duncandahusky: (Chewy!)
I'm dragging a bit today, but it is very much for a good reason. Yesterday was [livejournal.com profile] takaza's birthday and I wanted to make sure that we celebrated properly. I got him a nice gift (along with the software to run on his iPad) so now anywhere he can get wifi access for his iPad he has access to our U-Verse DVR at home. We've had a Slingbox for years, but it's fallen into disuse since it required laptop access. Dan uses his iPad about 70% of the time and his laptop 30% of the time, so this seemed like an appropriate gift.

To celebrate Dan's birthday, I invited some of our friends to join us for an evening of dinner and bocce at Pinstripes in Northbrook. We had a blast - the food was excellent, and the company was better. The appetizers alone were fun - we ordered a bunch of them and shared them around the table (makes me want to investigate a tapas place more!), and the entrees were quite tasty. My beef tenderloin was perfectly-cooked and had a great sauce.

After dinner we adjourned to one of their indoor bocce courts and enjoyed a civilized hour of alternating between playing bocce and enjoying some excellent desserts. (Also, a note to players: that little ball is called a pallino, a boccino, or jack. It is not, however, ever called a snitch :-) In hindsight, I realize that I inadvertently left a few folks off the invite list - I apologize! No slight was intended, it was merely my own absent-mindedness.

We didn't get home until 11 PM, and didn't get to bed until 11:30. Still, it was worth it and we had a great time. Now that the Big Event Crush (MFF, Thanksgiving, wedding, Dan's birthday) is over, I can breathe a little bit before starting to stress over Christmas and Wuffmeet!
duncandahusky: (Crochet)
34 years old and after almost twelve years together, you're still the light and love on my life. Happy birthday, [livejournal.com profile] takaza!
duncandahusky: (Ky00t Duncan)
Wow. This may be the longest I've gone without a substantive public post to LiveJournal since I started this journal. What has happened since I last updated? Here's the short version:
  • Midwest FurFest happened. It was a great convention, though it was the usual blur for me. It was my second and final year as convention chairman (MFF has a tradition of two-year terms for its chairmen). I didn't accomplish everything I would have liked, but I feel that I was able to keep the convention on its upward trend and overall people seem to be very happy. How do I know? Well, we've got this nifty survey up, and if you take it you can win a free room night at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare! My biggest personal regret from the convention is that it sounds like there was one hell of a party in our suite on Sunday night but I was just so exhausted and done with socializing that I wound up taking a nice relaxing bath and going to bed early. Oh, and rest assured that I will not be disappearing from Midwest Furfest staff! I will be taking over the position of Hotel Liaison for MFF 2010, just as we're going into a new hotel. Whee!

  • Thanksgiving happened. We were pleased to welcome Roho, Genet, Bander, Shawn, Shadowstalker, and Tarin over for Thanksgiving dinner, with a delicious turkey made by [livejournal.com profile] takaza's mom. The food was delicious, and the company was fantastic! Incidentally, if you were at Midwest FurFest, you might have met Dan's mom - she was Staff Liaison, and her job was to go around the convention and make sure that folks who were stuck in one location got an occasional snack and drink and had everything they needed. She was a tremendous help during the convention and I'm so glad she was able to make it!

  • Dan's birthday happened. We rounded up a bunch of folks and went out for dinner at Wildfire Restaurant, which was really excellent. Dan ordered the martini flight (!) and even drank a few of them. Great steaks, and really tasty desserts.

  • A doctor's visit happened. I found out that what I thought was carpal tunnel is in fact tendonitis. This led to a nice cortisone shot (ow) and orders to wear an arm brace for two weeks. I'll be living on Advil for a while, I think.

  • And finally, a brief visit down to Urbana happened. [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff's neighborhood revived the "Candlestick Lane" tradition on short notice, so he threw a small short-notice party to celebrate. We had a lovely time and got to see some great old friends and meet some new folks as well. It was a very pleasant weekend.


