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: (Ky00t Duncan)
OK, I seem to be backsliding in my journal entries. Something to work on, I reckon. In the meantime, here is yet another bulleted list of what's been going on since my last entry.
This got a little long. Click to catch up! )

So there you have it - all caught up! We were woken up at 4:15 AM this morning by a nasty thunderstorm rolling through, followed quickly by a trembling dog attempting to climb into bed with us. I'm running slightly sleep-deprived today, but not too badly. We've got a busy week coming up, and some fun travel this weekend. I'm looking forward to it!
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
So, what else has been going on lately? Since I'm lazy, I'll use bullet points.

  • On Friday we helped [livejournal.com profile] rustitobuck celebrate his birthday at a dinner that [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus put together. We ate at Claimjumper and the food wasn't too bad. I'm pleased to say that it is possible to get moderate (i.e. sane) sized portions at Claimjumper if you order carefully.

  • We spent the weekend relaxing a bit and finally cleaning up the clutter from the picnic the prior weekend. On Sunday night we had dinner with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet at a fabulous little Indian restaurant that just opened up within a few miles of us. I'm so glad to have expanded opportunities for food around here (and [livejournal.com profile] takaza loves their chicken tikka masla, so it's a win for everyone!).

  • I've started using the MyPlate food and fitness diary over at Livestrong (which came recommended by the ever-useful Cool Tools blog). It's an awesome free utility that lets you get all of your data in one place and even download it to a local spreadsheet. It's interesting how just the act of tracking what you eat makes you more aware of your diet. I'm not "dieting" per se, just trying to eat better. This is an excellent tool for this.

  • We've got travel coming up! In September we're going to be visiting Montreal. I'm having a lot of fun finding out about the area and making notes of possible places to visit, though as I've found on past trips while it's nice to know some possibilities ahead of time, it's even more fun to surrender to serendipity when it comes along. If we go to some of these places, great! If not, that's OK too. We've got a group of 12 people coming from all over the country, and coordinating everyone is a bit of trick. We're still working on who will cook what meals that we eat at the rental house, and putting the finishing touches on some reservations, but otherwise we're just about good to go.

  • Speaking of vacation planning, the big trip for us right now is the Alaskan cruise that we're planning for next May. I am pleasantly surprised to see that we definitely have thirteen people signed up, and at least four more who have expressed interest. The beauty of a trip like this is that it's easily expandable. So hey, if you ever wanted to cruise from Anchorage, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbus, with visits to Seward, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Seattle, we'd love to have you along for this trip! You can find more information over here.

  • In just a few minutes I'm off to meet with the representative of our home builder. It's almost been a year since we moved in and our one-year home warranty is about to expire, so they're going to come in for one last pass to take care of any maintenance issues, nail pops, etc. Dan and I went over the walls carefully last night (and poor Dan slipped on the stairs doing so - he's OK, just a bit sore) and our walls are currently covered with an array of post-it notes marking any defects. Next up will be scheduling their guy to come in and repair all of them.


That's all for now!
duncandahusky: (Brain Damaged)
Yep, we're down to the pre-convention head-in-a-fog period where I post even less than I usually do. We're trying to keep things moderately low-key as we lead up to Anthrocon, which is just seven days away (for us, anyway). That doesn't mean we're sitting in darkened rooms all by ourselves, though...

On Friday after work [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I had a bit of shopping to do in McHenry, then wandered around a bit through Bull Valley (my gosh, that's a beautiful area!) before winding up in Woodstock. We had dinner at La Petite Creperie. We eschewed crepes for their more formal dinner menu which was...something of a mixed bag. I felt strongly enough that I wrote up a review on Yelp, giving them 2 out of 5 stars. We'd go back, but only for the crepes.

Saturday we worked around the house a bit, then drove up to Antioch to visit with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus. It was a pleasant evening, nice and laid back (though clearly we hadn't had enough mind-altering substances to fully appreciate "Sita Sings the Blues" :-) On Sunday was spent working on Anthrocon stuff and generally just puttering around the house. Not a bad thing at all!

This brings me to the specter hanging over our heads right now - Anthrocon. It was with a bit of astonishment that I realized last week that I've been working in the Artists Alley at Anthrocon for the last nine years, and been in charge of it for the last seven years. Dan started in the Alley with me, then graduated to write the at-convention newsletter, then to create and run the Finance Office. Nine years is a long time, and we have both reached the point where we are burned out and it just isn't fun anymore. It's an insane amount of work to run these departments, and I know that at least for me serving as chairman of Midwest FurFest was easy compared to the time spent preparing for and running Artists Alley.

