duncandahusky: (Cooking - Kitchen Aid)
I could bore you with the long drawn-out tale of how I was captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia, made friends with the captain and wound up entertaining Bedouins in a Yemeni oasis before I was able to escape to Belgium, where I subsisted on crackers, aged cheese, and fine Trappist ales before stowing away on a transatlantic cruise ship and talked my way into a ride back to Chicago in an art-car covered with Hello Kitty dolls, but that would be tedious and wholly fabricated.

Instead, let's talk about what I've been doing the last few weeks.

The weekend of August 21st, I joined [livejournal.com profile] aureth, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] roho for what we termed the "Milwaukee Booze Tour". We started out with the Sprecher Brewery tour. We've done it before, but this time we paid extra for the "Reserve Tasting": 15 beers paired with 15 cheeses. Not much beer (a shot glass of each), but most of the pairings were good, and a few were excellent (the Scotch ale paired with a whisky-infused cheddar was stellar).

From there we grabbed a quick bite at a little dive Mexican joint, Conejito's, then walked around Milwaukee Public Market and did a bit of shopping at The Spice House.

Then it was off to Great Lakes Distillery for a very interesting tour and tasting. The $6 cocktails before the tour were nice. The specifics of their distilling process were fascinating to me as a chemical engineer, and we had great fun sampling their various products. My personal verdicts: Their gin is wonderful, their vodka so-so, the maple-spiced rum kind of vile. The grappa was watery, the kirsch was...well, kirsch (the only think I know to do with kirsch is spike fondue with it). And their absinthes were overhyped. I'll buy pastis and be happy.

I was only slightly tipsy after the tasting, but fortunately Genet was our designated driver. For dinner we went to Crawdaddy's, which was apparently a really great place back in 2002. Alas, it's 2010 and the place is well past its prime. Roho left a scathing review on Yelp, and I agree with every bit of it.

Last weekend I felt the urge to cook. Since I have a lot of cookbooks but don't use them nearly enough, I decided to pull some recipes from there. We were joined by Aureth, Roho, and Genet, and I made a baby lettuce and arugula salad with peaches and almonds, and a summer vegetable gratin (with zucchini, summer squash, Japanese eggplant, and Roma tomatoes), both from Ad Hoc At Home.

For the entree, I made Anthony Bourdain's pan-roasted pork chops with Sauce Charcruterie (a brown sauce made with onions, demi glace, mustard, and cornichons) from the Les Halles Cookbook. For dessert, Dan made a delicious fresh yellow watermelon sorbet that was amazing when mixed with Grey Goose vodka :-) The salad was pretty good, but the flavors didn't quite meld. The gratin was amazing and I would absolutely make it again. The pork was OK, but I really liked the sauce more.

The big news this week is that we got shiny new phones, the Sprint Samsung Epic 4G. We're still getting used to the quirks of Android, but after less than 24 hours I can still say that they are far superior to our Palm Pres. More on these as we've had time to play with them!
duncandahusky: (Mmmm...beer)
I need another weekend to recover from my weekend!

We started the fun off on Friday night. [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet carpooled with us down to Downer's Grove for dinner. We had some time to kill, so we stopped by Binny's Beverage Depot to look around and ran into [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus! While there we were entertained by a gentleman who was offering samples of various spirits that he distributes, including Vana Tallinn, an Estonian liqueur. We were a little so-so at first, but then he had some cocktails available to sample showing how good it was for mixing. In fact, it was fantastic for mixing, especially the Canton Cannon: Vana Tallinn, vodka, fresh ginger, and just a touch of Sriracha hot sauce. It was delicious! Between us, our group bought three bottles of Vana Tallinn. Now that's a good salesman!

Dinner was a nice little shindig put together by Rayven and Nihaler at Chama Gaucha. I have to say that this is one of the better iterations of the Brazilian Steakhouse type of restaurants - excellent service, really good-quality meats, and a decent price. I was impressed that once Dan told them he was allergic to garlic, not only did the waiters only offer him non-garlic-containing meats, they made a special skewer of chicken breasts just for him. This place is definitely worth going back to. When we got home I had to head off to bed, but Dan stayed up until [livejournal.com profile] kellicjtiger and [livejournal.com profile] uberhill arrived at about 1:30 AM.

Things were understandably a little slow to get started the next morning. We finally got out of the house and met up with Roho and Genet for brunch at Las Vegas Restaurant. We walked around downtown a bit afterward, then succumbed to the siren call of Antioch Packing House, our favorite local butcher (OMG MEAT!). Steaks were purchased, and then a bit more booze and grocery shopping followed (and once again it was proven that Garden Fresh Market is an evil place for those who make impulse purchases). That evening, we were joined by Linnaeus and a had great night of food, conversation, laughter, and boozamahol followed (we, um, killed about 80% of the 1-liter bottle of Vana Tallinn). It was really a whole lot of fun!