So now we're pretty much caught up. What's coming up? Well, we're going to dog-sit this weekend, and hopefully visit either Evanston or Milwaukee to go to The Spice House and do some restocking. We're flying down to South Carolina for Christmas. And of course there's Wuffmeet coming up, for which we really need to start making specific plans for food. December is a trainwreck, as always, and it doesn't look like January will be much better! But we're having fun and all is right with the world, regardless.
duncandahusky: (Tom and Dan)
Today is such a special day. It is the anniversary of the day that Dan ([livejournal.com profile] takaza) came into this world. If I don't say it often enough, Dan: I love you. I love you with all my heart. You are the other half of my soul. Happy birthday!
duncandahusky: (pukey-cute)
What a weekend that was! It was [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd's birthday, and we were determined to celebrate it in style.

[livejournal.com profile] baja_hyena flew into Milwaukee International Airport (MKE) on Thursday night. I picked him up and we came home to a tasty dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes that [livejournal.com profile] takaza had made.

Friday, we were joined by Ford, who arrived just in time for a great steak dinner and a relaxing evening of chatting and relaxing.

On Saturday, the fun really began! Following the surprise (to Ford, anyway) arrival of [livejournal.com profile] r_bear, the first stop was [livejournal.com profile] whirlyball, a crazy combination of bumper cars and lacrosse with a really good bar. We were joined by [livejournal.com profile] perro, [livejournal.com profile] wolphy, [livejournal.com profile] deccadoggy, [livejournal.com profile] tozier_wah, [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah, [livejournal.com profile] calapurr, [livejournal.com profile] r_bear, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, and [livejournal.com profile] snickershusky. We were able to get in six 10-minute games, and we had a blast! We'll definitely be going back, perhaps either during Wuffmeet or Memorial Day next year.

After Whirlyball we stopped for a tasty lunch at Eloise Chicago, then it was over to Nickel City Arcade, where after paying $2 admission you can play any of their 100 games for a nickel (OK, maybe $0.15, sometimes). I got an hour's worth of entertainment on about thirty cents with a couple of games of pinball, an old version of Mortal Kombat, NFL Blitz '99, and Puzzle Fighter. The place was of course overrun with kids on a Saturday afternoon, but it wasn't too bad.

When we wrapped up there several folks took their leave, and it was down to eight - me, Dan, Baja, Ford, Linnaeus, RB, Cheetah, and Cala. We stopped by Linnaeus' place to change and then it was off to dinner at Moto. Oh my god, Moto. )

We got home from Moto at about 12:30 AM, and staggered off to bed.

On Sunday, Ford, Baja, and Dan went off on a Top Secret Fursuit Mission while I stayed around the house to relax a bit and prep for the afternoon's festivities. Eventually we assembled [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet, as well as many of the folks from Whirlyball the day before, for a final get-together dinner to celebrate Ford's birthday. I made Korean burritos and for dessert Dan, inspired by the previous night's meal, made "Deconstructed Apple Pie" - pie dough covered with cinnamon and sugar, baked to a crisp, stewed apples, and homemade cinnamon ice cream. It was a great evening and I hope everyone had as great a time as we did seeing everyone. Alas, Ford had to leave at about 7 PM, but I was glad to see him on the road at a decent hour (he stopped for the night as planned in Lafayette, IN).

This morning I took Baja to the airport and then came into work, only a little bit late. I'm looking forward to a laid-back evening tonight. For the rest of the week, I have a few projects I need to work on around the house, but nothing too crazy. As for this week, there's preparations for the LAFF Pizza and Theater Outing coming up, and the in-person MFF Staff Meeting on Sunday.

I have to say that while this was a whirlwind weekend, getting to spend time with Ford and Baja was really special. They're both great guys and we really enjoy their company. I hope that we'll be able to welcome them to our home again sometime soon!
duncandahusky: (Stay off of my lawn!)
And so my birthday came and went yesterday. A little anti-climactic after last year's trip to Napa Valley, but then again it isn't every year you turn forty. On the bright side I'm now 41 which means, um, it'll be a prime year for me?

Anyway, [livejournal.com profile] takaza gave me my birthday gifts on Tuesday night. First was a book that I had come across and really enjoyed flipping through at the bookstore, The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. Tucked in among the pages was a card labeled "But wait, there's more..." And so there was - a note informing me that I have been signed up for a 6-hour class on knife skills and butchering. This is awesome - while I can get by with knives in the kitchen, I feel a bit clunky with them sometimes. I'm excited that I'll get to find out how to use them right.

