Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Looking Up and The Daily Drive: Bird on a wire

I've seen the power lines loaded with more birds than this, but this is what I managed to capture.

It always reminds me of this.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Splendid Saturday


  1. Magnificent; very impressive: "a splendid view of Windsor Castle".
  2. Excellent; very good.
gorgeous - magnificent - superb - grand - glorious

My sons had a splendid Saturday.

Frank's car finally arrived. Long backstory here. Ernest is turning 16 pretty soon, so months ago we started planning the optimal car situation. Since Frank drives more miles, we thought he should have a newer car and the Mini could be passed on to Ernest. No complaints from Ernest. Frank just wanted a car with a trunk. I left the whole thing up to my husband and Frank, and instead of a slightly used car they decided on a new one. So much research and test driving!  It was special ordered, because of the whole wanting a stick shift thing and particular features and color combos. I'd've settled for an automatic but silly me, I am not a car guy. Anyway, it finally arrived so Frank is one happy camper.

Ernest had a weekend of bike races and on Saturday he got 3rd place in a 28-mile road race, his best finish ever! He was so sweet and humble. He said he would have had fun no matter what but was glad he got a good finish for his coach who spent so much time working with the team.

So how was your weekend? Did anything splendid happen for you?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pink Saturday: Octopus

I love trying new food.

This is grilled calimari and octopus with beets.  We order it every time at our favorite Greek restaurant, so it's not really a new food any more.

What new food have you tried lately?

It's Pink Saturday - Beverly, at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

On Hold

I feel like my life has been on hold since Thanksgiving. I had such big (to me) plans and actually accomplished a few things this fall. Then the holidays rolled around and there were people in the house. All. The. Time.   Between the Thanksgiving break and the Christmas one, my husband had 3 weeks off, Ernest had 3.5, and Frank?  It must have been 6 weeks or more total.

Don't get me wrong, I love my perps peeps.  (I actually typed perps by mistake, but it was funny enough to leave in.)  I loved the Doctor Who marathon with Frank, not having to wake Ernest early, and walks with my husband.

But all those fingers in my pies...  I'm not a control freak.  Not really.  If I do something a certain way, there's a good reason for it.

Please don't put the knives sharp points up in the dishwasher.  That's a safety issue.

Please remove the caps from the plastic bottles before putting them in the recycling bin.  That's because the recycling center says to, and I don't want to have to take off 100 bottle caps.

Please clean the cat box by taking the pee clumps out, too, not just the poo.

And that ever niggling question of who exactly is dribbling on the floor next to the toilet.  No you can't blame the cat because he dribbles elsewhere.

You know, it goes on and on like that.

nigglingpresent participle of nig·gle (Verb)

  1. Cause slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety: "a nasty leg wound which still niggled at him".
  2. Find fault with (someone) in a petty way: "he loved to niggle and criticize people".

So what's niggling you today?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lunch Lady

Last summer I enjoyed my 3-hour mini-vacations, after I dropped Ernest at the zoo. While he was busy manufacturing dinosaur poop, I did my own thing.   I've been missing that this winter, and am already begging Ernest to let me tag along next summer, even though he won't need me to drive him any more.

I used to just pick up some takeout, and sit in the car and read. I always felt funny taking a library book into restaurants. But now, with the iPhone, I look like everyone else! I can sit and read my Kindle for iPhone book in a pretty restaurant and feel comfortable. And I look like I'm doing important business on the phone, ha ha!

The long-ago summer day I started to write this post, I saw a movie and grabbed something quick afterwards at the Chicken Ranch. Out of 3 customers, we were all women with reading material at tables for one. Let's hear it for solo women lunchers!  I wasn't too thrilled with the tri-tip plate, but Handy Husband swore the tri-tip sandwich was incredibly good. (I got it the next time I was there.)

The rose was on the table at the Arts and Letters Cafe. I hadn't been there in 10-15 years! At that time, I had the unfortunate experience of finding a copper staple (from their lettuce box) in my chinese chicken salad. They were graciously apologetic and comped me another meal and a glass of wine. This time, I had no problems! Delicious crab cake sandwich and cream of pattypan squash/red pepper soup. And a lovely courtyard with a fountain.

I ended up at Aldo's after stalking a purple car (long story). The Scallops Limone were tasty, but overpriced for the 4 little scallops I got. And the sauce was thick on one side of the plate but thin on the other.