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. The meeting was nice and short (as they typically are this time of year), but we had an extremely useful tour of the innards of the hotel afterward from one of the convention services managers. A small group of us went to Potbelly Sandwiches for dinner afterward, then we headed home. The evening was nicely low-key after such a raucous weekend, with Kellic and Charles working on some Geek Partnership Society work and us rotting our brains with the Survivor finale (which we watched in high-speed: 2 hours of TV in about 20 minutes, woo!).

This week we're going to be doing a bit of housecleaning and getting ready for Memorial Day fun (more info on that coming very soon!). We need to take Buddy to the vet tomorrow to have his teeth cleaned and a bump removed from his leg that he has licked to the point that something needs to be done about it - it doesn't seem to hurt him, it's just an annoyance, I suspect. We'll make sure that the vet microchips him too, since it doesn't appear to have been done before. Given that they'll have to put Buddy under to do the first two items, I'm sure he'll be a bit of a mess when we pick him up tomorrow night. Fun times for doggie parents!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
So, we've finally settled into some kind of normalcy around the house, for some value of normal :-)

The big push last weekend was to finish off the last of the house projects: Hanging various art around the house, installing the blackout shades in the master bedroom, and installing the undercabinet lighting in the kitchen.

The art was easy enough, though since I'm an engineer it involved a lot of calculations, levels, and weight measurements (to gauge the proper mounting hook). I'm pleased to say that it looks great!

I installed the first blackout shade last week, and it's a very tight fit. The instructions are not well-written, unfortunately, and we found a couple of things that would have made the finished product look a bit nicer. Anyway, [livejournal.com profile] takaza (who had been running a fever and feeling lousy most of the week) took the initiative on Friday and installed the shades on the other two windows, aided by what we learned from the first window. They look great and are very effective, though for maximum effect I'm going to need to caulk all four sides of each window.

The undercabinet lighting was...yeah. Dan did a great job installing the track for the lights. I demonstrated that I am a chemical engineer and not an electrical engineer when I used the wrong kind of connector and wound up shorting across the two 12 V leads of the transformer for about 10 seconds, effectively frying it. One transformer later, I'm pleased to report that the lighting looks fantastic and really completes the look of the kitchen.

On Sunday we welcomed [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell, and [livejournal.com profile] magicpaw over for dinner, the online Midwest FurFest staff meeting, and to watch the season premiere of The Amazing Race. Dan and I made chipotle-marinated pork tenderloin (exceptionally spicy, but tasty) and butternut squash risotto, and Dan made an angel food cake from scratch. Continuing our fun with 10 Cane Rum, Dan showed off a new concoction that included watermelon puree, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice, 10 Cane Rum, and club soda. It was yummy, and it packed a punch!

We need to do a little more work around the house, but then we'll be ready to welcome [livejournal.com profile] baja_hyena and [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd this weekend to celebrate Ford's birthday. Dan has cooked up quite an itinerary, and I think it's going to be a very memorable birthday for him! :-)

Oh yeah, and have you sent your RSVP for Too Much Light in yet?
duncandahusky: (Thoughtful)
Oh my goodness, that was crazy.

As most of you already know, this past weekend was Moving Weekend for us. We have moved all of five miles to the west to the lovely village of Volo, Illinois. Here's how it went down...

On Friday [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I took care of some last-minute packing after work then relaxed a bit until [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd showed up shortly after midnight.

Saturday morning the alarm went off all-too-early at 7 AM. We dropped Dan off to pick up the rental truck, then Ford and I dropped off the TV at the new place, picked up some doughnuts at Lovin' Oven, and sandwich fixings at Garden Fresh. By the time we got back, the truck was already half-loaded! The next few hours were a blur, but I am amazed and gratified to report that the following wonderful and amazing people helped move everything out from the old place and into the new place: [livejournal.com profile] brianblackberry, Ford, [livejournal.com profile] fuzzbear, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] grabstein_69, Ian, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] posicat, [livejournal.com profile] quickcasey, [livejournal.com profile] roho. [livejournal.com profile] shy_matsi, [livejournal.com profile] silverwind, Takaza's Mother, Takaza's Sister, [livejournal.com profile] tozier_wah, [livejournal.com profile] wolfbrotherjoe. We couldn't have done it without any of you. Thanks, everyone!

We wrapped up the move at about 5 PM. After everyone had rested a bit (and regrettably several folks had to take their leave), pizza arrived from Giordano's. [livejournal.com profile] aureth and [livejournal.com profile] jenwolf joined us after a long day of drywalling at their place, as well. There followed a memorable evening of friends, boozahol (who knew dirty martinis with pickled okra could be so good?), and much laughter. Highlights included Roho laughing until he couldn't breathe over a certain story involving skidmarks, Ford macking on Dan's mom (and getting shot down spectacularly), and a several things that probably shouldn't be committed to a public posting :-)