Oh, and I really need to get my knives sharpened again (and I know where to go to get them done properly this time).

Last night we celebrated my birthday with dinner with friends. We had a lovely meal with [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] daveqat, and [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl at Emmett's Tavern in Palatine. I had a great selection of beers and the food was quite tasty. The downside is that I paid for those beers later when a nasty bit of reflux kicked in at about 2:30 AM this morning. I didn't really get back to sleep after that and so I've been dragging badly all day. I may hit the grocery store after work, or I may go home and grab a nap. We'll see how it goes, I guess.
duncandahusky: (Wine glass)
I may be a bit tipsy, but I still know that tonight is a solemn occaison: the passing of [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd into the third decade of his existence.

Congratulations, Ford. You old now!
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
Greetings from South Carolina!

I had posted about this under friends-only posts before because I was planning a surprise...and it worked! On Friday I left work at 11:30 AM and drove north to Milwaukee. As I was driving I called my mom and wished her a happy birthday, and apologized for not being there to help celebrate it. I told her I was driving to lunch as we chatted, and then that I had to go because I was "approaching the restaurant". Actually, I was approaching the airport.

I caught a flight on Midwest Airlines from Milwaukee to Atlanta (on a 717, nice comfy wide leather seats, decent food provided - note to [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, their food is designed by the executive chef at Mader's!). Once I got to Atlanta I picked up my rental car, the most stripped-down Chevy Cobalt you have ever seen. No power windows, locks, or anything, and no cruise control. Ugh. Anyway, I drove out through crowded but not crazy traffic and arrived in Anderson, SC, in almost exactly two hours. I pulled up and surprised the heck out of my mom when I got out of the car!

This has been a lovely and relaxing weekend so far. My sister and her two sons are here as well, and we've been having fun swimming, playing video games, and such. For dinner we went to Liberty Hall Inn and Cafe. Their website didn't offer a lot of information, but my sister recommended them. It was a great choice - the dinner was excellent, and our server, Ashlyn, was a real hoot! For dessert we went out to the deck and had a good enough time that one of the other diners came out to see what all the laughing was about, because "y'all are having a lot more fun than my group." After dinner we came home and swam some in the pool and relaxed. It was a very enjoyable evening.

This morning we had kicked around ideas of driving around a bit and maybe even venturing into the North Carolina mountains. Unfortunately the weather is pretty lousy, so we're going to stay near the house instead. After I shower, Mom and I are going to go pick up some breakfast from Panera, and this afternoon I'll probably play my nephews in a few rounds of Boom Blox.

I'll be here until tomorrow; my flight from Atlanta leaves at 7:55 PM. I'll probably head out early in the afternoon and kill some time around Atlanta before going to the airport. Maybe drop off the car and jump downtown on MARTA? We'll see. For now, I'm off to shower, and then breakfast!
duncandahusky: (Tom and Dan)


The cast of characters!

The best pictures from the California Trip )
duncandahusky: (Default)
So just when I thought the birthday fun was wrapping up with our return from California, we had one more night of entertainment. Courtesy of a very thoughtful gift from [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I were treated to a tasty steak dinner at the King's Wharf at the Marriott Lincolnshire, followed by great seats at the Marriott Theatre to see opening night of Les Miserables.

It was quite a large production for a relatively small theater, and had the additional unique quality of being staged in the round. Since Dan and I are both geeks, we appreciated the production values, the quality of the music and amplification, and the entrances and exits through the audiences. It was an awesome show. Thanks Stevie!
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
The last day's pictures are here.

Monday was The Big Day, my birthday. Honestly, I couldn't think of anything we could do to top the two days prior, but I was looking forward to seeing what was in store. The day's plans were a mystery to me, (except for dinner), so I had no idea what to expect.