Don't get me wrong - I've enjoyed my time managing Artists Alley. I have gotten to work with some really wonderful people, and as I wrap up my final year on Anthrocon staff I leave knowing that the Alley is in excellent hands. [livejournal.com profile] rooth, my second-in-command is taking over the position from me, and I have every confidence he will do an excellent job. We haven't always agreed on philosophical matters, but that's a good thing - it's good to challenge and understand why we do what we do. He's got a great head for logistics, and between us I think that we've created a pretty awesome purchasing system in the Alley. And I know he has a ton of new ideas that will be implemented over the next few years that will make the Alley even better.

As for us? We'll be giving Anthrocon a miss next year, I'm afraid. We're planning on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our commitment ceremony; I only have two weeks of vacation, and the cruise is going to consume a large chunk of that. We'll still be active with Furry Connection North and Midwest FurFest, though, and the many and various smaller events throughout the year!
duncandahusky: (It's BACON!)
Not too much to talk about here, thus the radio silence.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of having brunch with [livejournal.com profile] genet and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus ([livejournal.com profile] takaza and [livejournal.com profile] roho were both under the weather) at Longman & Eagle in Logan Square. This qualified as being OMG SO GOOD, as I had two duck eggs sunny side up over a hash of Yukon gold potatoes and duck confit. They also do some very interested bourbon flights; I suspect we will be returning to investigate!

Afterward we walked a ways down Milwaukee Ave., checking out the neighborhood. We found Bucket o' Blood, a newly-opened speculative-fiction used book store, and stumbled across Revolution Brewing an awesome brewpub. I had the Mad Cow Milk Stout, which was quite tasty. We were also viciously attacked by a plate of chocolate chunk bread pudding, and forced to defend ourselves!

On Saturday we had lunch with Roho and Genet at The Brat Stop in Kenosha, and I was amused by the lingering spirits of .38 Special, REO Speedwagon, and Cheap Trick (even though they're not dead yet). Afterward we did our weekly shopping at Woodman's, which wasn't nearly as insanely crowded as we expected.

Monday we got together after work with Linnaeus, Roho, and Genet to check out the Pub Quiz at Emmett's Ale House in Palatine. We learned some important things: 1. They start at 7:30. Get there early to get a table! 2. No more than four people per table. 3. It's $7 per person, and if you're in the room you're paying - no just following along. 4. It's seven rounds, and takes about two hours.

Unfortunately, five people is exactly the wrong number of people to have in that situation, so rather than split up, we said t'hell with it and enjoyed a lovely dinner (with a little beer) on the patio instead. So...who's interested in doing the pub quiz this Monday? We need at least one more and up to three more people. After listening in to the questions, I think it's something we could do well in :-)

Today has been spent dealing with a lot of Anthrocon craziness, but also making some advance plans for New Year's Eve - keep an eye out for more about that!
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: (Ky00t Duncan)
We had plans, you see.

Spring Cleaning! Lots to do! A three-page list of tasks from the garage to the upstairs office to the back patio, we were going to be a whirlwind!

Well, yeah. Anyway. Not so much. But you know what? It was a pretty good weekend anyway.

We wound up eating out all three nights, which was unexpected. Friday night was dinner at The Lake House with [livejournal.com profile] aureth, [livejournal.com profile] jenwolf, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet to celebrate Aureth's birthday. This was our third time at The Lake House, and each time the service and food quality has gone downhill. While the company was great and we had a fun time, I don't see a huge need to return to that restaurant. There's too many other good places in the area still to try. (Like Rugan's, which has a "beer fraternity"!).

Saturday was gray and wet outside, and neither [livejournal.com profile] takaza nor I felt particularly motivated. We did give Buddy a bath, which is always amusing. Once he knows that it's bath time, he'll tuck his tail between his legs and walk slowly into the bathroom and climb into the bathtub on his own, then look at you with this expression of, "Can we please just get this over with?" Anyway, with him clean we took the opportunity to wash his bedding as well, but then pretty much ran out of get-up-and-go. Instead we opted for a bit of retail therapy. We needed someplace to put all of our DVD's and (small) collection of video games, so we decided we needed to go to Ikea and pick up a couple of Benno DVD towers.