Sunday morning started slowly (for some reason...). Poor Ford didn't get much sleep the night before so I made sure he got at least enough sleep to function (though not quite enough, evidently). Once he was up and about we went out and had a nice lunch at a local Mexican joint, then did a bit of fake fur shopping at Jo Ann Fabrics. We stopped by the house to find Roho and Genet had come over with their Samoyed, Briana. We hung out there for a bit then Ford and I went over to the old place to pick up a few things that had been left behind; looking around the place and comparing it to what we're moving in to, I'm left with the indelible impression that our old place was, um, a bit of dump :-)

Ford hit the road from there, and I came back to the house and spent the afternoon putting up blinds in the living room. Unfortunately, as I was stepping around hanging the brackets, I stepped on one of the sectional sofa pieces wrong and it broke :( In talking with the guy who sold it to us, it'll be cheaper to replace it then repair it (and the quality will be better), so I ordered the replacement today. Ouch. Anyway, two of the blinds are up and I picked up the third at Home Depot during lunch; I'll be putting that up tonight.

We're awash in boxes, the garage is so full of stuff that we can't even park one car in there let alone two, only half the windows are covered, and there's no art on the walls. But you know what? It's ours. We have a home again.

Oh yes, and what usually follows moving? That's right, a housewarming party! September and October are a bit busy for us, but it looks like the best time for a housewarming party is going to be Saturday, October 24th. Look for more information as the time gets closer!
duncandahusky: (Tom and Dan)
And now, your Memorial Day weekend wrap-up. Holy cow, what a weekend. How good was it? It's Wednesday and I'm still feeling worn out! It was all worth it, though.

First there was Friday, and dinner with friends... )

On Saturday, it was time to party! )

Sunday brought brunch, games, and booze! )

On Monday, I was on a boat, y'all... )

Yesterday and today have been tough - things quickly got thorny at work, and on top of that I'm still drained from the weekend. I'll recover (eventually), and things seem to be improving slightly at work - that helps. I'm looking forward to a nice, quiet weekend with nothing planned. Both Dan and I could use a quiet day or two at home doing a whole lot of nothing!
duncandahusky: (Wagging Husky)
Here we are, mid-week, and I haven't even talked about the past weekend which was all kinds of awesome? Well, let's fix that.

On Saturday, it was lunch with friends and a fun evening... )

Sunday, it was time for cooking lessons! )

Oh, and the title for this post? I've been reading too much of Dean's Comics Booth lately...
duncandahusky: (Mmmm...beer)
Mmm, PDT's Bacon-Infused Old Fashioned.

I totally need to make this.
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
What a great weekend! The skies were sunny, the temperatures were above 60 degrees (F), which made it cause to at least open a few windows and air out the house a bit to celebrate the impending spring (geeky meteorological note: This was the first weekend in Chicago in six months where the highs on both Saturday and Sunday have been over 60 degrees, according to Tom Skilling).

As I mentioned on Friday, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah attended the Cubs game while I slaved over a hot computer at work (there's some neat tales to be told from that, but I'll let Dan tell that story). After work, I drove down and met them and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr, then from there we met up with [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph, then headed over to [livejournal.com profile] kodi_pup's swanky new digs, where we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] invncble.

After some hemming and hawing (and being assisted by Cheetah's forethought to bring his EVDO-equipped laptop with OpenTable bookmarked), we decided to head down to Emmett's Ale House. Tasty beer was had, and my burger with portabellas, sautéed onions, and Boursin was divine. The company was excellent as well! Afterwards we retired back to Cheetah and Cala's to watch Ratatouille, but Dan and I had to bow out early due to the long drive home. What a great evening, though!

On Saturday we celebrated the weather by getting out and indulging in some retail therapy. Highlights included some wardrobe expansion at Berman's, some tasty ice cream, picking up some lovely rosemary-mint bath products, finally spending my Williams Sonoma gift card (thanks [livejournal.com profile] colliedoc!), and making our second round of purchases for a certain party next weekend. Oh, and getting sleazed on by the used car Sleep Number bed salesman. I'm afraid it will take more than just sweet-talking to get us to buy at $2,500 - $3,000 bed.

We were tired after all that running around, so we opted to go home and crash in lieu of further socializing. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] tozier_wah and Perro for the invite, though!

The weather on Sunday was every bit as lovely as Saturday's. Following a nice and relaxing morning and a quick grocery run, [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus came over for some very enjoyable grilling. Nothing complicated, just burgers and brats and grilled veggies, but it was all delicious. The evening flew by and we had a lot of fun. It's so nice to know that the grilling season will soon be on us. My to-do list for smoking includes ribs, pork shoulder, brisket, and chicken or turkey. I can't wait!

This week is going to be pretty low-key. Since we're heading out to Ann Arbor on Friday, we're going to stay in, keep costs down, and get ready for the weekend. I've got a couple of statistics classes on Wednesday and Thursday, so this is effectively a two-day work week for me, which is quite lovely. I've got a rather extended to-do list of stuff for MFF tonight, though, so there's plenty to keep me occupied at work and at home!
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: (Ky00t Duncan)
What didn't we do last weekend? Well, we didn't drive any great distance, or fly, or deal with hordes of people. We opted instead for a quieter (and less expensive!) approach to the holiday. As my previous short posts hinted, the weekend had its ups and downs, but it all worked out well in the end.