The first stop of the day had us up and out of the house by 9 AM. Following a 45-minute drive to Santa Rosa (and a little bit of confusion in directions), we arrived at our next stop, one that was a genuine surprise to me: The national headquarters of Canine Companions for Independence. [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus' mother has raised several puppies for CCI, so when he found out we would be nearby, he suggested a tour there. Really, this was a most amazing and humbling experience, and I am so glad that we went there.

CCI trains and provides assistance dogs to disabled children and adults, all at no charge. They use black labs and golden retrievers exclusively, and the level of care and training that goes into each dog is simply astonishing. We got to take a tour of their grounds and offices, and see how they train the dogs after the puppy raisers initial training, lasting
6-8 months. This is followed by 6-9 months of training at the CCI facility before the dogs are paired with a client, either as a service or companion team (opening doors, picking up dropped items, etc.), a hearing team (alerting the client of a ringing telephone, etc.), or a facility team (therapy dogs). I was extremely impressed with the facility and with the friendly people who worked and volunteered there.
After the tour it was back to Napa. We grabbed a tasty lunch at a local burger joint then it was on to the next surprise: a day spa! It was quite delightful: I got a 75-minute massage followed by a pedicure; [livejournal.com profile] takaza got a facial, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet each got pedicures and Lydia also got a manicure. Even Paul, who got pulled away by work for a few hours, was able to get a nice paraffin hand treatment. My massage was divine, and when Paul rejoined us he brought a bottle of wine for everyone to enjoy as well. Our manicurist, Babs, was delightful and we had a lot of fun bantering and hanging out.

After everyone was properly relaxed and such, we stopped by Oxbow Market to search for some good local olive oil. We found a couple bottles that were quite delicious. We also stopped by a very nice wine and cheese bar and had a couple pints of beer, which were quite tasty. We were quite amused to chat with the bartender there and find that she was from the south side of Chicago.

We ended the day with dinner at Bouchon Bistro. My food was quite outstanding: I started with an appetizer of cassoulet with duck confit and garlic sausage, followed by the Gigot d'Agneau (roasted leg of lamb served with flageolet beans and a thyme jus) and for dessert a delicious creme caramel. Brendan's boudin blanc was excellent, and the desserts, especially Dan's dark chocolate mousse and Lydia's blood orange pot de creme, were outstanding. Unfortunately, the service was only mediocre (long waits, confused orders), and Dan and Lydia's steak frites were quite lacking for the cost. Still, it was a great experience and I am glad we went. It was a wonderful way to finish off my birthday.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Yesterday (Tuesday) we packed everything up early, leaving the house at 7 AM, and drove down to San Francisco International (by way of the San Mateo Bridge, on Babs' advice, which I'm sure saved us some headaches). We made it there in plenty of time, though our flight turned out to be two hours late departing (one hour of that spent sitting on the tarmac). We got into O'Hare at about 7 PM, and picked up our luggage just in time to miss the Metra train home. Rather than waiting the 90 minutes until the next train, we opted to catch a cab, and I'm glad we did. We saw Brendan and Lydia off at about 9:30 PM, and got to bed at 11 PM.

So here I am, back at work, and quite exhausted. I'm told we have one more experience this evening, courtesy of a certain panda. That should be quite fun as well!
duncandahusky: (Mmmm...beer)
So we started out the day somewhat slowly. As everyone worked on waking up and showering, I drove over to Napa Valley Coffee Roastery and picked up caffeine for all of us addicts. We were joined shortly afterwards by [livejournal.com profile] rasslor, [livejournal.com profile] brophey, and [livejournal.com profile] shadowolf. Lunch was the first item on the day's agenda, so being that this was many of our group's first time in California, we had to stop by a restaurant that had the seal of approval of both Alton Brown and Anthony Bourdain: In-n-Out Burger, conveniently located just a few miles away from our rental house.

It was...well, it was a fast food restaurant. I'm thinking that my order would need a little tweaking to find what on their menu really appealed to me; the burger with everything included a monstrously huge slab of onion that unfortunately made it seem like an onion sandwich with a side of burger. The fries were quite tasty, though, even if I didn't order them "Animal style".