We called Roho and Genet to see if they wanted to join us; Roho was tuckered out, but Genet was up for it! One trip to Ikea later we had the towers, as well as a few other things (yeah, that's the way they work). We then went over to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for dinner, the first time we had visited one. The verdict: great fries (yeah, Dan ordered the large size - big mistake), and pretty darned tasty burgers. A little pricey, but I expect we'll be going back.

Sunday we made a small dent in some of the work to do, sorting through a few of the boxes in the office. Side note: we have a clash of family cultures in our house. We always have had an attic where we had a dozen or more boxes of stuff sitting around. We'd look at it every five years or so, shrug, and back into storage it would go. Dan's family didn't have the stash of boxes and doesn't see my predilection for not minding all these boxes stashed in a closet. So we're compromising: Sort through the boxes, get rid of what isn't needed, sort the rest into clear plastic bins, and get some order into the place. Well, that was the idea, and we'll still finish it at some point. On Sunday, though, we did a little work then decided to take a break. Then it was time to head out for dinner!

Dinner this night was at The Sequoit Creek Lodge a mostly-bar-but-also-a-restaurant in Antioch. There we met up with Roho, Genet, and [livejournal.com profile] chebutykin, on her way home from Ebertfest in Champaign (and recovering from drinking gin and Squirt with [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff). We had a fun time, and were surprised at the end of the meal when Aureth and Jenne dropped by, having seen tweets of where we were eating. It was a nice reminder of how fun Cheb is to hang out with, and why we really must persuade her to visit for Memorial Day :-)

This week is a lot more sane than the last. A high-speed project was created, written up, executed, and the final report signed off late Friday of last week, and I'm still recovering a bit from that. We've got plans for the weekend (more on that later) that will keep us hopping as well. Hope everyone has a great week!
duncandahusky: (Crochet)
Well, that was a fun-but-busy weekend!

On Friday [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I finished up the last bit of housecleaning from the week in preparation for guests. I went ahead and bought a gas grill and propane tank, too. We're not getting rid of the charcoal grill, I assure you! I love that smoker too much. No, this is for weeknight cooking, when we don't want to fool with getting a proper charcoal fire going but would like something grilled and quick. I still believe that the flavor and cooking qualities of charcoal are superior, but when we had a gas grill in North Carolina we used it at least 3 nights per week. Now...I just need to put the fool thing together :-)

[livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd and [livejournal.com profile] baja_hyena drove in on Friday night (arriving late enough that I had already gone to bed!), and [livejournal.com profile] r_bear flew in on Saturday. We decided on a late lunch at one of my favorite places that we hadn't been to in ages, The Firkin. Their beer selection has always been top-notch, but we had found their food so-so. The beer was still excellent, but the big surprise was that the food was fantastic as well! We had a really enjoyable meal. We finished off the rest of the evening hanging out at our place and chatting (and, um, imbibing just a bit).

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. It was quick and relatively painless, and after the meeting I was able to give some tours to folks who needed to see what was where. We had an early dinner at Red Bar in the Hyatt, and while the food wasn't bad the prices were, um, hotel-like. In spite of that, I suspect I'll be eating more than one meal there during the convention. Ford and Baja hit the road after the meeting, but RB and [livejournal.com profile] graywolf769 came back to our place and we hung out and chatted for a while. After Gray left for the ride back to Indiana, we watched a bit of TV and went to bed.

Dog-wise, we hit a great milestone this weekend. We tried giving Buddy the run of the house when we went to lunch on Saturday and again when we were at the staff meeting on Sunday. In both cases he behaved himself perfectly! As far as I'm concerned the crate is a thing of the past for him (thanks for the loan, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet!). He seemed so much happier when I went home to walk him at lunch today, so I think we're making the right decision. Health-wise, his digestive system seems to be working much better and he's slowly gaining weight back into a more healthy range. We're going to need to buy him a new harness because the medium-sized one is quickly becoming too tight! He was also a perfect gentleman all weekend with our guests, snuggling right up to them :-)

So, now the new work week has started. There's nothing crazy going on at work, thank heavens. I've got an appointment with my optician this afternoon, then I'll probably go to work putting Boxee on an old server we have (not sure if I'll put Windows or Ubuntu on there for the OS - we'll see what happens). The new gas grill needs to be put together too - Dan may do that today or I'll do it tomorrow. Generally speaking, though, it should be a pretty low-stress week.