After work on Friday, we did some quick cleaning around the house in preparation for the weekend's company, then grabbed dinner at Scott Dogs and did a bit of shopping at Sam's Club and Garden Fresh Market.

On Saturday, following a trip back to the podiatrist, who did things that not everyone may be interested in reading about ) The good news is that there's not nearly as much pain as from past procedures, and I'm not gimping around at all. However, I did have to keep my foot elevated on Saturday (as much as possible, anyway) so I was pretty much sidelined while [livejournal.com profile] takaza's family was visiting. We had a lot of fun, though, and played a number of games. Dan cooked up some delicious burritos that everyone enjoyed. I retired on the early side, at 11:30 PM; apparently the party continued another two hours after that.

On Sunday we met [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet for brunch at Scott Dogs (we've seen their Sunday breakfasts advertised and figured it was time to try it). The food was mostly good, thought he service was a bit slow. I could swear that the hollandaise sauce on my eggs benedict was actually a chicken-based white gravy with lemon added, though. Hollandaise sauce should not taste chicken-y, really. Trust me on this. Fortunately, everything else was good and we'd definitely go back, assuming I could ever get Dan up that early again on a Sunday :-) Our original intention had been to go see Stardust after lunch, but nobody was really motivated, so instead we caravanned to Antioch where, following a supply stop at Antioch Liquors, R & G picked up their floofy brainless Samoyed, Briana, and then we headed back to our place.

As mentioned in my previous post, an epic afternoon and evening, of mixed drinks, wine, good company, good television, and amazing steaks did ensue. At some point [livejournal.com profile] colliedoc joined us, and we insisted that he partake until he finally consented to have the steak and oven fried we saved for him and had a little something to drink. We stayed up surprisingly late and had a great time chatting.

Straif had to leave early on Monday, but the rest of us enjoyed a tasty baked French toast casserole with maple syrup for breakfast. Afterwards, Roho, Genet, and Briana took off for home, leaving Dan and I to relax for the rest of the day. We napped a bit, and then enjoyed a quiet evening of snuggling on the sofa and watching Tivo. It was a terrific end to a terrific weekend.

And now we're into the rest of the week. I believe we may be joining friends for a Thai dinner on Friday, then on Saturday we'll be helping folks move, then on Sunday is the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. At least we have a few days to recuperate before the upcoming busy weekend!
duncandahusky: (Looking Up)
What a fantastic weekend! And yes, [livejournal.com profile] sumatrae, this is another post all about food :-)

On Friday, we met up with [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] feren, [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon, and a host of other folks from R&G's gaming group for dinner at Bombay City Indian Restaurant in Gurnee. [livejournal.com profile] takaza was pushing his boundaries a bit, but I was really happy that 1.) he was willing to try it, and 2.) he really liked it! The restaurant manager(?) approached our group of 14 and suggested we try ordering family style, and since there were a number of neophytes he suggested a set of entrees, including chicken tikka masala, rogan josh (lamb in a tomato and onion sauce), lamb badam pasanda (lamb cooked in cream and nuts), chicken biryani, and saag paneer and mutter paneer (cubes of cheese cooked with spinach and peas, respectively). The nan (bread) was yummy, and I loved my mango lassi. It was a fantastic meal, and both Dan and I look forward to visiting Bombay City again soon. To answer your question from Friday, [livejournal.com profile] posicat, I definitely recommend this place! Apparently it's only been there for about a year.

The weather on Saturday was perfect. I had to fire up our new grill to season the inside of it. I figured that once we had it hot we might as well use it, so we invited Roho and Genet out to help us inaugurate the grill. They were kind enough to stop by Antioch Packing House and pick up some amazing 1.5" thick strip steaks. I picked up some yellow and red bell peppers, onions, and corn, all of which got grilled up with the steaks. I still need to work on my charcoal grilling technique (I'm sure the hair on the back of my hand will grow back eventually), but the nice thing is that the grill has enough surface area that if I keep the coals to one side, I can position the food at various distances from them to control the cooking. The steaks came out perfectly, and the entire dinner was delicious! Dan and Roho baked up some tasty puff pastry/peanut butter/chocolate thingies for dessert to cap off a great evening.

Sunday was the very-lightly-attended Midwest FurFest staff meeting. Before the meeting, though, we had to indulge in a bit of home shopping. You see, our pantry is nice, but I hated the way that our "liquor cabinet" looked - it was really just a collection of bottles that sat precariously on the wire rack. The bottles were prone to tip over, and it was difficult to see and access what we had. We also wanted to free up the space in the pantry, so we decided to go to Ikea to find a proper liquor cabinet. I'm pleased to say that we found the perfect thing. Dan did the assembly work and I helped secure it in place, and here's the finished product:


Here's the new cabinet. I wanted doors because I thought having all the bottles in plain view might suggest that we're complete lushes. I love all the shelf space on the bottom.