After lunch we drove up California Route 29 to St. Helena to the Culinary Institute of America - Greystone. The huge, imposing building was beautiful! I was also amused at the trees that were heavy with lemons just outside the entrance. Inside, we browsed through their gift shop and I got a latte as we killed time before the cooking demonstration. We spent an hour watching the chef make a Valentine chocolate torte with a raspberry coulis. I'll admit I didn't learn much new, but it was fun to see some of the techniques I'm familiar with and hear the chef touch on some of my favorite authors (like Harold McGee!). After the demonstration everyone got to try the torte, and it was rather tasty.

After the demonstration there was more browsing through the gift shop (and, I admit, making notes for later Amazon purchases) and admiring the herb gardens. Then it was time to hit a few wineries. Since it was right across the street, we decided to make Charles Krug Winery. After tasting several wines, we picked up a Sauvignon Blanc, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Zinfandel. On the recommendation of the Krug staff, our next stop was Peju Winery. This was a fantastic experience - we had a good group of people doing the tasting with us, and the guy pouring the wines not only knew his stuff, he knew how to keep things entertaining. Paul, Brendan, Bob and I tasted six different wines, and he even did a small vertical tasting to allow us to compare some of the wines. We picked up a bottle of Provence (a nice red/white blend), two vintages of Syrah (including a 2003 that Brendan thinks may have been their last bottle) and a Cabernet Sauvignon. (During the tasting, Lydia relaxed in the car and Dan, Mike, and Ray hung out and enjoyed the lovely weather.

After the tasting, we were all pretty tired (and some of us a wee bit tipsy), so we returned to the rental house. We dispatched Paul, Mike, and Ray to pick up munchies while Bob and I walked the two blocks to the Foothill Grille to get a copy of their menu to see what we could order for carryout. Once we got everyone back, we called in a rather complex eight-entree order that they nailed precisely, and we had a great evening of chatting, noshing, and killing two bottles of wine :-) It was a fantastic evening and I had a blast.

More to come tomorrow!
duncandahusky: (Tom and Dan)
I'll have a writeup of things later, but for now, here's the pictures!
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
So as I said, I had some strong suspicions. And I was right :-)

I left work at 2 PM and got home to find that [livejournal.com profile] takaza had packed everything up and was ready to go. [livejournal.com profile] genet and [livejournal.com profile] roho showed up shortly after, ostensibly to ride to the airport with us since Roho had to work in California. We took Metra in to O'Hare and picked up our boarding passes at American Airlines. I figured we were headed to the West Coast, which meant that our options were most likely either San Francisco or Seattle. I checked the flights and saw that the next flight to Seattle was leaving in an hour; given that Dan wasn't hyperventilating, I knew that wasn't our destination. Lo and behold, our boarding passes said San Francisco. Ta daa!

After passing through Security, we met up with Roho and genet again who, what a surprise, were on the same flight as us! I voiced my skepticism, and they admitted that yes, they would be joining us! As we browsed around through the airport bookstore who should we run into but [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus. He would be joining us as well. We happened to be joined for a while by [livejournal.com profile] calapurr, who was in transit through O'Hare and waiting to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah, but he was just by to chat. Our flight was only a half-hour late (which is saying something for O'Hare these days) and the three and a half hour flight was uneventful. We had a bit of difficulty getting the rental car (we wouldn't all fit in the Explorer they first offered us, but we were able to swap over to a Saturn Outlook). After that was a rather harrowing drive for Dan through San Francisco and over the Bay Bridge (traffic was light since it was 11 PM, but it was a bit twisty and narrow through some of the construction on US 101). After about an hour's drive, we arrived at our destination, a lovely rental house in the town of Napa. We went to bed shortly after, and now we have company and I need to wrap this up :-)

More to come (with pictures!) later...
duncandahusky: (Ky00t Duncan)
And here we are, Friday at last!

I thought the week might take forever (subjectively) as it always does right before a vacation, but this turned out not to be the case. Having piles of projects at work helps!