At Opal I had what I fondly call the Christmas Party Shrimp. They cater Handy's company Christmas parties. Handy is not a party-goer. But I can always wheedle him into attending by reminding him that they would have these delicious "shredded phyllo-wrapped tiger prawns." That's how I got him to go last year.  It works every time!

Silvergreen's is more casual; you order at the counter and they bring it to your table. But they have free wi-fi! Chicken tortilla soup was tasty, their chicken sandwich was good but the chicken chunks kept falling out of the soft bread. Maybe I should have had it on a baguette. But I am wary of baguettes, because at Panino's they are too hard to chew. My panini at Ca Dario was a little tough, too, and their salad mix looked like what I got at Costco, down to the same rotten pieces.  And they are supposedly the #1 Italian restaurant.  It must have been an off day.

Jane's beer battered onion rings are touted as the best, but my tummy was a little unsteady that day.

The Art Museum Cafe was savory, with an eclectic menu. Roast beef Gyro with greek salad. Yum. Tzatsiki rules. They have beta fish in little bowls for their centerpieces. I would have taken a picture, but my table's beta was a little too lethargic to make a good photographic subject.

I am definitely on a gyro kick. On Fridays, you can get a good gyro at Metropulos. Any day of the week, the Greek House Cafe swears they are the most authentic. At the Greek festival in July I got my fill of gyros and wonderful Greek pastries. But the best gyro was made by Yanni at Mackenzie Market, although I made my own gyros last week and they were pretty good.

Don't be afraid to dine out on your own.  You'll have some lovely experiences.

Love, the Lunch Lady

(Yes, I am digging out some old posts from my drafts.  I am so close to my 1000th post and want to clean house.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crispy Potato Roast

Live from last night...

I found this recipe on Cooking Out of the Box (originally from Martha's Everyday Food) and it's become one of our favorites. I make it often.  It tastes a lot like Hasselbeck potatoes but it's easier and less messy. I have made it both peeled and unpeeled. I prefer peeled -- the potato edges are crispier. I've also substituted red onion for shallots when I didn't want to make an extra trip to the store, or because I had a pile of sliced red onions left over from tacos last night.

And I get lazier every time and I still don't wreck it.  Why bother to mix the olive oil and melted butter together?  The butter will melt on its own in the oven. And one could eliminate the butter if one was not a butter person.

(That's not a tilt-shift effect.  That's a lucky outofthecamera shot.)

This batch is not quite as crispy as it could be, due to the delicate balance of cooking vs. chauffeuring*.  (I know many parents will understand.)  It's quite hard to uncover something at the proper time when you are miles away.  No matter -- it will still be delicious.

I'd dig in right now except there is still a husband in transit and the previously chauffeured* offspring to be picked up in about 10 minutes.

Dig in, dear ones.

*And I am desperately going to miss the chauffeuring (note to self:  2 Fs, one R) when the chauffeuree gets his license in April.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Looking Up: Century Plant

On a walk around town last fall, I suddenly noticed a tall tree. Where did that come from? There never was a tree there before.

Thanks to Aunt Snow (here and here), I realized it was a century plant.

It's gone now. See you in a hundred years.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Year of the Dragon, or How I Learned to Cook Great Shrimp

My Christmas ornaments can be useful all year round.

In honor of the new year, I cooked Chinese food last night.

I made egg rolls, Dragon Beans, Lemon Basmati Rice, and Wok-Flashed Shrimp.  And I learned something.

I just love the juicy shrimp from Chinese restaurants, but when I cook shrimp at home all their moisture oozes out and I am left with chewy pink nuggets.  I think this recipe solved my problem.  Make sure the shrimp are really dry.  Toss them in a mixture of cornstarch and spices.  Stir-fry them quickly over high heat.  Wow!  They were perfect.

The rest of the meal was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself, but the egg rolls were a lot of work. All that chopping (cabbage, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro, mint)!

Happy New Year (新年快樂)

Friday, January 20, 2012


When asked about my parenting style, Ernest says I'm lenient.  I counter with, "but you never do anything bad!"  He and his brother never did anything that was punishable.  Well, toddler Frank did bite my chin every time I picked him up but it was out of love and how could I punish that.  I gave him a doggie chew toy instead.  And what could I do, ground them?  When their favorite place to be was at home?  I could, I suppose, have sent them to a party or something.  Anyway, life's been pretty smooth with those two.