And here it is open, showing all the boozy goodness! And hey, it's not even completely full :-)


I like it because it is shallower than the cart we had there before and it provides a lot more storage space - I now can have all my cookbooks in the kitchen!

So now we're back to the work-week. We're in a frenzy of listmaking in preparations for our Memorial Day weekend gathering (post on that to follow). That should be a blast too!
duncandahusky: (License)
Y'know, before this weekend, my sole experience of visiting Michigan was back around 2002 or so, going north about a mile on I-69 from the Indiana Toll Road, turning around, and continuing my trip on the Indiana Toll Road. Hey, at least I could say I'd been to Michigan, and therefore every state east of the Mississippi.

This weekend I got to see a bit more of Michigan than that. I left work at 11 AM on Friday and picked up [livejournal.com profile] takaza from his employer an hour after that. After carefully checking the traffic reports, we were able to slip through downtown Chicago and out the Chicago Skyway with minimal delays. The trip across Michigan on I-94 was uneventful; I wound up doing most of the driving, since Dan was sleepy. We arrived at the Best Western Executive Plaza in Ann Arbor at close to 6 PM EDT.

We were there for the Dorsai Thing, an annual private relaxacon that the Dorsai hold annually. It was a bit awkward, since we didn't really know many people there, though [livejournal.com profile] giza and [livejournal.com profile] petercat from Anthrocon were in attendance, and indeed we spent a good bit of time hanging around and chatting with them. Although they had several tasty dishes available in the con suite, Dan and I opted to go out and grab dinner at Zingerman's Deli, part of the Zingerman's conglomerate in Ann Arbor. I had done a bit of googling before we left, and the deli was described as the one place in Ann Arbor (or "A2", as the local hipsters refer to it) that should not be missed. I have to say, I was extremely impressed with the place. They are clearly set up that funnel massive amounts of people through their store quickly and efficiently, though fortunately there weren't that many people there that night (I think it was Spring Break at the University of Michigan, so that helped). Dan had a turkey sandwich which he found close to transcendent, and my beef brisket sandwich was pretty darned tasty (great BBQ sauce, but it needed more smokiness in the meat). We drove around downtown Ann Arbor a bit and it struck me as a rather pleasant college town, albeit one that supports a freakin' huge college. After dinner we went back to the hotel and I crashed early, while Dan stayed up too late making a video blog.

Saturday was pretty laid back. I stepped out from the hotel early to hunt down a tasty cappuccino and had a chance to read the local paper; this only reinforced my opinion that Ann Arbor is definitely a small town in big-city clothing. That has a certain quaintness to it, though. that afternoon there were a few pseudo-panels (more like discussions) on how to be a duty officer (i.e. how to head up and deploy the Dorsai contingent at a convention) and how to negotiate contracts with conventions. These were quite interesting from an outsider's point of view, and it's worthy of note that the Dorsai think that Anthrocon is a whole lot of fun, and have nothing but nice things to say about the convention. From the discussions, it sounds like they'll be working at another furry convention this year, too (not MFF). Following the panels, there was The Spanish Inquisition. This was an entertaining contest where each team had to take ten minutes and do...something. The judge (Sergeant Steve, [livejournal.com profile] scs_11) would only tell them if they were doing something wrong, or not wrong. Oh, and the judge could lie at any time. Between your team's activities and observations made of the other team's activities, the goal was to deduce what the rules were. It was very silly, and people had a lot of fun with it. We worked with Giza and Peter and we were, of course, "Team Furry". Of the four teams, we somehow won, for which we got a nifty action figure!

After that, we gave Peter and Giza a lift to the local Kroger where we purchased supplies for the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster contest. The goal was to create a drink that best embodied the description of a drink that was "like being hit over the head by a gold brick wrapped in a slice of lemon." Peter and Dan's entries were quite tasty, though Giza's was...well, I'll have to track down some pictures of the reception that Giza's drink received. I think the best comment his drink received was, "A bit harsh for marinating pork or chicken, but maybe not bad with beef." Dan won a nice set of martini glasses for his drink!

Sunday morning we stopped by the breakfast buffet briefly, but decided to go ahead and hit the road to beat the weekend traffic back through Chicago. Sorry to everyone we didn't get a chance to say goodbye to! The drive was uneventful, but difficult due to nasty crosswinds most of the trip. We arrived home and pretty much collapsed on the sofa, enjoying the two hours of The Amazing Race that aired last night. Then it was off to bed.

Many thanks to Steve and all of the other good Dorsai Irregulars we met this weekend! We had a lot of fun and I definitely look forward to seeing many familiar faces when Anthrocon rolls around.

Quick Hits

Jan. 10th, 2007 08:34 am
duncandahusky: (HTML Husky)
Enough with all the seriousness and real estate and hand-wringing and the oy!

* Hey [livejournal.com profile] feren - it turns out that you can do something else with all that gin around your house.