So the big snow came and went on Wednesday; in the end we got a hair over 12 inches. The roads were a wreck yesterday morning, so much so that when I went to drop [livejournal.com profile] takaza off at the train station what is normally a less-than-five-minute drive took 15 minutes and we missed his train. Since the schedule on the North Central line sucks, his next shot at a train in was two hours later. I went in to work, then left at 8:45 AM to take him to the 9:18 train. Yeah, not even close. What is normally an eight-minute drive took close to twenty, and when I picked him up and saw the line of cars on Hainesville Road, I knew there was no way we'd make his train. Rather than wait two hours until the next train, I dropped him off at the Grayslake station and he caught the Fox Lake train in, again having to take a taxi from Glenview (that cost even more than last time!).
Unfortunately, as a consequence of not getting in until just before noon, he didn't make it home last night until around 9 PM.

And so we have this weekend. As I mentioned before, Dan is dragging me off on a four-day trip to celebrate my 40th birthday. I still have no idea where we're going, though I have some suspicions. I'm sure it will be fun and memorable. They say that over the years a couple tends to get more like each other, and watching Dan fret about planning and worrying about the trip, I have to laugh. Normally he's unflappable and easygoing; being so nervous about things, he reminds me of...me. But that's exactly why I'm not worried, because I know I'm in good hands :-) That doesn't mean the excitment isn't getting to me, though - I woke up this morning at 3:45 AM with a touch of reflux and after a half-hour couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up. I hope we're not going to be out super-late tonight! Anyway, I intend to bring the camera along and be Mr. Annoying Shutterbug (if I can remember!) so hopefully I'll have lots of pictures to show off when we get back.

Now if only 2 PM would get here so I can get out of here!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
None of this makes a coherent single entry, so you get a bunch of random stuff:

I just finished a quick meeting with my boss. Granted, he technically only had two months of me being an employee of $employer (in addition to the nine moths prior working the exact same job as a contractor), but he gave me an excellent annual review and is very happy with my work. This makes me positively giddy :-) Speaking of work-related things, I had lunch earlier today with [livejournal.com profile] tozier_wah, which was very cool since he just works across the campus from me. We need to make that a weekly thing or something. We had a great discussion about Midwest FurFest and I think I might have something to keep him busy during the con this year :-)

Yesterday I was all virtuous and stuff and went ahead and got my voting for next week's primary out of the way. It was very cool that the Lake County website had a sample of the exact ballot that I would be presented with so I was able to do a little research on the local candidates and make some informed decisions. Plus I had a nice chat with the poll workers, who were very nice folks.

We're having [livejournal.com profile] takaza's family over on Saturday evening, along with some friends, for a night of gaming. I'm working up a nice menu too - maybe French Onion Soup, and roasted chicken. I think we need some more wine - perhaps a trip to Wine Knows is in order. We also need to do some thorough cleaning of the place, which is pretty standard before company. It's one of the reasons I like to have company over with some regularity: left to our own devices, we keep the clutter to a minimum, but I need a reason to get really motivated to deep clean and take a toothbrush to the baseboards :-)

Apparently, I'm going on a trip in a week and a half. I say "apparently" because, well, I don't know where I'm going. You see, Dan has put together some kind of trip for us to celebrate my fortieth birthday, and all I know is that we're flying off...somewhere (he won't say where)...for a four-day vacation. About all I know is that it's domestic, since neither of us have valid passports, but other than that I have no clue. I also know that no amount of begging for clues from Dan will yield any further information, so I probably appear annoyingly incurious, but I'm very content in the knowledge that Dan knows me well, and whatever he has put together will be truly amazing. And whether it's amazing or not, I'll have my love there with me, so that makes it amazing in itself. (I'm sure he's made all kinds of posts in his journal about this that I can't see, and all of you who have read and heard about this from him are dying of laughter. Hey, I'm OK with that. I'll just sit here in quiet anticipation :-)

Oh, and one last note: I would note that one of my favorite coffees, Dark Roast Sumatran, from one of my favorite coffee providers, Alterra Coffee, is on sale at 10% off. With shipping by Priority Mail only $4.60, if you order a couple of pounds (like I usually do) it's comparable to buying coffee off the shelf from some of the higher-end providers. (I also recently discovered the Brazil Traditional Dry, which is simply outstanding as well).
duncandahusky: (Bruno)
I started the day feeling completely out of kilter. Long lists of stuff to get done for MFF and for work, weaving in and out of each other, all seemingly insurmountable. After spending the morning across the campus and having gotten a very tasty chicken avocado wrap for lunch, things are looking much better. There's still a ton of stuff that I have to get done, but it's no longer quite so scary.

