a bus to get us to Dinkytown for lunch. The bus ride to Dinkytown and back was enough to prove that city buses (although not necessarily their suburban counterparts) make for excellent and varied people-watching, especially in the middle of the day.

After eating at Annie’s (a meal that included my reason for loving the restaurant: a Reese’s cup milkshake), we walked down the street and prepared to wait for our bus. Before we got to our prescribed location, we rerouted ourselves into a tattoo shop, where I procured a free t-shirt (yay for birthdays!) and enthusiasm from the tattoo artist about my idea for a new inking. Although I was tempted, we all left needle-free but full of promises for the future.

The night was capped off with a visit to Doolittle’s, where my favorite buffalo wings and a free dessert waited, along with Mikey, Chester and my Metro-area dwelling immediate family. We were pretty wiped out from our adventure, but it was a very pleasant evening to cap off a fun day.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Independent

As you all probably already know by now, one of my favorite things to do is people watch. Therefore, if I eat out somewhere and enjoy it, plus I get to experience varied and excellent people-watching, it quickly jumps to one of my favorite places to eat. One such place is the Independent in Uptown. I sometimes forget about it, due to the fact that Famous Dave’s is right below it and I’ve gotten a little disenchanted with Uptown anyway (read: I feel like a dork when I’m surrounded by the coolness that pervades the neighborhood). However, it seemed like a good place to take Mikey at the start of his visit last Wednesday.

We were surprised to discover that Wednesday nights is two-for-ones for mixed drinks at the Independent. Again, if you know me at all, you know that I very rarely drink (an unfortunate by-product of my 21st birthday). This time was an exception, however, after I saw Chester order a pear cider and Mikey ordered a fancy cocktail (and received two) that I cannot recall the name of. So, decided to order a drink (and received two), the name of which I already cannot recall. It tasted pretty good, but I ended up only drinking about a third of one drink before I passed it to Chester.

I don’t know if Chester is a serious lightweight or just already so goofy that a couple of drinks was enough to open the floodgates. He was being silly and putting his arm around me while Mikey and I looked on in mock horror and revulsion. Well, the mockery was not as apparent to all, because a woman dining a few tables away actually went through the trouble to approach us and ask us if we knew “that guy”. It afforded us (meaning me and Mikey, not necessarily Chester) a good chuckle when we realized he probably appeared to be quite creepy.

More tales of the weekend to follow, so do tune in.