* Are you a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan? If so, I highly recommend you read Wil Wheaton's recaps/review the series pilot, "Encounter at Farfetched Farpoint" (Part 1, Part 2). Besides being quite amusing (Wil feels that Wesley Crush was an annoying twit, too), the behind-the-scenes insights he adds are quite interesting and he's a pretty good writer too. Oh, and fair warning: Wil uses some Bad Words in his writing.

* Oh yeah, Apple announced some phone or something. Unfortunately, since it's Cingular-only, the iPhone is officially Dead To Me.

* Eclipsed in all the hoo-hah yesterday, Tivo TiVo announced that they're going to start testing their software on Comcast's existing DVR hardware this spring. Perhaps at some later date Comcast will not suck. Or at the very least, suck somewhat less. EDIT: Engadget scores some pics of the new TiVo software in action.

And now to get some work done...
duncandahusky: (Chewy!)
Yeah, no posts of note last week. I was feeling kind of down and much feel like posting.

So what did I do? Well, on Wednesday I struck out northwestwards to get some pictures for use by Midwest FurFest. This put me conveniently near the engravers who handle our staff badges every year, so I was able to stop by, chat a bit, and kick around ideas for this year's designs. I'm pretty happy with what we decided on, and now all I have to do is e-mail him the template and the list of names and titles and we'll be good to go (and this year I won't forget the Guests of Honor like I did last year, with that lovely "Oh sh#t!" moment on Wednesday night). Afterwards, I drove down and picked up [livejournal.com profile] takaza after work. Last week was month-end for him, and between doing the work of multiple people and the stress of more and more tasks being piled on him, it was not a good week. I hope I was able to help a little bit, anyway.

On Thursday, after I took Dan in to work, I stopped by the MFF storage locker and picked up a few things, and dropped off a few things that had been sitting in [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus's garage since Anthrocon, as well. I stopped by a printer and got a quote for the attendee badges for this year - we're going to a new, faster system, but wow, the price of badge blanks just got a lot more expensive! I need to call a couple more places for quotations and see if I can get the price down at all. That was also an especially tough day for Dan at work, so I drove back out and picked up dinner for him (and a tasty milkshake as a special treat), and after we ate I sat at the desk across from him and read the paper while he finished up; he finished up and we left $employer a little after 9 PM.

Dan got out of work surprisingly close to on time on Friday, and in much better spirits too. After I picked him up, we took back roads up to Antioch and had a lovely evening with [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and the visiting-from-Maryland [livejournal.com profile] ottr. We had a delightful evening filled with tasty burgers at Charcoal Grill, a hysterical shopping trip in the liquor department of Woodman's, drunken Apples to Apples, and the alarmingly rapid consumption of a bottle of Pucker ("How does it taste?" "Blue."). The next morning, following a typically delicious breakfast at Las Vegas Restaurant (mmm, chocolate chip pancakes...), we all went our separate ways.

The rest of the weekend was spent working on MFF-related stuff: preparing last-minute orders for promotional materials, Dan working on the con book, me helping Dan work on the con book, and other fun stuff. I've got a stack of confirmation postcards to go out (and I need to print more of them and buy more postage - great googly moogly, that's a lot of registrations!) We also took some amusing pictures to accompany the Chairman's Welcome (I'll be keeping those for future blackmail material, Paul ;-) Dinner Sunday night was some tasty steaks, and catching up with "The Amazing Race."

Lots to do this week - hopefully some good stuff going on tomorrow, but in the meantime there's a ton of orders I need to place and phone calls I need to make. Never a dull moment...
duncandahusky: (Oh really?)
It was such a great weekend, it took me a day to recover from it before I could write this! (Or I'm lazy. One of the two...)

We had a fabulous weekend, though! On Friday I picked [livejournal.com profile] takaza up after work and we headed north to Antioch to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet. Traffic being what it is, our 6 PM arrival became 7:15 PM, but that's OK - we weren't in too much of a hurry and I always enjoy the time spent with Dan. We chatted a bit once we got there and then headed out to a Mexican joint that was...well, a wee bit underwhelming. We need to take R&G to the taquiera around the corner from our place for something a little more authentic. Following a stop by Armanetti's Liquors, we chatted for a while back at the house and tested some of the Tasty Beverages we had purchased. After a bit, I was shocked by the arrival of [livejournal.com profile] datahawk! Yeah, she lives there, but it's not like they ever actually see her :-)

The next morning was the usual slow start, but pleasantly so. Eventually we motivated enough to head down to BD's in Vernon Hills to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] feren, and [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon. Tasty stir-fried food was consumed and we had a great time chatting. Afterwards, we returned to Antioch for a quick stop by Antioch Packing House for dinner grillables, then a stop by the house for pit stops. As we were leaving there, I unfortunately managed to step approximately in the same place that Feren did and twisted my left ankle. I imagine I looked pretty impressive staggering around a bit before collapsing to the grass. Ack! I was still able to walk, though, so we pressed on, though somewhat slowly.