(Oh, and if you're waiting to reserve a suite for Midwest FurFest, watch this space! And [livejournal.com profile] midwest_furfest, and Twitter, and our website, and our forums...)
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: (Alton)
When last we left our intrepid crew, they had just crossed the border back into the United States on Friday, July 31.

Dinner to die for )

Our new (temporary) home! )

Wow, two entries and we're still in the first few days? I suspect the next few days will be summed up much more quickly, though they were still very enjoyable!

Coming Up: Rafting! Rafting! Rafting! Beer! Kayaking! Grilled Meat!
duncandahusky: (Wagging Husky)
And we didn't really even do that much!

Last weekend, [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd came up to visit. We were, of course, mostly selfish and kept the sheppie hidden away, enjoying a quiet weekend at home. We're mean that way :-)

Ford didn't get in until late Friday night, which is how we found ourselves sitting down to dinner at Tramonto's Steak and Seafood with [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus at 10:30 PM. They were quite gracious, though, and the meal was delicious. We left there around midnight, and spent the next few hours chatting and unwinding.

Saturday started predictably late. We shared an excellent lunch with [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and Roho's mom, who I really enjoyed seeing again. Afterward, plans for a semi-fancy dinner sort of fell apart in a fit of laziness and contentment as we relaxed at home, watched some stuff off the Tivo, and enjoyed Ford's company. Pizza was ordered, some truly amazing white port was enjoyed (thanks again, [livejournal.com profile] baja_hyena!), and we closed out the evening with a viewing of The Lion in Winter. Wonderful!

Sunday came all too soon. I enjoyed an excellent lunch at Cooper's Hawk Restaurant and Winery with [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn, [livejournal.com profile] ramalion, Ford, and Linnaeus (the peach bellini was yummy, the raspberry sangria not so much). The Midwest FurFest Board meeting followed shortly thereafter. The one item of note is that Midwest FurFest has a chairman for next year and that would be...[livejournal.com profile] takaza! Yep, it all comes 'round again :-) The staff meeting was mercifully short, and then we took our leave of the merry crowd, dispatching Ford back Columbus-ward with his crew in tow. We spent the evening unwinding and making plans for our trip next week.

After such an excellent weekend, it's tough to get back into the grind. Things were OK at work today, though, and the balance of the week should be busy, but no late nights will be needed.

Oh, and we're working on the real estate front, but nothing new to report there just yet. Sorry, Mom ;-)
duncandahusky: (WTF?)
Right, one last real post before I fall down the rabbit hole...

The weekend started with a bang as [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I met some of the western suburbs crowds for drinks and dinner at The Bank in Wheaton. We had an awesome time, and it was a real hoot chatting with Patrick, the chef there. I had the antelope appetizer, served on fried plantains. It was extremely tasty! And the pistachio gelato in espresso for dessert was amazing. The company was outstanding as well. We had to leave far too early, but that 5 AM wakeup call takes a toll on you on late Friday nights.

Saturday I had to work. yay. I was in longer than I had intended, but got a good bit of work done. When I got home, Dan and I ran some errands and did some pre-Anthrocon shopping. Sunday was spent doing more prep work (printing paperwork, setting up the Artists Alley cash register programming, and putting the finishing touches on some policies). We still have a few things to do between now and when we leave, but I'm feeling pretty good about things.

And back to work I go...

Updata

Jun. 11th, 2009 08:36 am
duncandahusky: (Ky00t Duncan)
Whoa, what a crazy week. Work has had me slammed all week, and it will probably be more of the same into next week. Still, it's manageable, just doesn't leave a lot of time for things like LiveJournal updates.

Waaay back on Friday we met up with [livejournal.com profile] daveqat, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph to see the Pride Edition of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. It was a fun show, though not one of their best overall. We still had a good time. Afterward we walked over to Big Jones for what turned out to be a really enjoyable dinner. We worked our way through their cocktails menu, and my shrimp and grits was fabulous (if this sounds weird, imagine the grits being served more like polenta). Dan's country fried steak was tasty as well, up to Heaven on Seven standards.