We had a very enjoyable weekend. Friday evening we had a lovely dinner with [livejournal.com profile] genet (unfortunately, [livejournal.com profile] roho's soul was still being consumed by his employer), then got to relax and unwind a bit. Following a lazy Saturday morning, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I did a bit of cooking for [livejournal.com profile] daveqat's birthday party - Dan made cheezy mashed potatoes with bacon, and I made a warm potato-bacon salad (which was supposed to be a warm salad with bacon and Jerusalem artichoke, but alas, Garden Fresh had no Jerusalem artichokes in stock). For the bacon trifecta, I made pig candy, which was served with brie and sliced pears. Most people who tried it really liked it. The party on Saturday night was quite a lot of fun, and much booze was consumed.

On Sunday we met [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff and [livejournal.com profile] perro for lunch at Osteria di Tramonto (yum!) then gave Perro a tour of the new MFF hotel. As he mentioned in his entry today, it's going to be tricky: we have more space to work with, but the way that the space is divided up makes things rather tricky. I think that Perro will do a great job. By the way, Perro has also been named my Vice-Chair for this year. While traditionally that has been a role for the next chairman, in this case I don't care about that. I'm more interested in making sure that we have someone who can reliably answer questions and act in the chairman's role when I am unavailable.

Next up was the first MFF staff meeting of the year. I didn't quite get it in under an hour, but I was close. We covered a lot of ground, and got a lot accomplished. Staff members, if you didn't see the minutes on the staff mailing list, they have also been posted to the staff area of the Midwest FurFest forums. Sunday evening I got a bit of unwelcome news that is going to take some time to figure out how to deal with. Part of the fun of being con chair, I guess.

Finally, I just finished registering for Furry Connection North. We're still working on the accommodations, but we should have that nailed down in the next few days. Woohoo!
duncandahusky: (Default)
I had all kinds of plans Friday of the wonderful cooking I was going to do when I got home from work, but as the day wore on...not so much. Instead, we opted for a simple burrito dinner and spent the evening relaxing and making plans for Saturday.

Saturday, on the other hand, things were hopping! We got a relatively early start (11 AM) and headed north towards Antioch. We got sidetracked, though, by the realization that we needed lunch and we needed to line up food for New Years Eve. How fortunate that we were going by one place that would provide a solution to both problems: Scott Dogs! Following a delicious lunch (I had the pulled pork BBQ sandwich), we sat down with Scott's aunt, who runs the catering business, and we got a quick education in planning a catered event. Our original plans were for three appetizers, three entrees, three side dishes, and two desserts - all for $15 per person.

She was nice and didn't openly laugh at us, but we had a great conversation about buffet psychology, serving portions, and the virtues of having too much food vs. too little food. We scaled things back a bit in terms of options and upped the number of portions, and we only came in a little over budget (mostly due to taxes and delivery fees, which were still very reasonable considering they were planning on being closed that day and will be coming in expressly to make our order and bring it to us). So now we'll be serving roast pork and stuffing and Chicken Vesuvio, with garden salad and pasta Alfredo on the side. For dessert, we'll have homemade apple strudel and three-layer chocolate cake. Yum!

It was a great experience and extremely educational, but unfortunately also took a couple of hours we hadn't budgeted for. We scrambled to stop by Antioch Packing House and pick up stuff to put in our shiny new freezer, but had to pass on Antioch Liquors, where we had planned on buying champagne for the New Year's toast. Following a quick stop by the house to drop off our meaty purchases, it was off southwards to Schweppes, my favorite restaurant supply store. We shopped around a bit there and got some items we needed for Wuffmeet, as well as some much-needed items for our kitchen (like replacing our old, scarred cutting boards with nice new color-coded cutting boards). It wasn't a cheap visit, but we got a lot of very useful items.