And press on we did, to Brightonwood Orchards! This fabulous place is just north of Richard Bong State Recreation Area and only about a 20-minute drive from Antioch. When we pulled in, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the orchard also had a winery! The winery made apple wines and hard ciders, and they had a tour - well, not so much a tour as one of the guys who makes the wines and ciders who just loves talking about it and showing off their shop. I took several pictures, some of which should amuse you homebrewers out there. After the tour, we had a great time tasting their wares and picking up a few bottles of the drinkable apple-y goodness. We were joined by [livejournal.com profile] grabstein_69, [livejournal.com profile] silverwind, and their daughter Chayla right around then, too.

We walked (well, I hobbled) over to the apple barn where they had a respectable variety of heirloom apples. I grabbed a variety of different apples, though of course now I have no idea which are which but hey - it should be an unusual eating experience. As we were leaving I remembered that [livejournal.com profile] neowolf2 had mentioned how good Northern Spy apples were. I hadn't seen any on display, so I asked the cashier and she said they had some in the cooler. I bought four of them and tore into one as we were hanging around while Giles fed Chayla. OH MY GOD that apple was so good! Slightly tart, slightly sweet, and nice and firm. Just excellent, and very flavorful. I'm glad I bought them!

After the orchard, we had a nice evening relaxing back at R&G's place, enjoying grilled meat, mojitos, and good company. We capped off the night by surprising Roho with a birthday cake I had made the day before. Yay for surprises! The cake was tasty, too, though a bit dry due to a little overbaking. The dark chocolate frosting made up for that though. Yum!

On Sunday Genet made a tasty breakfast for us, then we said our goodbyes. Dan and I headed south, all the way down to Glen Ellyn, where we helped [livejournal.com profile] crim_ferret and [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin move some of their possessions to their new place in Naperville (if anyone wants to know where it is: Conveniently located just south of The Big N). Unfortunately, between the fact that my ankle was shot and we had an online Midwest FurFest staff meeting that night. we weren't as helpful as I would have hoped. We got some of their bookcases over, at least. We returned to The City by about 5 PM, which gave us time to grab dinner from the taquieria before the meeting. The meeting was moderately useful and mercifully short, and we spent the rest of the evening working on con-related stuff.

And Monday? The usual - apply to a bunch of jobs, go to the grocery store, run some errands, that sort of thing. Today was more of the same. You see why I don’t write much about my weekdays? They're boring as heck!
duncandahusky: (License)
Right, Part 2. I suppose I should get around to writing that.

No time like the present! Duncan and Takaza Go To Maine! Part 2 )
duncandahusky: (License)
Well, I guess I'd better get my trip report together and posted before the whole thing drains completely out my ears. Thus, I present to you:
Duncan and Takaza Go To Maine! Part 1 )
duncandahusky: (Chewy!)
Well, that was a really enjoyable weekend, for all that we didn't really have much plans initially.

We were just thinking about putting together some kind of dinner on Friday when I got a call from [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl asking if we'd be interested in coming over to their place for burgers and poker. Well, heck yeah! [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I CTA'ed it over there and enjoyed a great evening of wine, poker, wine, burgers, good conversation, and wine. I'm a complete novice at Texas Hold 'Em but I acquitted myself quiet well, mainly due to Jim's going all in on his three queens against my four tens in the first hand. Yeah, that was ugly :-)

On Saturday Dan and I had a nice, lazy morning then eventually got motivated enough to head out to Hot Doug's for a late lunch. The selection of gourmet "encased meats" is always fabulous, but I chose the cognac-infused smoked pheasant sausage with truffle sauce moutarde and foie gras "butter" (the latter a nice tweak at the Chicago City Council). I also opted for the duck fat fries of course. It was a delicious meal, but it always is at Hot Doug's. (Oh, a side note: I came across a cool bookmarklet that lets you tag pictures on Flickr with a link to where they were taken. It's geeky, but cool!)

After lunch we met up with [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar and [livejournal.com profile] simbalion and wandered around Boystown for a while. We didn't have any real destination in mind, we were just enjoying the marvelously cool evening and window shopping. After a while, Dan began to feel a bit ill, so [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus was kind enough to drive down to meet us and let Dan take the car back while Linnaeus walked a bit more with us. We found a great (and oh-so-gay) pet shop, where I got to spend time with a very laid-back and amiable black lab and the cutest tortoiseshell kitten, who was having a ball playing with all the cat toys on the counter by the cash register. We walked a bit more down to Reckless Records, which is always a neat place to browse, and then stopped by Intelligentsia Coffee and just sat around and chatted some more. We headed home after that, but it was a really great way to spend the evening.

On Sunday we drove out to meet with [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin, [livejournal.com profile] crim_ferret, and [livejournal.com profile] foxish; Crim is thinking about a new car and wanted to test drive my Element to see how he liked it. We took this as a great excuse to grab brunch with friends! We went over to Juicy-O, the restaurant opened recently by Heaven on Seven owner Jimmy Banos. I was hoping for an experience as good as Ho7 and I wasn't disappointed - the complimentary homemade doughnuts were delicious, and my strip steak skillet was to die for. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the place, and I'm confident we'll be going back soon. Afterwards we chatted over at Crim and Kyttin's place as we suffered through our food comas. Eventually, though, Dan and I headed back home and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching some TV.