Saturday was pretty low-key. I went in to work in the morning, then that afternoon we had Paul, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet over for dinner. We grilled up some steaks, chatted a good bit, sampled some mighty fine beers, and played the new Boom Blox game. And Sunday? On Sunday we didn't do anything - just stayed in and relaxed. That was nice.

This week has been busy on the housing front. The home inspection for the new place was on Tuesday, and everything looked pretty good. There are a couple of exterior GFCI outlets that need to be replaced, but we'll have the seller take care of that prior to closing. I'll be meeting with our mortgage broker today at lunch to sign off on paperwork and hopefully secure as good a rate as possible.

Last night we got the letter we'd been expecting, a Notice of Motion to the Court of Lake County setting a trial date for the foreclosure of the townhouse we're living in. The good news is that this is just another step in a long process, and the bank won't take over the property for at least another four or five months - we'll be long gone by then. The other good news is that in lieu of refunding our security deposit, our landlord told us we don't have to pay rent in August. This is awesome!

In the meantime, planning is still going ahead full steam for the Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic, which right now has about 100 RSVP's. Yikes! We'll definitely have free strip steak for everyone (and some chicken breasts for non-beef-eaters); I'm working with a local caterer to figure out what the sides and desserts will be. I'll be posting the menu next week as soon as we get it locked down.

And finally, there's Anthrocon looming large on the near horizon. I need to deal with some items on my to-do list for that this weekend, and make sure that everything is ready to go. One advantage to having done this for so many years is that I've got lots of notes about things that need to be done before the convention. That will definitely save my sanity (what little I have left). OK, back to the grind!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
My goodness, what a whirlwind of a weekend!

Friday: BBQ and DIY Ice Cream )
Saturday: Gone to the Dogs! )
Sunday: Time To Be Responsible And Such )

This week we have a good bit of stuff to do after work each day, leading up to Thursday, when we head out for Furry Connection North. I'm really looking forward to the convention; Gir, Nik, and all of the good folks at FCN have put a lot of hard work into this year's con, and I think it is going to show. I hope to see y'all there!
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: (Tom and Dan)
Oh my goodness, what a weekend! We were graced by the presence of [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd and [livejournal.com profile] kai_darkwolf this weekend, and I had a blast.

Friday: Surprise Visitors )
Saturday: A Romantic Dinner )
Sunday: Party One More Time! )

And here we are back at Monday. Dan is sick but working from home and I'm at work feeling very tired. I'm sad that I had to miss Ford and Jack leaving this morning, but I suspect they're glad I didn't wake them at 6:30 AM to say my goodbyes! I'm going to run home and have lunch with Dan (yay leftover baked ziti) in a short while. Tonight should be nice and quiet, and we'll probably be heading to bed early. This weekend should be relatively quiet too, which will be a nice change of pace!
duncandahusky: (Chewy!)
I see I'm in my usual post-convention blogging quiet period. This month is pretty crazy, and as usual, when I'm busy I don't have much time to document it.

Last week included a delicious dinner with [livejournal.com profile] perro, [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus at Tramonto's Steak and Seafood, which sadly is due to close its doors very soon (along with RT's Lounge and Osteria di Tramonto) due to Rick Tramonto departing the joint venture. We've heard some promising possibilities about what will be happening with those restaurants in the new year, but nothing for certain. We'll see what happens!

The next day I joined [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr for a tasty dinner (with some tasty wine) at Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant. The short ribs there were delicious! I'm thinking that during Wuffmeet we may need to swing by there and sample their latest wines.

On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] takaza's family came over for an evening of dinner and games. I made a killer Lasagna Bolognese that was simply outstanding. I substituted ground bison for the ground beef and, not having ground veal readily available, did 50/50 ground bison and ground pork. Instead of Parmesan cheese, I used an aged Mahon cheese which was quite tasty (and half the price of Parmesana Reggiano). This was good enough that I think it may be one of our entrees for Wuffmeet. I just need to figure out the logistics of making the sauces, assembly, baking, and reheating.

Sunday? We did nothing. And it was good. (Oh, and the person I was rooting for won Survivor. That was nice too.)

Yesterday I finished my Christmas shopping. Yay! Hooray for Amazon.com :-) I'm impressed that some of that stuff will be arriving today. I {heart} Amazon Prime - we really do get our money's worth on that.