From there it was down to Yorktown Mall, where we met [livejournal.com profile] aeto for a showing of The Golden Compass. Many others have reviewed it, but my thumbnail version: great cast, wonderful effects and scenery, nifty armored bears, but...it seemed to lack an essential something. I'd give it maybe a 7 out of 10, which is a heck of a lot better than the 5 out of 10 I'd give Enchanted. Still, it was a fun way to kill a couple of hours so I won't complain. Afterwards we grabbed dinner over at an Irish place in Glen Ellyn (the bangers and mash were quite tasty, though Dan's burger was less so). The evening was spent at [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph's place, celebrating Wolphy's birthday; Perro documented that disturbingly well already, though.

When we left, we got to chip our car out of the ice that had encased it (gotta love freezing rain), then make a very short drive over to [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr's place, where they were kind enough to put us up for the night. Following an excellent night's sleep and a pleasant morning chatting, we had an excellent, if rather heavy, lunch over at Juicy-O. Oooh, so good. Then we all headed over to Sam's Wine to do the booze shopping we had skipped the day before. An excellent cava was procured for New Year's Eve, as well as a number of other tasty drinkables. We parted ways from the kitties and drove home to relax and recuperate from a busy weekend.
The one thing we did accomplish that evening though was to divide, bag, seal, and freeze our meat purchases of the day before, so now we have 10 pounds of hamburger patties, three one-pound packages of bacon, and a 2.5 pound package of stew meat in our freezer, with more to come. I'll be running to Target this week for more Foodsaver bags, though!

As for the coming week, I'll be finally getting back to making that lamb, lentil, and tomato stew for New Year's, as well as a chili con carne. Oh, and I have to work on Saturday (boo!) but in exchange I get Monday the 24th off (yay!). I expect that will be a pretty laid-back workday, though.
duncandahusky: (Oh really?)
Another birthday, another trip around the sun. Another year together, and another year of making me the happiest guy in the world. Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] takaza, my darling husband. I love you so much!
duncandahusky: (Stay off of my lawn!)
As many of you noted (and thank you all!) yesterday was my 39th birthday. I was expecting something kind of low-key from what [livejournal.com profile] takaza had talked about: a quiet lunch out with the two of us, a spot of shopping, and dinner with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet. Little did I know that Dan had been working behind my back on other plans!

We headed out at about 11:30 Sunday morning. Our first stop was Lovin' Oven Cakery, where Dan picked up a birthday cake for me (I wasn't allowed to see it though). After a so-so lunch (Dan's first choice was closed, unfortunately), we did some grocery shopping, then went over to a bowling alley/arcade/pool place. All the alleys were booked and the arcade games were lackluster, but they did have a Pirates of the Caribbean pinball game that I was able to run pretty well, as we got a succession of free games out of it. Dan suggested playing some pool, but the smoke from the bar was getting to me and irritating my still-recuperating sore throat, so I was more inclined to leave. Dan said we had to stop one more place, and directed me to Culver's, where we split an Oreo concrete. Then we headed home. I was expecting to relax for a bit, then start brining the chicken for dinner and start other dinner preparations. We pulled into the garage, unloaded the car and started up the stairs. I got as far as the living room and heard

"SURPRISE!"

I looked over and stuffed into the living room were [livejournal.com profile] datahawk, [livejournal.com profile] emrldgirrl, [livejournal.com profile] wiktowasichu, [livejournal.com profile] rustitobuck, [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah, [livejournal.com profile] posicat, [livejournal.com profile] feren, [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon, [livejournal.com profile] moryssa, [livejournal.com profile] brianblackberry, [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn, [livejournal.com profile] luckytheevildog, [livejournal.com profile] nymphara, and Scott.

Yep, they got me. Fooled completely and thoroughly, and I'm not unhappy about it a bit! It turns out that Dan had been planning a surprise party for the last three weeks, and had pulled it off flawlessly. The rest of the evening was a blur of great conversations with friends, some very large peach-pomegranate cosmopolitans, pizza, incredibly rich chocolate cake, and a very silly (and large!) game of Apples to Apples. I received some lovely gifts, and I had a truly delightful time. Thanks to everyone who attended! I'm so lucky to have such great friends, and even luckier to have such a wonderful and caring husband. I love so much, Dan!

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