This coming week looks to be a bit busy. Tomorrow we'll be hitting The Hopleaf with friends, then on Wednesday it's the August Coffee Night at Bobtail, which I'm sure will be a lot of fun. This coming weekend is the Milwaukee Irishfest, and then on Sunday is the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. Busy busy busy!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Man, you know it's getting time to post in your journal when your mom complains about she hasn't read anything new there lately ;-)

Well, on Saturday we started out by taking [livejournal.com profile] takaza's mom to lunch for her birthday. I understand that she's just happy to spend time with us, but I admit that I'm used to making a bit more of a to-do over such things; she was just fine with us going to Steak and Shake, which she'd never been to before. Dan and I grew up with very different family dynamics. Neither is better or worse than the other, but sometimes it can be a bit weird. We had fun, though, and it was a pleasant lunch. Afterwards we went to [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet's place and had a fun evening with them and [livejournal.com profile] datahawk, [livejournal.com profile] feren, [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus. A surprisingly small amount of alcohol was consumed, and we all were feeling pretty tired before midnight even rolled around. Ah well.

Sunday began with the traditional trip to Las Vegas Restaurant, where I had their always-fabulous Las Vegas skillet. From there we headed back into the city and lazed around the house for a while. For dinner, Dan and I tried to come up with something new and different to do with the large amount of fresh corn that we purchased. Dan cut the kernels off the cobs, then I sautéed up some garlic and added the corn to the pan. A little salt, a little pepper, some paprika, and...bleah. It's not often that our culinary experiments go awry, but this one was to neither of our liking; the sweetness of the corn was a weird match for the garlic, and while the paprika started to bridge the gap, it just wasn't enough.

Monday and Tuesday were unremarkable, except that the weather cooled down enough to make going outside actually a pleasant prospect. I took the bus down to Lincoln Square and spent about an hour and a half outside of The Grind reading The Reader and enjoying a tasty blueberry smoothie. the weather was nice enough (low 70's and low humidity) that I decided to walk back. My stroll took me past Kempf Plaza where tango tunes from the 40's and 50's were being played on a tinny speaker while older couples danced around the plaza (please pardon my lousy cameraphone quality). I had to stop for a while and enjoy the music and the spectacle - it was a magical thing on a cool summer evening. The rest of the walk home, the music played in my head and provided a moody background to the quiet neighborhoods.

When I called Dan after work on Wednesday he mentioned that parking was going to be limited on the street in front of [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus's place for the next four days while they re-pave, so we decided that it would be better for him to just leave his car at work and we can car-pool for a few days. After I picked him up, we drove over to the Renaissance Schaumburg and Convention Center to check them out. They just opened the place six weeks ago, and they're still a bit rough around the edges (missing signage, lights missing on the elevators, wallpaper edges still showing a bit). Once they get everything ironed out, though, the place is going to be nothing short of amazing. And huge, too! I'll be curious to compare that against the still-under-construction Westin Lombard Yorktown Center once that is complete. (No one should read this as an indication that MFF is moving anywhere, but it's always good to know all of the available venues in the area.)

And so, tonight. Linnaeus is hosting a Happy Hour at The Red Lion, and I hope to make it to that. Hope to see some of y'all there!
duncandahusky: (Mmmm...beer)
Man, am I dragging this afternoon. I had a blast last night hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn and (all-too-briefly) [livejournal.com profile] wipeout_ut; I'll leave the sordid tales to Woody and Perro's journals, but it was an entertaining reminder of why I'm not a huge fan of bars, though the denizens therein and the heavy-handed propositions were hysterical to watch. The cosmo I started with was OK, and the Chivas and soda was serviceable. Then Woody's friend came on shift behind the bar and the margarita I ordered kicked my butt something fierce.It was probably half tequila, but unfortunately we're talking well tequila here...gah. We had a lot of fun shouting talking over the music and I'd love to do it again, though maybe in a quieter setting.

By the time 11:15 rolled around I knew I had to hit the road. I took my leave of the merry crew as they went in search of quieter digs (and, as it turns out, weak, expensive drinks). The El ride back home was...interesting. When you're riding the El and you're tipsy, it's not a good idea to think about motion sickness. Oog. No real problems, just a bit of nausea. I finally got to bed a little after midnight, then the alarm went off at 5 AM. Not. Enough. Sleep. You'll understand why I feel like I'm about to faceplant into the keyboard.

So, it appears that we're going to see Clerks 2 tomorrow night. Saturday, there's a couple of possibilities, though I'm kind of hoping we might grab tickets to the Gay Games Closing Ceremonies at Wrigley Field, since they cut ticket prices in half and they're now a much more affordable $25. Also, Carbon Leaf is playing at Sheffield Walk, so that's a possibility as well. We'll see what happens, I guess.

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