And then there's today. I'm keeping a close eye on the weather radar as we're supposed to get hit with 2-6 inches of snow in the next 24 hours. I'm not wild about this since tonight we're having dinner with the folks we've worked with at the Westin North Shore down in Lincolnshire. Still, travel difficulties aside, it should be a good meal and I'm looking forward to it.

For the rest of the week: I'm hoping that we can help [livejournal.com profile] genet celebrate completing her last final for the semester tomorrow. Then on Saturday (after I have to work all day in exchange for getting Christmas Eve off), Dan and I will be going over to his mom's house to exchange gifts with her, since we'll be out of town on Christmas. Oh, in case I haven't mentioned it, Dan and I will be in St. Louis visiting my parents and my sister's family from December 24th through 28th. We hope to do a bit of touring around the city (though I just found out yesterday that a main highway is closed - man, that's got to suck!). If nothing else, hope to hit one of the fine eateries the Good Mister Brown visited during his road trip through the city.

Well, time to take care of a bit of work before today's free "Holiday Lunch" - the usual uninspiring beef/chicken/pasta buffet. Hey, at least it's free...

Edit @ 5 PM - No steak dinner for me - the Westin folks cancelled due to weather, and I can't blame them. Dan is on his way home, and he's thinking that his normal 50-minute commute is going to be closer to 2 to 2.5 hours.
duncandahusky: (Wine glass)
Now that was a busy, but fun weekend.

[livejournal.com profile] ramalion was crashing at our place on Saturday night and he had mentioned that he had never tasted my cooking. Those of you who know me know that this is a dangerous challenge! We invited [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus to join us for dinner and I got to planning, digging into my online recipe stash to find some new and interesting recipes.

Prior to dinner, though, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I met up with Roho and Genet at Wine Knows for their Fall Beer Tasting. It was a blast! So many good beers, but the real standout was the Browning's Brewery Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, which is aged in bourbon barrels. Absolutely amazing! (And sadly out of stock. But Genet is going to check in with them later this week!) We picked up a couple of bottles of wine and some good beers, and ventured to the store, then home to start dinner.

Rama was there when we arrived, and Linnaeus arrived not long after. I dove into the dinner preparations. The menu included Eggs with Cream, Spinach, and Ham, Spinach and Bacon Salad with a Roasted Shallot and Dijon Vinaigrette, and Potato Gnocchi with Meat Sauce. I learned a couple of useful things:
1. Don't start cooking an involved dinner at 6 PM. Fortunately, the beer and wine (and chips and salsa) helped maintain everyone's good spirits when the food was served at 10 PM.
2. Gnocchi is neat and fancy, but it's a pain in the ass. Next time, keep it simpler.
3. The Eggs with Cream , Spinach, and Ham is nothing short of astonishing. Saute the spinach with garlic and shallots, then coarsely chop and place in a ramekin. Simmer diced ham with heavy cream, then spoon the ham into the ramekin. Break an egg into each ramekin, then spoon the cream over the egg. Bake until the white is set but the yolk is still runny, and serve with buttered toast. Heavenly!

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. The meeting went a bit longer than I usually like, but we got a lot done and made sure that no action items from the past year has fallen between the cracks. After the meeting, we adjourned to Mi Mexico, a new Mexican restaurant just north of the hotel (in the old Weber Grill location, for those who know the area). Wow! What a great find! Our meals were really fantastic, and they handled a large crowd of people extremely well. Plus, if someone is looking to eat cheaply, you've got a winner here, with $5.00 entrees available.

The rest of the evening was spent at home relaxing, working on some small MFF projects, and watching The Amazing Race (yay for the comic book geeks!).

This week is crunch time for the Midwest FurFest Restaurant Guide. We've got 120 restaurants listed and my goal is to have a useful review for every single one of them. Once that's done I need to go to work on some other projects. No panicking yet, though - everything seems to be coming along nicely.
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
[livejournal.com profile] takaza and I are halfway through a lovely weekend in Columbus, Ohio, staying with [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd and [livejournal.com profile] kai_darkwolf. We were able to scoot out of Chicago earlier than expected, at about 11 AM on Friday. Traffic was surprisingly light and we made it to Columbus in less than seven hours. Because we are horrible guests, we surprised Ford and Jack with a call saying we would be earlier than expected, but they handled it with aplomb. After some pleasant chatting and a tour of their lovely house. It reminds me of how much I really loved my bungalow in Joliet, subsiding foundation, collapsed sewer tile, and all. For dinner we went to the Elevator Brewing and Draught Haus. The food was quite tasty, though the beer was somewhat lacking. The company more than made up for that, though. And yes, visiting their place reminds me that we need a dog(s), since I'm really enjoying being around Nathan, Pete, and the visiting Jazz.