 Here comes Frank with his chompers circa 1992.

And chewing on his favorite toy hammer a few months later.

Ernest is longing for his driver's license.  He says he feels bad because I have to drive him everywhere.  I keep telling him I don't mind at all.  My mother hated driving and didn't want to take me anywhere.  I feel I missed out on a lot, and I never wanted my sons to feel that way.  He tells me he hates asking.  I say I'll miss the chance to talk to him.

Because that's when we have these fascinating discussions.  This carried over to his piano lesson last night.  The teacher related another student's comments on how much Ernest has been able to accomplish but the girl complained "he doesn't hang out or go on Facebook."  Ernest just laughed when he heard this.  That's his secret.  He doesn't waste his time.  That, and getting enough sleep.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wishes Do Come True

Ernest always wanted to be taller than his big brother, so he liked to stand on tall things.

(December 2002)

Hop in the Tardis and jump 10 years into the future.

Ernest's measurements are on the left, Frank's in the center.    The 6 on the right is the elusive 6-foot benchmark.

(December 2012)

Frank, 5'11"
Ernest, 6' ¾"  He got his wish. He's taller than his brother.

Ernest was filling out a form last weekend and asked me how tall he was. Just put 6'1", I said. You'll hit it in no time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Say What?

I not-so-shamefully stole this from Ernest's facebook page. Not that he uses facebook very much - - a classmate took this and tagged him.

Anyway, I just love his expression.

Quizzical? Annoyed? Flirtatious? (I believe it was taken by a female classmate.)

Help me out with a clever caption.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I feel like, if not a miserable failure, at least a minor one in Jen on the Edge's Include Yourself in Pictures project, because I did not manage to hand the camera over to anyone else to take pictures of me. You know me, I hate to delegate.

However, I did take a couple cell phone self portraits.

While reading a book wearing my holiday sweater...

And dressed up for Handy's company Christmas party...

Red Shirt Army

Frank made an army of little red shirt ginger people for Christmas, and I had fun photographing them.

They all met their doom, as most red shirts do.  So I will leave you with the Redshirt Blues.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fifi Francine

I call this her glamour shot.

(Photo by Frank.  Whisker enhancement by me.)

I think she's the Garbo type.  Dahling, I just vant to be left alone.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Well Begun is Half Done

I always thought that quote originated with Mary Poppins, but it is actually Aristotle.

I seem to have begun a number of things but whether they are even half done, I don't know.

I undecorated the tree, but the ornaments are still waiting to be sorted and packed.

I'm a little obsessive about that. All the cat ornaments must be stored together, for example. The tree, however, has been tossed on the pyre. Well, next to it.

I started on a rearrangement project. This involves putting photo albums where the bottom shelf of books is.

But what to do with the books? Considering I am such a voracious reader, I have a startling shortage of bookshelves.

Once the photo albums are moved, I have been tasked with finding a table for the TV. A cheap thrift store table, since it will be a temporary thing. I have to prove to my husband that my proposed rearrangement of our "front room" (den?) will actually work.

I think I better put on my Mary Poppins hat to get these things done.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Hello New Year

Hello!  Happy New Year!  How's it going?  It's been a while since I've been here.  Having the whole family at home puts a cramp in my usual routine.  Not like that's a bad thing.

I gave this to my beloved niece for Christmas and she very kindly shared it on New Year's Eve.

Ernest was scheduled for 4 days of work at the zoo. I offered to drive him. Drive? Heck no. I offered to be chauffeured! He is now driving the stick shift. He's his daddy's boy. While he worked, I spent time with Jean, Robert and Jude, and yesterday, Matt. Not sure who I'll be spending time with today. Maybe I'll just shop. My husband offered to drive him, but I said why spoil your vacation by driving past your work? I've been housebound, so I'm happy to go out. So he ended up grocery shopping and making dinner. Role reversal! He's back at work tomorrow, Ernest still has another week off, and Frank is off till the 25th. (No wonder his school made a list of top 10 JCs.)

I'm not going to do a year end recap, although I might describe some of my year's love/hate relationships.

I'm also not going to make any resolutions, although I like Jen on the Edges's and Mrs. G's ideas of monthly goals.

I do have one goallette for the month:  put the Christmas decorations away.  Last year I used some of them for Valentine's Day, with the result that they stayed out until March.