Yesterday we had a somewhat early start as we met up with Rob and Dean (alas, I can't recall Rob's furry handle, but Dean is SeetherWolf) at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and an entertaining tour of the CSI exhibit ("Darn, I left my syrup of ipecac at home!"). After wandering around a bit we adjourned for a tasty lunch at Ted's Montana Grill where we amused our waitron muchly with silliness. The evening brought a great party with about 15 people, some truly amazing marinated and grilled pork tenderloins, and lots of beer. Life was good. I was amused to hear that Dan knows Dean from about ten years ago (and hey [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell - Dean says hi!). Furry fandom is indeed a small town. It was great to see some familiar faces ([livejournal.com profile] alaskanwolf, [livejournal.com profile] kwik, [livejournal.com profile] truegrave9) and make some new friends.

As for today? Probably a lot more laid back. We'll seek some lunch eventually, maybe meet up with Kwik, and there were rumors of going to see a movie. Maybe. Who knows? We're having a blast, that's all that matters. I'm keeping an ongoing gallery of the weekend, sure to be updated more as the weekend goes on.

On a more serious note, I'm keeping an eye on Hurricane Gustav. Even though my links to New Orleans are somewhat tenuous (a year and a half at Tulane University over twenty years ago), I still have wonderful memories of my time there. [livejournal.com profile] genet, I'm keeping your family in my thoughts and I'm hoping everyone rides out the storm OK. The same goes for everyone who has those they hold dear who are in the storm's path. After the terrible events of three years ago, I dearly hope that there were some good lessons learned and that those will be well-applied over the coming days.
duncandahusky: (Mmmm...beer)
Man, what a crazy few days, and this week is shaping up to be pretty crazy too.

After work on Friday, I sped out slightly early and picked up [livejournal.com profile] takaza at his employer in Buffalo Grove. Then it was a stressful drive through Friday rush-hour traffic down to Lisle, where we checked into the Hyatt Lisle. After a short break it was back into the car for a short drive to Bolingbrook and BD's Mongolian Grill. There we met up with [livejournal.com profile] ottr, [livejournal.com profile] datahawk, [livejournal.com profile] feren, [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon, [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin, and [livejournal.com profile] unclevlad for a fun dinner and drinks. Alas, I agree with Dan - I am kind of over BD's. For one thing, it seems that no matter what I do, everything I put together there ends up tasting the same. I'll freely admit that's my own fault. The drinks were pretty weak, too, which was unfortunate. Ah well, at least the company was good.

After dinner we retired back to the Hyatt with Roho, Genet, and Linnaeus and had a lovely swim before bed. On Saturday morning, the five of us had a delicious brunch at Juicy-O then went our separate ways. Dan and I stopped by [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph's place to drop off some MFF stuff and we wound up talking shop for a bit.

Then it was off to Dan's mom's place to try to get her Wii hooked up to wi-fi. I'm not even sure if what we were trying to do can be done: She has a laptop running Vista with built-in wireless as well as a Sprint EVDO card connected via USB. We were trying to create a bridge so the wireless would receive the Wii signal and go out through the EVDO. No joy, though. Instead, she brought her Wii over to our place and we downloaded a bunch of older games for her. She left after a bit and Linnaeus arrived shortly thereafter.

After a bit of chatting we jumped in the car and drove up to Kenosha, where we met the crowd from the previous night (as well as several new faces) for dinner at Charcoal Grill. The phrase that pays is "half-price appetizers and drinks after 8 PM". Holy cow! So good, and those Long Island iced teas had a kick!

On Sunday...we did nothing. And it was good. OK, actually, we finally showered late in the afternoon and went out to Target at about 7 PM to pick up a few groceries and things for the house.

And here we are back in the middle of the work week. I'm really looking forward to Friday - I just got the OK from my boss to take off early, so Dan and I will be leaving at noon or before for Columbus, OH, where we will abuse the hospitality of [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd and [livejournal.com profile] kai_darkwolf. I have only a vague idea of what the plans might be, but I'm sure we'll be in good hands. I promise to take lots of pictures :-)

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